Signature Smiles Dental Care
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Oak Park, IL 60301
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Posts for: December, 2014

HowMuchDoYouReallyKnowAboutKeepingYourChildrensTeethHealthy

Expectant mothers expect to deal with tooth-related milestones in their child's early years, such as teething and even the eventual shedding of those baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy. But there are many facets of children's oral health that may not be as well known. For example, did you know that using sugary fluids in your baby's bottle too frequently could promote constant acid production in your child's mouth leading to early childhood decay? Did you know that parents and caregivers who have decay transmit the bacteria that cause decay to their children?

Baby or primary teeth serve as guides for permanent teeth and, therefore, their health sets the stage for the health and proper function of their permanent successors. A comprehensive examination during a child's first visit can help uncover any underlying conditions that might be indicative of future problems, like tooth decay that can start as early as the age of six months when their first teeth appear. So the “Age One Visit” is the right time for a first dental visit.

What else do you know or want to know? Take our short quiz to help your child. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

The Quiz

  1. Mounting evidence suggests that a child's oral health is most closely tied to which relative?
    1. Mother
    2. Father
    3. Brother
    4. Sister
  2. Parents should bring their children to see a pediatric dentist:
    1. Once they turn two?
    2. Before they start kindergarten?
    3. Preferably before their first birthday?
    4. When they start to lose their baby teeth?
  3. Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children is referred to as what?
    1. Primary tooth decay
    2. Early Childhood Caries
    3. Diapers to Decay Disease
    4. Pediatric Dental Caries Syndrome
  4. To help diminish the likelihood that your baby/infant will develop a cavity, you should:
    1. Restrict the amount of sugary fluids your child drinks to mealtimes
    2. Maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce harmful bacteria
    3. Use fluoride to make the teeth more resistant to acid attack
    4. All of the above
  5. Infants are most susceptible to tooth decay when:
    1. Breast feeding
    2. Drinking milk from a bottle during meal times
    3. Sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam
    4. Sleeping on their sides

The Answers

1) a = mother 2) c = before their first birthday 3) b = early childhood caries 4) d = all of the above 5) c = sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam

Your baby's first visit to the dentist will cover a lot of ground, including diagnosis, prevention, education, and treatment as we help start him or her on the path to long-lasting oral and dental health. Call our office to schedule an appointment now. You can also learn more about pediatric tooth decay by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit — Why It's Important For Your Baby.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
December 22, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: fillings  
ChoosingNaturalTooth-ColoredFillingsOverSilver

Cavities used to be nothing to smile about, but thanks to advances in technology, tooth-colored fillings have made repair of decayed teeth so natural, they're invisible. Now you no longer need to feel self-conscious about that unsightly flash of silver when you talk or laugh. While silver amalgam fillings were once the preferred option for tooth restoration filling materials, tooth-colored “composite resins” have gained popularity as a safe and effective alternative to treat new cavities or to replace old silver fillings.

A Better Alternative: Consumer demand for tooth-colored (metal free) restorations as well as the dental profession's desire to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible has led to the development of special “adhesive” tooth-colored materials. Besides the aesthetic advantages over amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings require the removal of less tooth structure. While traditional silver fillings often crack or leak over time, composite resin fillings bond directly to tooth structure and actually reinforce and strengthen it while creating a natural looking smile.

The Choice is Yours: You can choose to replace unsightly silver fillings with tooth-colored ones to enhance their cosmetic appearance. Although concern has been expressed over the mercury content in older silver fillings, years of research cited by the American Dental Association has found that traditional amalgam fillings are safe. Unless you have cracks or damage to your current amalgam fillings or have other concerns regarding your dental health, replacing silver fillings is a matter of personal preference.

Cost: Although composite resin fillings may cost slightly more than silver fillings, they are very durable and may be more cost-effective in the long run.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding tooth colored fillings. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
December 19, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   headgear  
OrthodonticHeadgearWhatItIsandWhyItMaybeNeeded

Most of us are quite familiar with what traditional braces look like. But occasionally we see more complex-looking devices being worn by young orthodontic patients: thicker wires that extend outside the mouth, with straps that may go behind the neck or over the chin. What are these devices, and why are they sometimes needed?

In general, orthodontic appliances with external parts braced by the head, neck or chin are referred to as “headgear.” These devices may be used to handle a number of particular orthodontic situations, but they all have one thing in common: They provide the additional anchorage needed to move teeth into better positions.

It may come as a surprise that teeth, which seem so solid, can actually be moved fairly easily over time. This is because teeth are not fixed directly into bone, but are instead held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament. Using a light, controlled force — such as the force of springy wires and elastics in traditional braces — teeth can be moved slowly through the jaw bone, like a stick being pulled through sand.

Of course, to pull a stick through sand, you need a firm anchorage — your legs, for example, bracing against a rock. Most of the time, the back teeth, with their large, multiple roots, provide plenty of support. But sometimes, the back teeth alone aren’t enough to do the job.

