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Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Tooth Extraction

Here’s What to Expect When Healing After a Tooth Extraction

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While our Naperville dentists always try to save a patient’s natural tooth, sometimes, due to severe decay, damage or periodontal disease, a tooth extraction is unavoidable. The good news is, we use cutting-edge technology and techniques to make removing a tooth as quick and painless as possible. We also offer a full range of tooth replacement options, including dental bridges and dental implants. 

The team at Naperville Dental Specialists will walk you through exactly what to expect during and after a tooth extraction, but we know having answers in advance can make you feel more relaxed and confident. That’s why, in this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the tooth extraction healing process. 

What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?

When we perform a tooth extraction at our Naperville practice, we numb the tooth and the surrounding area with a local anesthetic. If you’re feeling anxious or you’re undergoing a surgical extraction, such as for impacted wisdom teeth, we can also administer sedation to ensure you’re completely at ease. 

Once you’re numb and/or sedated, your dentist or oral surgeon will use a special tool to rock the tooth and widen the socket. They’ll then ease the tooth out. In some cases, they may need to section the tooth, which means breaking it into smaller pieces for easier removal. You won’t feel any pain during a tooth extraction, just a little bit of pressure.

After extracting the tooth, the doctor will clean the area. If you’re planning on getting a dental implant, if necessary, at this point, we can place bone grafting material into the empty socket to ensure there is adequate bone to support the implant. We may or may not close the site with a few sutures, depending on which tooth was removed. 

How Long Does a Tooth Extraction Take to Heal?

Every patient is unique and some people heal more quickly than others. However, while it does depend on your natural biology and the complexity of your case, in general, the tooth extraction healing stages are as follows:

  • The First 24 Hours 

For the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, you may experience swelling, bleeding and some discomfort. This is all totally normal. A blood clot will start to form, which is necessary to stop the bleeding. About 24 hours post-extraction, swelling should peak and then begin to subside. 

  • 1-2 Days Post-Extraction

Your body will do the majority of its healing in the first two days after the procedure. You’ll want to follow our post-op instructions carefully and get plenty of rest. You may still have soreness at the extraction site and a small amount of bleeding. Once the clot forms, it will start to transform into granulation tissue, a mixture of white blood cells, blood vessels and collagen. The granulation tissue helps prevent infection and fills in the hole left behind from the extraction. 

  • 3 Days Post-Extraction

About three days post-procedure, swelling should be minimal and bleeding should have stopped. The area may be a little tender. The empty tooth socket will be on its way to healing, however, you’ll want to continue following your after-care instructions to help keep the clot in place. By 72 hours post-extraction, you might notice that the hole is starting to close. 

  • 7 to 10 Days Post-Extraction

Between seven and 10 days after the extraction, the opening where your tooth was should be closed, or at least very close to it, and a new layer of gum tissue will have begun to form. If we used dissolvable stitches, they’ll start to disappear. You shouldn’t have swelling, bleeding or pain at this stage of the healing process. 

  • 3-4+ Weeks Post-Extraction

Three to four weeks after the tooth extraction, the extraction hole will be closed, though you may still have an indentation for a few more weeks. 

For a surgical extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, the jawbone will have to heal as well, which can take several months. While this might sound like a long healing period, the truth is, most patients feel “back to normal” within a few days, but it takes more time for the bone tissue in the jaw to regenerate.

What Should a Tooth Extraction Look Like When Healing?

During the first 24 hours after a tooth extraction, you’ll see a hole where the tooth once was. This empty socket will look deep red and a blood clot will form that reaches to about the level of the gumline. The tissue around the socket might appear whitish in color due to trauma. 

After two to three days, the hole will look smaller and you’ll notice new gum tissue has started to form around the edges. Around this time, we sometimes get calls from patients concerned about white stuff during their tooth extraction healing. As long as you’re not experiencing severe pain, the white stuff inside of the tooth socket is likely granulation tissue and not a sign of infection. 

As we said, granulation tissue is made up of collagen, blood vessels and white blood cells. It looks creamy white and typically develops two to three days after the extraction once the clot has formed. It helps protect the clot and cover the wound. 

By one to two weeks after the tooth extraction, a normal socket will be pink in color instead of dark red. Most of the gum tissue will have healed and the socket will look nearly closed. For larger teeth, such as molars or wisdom teeth, healing can take a bit longer. At the two-week mark, you might still notice a pretty visible indentation. 

Animated-Teeth has a guide with pictures of what a tooth extraction should look like when healing. Though your extraction site may look slightly different, seeing the visuals can be helpful and give you a basic idea of what’s normal and what’s not. 

How Long Does Pain Last After a Tooth Extraction?

Now for the million dollar question: How long does pain last after a tooth extraction? It varies depending on your body and the tooth that was extracted. For a simple extraction, such as the removal of an incisor or a baby tooth, pain lasts, on average, one to three days. 

Pain after a tooth extraction can last longer for teeth with deep roots or those that were surgically extracted. In these cases, discomfort can continue for about a week, with some patients noticing an increase in pain around day five and then a gradual decrease.

If you’re still experiencing tooth extraction pain after seven days, it’s a good idea to check in with your dentist. While a bit of tenderness around the socket is to be expected, significant pain after the first week can be a concern. 

Tooth Extraction

Are There Aftercare Instructions I Should Follow?

Yes. When you visit our practice for a tooth extraction in Naperville, we’ll provide you with aftercare instructions to follow. In general, you’ll want to stick with the following guidelines:

First 24 Hours

  • Immediately after the tooth extraction, we’ll give you gauze pads. Fold them up to create a thick surface. Put the pads on the extraction site and bite down on them firmly for about 15 to 30 minutes before checking to see if bleeding has slowed. Replace the gauze pads as needed and use them until bleeding is minimal or stops. 
  • If you were prescribed antibiotics, take them as instructed. 
  • For pain, you can take an over-the-counter or prescribed pain reliever as needed. 
  • Rest for the remainder of the day after your tooth extraction and limit physical activity for a full 24 hours. Prop your head up on pillows to minimize bleeding. 
  • Place a cold compress on your cheek in the area of the extraction site to help with pain and swelling. Use it for 10 minutes on and off throughout the first 24 hours. 
  • When eating, opt for liquids or very soft foods. 

