Signature Smiles Dental Care
1128 Lake Street Suite 1
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 386-6190

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Posts for: September, 2014

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
September 29, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
RestoringHealthandAppearanceThroughPeriodontalPlasticSurgery

The “wear and tear” nature of gingival (gum) tissue enables it to readily handle the chewing and biting actions of eating and still perform its most important function: protecting the roots of your teeth from decay and environmental exposure. But while they're resilient, they're not invincible: it's quite possible for them to lose their attachment to a tooth and begin to recede, leaving the root surfaces exposed.

Gum recession can occur for a number of reasons: poor oral hygiene; over brushing and flossing; malocclusion (a poor bite); personal habits, like biting down on hard foreign objects; or poorly fitted dentures or other appliances. From a genetic point of view, people with thinner gingival tissues are more prone to gum recession than those with thicker tissues. Whatever the cause, the result is the same — the exposed tooth becomes more sensitive to environmental factors (such as heat, cold, abrasion or erosion). More importantly, it now has a higher susceptibility to decay and disease, leading to its possible demise.

But there may be a solution. Although the original tissue may be lost, periodontal plastic surgery can restore a protective layer of tissue to the tooth, and at the same time give you back the smile you once had.

From the Greek word “plastik” for sculpting or modeling clay, plastic surgery procedures restore both form and function to a bodily structure. While the term “plastic surgery” can apply to other procedures in medicine such as rhinoplasty or face lifts, the periodontal procedure particularly involves grafting similar tissue to an area of recession, and then “shaping” it into a natural, life-like form.

To graft means to remove tissue from a donor site and attach it to a recipient site. In the case of periodontal tissue, the recipient patient can also be the donor with the tissue coming from some other area of the same mouth (the graft can also come from another human or an animal). Using advanced techniques and a touch of artistry, the surgeon positions and sutures the graft in place.

The result: not only a new protective covering for your tooth, but a more pleasing appearance when you smile.

If you would like more information on periodontal plastic surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
September 26, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   pregnancy  
TakingCareofyourTeethDuringPregnancyHelpsBothyouandyourBaby

During pregnancy, a mother has many health concerns for both her baby and herself. Though it may not seem as important, dental health and development should be on that list of concerns, for both you and your baby. In fact, your baby's tooth development is already well underway just a few weeks after conception. Pregnancy can also present challenges to your own dental health that definitely deserves your attention and care.

Taking care of your own dietary needs and dental health is also the best thing you can do for your baby. The baby growing within you needs calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and other minerals for the healthy development of teeth and bones. That can only come from you eating a balanced diet rich in these nutrients.

During pregnancy, you are also more susceptible to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other gum diseases because of the normal increase in the level of the hormone progesterone. In fact, some studies seem to indicate that severe gum disease might even raise the risk for premature birth and a low birth weight. It's important then to practice good dental hygiene during your pregnancy: brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an American Dental Association (ADA) approved fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and using an ADA approved mouth rinse that deters the buildup of plaque and the occurrence of gingivitis. Our office is also happy to provide you instruction on proper brushing and flossing technique to help you gain the most benefit from your daily hygiene.

By paying close attention to your own dental health and diet, you are actually doing the very best you can to provide your baby a solid foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.

If you would like more information on protecting your and your baby's oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Expectant Mothers: Dental facts you need to know.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
September 18, 2014
Category: Oral Health
SavingaBabyToothistheBestOptionforPermanentToothDevelopment

Our “baby” teeth begin appearing around six months of age — by age 10 or 13, they’ve largely been replaced by our permanent teeth. Though their lifespan is relatively short, baby teeth play an important role in our dental development. In fact, saving a damaged baby tooth is an extremely important treatment goal even though they will be eventually lost.

Baby teeth perform a number of functions as our mouth and facial structure develops during our formative years (infancy to early adulthood). Besides providing a means to chew food, baby teeth aid speech by providing contact points for the tongue while speaking. They help us relate to others socially through smiling and other facial gestures. And, in relation to our long-term development, they serve as both guides and “placeholders” for our permanent teeth until they’re ready to erupt.

Thus, a permanent tooth’s development could be stymied if its counterpart baby tooth is lost prematurely. It could come in misaligned or not erupt fully if adjacent teeth have drifted into the open space. The resulting malocclusion (bad bite) could require long-term orthodontic treatment with higher costs than treatments to save the baby tooth and avoid the misalignment.

There are various treatments to prevent and save at-risk baby teeth. Even a badly decayed tooth might be saved with a pulpotomy, a similar treatment to a root canal but less invasive. This is often followed with a stainless steel crown to cover the remaining tooth and restore some of its form and function.