If a very large space between teeth is being closed, for example, the back teeth might be pulled forward as the front teeth are pulled back; this could result in poor alignment and bite problems. In other cases, the front teeth may need to be pulled forward instead of back. The back teeth can’t help here; this is a job for headgear.

Some types of headgear have a strap that goes behind the head or neck; they use the entire head as an anchorage. Other types, called “reverse pull” headgear, have a strap that comes over the chin or the forehead; they can pull teeth forward. Headgear can even influence the proper growth of facial structures — that’s why it is usually seen on preteens, whose growth isn’t yet complete.

Headgear is usually worn for 12 hours per day, for a limited period of time. In some cases, rather than headgear, appliances called “temporary anchorage devices” (TADS) may be recommended. These are tiny screws that are implanted into the jawbone in a minimally invasive procedure, and serve a similar function.

While it may not look pretty, orthodontic headgear is capable of moving teeth into their proper positions in a relatively short period of time — and ending up with a great-looking smile is what orthodontics is all about.

If you have questions about orthodontic headgear, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Moving Teeth With Orthodontics.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
December 11, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: partial denture  
TemporaryToothReplacementwithFlexiblePartialDentures

Modern dentistry offers several great ways to permanently replace missing teeth, including high-tech dental implants and traditional fixed bridgework. But sometimes, for one reason or another, it isn’t possible to have these treatments done right away. If you need an aesthetic way to temporarily replace missing teeth, a flexible partial denture could be the answer you’re looking for.

Certain kinds of removable partial dentures (RPDs) can be used as permanent tooth replacement systems, especially for people who aren’t candidates for dental implants or fixed bridges. But in the past, if you needed a temporary tooth replacement, one of the few alternatives was the type of rigid RPD often called a “flipper.” This consists of a firm, relatively thick acrylic base that supports one or more lifelike replacement teeth. It attaches to the “necks” of existing natural teeth via metal clasps, which gives it stability and strength.

However, the same rigidity and thickness that gives these rigid RPDs their durability can make them uncomfortable to wear, while the acrylic material they are made of is capable of staining or breaking. Over time, the RPDs are prone to coming loose — and they are also easy to flip in and out with the tongue, which gives them their nickname.

Flexible partial dentures, by contrast, are made of pliable polyamides (nylon-like plastics) that are thin, light and resistant to breakage. Instead of using metal wires to attach to the teeth, flexible RPDs are held securely in place by thin projections of their gum-colored bases, which fit tightly into the natural contours of the gumline. Their elasticity and light weight can make them more comfortable to wear. Plus, besides offering aesthetic replacements for missing teeth, their natural-looking bases can cover areas where gums have receded — making existing teeth look better as well.

All RPDs must be removed regularly for thorough cleaning — but it’s especially important for flexible RPD wearers to practice excellent oral hygiene. That’s because the projections that hold them in place can also trap food particles and bacteria, which can cause decay. And, like most dentures, RPDs should never be worn overnight. Yet with proper care, flexible RPDs offer an inexpensive and aesthetic way to temporarily replace missing teeth.

If you have questions about removable partial dentures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
December 01, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
PlanningandPreparationareCriticaltoDentalImplantSuccess

Dental implants are one of the best tooth replacement systems available. But while they can rejuvenate patients’ smiles and potentially provide a lifetime of service, they require thorough planning and preparation before the implant is inserted.

The process begins with the assembling of your treatment team. Implants require the training and expertise of a number of professionals who collaborate during the process: a dental specialist, like an oral surgeon, periodontist or a general dentist trained in implant dentistry, who surgically installs the implant; a dental technician who fashions the permanent life-like crown that will attach to your particular implant; and a restorative dentist who begins and ends the process with you — from initial consultation and planning to the permanent crown attachment. You, the patient, are also part of the team — your input and informed choices are essential to a successful outcome.

Your restorative dentist will take the first steps to develop your treatment plan. It begins with both a dental examination and a general health assessment to determine your fitness for any surgery. The dental examination serves to evaluate the site where the proposed implant or implants will be placed, along with x-rays for assessing the quantity and quality of bone at the site. Next, the dentist will create study models of your mouth to assess bite, and possibly take photographs to guide decisions on the implant crown’s color and appearance. The last step may be the development of surgical guides to ensure accurate placement of the implants by the surgeon.

One of the biggest questions to answer at this stage is whether or not you have sufficient bone mass to support the implant. You may have experienced significant bone loss due to disease or from resorption (the dissolving of bone) because of tooth loss. Insufficient bone mass can be remedied with a bone graft placed within the site that stimulates bone growth, which if successful will provide enough bone to support the implant.

While this preparatory phase before implant placement can be very involved, it’s absolutely necessary for ultimate success. The careful planning and prep work performed by your implant team — and your own participation in the process — will ensure that you’ll be happy with your new implants and your new smile.

If you would like more information on dental implant options, 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 “Dental Implants.”