After the First 24 Hours:

  • You can start to resume your regular activities, however, avoid excessive exertion for 72 hours. 
  • Continue with a soft foods diet for several days.
  • Continue taking any prescribed medication, including antibiotics, as instructed. 
  • Brush and floss your teeth but be careful not to brush the extraction site. 
  • You can gently rinse your mouth with a salt water rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water). Don’t swish or spit vigorously. If you were told to irrigate the sockets, you can do that to keep the area clean. 

What Can I Eat After a Tooth Extraction?

If you’re experiencing pain after a tooth extraction, you probably won’t be up for eating a big meal. But, keep in mind, good nutrition will help with the healing process. 

As for what to eat after a tooth extraction, during the first 24 hours, liquids or cold, creamy foods will be your best bet. Protein shakes, smoothies (avoid fruit with seeds), yogurt, ice cream and pudding are all good options.

Once you feel ready, you can move on to soft foods. Eat softer foods for about a week post-op. In addition to those suggested above, some of the best soft foods for after tooth extractions, include:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Jell-O
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cook grains like quinoa or barley
  • Soft-cooked vegetables
  • Ripe fruit like bananas 
  • Fish
  • Soft-cooked meats, such as roasted or stewed chicken
  • Tofu
  • Soup or stew with small pieces of soft-cooked meat and veggies
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat or other cooked cereal
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins (with no nuts or seeds)
  • Soft sandwich bread
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tuna, chicken or egg salad (without celery or any crunchy additions)

What Should I Avoid After the Procedure?

After a tooth extraction, avoid:

  • Spitting, sucking through a straw and vigorous rinsing for three days. The suction created by these actions can dislodge the clot, leading to a painful condition known as dry socket
  • Smoking cigarettes. This too can interfere with the clot and smoking slows down the healing process. A lot of patients ask, “When can I smoke after a tooth extraction?” We’d recommend waiting at least 24 hours, but if you can stop smoking for seven days, it will be helpful.
  • Hard, crunchy foods (i.e., chips, nuts, raw carrots, etc.) and food that can get stuck in the socket, such as seeds and popcorn, for a week
  • Very hot, very cold, acidic or spicy foods for the first several days, as well as carbonated beverages and alcohol
  • Vigorous activity for at least three days
  • Using over-the-counter mouthwash for seven days. Even when swishing with a saltwater rinse, rinse gently during this timeframe.

How Can I Make My Tooth Extraction Heal Faster?

While there isn’t a magic way to make a tooth extraction heal faster, following your post-op instructions will help with your recovery and prevent complications. As with any type of oral surgery, rest, eating a soft foods diet, using an ice pack, maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding using a straw, swishing or smoking will promote optimal healing.

Are There Any Post-Extraction Complications I Should Look Out For?

Infections after a tooth extraction are rare, but you should give our office a call if you experience any signs of infection, including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Severe pain
  • Redness and swelling in the extraction area
  • Lots of discharge
  • Nausea and vomiting

Another issue that can occur after an extraction, particularly after wisdom teeth removal, is dry socket. Dry socket, technically called alveolar osteitis, is when the blood clot at the extraction site fails to form or dislodges in the early stages of healing. When this happens, it can leave the nerve and bone exposed in the socket. 

Signs of dry socket include:

  • Severe pain or pain that worsens or changes in quality within a few days after a tooth extraction
  • An empty-looking socket that appears to have fully or partially lost the blood clot
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Pain that travels from the socket to the ear, eye, temple and neck on the side of your face where the tooth was extracted
  • Bad breath and/or an unpleasant taste in your mouth

Though dry socket is painful, it’s easily treated. Contact us right away and we’ll help you get relief. 

Expert Tooth Extractions in Naperville, IL

If you suspect you need to have a tooth extracted, schedule an appointment at Naperville Dental Specialists. With modern technology and a team of dentists and specialists, we can take care of all of your dental needs in one location, from the extraction to replacing your tooth. 


Dental Cleaning

6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Your Dental Cleanings

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Juggling work, family, a social life and your own health and wellness is a lot. When you’re busy and trying to prioritize, unfortunately, preventative care appointments can get pushed down lower on your to-do list or avoided altogether. This is especially true of having a dental cleaning once every six months. 

We get it! As an adult who knows how to brush and floss your own teeth, particularly if you don’t have any major dental problems, these routine visits can seem unnecessary. But, the truth is, they’re actually a crucial part of maintaining your oral health and forgoing them will end up costing you more time (and money) in the long run. 

Here are 6 reasons you shouldn’t skip your dental cleanings:

  • Regular Cleanings Help You Prevent Tooth Decay and Gum Disease.

Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once daily play a huge role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. However, there’s only so much you can do at home. When plaque (a sticky bacterial film) hardens and turns into tartar, or calculus, it can’t be removed with just a regular toothbrush and floss. The tartar will sit on your teeth, releasing acids that erode your tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities. 

The bacteria in the plaque and tartar also irritate gum tissue and can result in a bacterial infection, known as periodontal disease, or gum disease. When you visit  us for a Naperville teeth cleaning, the hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and hardened deposits that you can’t get rid of on your own. This will go a long way in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. And prevention is always better than treatment! 

And, since a routine dental cleaning is considered preventative care, it’s generally covered by insurance. Even without insurance, the dental cleaning cost is significantly less than the cost of treating a dental issue. If you don’t have insurance, we even offer a dental savings plan called VantageOne at our practice. When you purchase a membership, you’ll enjoy discounts, including 50% of dental cleanings, exams and x-rays!