If it’s not feasible to save a baby tooth, we may recommend installing a space maintainer that prevents other teeth from drifting into the resulting space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. This orthodontic appliance usually consists of a metal band cemented to an adjacent tooth with an attached stiff wire loop that extends across the gap and rests against the tooth on the other side. Although effective, space maintainers can break or become dislodged, require extra monitoring and are often cosmetically unappealing.

In any event, the primary goal should be to save a baby tooth, if possible. Doing so will prevent more serious long-term problems for permanent teeth.

If you would like more information on the importance of baby teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
September 10, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease   loose teeth  
DeterminingtheCauseofToothLoosenessKeytoEffectiveTreatment

A loose permanent tooth isn’t normal — it represents a serious threat to the tooth’s survival. There may be a chance to save the tooth, however, if we can determine the cause of the looseness and treat it appropriately.

Teeth are normally held securely in place by the periodontal ligament, an elastic tissue that attaches to both the teeth and the bone. Certain conditions, however, can disrupt this attachment. The most common is advanced periodontal (gum) disease, an infectious condition caused by bacterial plaque. It can severely inflame and damage the surrounding gum tissues resulting in bone loss. As the bone is lost, the periodontal ligament is lost as they detach from the teeth. In fact, tooth looseness may be a fairly late sign of the disease.

Another major cause is teeth grinding (bruxism) and clenching habits that result in excessive biting forces. Usually stress-related, teeth grinding and clenching generate forces on the teeth outside of their normal range. As a result the periodontal ligament can become stretched, inducing tooth looseness.

Our treatment approach depends on which condition is causing the looseness, best assessed with a thorough dental examination. If gum disease is the culprit, the main treatment is to remove as much bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar) as possible using various techniques such as scaling or root planing (accessing and cleaning root surfaces). It’s also imperative for you the patient to start and maintain an effective hygiene regimen of daily brushing and flossing, along with professional cleanings every three to six months depending on your degree of vulnerability to gum disease. Subsequent healing will stimulate tissue reattachment to the teeth.

In the case of excessive biting forces, we primarily want to reduce their effect on the teeth. Treatment can include muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs, or a custom-fitted bite guard to minimize biting forces from teeth grinding during sleep. In some cases we may opt to reshape the biting surfaces of teeth through removal of small amounts of surface enamel: this will reduce the biting force by altering how the upper and lower teeth contact. It’s also possible to splint loose teeth to more stable teeth, joining them like pickets in a fence. This helps relieve the biting force on teeth with significant loss of bone support.

If you notice a loose tooth, you should make an exam appointment with us as soon as possible. The sooner we can diagnose the cause and begin treatment, the less chance you’ll lose your tooth.

If you would like more information on loose teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Teeth.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
September 02, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crown lengthening  
CrownLengtheningcanIncreaseYourRestorationOptions

A crown is an effective way to save a tooth and restore its form and function. These life-like “caps” that fit over and are permanently attached to teeth have been used for decades with good results.

For this type of restoration to be effective, though, there must be enough of the natural tooth remaining above the gum line for the crown to “grab on to.” This poses a problem if the tooth has broken or decayed too close to the gum tissue.

Fortunately, there is a way to expose more of the remaining tooth for applying a crown. Known as crown lengthening, this surgical procedure is also used for “gummy” smiles, where normal tooth length is obscured by excess gum tissue that makes the teeth appear shorter.

We begin the procedure by first numbing the tooth and gum area with a local anesthetic. We then make tiny incisions inside the gum line on both the tongue and cheek side of the tooth to create a small flap. With this area below the gum line now open to view, we then determine whether we need to remove excess gum tissue or a small amount of bone around the tooth to expose more of the tooth itself. We then position the opened gum tissue against the bone and tooth at the appropriate height to create an aesthetic result.

You shouldn’t experience any discomfort during the procedure, which usually takes about sixty minutes for a single tooth area (which needs to involve at least three teeth for proper blending of the tissues). The pressures and vibrations from equipment, as well as any post-procedure discomfort, are similar to what you would encounter with a tooth filling. After the gum tissue has healed (about six to eight weeks), we are then able to fit and attach a crown onto the extended area.

Crown lengthening a small area may result in an uneven appearance if you’re dealing within the aesthetic zone. One option in this case is to consider undergoing orthodontic treatment first to correct the potential discrepancy that may result from surgery. After orthodontics, we can perform crown lengthening on just the affected tooth and still achieve an even smile.

Crown lengthening is just one of many tools we have to achieve tooth restorations for difficult situations. Using this technique, we can increase your chances of achieving both renewed tooth function and a more beautiful smile.

If you would like more information on crown lengthening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Saving Broken Teeth.”