  • Dental Cleanings Let Us Catch Little Problems Before They Become Big Ones, Saving You Time and Money.

Early detection is one of the most important benefits of a dental cleaning. While working on your smile, the hygienist gets an up close and personal look at your mouth. They can spot early tooth decay, signs of gingivitis, signs of oral cancer, faulty restorations and other dental concerns. Catching a cavity or faulty restoration early will mean much less invasive and expensive treatment. Sometimes, we can even stop or reverse early tooth decay and prevent it from turning into a cavity at all. 

If we identify gingivitis, which is gum disease in its earliest stages, we can treat it while it’s still reversible. Once gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, it can be managed but not cured. Periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults and as the infection spreads, it can also lead to tissue and bone loss. 

As for oral cancer, early diagnosis is key. This type of cancer has a high mortality rate. It’s not because it’s inherently more dangerous than other types of cancers, but because it’s often detected in its advanced stages. During a Naperville teeth cleaning, the hygienist will look for suspicious bumps and lesions, as well as color changes in your gum tissue. The dentist can also perform a more comprehensive oral cancer screening as part of the dental exam that follows. 

Regardless of what the problem is, treating any issue will be more successful, affordable and less time consuming if caught early. By skipping dental cleanings and exams, you’re actually increasing the likelihood that you’ll spend a lot more time in the dentist’s chair in the future. 

Dental Cleaning with floss

  • These Visits Leave You With a Brighter, Healthier Smile.

The clean you get from a professional dental cleaning is hard to match. Your teeth and gums will feel refreshed and the hygienist will use specialized dental cleaning tools to remove surface stains from your tooth enamel. Your smile will look brighter and because we polish the teeth and create a smooth surface, your enamel will be better able to repel plaque in the weeks after your cleaning. 

  • Dental Cleanings Keep Your Breath Smelling Fresh.

An excellent oral hygiene routine helps to keep your mouth smelling fresh. But, by removing those hardened deposits we talked about, regular professional cleanings are another important step in controlling the oral bacteria behind bad breath

  • You Get Personalized Recommendations.

Of course, there are some general things most people should be doing like brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. That said, no two smiles are the same. 

Your dentist and hygienist can only really offer truly personalized recommendations after assessing your oral health and seeing firsthand how well your oral hygiene routine is working (don’t worry, it’s a no judgment zone here!). We’ll then give you guidance to help you create a strong homecare routine that meets your unique needs and let you know how often to have a dental cleaning and exam.

  • Boosting Your Oral Health Boosts Your Overall Health.

Your oral health is closely tied to your overall health. In fact, an infection in a tooth can spread to other areas of the body, and the toxins and inflammation from periodontal disease may cause systemic issues. Periodontal disease has been tied to a number of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, preterm birth and more. 

Regular dental care, including routine dental cleanings, helps to stop tooth decay and gum disease in their tracks or, at the very least, allow for early intervention before they impact your oral and overall health. By caring for your smile, you’re caring for your entire body. 

Schedule Your Next Naperville Teeth Cleaning Today!

Preserve your oral health and prevent future problems by keeping up with your regular dental cleanings and exams. Our expert Naperville dentists and hygienists offer thorough, yet gentle care to bring out the best in your smile. Schedule your next dental cleaning and exam at Naperville Dental Specialists.

Cosmetic Dentist

What is a Cosmetic Dentist and What Do They Do?

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What is a Cosmetic Dentist and What Do They Do?

You’ve probably heard the terms “cosmetic dentist” and “cosmetic dentistry.” In fact, we offer cosmetic dentistry in Naperville, IL at our practice. But what exactly is a cosmetic dentist and what do cosmetic dentists do? Are they the professional to turn to for cavities or do they only fix esthetic concerns? In this post, the team at Naperville Dental Specialists will be delving into the topic to give you a better understanding of this area of dentistry. 

What is a Cosmetic Dentist?

Cosmetic dentistry is also called esthetic dentistry. A cosmetic dentist is a doctor who focuses on improving the appearance of teeth and gums to create a beautiful smile. While esthetics might be the main goal, as a dental professional, they also ensure treatment complements the oral and overall health of the patient.

As for how to become a cosmetic dentist, the training is the same as that of a general dentist, because, technically, a cosmetic dentist is a general dentist. They attend four years of dental school where they earn their Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. 

While cosmetic dentistry isn’t a dental speciality like orthodontics or prosthodontics and doesn’t require attending a residency program, cosmetic dentists take courses and seminars in cosmetic dentistry. Others, such as those at Naperville Dental Specialists, are members of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and do much more extensive training in esthetic smile design and advanced cosmetic procedures.

What Do Cosmetic Dentists Do?

Do cosmetic dentists do surgery? Do cosmetic dentists do braces? We get these questions a lot. While, yes, cosmetic dentists do surgery, such as periodontal plastic surgery and some even offer dental implants, it’s usually advisable for patients to see a specialist like an oral surgeon, periodontist or prosthodontist, especially if they have a complex case. Specialists complete an additional two to three years of rigorous training in a residency program after dental school and the sole focus of their practice is that of their specialty. 

And, yes, cosmetic dentists do also sometimes offer braces or Invisalign®. But, again, seeing a specialist is your best bet. An orthodontist also completes specialty training in a residency program, giving them the expertise to straighten the teeth and align the bite in the healthiest, most effective way possible. 

So, what do cosmetic dentists do? They treat a variety of concerns, such as discolored, chipped, misshapen, misaligned and missing teeth with the goal of helping your smile look its absolute best. Common cosmetic dental services include teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, cosmetic dental bonding, crowns and bridges. A cosmetic dentist combines art and science to design a smile that looks amazing and functions just as well.  

Most cosmetic dentistry procedures are considered elective, however, many do provide restorative benefits too. For example, if you have a severely decayed tooth that requires a dental crown, a cosmetic dentist can remove the decay and protect your tooth with a crown. However, they’re going to tap into their expertise and artistry to design a beautiful, realistic-looking crown that enhances your appearance. 

Common Cosmetic Dental ProceduresCommon Cosmetic Dental Procedures

Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening is a relatively affordable, fast way to give your smile a boost. While teeth whitening strips and other over-the-counter methods can brighten your enamel, they typically only get rid of surface stains and take several weeks of use to work. Professional in-office teeth whitening achieves much more dramatic results in just one session. 

Our Naperville cosmetic dentists protect your gums and then use a professional-strength whitening gel. The gel is activated by a specially designed light and the solution breaks down stains on the teeth, including those that are deeper set. In less than an hour, you’ll have a significantly brighter smile. We’ll also give you post-whitening care instructions to help you maintain your results for a long time. In fact, your smile will always be whiter than it was before the procedure. 

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers, or porcelain veneers, are the ultimate cosmetic dental procedure, because they can give your smile an entirely new look. The treatment involves bonding thin pieces of porcelain to the front of your teeth, masking imperfections. 

With veneers, you can tackle a range of concerns, including gaps between the teeth, chipped or broken teeth, discoloration, misshapen or crooked teeth and short or worn teeth with a single procedure. Once your veneers are in place, you’ll have the straight, white teeth you’ve always dreamed of. 

When patients visit with a Naperville cosmetic dentist at our practice, we use our iTero® digital scanner to take digital images of your teeth. Once your scans are uploaded into our treatment planning software, your cosmetic dentist designs custom veneers that match the color, shape and even translucency of your natural enamel. They then remove a little bit of your enamel to get an optimal fit before cementing your veneers in place. 

Dental Crowns

A dental crown, or cap, covers your entire tooth to the gumline, restoring its appearance, strength and function. Typically, crowns are needed when a tooth is decayed, cracked or damaged and can’t be repaired with a filling. 

Though dental crowns can be used for esthetic purposes, since the natural tooth must be recontoured to fit under the crown, they’re usually reserved for teeth that are missing a lot of natural structure. For someone with healthy teeth, veneers or cosmetic dental bonding would be less invasive options. 

We offer different types of dental crowns at our practice. If you need a crown on a tooth that’s visible when you smile, getting a porcelain crown from a cosmetic dentist will give you the most natural looking results. The dentist will design a crown that blends in flawlessly and mimics the natural translucency, color and contours of a real tooth. 

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is used to replace one or more missing teeth. The most common type of bridge is a fixed bridge. It consists of two crowns with a filler tooth in the center (the pontic). The teeth on either side of the gap are recontoured to fit under the crowns, which are permanently bonded to the teeth. These abutment teeth support the replacement tooth that sits in the gap. 

A good cosmetic dentist has the skill and eye for detail to create a bridge that looks beautiful and natural. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we use cutting-edge treatment planning software and high quality materials to give our patients durable, yet highly esthetic dental bridges. 

Cosmetic Dental Bonding

Cosmetic dental bonding involves applying a custom-tinted composite resin to the tooth enamel. Once it’s hardened, the dentist shapes and polishes it to match the rest of your smile. It can cover imperfections like chips, cracks, small gaps, short or worn teeth, discoloration and misshapen teeth. 

Cosmetic dental bonding is fairly affordable and doesn’t usually involve removing any tooth enamel, but it doesn’t last as long as veneers and, over time, the resin can darken. The procedure can be a good alternative to dental veneers for patients who only have one or two minor concerns they want to fix. It’s also preferable for kids and teens who are still developing and wouldn’t be candidates for a permanent treatment.  

Is Cosmetic Dental Work Covered by Insurance?

Whether or not cosmetic dental work is covered by insurance depends on the procedure, your insurance plan and the reason for the treatment. For the most part, treatments like teeth whitening or dental veneers are not covered by insurance. If treatment is both medically necessary and esthetic, such as getting a dental crown on a decayed or damaged tooth, then your dental insurance will likely cover a portion of the procedure. 

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer a dental savings plan called VantageOne. When you purchase a membership, you can use the plan at our practice and receive discounts on all types of treatment, including cosmetic dental care. This will reduce your out-of-pocket costs if you don’t have insurance or it doesn’t cover the procedures you’re interested in. 

How Much Do Cosmetic Dental Procedures Cost?

Cosmetic dentistry prices vary depending on a number of factors, including the procedure(s) you’re getting, the practice and how extensive your case is. For example, the cost of dental veneers will be significantly higher than the cost of teeth whitening or cosmetic dental bonding. However, your smile makeover will be longer lasting and more dramatic. It really boils down to your priorities.

Another thing to consider is lab costs and materials. These are the factors that sometimes mean cosmetic dentistry prices will be higher than general dentistry prices. Why? Getting, say, a gold crown with the goal of restoring function from your general dentist doesn’t involve the level of planning and customization at a lab that getting a cosmetic porcelain crown does. 

When you visit Naperville Dental Specialists for a consultation with a cosmetic dentist, they’ll perform an exam, talk with you about your goals and needs and evaluate your diagnostic records. They’ll then be able to provide you with personalized treatment recommendations and let you know how much it will cost upfront. If you don’t want to pay in full for your treatment, we accept CareCredit. The healthcare financing card lets you break up the cost into low monthly payments. 

How to Find a Good Cosmetic Dentist

With so many areas of dentistry, it can be difficult to know how to find a good cosmetic dentist. Really, it comes down to training, experience and technology. While all dentists receive an overview of some of the components of cosmetic dentistry in dental school, you want to find a cosmetic dentist who has completed additional training in things like esthetic smile design or advanced cosmetic dental procedures. Their courses will have gone much more in depth into the nuances of designing a beautiful smile.

Technology is also important. The world of dentistry is always evolving and the tools available today are unparalleled. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we use digital scanning instead of uncomfortable, messy impressions, as well as CAD/CAM software that allows us to design restorations in three dimensions. When creating a dental crown, for example, we can use our software to make a mirror image of the tooth on the other side of your mouth, so that it matches exactly. 

Digital tools are more precise and efficient. And, since we have an in-house lab, we use our technology to offer same-day crowns and veneers that meet our exacting standards. Don’t be afraid to ask about a cosmetic dentist’s training and experience, as well as the technology they use at your first visit. 

Schedule a Consultation With a Naperville Cosmetic Dentist

To find out your options for a smile makeover, schedule a visit with a Naperville, IL cosmetic dentist today! Our caring, knowledgeable team and expert dentists will give you the personalized, high quality care you deserve. 

Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Coffee?

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Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Your Morning Coffee?

Your alarm sounds, you roll out of bed and, if you’re like a lot of people, one of the first things you do is enjoy a cup of coffee (or two). And while coffee smells and tastes amazing when it’s straight from your mug in the morning, the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to your breath. So, understandably, your natural instinct might be to brush your teeth after having your coffee to ensure your mouth is fresh and clean as you go about your day. But there’s some debate about whether or not this is the right move. Well, the team at Naperville Dental Specialists is here to help. We’ll be weighing in on whether you should brush your teeth before or after coffee.

Should I Brush My Teeth Before or After Coffee?

Drumroll please….you should brush your teeth before having coffee, according to our Naperville dentists. We know, we know, it feels like that goes against all logic. After all, doesn’t coffee stain teeth? Won’t you be stuck with coffee breath? 

Yes, coffee does stain teeth and, sure, it can cause bad breath. However, there are two main reasons behind the recommendation for brushing your teeth before coffee:

  • Brushing your teeth eliminates plaque and gives your teeth a smooth surface. This makes it more difficult for the liquid to adhere to your enamel, which will prevent or reduce coffee stains on your teeth. It will also make lifting any superficial stains easier when you brush later. 
  • Coffee is acidic. Whenever you eat or drink something acidic, including coffee, it leaves your enamel vulnerable for about 30 to 60 minutes until your saliva neutralizes the acidity and the pH in your mouth returns to normal. If you brush when your enamel is temporarily weakened, it can cause erosion. As your enamel erodes, the underlying dentin becomes exposed. This can lead to tooth sensitivity, increase your risk of cavities and make your teeth look yellow. 

Wait, is coffee bad for your teeth?

The good news is, coffee (as long as you’re not adding sugar) doesn’t directly cause tooth decay and it’s no worse than any other drink that’s not water. However, the acidity, especially if you consistently brush your teeth right after your coffee, can eventually lead to enamel erosion, which will make you more susceptible to sensitivity and decay. Aside from the acid, coffee stains teeth too. It’s pigmented and, over time, it’s notorious for causing discoloration. 

But, overall, coffee may actually have some beneficial properties that can boost your oral health. For example, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry found that black coffee without any additives like sugar or cream helped prevent cavities thanks to its antibacterial effect. It’s thought the polyphenols in coffee are responsible for zapping bacteria. The bottom line: stick with black coffee and hold off on brushing your teeth afterwards. As long as you maintain good oral hygiene, you should be perfectly fine drinking it. 

brush your teeth before or after coffee

How Can I Prevent Coffee Breath and ‘Stains While Keeping My Enamel Safe?

Thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water after having a cup of coffee will go a long way in warding off coffee breath, keeping stains at bay and giving your mouth a clean sensation. Even better, rinse your mouth and then chew a piece of sugarless gum. (Bonus points if the gum contains xylitol since xylitol prevents bacteria buildup.) Chewing sugarless gum after any meal or beverage is a good practice for getting your saliva flowing and helping to prevent cavities. Having a piece after coffee has the added benefit of freshening your breath. 

If you drink a lot of coffee and other acidic beverages, you might also want to consider using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth that contains fluoride. The fluoride will help to remineralize your teeth and strengthen your enamel. Ingredients like potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride will reduce sensitivity by shielding the dentin and soothing the nerves inside of your teeth. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that the debate about whether you should brush your teeth before or after coffee refers to brushing soon after drinking it. The American Dental Association recommends waiting 60 minutes after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth. So, if you’re not in a rush, you can wait an hour until your oral pH is back to normal and then brush your teeth without any negative effects. 

Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Dentist Today

Do you have more questions about your oral health? Schedule a visit with a Naperville dentist today. We can fill you in on everything you need to know about caring for your teeth and gums, including how to develop a smile-friendly morning routine. If you’ve been brushing right after your coffee for years and now have sensitivity or discoloration, we can help with that too! 

what does apple cider vinegar do for your teeth

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Your Teeth?

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What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Your Teeth?

Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a cure-all for everything from heartburn to acne. While there aren’t a ton of studies to support many of the claims, the home remedy is still incredibly popular. Recently, there have been articles and blog posts about the benefits of apple cider vinegar for oral health. Recommendations include drinking a glass of it a day, using it as mouthwash and even rubbing it directly on the teeth to make them whiter. But, before you jump on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon, get the facts from our Naperville general dentists.

What are the Supposed Benefits of Apple 

Cider Vinegar for Oral Health?

There are claims of what does apple cider vinegar do for your teeth as a mouthwash is that it can kill the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease, and the potassium in the vinegar can help to strengthen teeth. Yet, the most popular application is using apple cider vinegar for teeth whitening. Some suggest brushing it directly on the teeth, while others say to mix it with baking soda. 

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Bad For Your Teeth?

Apple cider vinegar is acidic. It typically has a pH between 2.5 and 3. For reference, distilled water, which is neutral, has a pH of 7. Any type of acid, including the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar, can erode tooth enamel. So, yes, drinking or swishing with large quantities of apple cider vinegar is bad for your teeth.

When the enamel breaks down, it leads to sensitivity and puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay. Eventually, as the underlying dentin is exposed, your teeth will also look yellow.

A 2014 study examined the erosive effects of different types of vinegar on tooth enamel. The researchers found that between 1% and 20% of the minerals in the enamel were lost when the enamel was soaked in various kinds of vinegar for four hours. While the study did demonstrate that vinegar eroded teeth, it didn’t account for factors like the impact of saliva on the process, so more research is needed to understand the full extent of damage.

A 2012 case study of a 15-year-old girl whose enamel was significantly eroded found that the erosion was due to the daily glass of apple cider vinegar she drank for weight loss. 

There are no conclusive studies on whether apple cider vinegar is more effective at killing cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth than any other remedies.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Make Teeth Whiter?

Studies, including one published in 2014, found that apple cider vinegar does make teeth whiter. However, though it has a minor bleaching effect, it can also damage the hardness of the enamel. 

The American Dental Association has weighed in on the topic. Their stance? Don’t whiten your teeth with apple cider vinegar, because the prolonged contact can wear away enamel. 

The minimal results that you’d get aren’t worth the risk. You’d achieve safer, much more dramatic results with a professional teeth whitening treatment at your dentist’s office. 

How to Protect Your Teeth From Apple Cider Vinegar

While large amounts of apple cider vinegar can damage your teeth, you don’t have to forgo it all altogether. Here’s how to protect your teeth from apple cider vinegar:

  • Dilute the vinegar with water. If you’re drinking it for health purposes, use five parts water for every one part apple cider vinegar.
  • Enjoy it in moderation. Putting it on a salad or having the occasional diluted glass of it is fine for most people’s teeth. 
  • Never use apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash or drink it straight from the bottle. 
  • Consider switching to a supplement. Some companies sell apple cider vinegar in pill form, allowing you to get the benefits without it coming into contact with your teeth. 
  • If you have apple cider vinegar (or anything acidic), wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth immediately, you can damage your enamel while it’s temporarily weakened from the acidity. 
  • After eating or drinking something with apple cider vinegar in it, rinse your mouth out really well with water. This will reduce the amount of vinegar that sits on your enamel. 
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily. When your enamel is strong, you’ll be less vulnerable to the effects of apple cider vinegar on your teeth. 

Schedule a Visit With a General or Cosmetic Dentist in Naperville, IL

If you have oral health concerns or want to get whiter teeth, schedule a visit with a general or cosmetic dentist at Naperville Dental Specialists. We can give you personalized recommendations to improve your oral health or whiten your teeth in a way that’s safe and effective.

What’s the Best Option for Super Fast Teeth Whitening?

By Blog

What’s the Best Option for Super Fast Teeth Whitening?


This month, we’re sharing another question the team at Naperville Dental Specialists received from a patient. 

“I have a class reunion coming up in about one week. I don’t think that is enough time to get my teeth really white with over-the-counter whitestrips.  Would professional whitening get my teeth really white by then?”Desiree M. 

We’ll be answering Desiree’s question and discussing the different ways to get a brighter smile, the fastest way to whiten teeth and the types of teeth whitening we offer in Naperville, IL. 

The Different Ways to Whiten Teeth

Before we dive into Desiree’s question about how to whiten teeth on a tight deadline, let’s talk about the different ways to whiten teeth in general and the pros and cons of each:

  • Whitening Toothpaste 

One option for low cost teeth whitening is to use a whitening toothpaste. You can opt for a traditional version like Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste or Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

While all toothpastes are abrasive, whitening ones are even more abrasive in order to remove surface stains from the teeth. However, when whisking away stains, the products also take off a microscopic layer of tooth enamel, which can be tough on your smile. So, they’re not recommended for people with sensitive teeth or weakened enamel. 

In addition to traditional whitening toothpastes, there’s a lot of buzz about activated charcoal teeth whitening products. You typically mix the charcoal powder with water to create a paste that you then brush on your teeth with your toothbrush like you normally would. After letting it sit, you rinse it away. 

While billed as a natural teeth whitening solution, charcoal whiteners are no more effective than other toothpastes. They’re safe but still only remove surface stains caused by environmental factors like drinking coffee or eating certain foods. 

Lowest cost teeth whitening option
Easy to use
Gets rid of mild surface stains
Only gets rid of mild surface stains
Won’t dramatically whiten your teeth
Has to be used every day for a prolonged period of time to see results
Charcoal teeth whitening toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride
Can cause sensitivity
Rough on teeth and not appropriate for people with weakened enamel
  • Over-the-Counter, At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits come in two main forms: teeth whitening strips and trays. The at-home teeth whitening trays you can purchase online also sometimes include an LED light along with the trays and bleaching solution. 

These are more effective than whitening toothpaste but still only get your teeth a few shades whiter. They can also cause or exacerbate tooth sensitivity. Whitening strips contain a layer of whitening solution and stick on your teeth. With the trays, you fill each tray, which looks like an Invisalign aligner, with bleach and let it sit on your teeth, with or without an LED light. 

Most options are fairly affordable
More effective than whitening toothpaste
Will get teeth several shades whiter
Can be done at home
Takes 10 days to three weeks to work
Can be messy
Strips often slide around 
Some have to be used for up to 30 minutes at a time 
Doesn’t eliminate deeper set stains
You have to be diligent with using it every day for weeks to get results


  • Professional At-Home Teeth Whitening

Another option for those who prefer to do their teeth whitening at home, is a professional take-home whitening treatment from your dentist. Your dentist will provide you with custom trays and a professional-grade whitening solution. Since your dentist will perform an exam first, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re a good candidate for whitening and that it won’t cause sensitivity or other issues. 

While you will have to use the whitening kit daily for about a week, the bleaching solution is stronger than what you can get over the counter, meaning your teeth will be whiter than they would if you used a kit you ordered online. The results will also last longer. 

Can whiten your teeth at home
Stronger and more effective than over-the-counter fast teeth whitening kits
Your dentist makes sure your teeth will respond and it won’t cause complications
Contains a safe, expert-approved bleaching solution 
Works more quickly than over-the-counter methods
Easy to use
Lasting results
More expensive than whitening toothpaste or whitestrips
Results take about a week
Has to be used every day
Won’t get teeth as white as they would with an in-office treatment


  • In-Office, Professional Teeth Whitening

When you get in-office, professional teeth whitening, your cosmetic dentist applies a professional-strength whitening gel to your teeth. A specially designed light is then used to activate the solution. Once activated, the whitening solution breaks down stains on your teeth, including deeper set stains that can’t be removed with other teeth whitening methods. 

Gets teeth dramatically whiter
Removes deeper stains
More effective than any other teeth whitening method
Only takes one session, which lasts about an hour
Done at your dentist’s office after they’ve made sure you’re a candidate for whitening
The longest lasting option (your teeth will always be whiter than they were prior to treatment)
Safe for enamel
Doesn’t cause tooth sensitivity
Predictable results
More expensive than over-the-counter teeth whitening kits and toothpaste
Not suitable for every patient, including kids under 13
Have to drive to the dentist’s office

What’s the Fastest Way to Whiten to Teeth?

Getting back to Desiree’s question, the fastest way to whiten teeth is an in-office, professional teeth whitening treatment. It will dramatically whiten your teeth in about an hour and in a single office visit.

Professional, take-home teeth whitening would also brighten Desiree’s smile in a week – just in time for her reunion. However, the results wouldn’t be as dramatic as they would be with in-office whitening. 

The majority of over-the-counter teeth whitening kits would not produce results in a week. Additionally, they don’t target deeper stains and won’t get teeth as white as professional treatment. The higher-concentration whitening solutions used by your dentist can only be purchased by professionals and aren’t available online or at a store.

Our Naperville, IL Teeth Whitening Options

At our practice, we offer both professional, take-home whitening kits and in-office, fast teeth whitening in Naperville, IL. Whichever option you choose, a Naperville cosmetic dentist will assess your teeth and gums and make sure you’re a good candidate for the treatment. Then one of our team members will go over the logistics, such as your teeth whitening cost.

If you opt for a take-home kit, you’ll be provided with all of the instructions you need, as well as a safe, effective whitening solution that you’ll apply using plastic trays. 

With an in-office whitening treatment, we’ll apply a gel to your teeth and activate it using a special light. The process takes about an hour. Before you leave, we’ll give you post-whitening care instructions. By following the instructions and practicing good oral hygiene, your results can last for years. 

Schedule Your Visit for Teeth Whitening at Naperville Dental Specialists!

Are you ready for a more dazzling smile? Schedule a visit with us to find out if you’re a candidate for professional teeth whitening in Naperville, IL. Book your appointment online or by calling us at (630) 848-2010. 

What Are The TMD Treatment Options?

What Are the TMD Treatment Options?

By Blog, TMJ

What is TMJ Exactly and What Are TMD Treatment Options?

Our Naperville prosthodontist, Dr. Anthony LaVacca, received the following question, which we’re sharing with permission:

“My sister has been diagnosed with TMJ. I want to help her research this, and determine what her treatment options are. What exactly is it?” 

– Michael

In this post, we’ll be answering Michael’s question and discussing what TMJ is, the symptoms and causes of TMJ disorders, how to find relief, and the different TMD treatment options. 

What is TMJ?

While people commonly call issues with the jaw “TMJ.” TMJ actually stands for temporomandibular joint and refers to the joint itself. Problems with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, are technically called temporomandibular joint disorders or temporomandibular disorders, often shortened to TMJ disorders, TMD or TMJD. We know, it’s a whole lot of acronyms! 

Before we dive into TMJ disorders, first, let’s talk about the temporomandibular joint. There is one TMJ on either side of the head connecting the jaws to the temporal bones in your skull. The joints allow you to move your jaw side to side and up and down. When you yawn, chew, talk, or open and close your mouth, your TMJ is hard at work. 

TMJ muscle explanation

What are TMJ Disorders?

Temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMJ disorders, are a group of conditions that result in dysfunction and pain in the jaw joint and/or muscles that control the movement of your jaw. Since the TMJ is a complex joint, problems with it can also be complex, potentially involving not just the joints and muscles, but also the tendons, teeth, ligaments and nerves. 

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, TMJ disorders fall into three main categories:

  • myofascial pain (pain in the muscles related to jaw function)
  • dysfunction or pain in the joint itself (i.e., displaced joint, injured condyle, dislocated jaw, etc.)
  • arthritis in the joint

A patient could have a TMJ problem that fits into one of the above categories, or even all three. 

What are the TMJD/TMD Symptoms?

TMD symptoms may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw, joint area and face
  • Pain in and around the ear
  • Headaches and/or neck aches
  • Popping or clicking noises when opening the mouth (popping or clicking on their own aren’t necessarily indicative of TMJ disorders unless accompanied by pain or other symptoms)
  • Jaw pain when chewing, speaking or opening the mouth wide
  • Difficulty opening the mouth all of the way
  • The jaws getting “stuck” or “locked” in an open or closed position
  • Swelling on the side of the face


TMJ disorders can also cause toothaches (in multiple teeth), ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, dizziness and other symptoms. TMJ disorders are more common in women than men, leading some experts to think they might be linked to female hormones. 

What are the Causes of TMJ Disorders?

While pinpointing the exact cause of a TMJ disorder can be difficult, many times it’s related to:

  • A misaligned bite (the upper and lower teeth not coming together properly)
  • Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
  • Trauma to the jaw and joint, such as a blow to the face
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth (bruxism), which can put undue pressure on the joint
  • Stress that causes you to tighten your facial muscles or clench your teeth

How to Achieve TMJ Pain Relief at Home?

TMJ pain can range from mild to severe and it can be temporary or chronic. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we typically recommend trying TMJD home remedies first. If you’re not able to get TMJ pain relief, then conservative measures are your next option. Permanent treatments, such as TMJ surgery, should always be the last resort. 

Try the following TMJD home remedies on their own or in conjunction with professional TMD treatment options to alleviate discomfort and encourage mobility in the joint:

  • Eat soft foods. During an episode of TMJ pain, avoid foods that are difficult to chew and that involve opening your mouth wide to bite into them. Instead, opt for soft foods, such as yogurt, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soft-cooked fish, bananas, applesauce, steamed vegetables, oatmeal, protein shakes and smoothies until your discomfort subsides. When you do go back to your regular diet, try to chew with both sides of your mouth.
  • Use moist heat or ice. If you’re experiencing a muscle spasm, muscle pain or your jaw feels locked, hold a washcloth that has been moistened with warm water or a warm compress on the outside of your face in the area of the joint for 10-15 minutes several times a day. This will help loosen the muscles and boost blood flow. 

If you’re experiencing facial swelling, a cold pack will reduce swelling and pain. For a DIY option, cover a bag of frozen vegetables or ziploc baggie of ice with a thin towel or cloth. Hold the cold pack against your face for 10-15 minutes, repeating as needed throughout the day. 

  • Give your jaws a break! Avoid chewing gum, extreme jaw movements (i.e., big yawns, yelling, singing, etc.), and chewing on your fingernails, ice or other objects. 
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help with pain and swelling. For more severe TMJ pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, or, in some cases, certain antidepressants. 
  • Practice good posture. Try to hold your head in a neutral position with your ears in line with your shoulders and, if you work at a desk, keep ergonomics in mind. 
  • Manage stress. Stress can make you clench your jaw and tighten your facial muscles, which may cause or exacerbate TMJ disorders. Try different stress-reduction methods, such as deep breathing or guided meditation, until you find one that works for you. If you can’t seem to manage your stress and worry, consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist or counselor. 
  • Keep your upper and lower teeth slightly apart. To prevent clenching, which will worsen your TMJ pain, when at rest, try to keep your upper and lower teeth slightly apart. This will take pressure off your jaw and allow your temporomandibular joints to rest and heal. If you need to, stick your tongue between your teeth. 
  • Do gentle TMJ stretching and strengthening exercises once your pain improves. When you’re no longer feeling major discomfort, certain TMJ exercises can encourage mobility in the joint and strengthen the chewing muscles to prevent TMD symptoms from returning. The American Academy of Family Physicians has a list of TMJ exercises you may want to try. 

What are the TMD Treatment Options?

For moderate to severe TMJ disorders that don’t improve on their own, professional TMD treatment could be necessary. TMJD treatment options may include:

  • Custom oral appliances – Custom nightguards or TMJ splints are a great way to get TMJ pain relief without medication or surgery. These appliances are made for you by your Naperville dentist. Nightguards reduce the impact from clenching or grinding the teeth, which wards off damage to the teeth and jaw and reduces compression of your TMJ. A TMJ splint holds the jaw in a stable position and takes pressure off the joints so they can heal. 
  • TMJ devices – At Naperville Dental Specialists, another TMJ treatment we offer is the TMJ NextGeneration device. This FDA-cleared device is custom-made to fit comfortably and discreetly in the ear canal. It supports the temporomandibular joints and reduces TMJ pain, while also increasing your awareness of teeth grinding, clenching and other para-functional behavior. 
  • Physical therapy – Depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, physical therapy can be effective for strengthening the muscles that control jaw movement, increasing mobility and controlling discomfort and swelling. Your dentist or doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who will show you different stretching and strengthening exercises. They might also use massage techniques, myofascial release, moist heat and ice, ultrasound and other methods to help with pain and prevent future occurrences. 
  • Injections – Sometimes, TMJ disorders respond to injections, including corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation, trigger point injections to release muscle spasms, or Botox® injections to temporarily relax the chewing muscles and prevent them from contracting. 
  • Orthodontic treatment – When a temporomandibular joint disorder is due to a bite imbalance, treatment with braces or Invisalign® may be recommended to align the teeth and jaws. When the teeth are moved, the TMJ and surrounding structures will also be repositioned. Before treating TMJ disorders with orthodontic treatment, however, we have to make sure any tooth movements will improve the position of the TMJ and help with pain and not make things worse. 
  • Restorative dental work – In certain instances, if the way the upper and lower teeth meet is putting pressure on the TMJ and leading to pain, your Naperville cosmetic dentist can use dental crowns, bridges or, in the case of missing teeth, dental implants, to fix your bite problem and balance the biting surfaces of the teeth. This, in turn, will help with healing. 
  • Alternative medicine – Biofeedback, a technique that involves using electrical sensors to alert you to muscle tightening and jaw clenching, has become a popular TMD treatment option. The technique helps you to notice your internal cues so you can relax and prevent pain. Other alternative options that some patients swear by are acupuncture and radio wave therapy. 
  • TMJ surgery – If all of the other TMD treatments fail, surgery is an option. Since surgery is permanent and the different procedures have varying levels of effectiveness, this should be a last option.

What Type of Doctor Treats TMJ Disorders?

Although no one can technically be referred to as a TMJ specialist or TMJ dentist since it’s not a recognized specialty, Dr. LaVacca is an American board-certified prosthodontist. Prosthodontists have the experience that makes them well suited to helping patients with TMJ disorders. 

After completing dental school, a prosthodontist like Dr. LaVacca completes at least three additional years of advanced training and education in a post-graduate program. While there, they learn the intricacies of diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial problems, including TMJ disorders. 

Key Takeaways

  • The acronym TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and refers to the joint itself. Problems with the temporomandibular joint are technically known as temporomandibular joint disorders or temporomandibular disorders, often shortened to TMJ disorders, TMJD or TMD. 
  • The TMJ is a complex joint and it can be difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause of TMJD, but arthritis, a bite imbalance, bruxism and trauma to the joint are among the common culprits. 
  • While there isn’t a recognized TMJ specialist designation, an American board-certified prosthodontist like Dr. LaVacca has the expertise and knowledge to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. 
  • TMD treatment options can range from home remedies to TMJ appliances to surgery. Conservative treatments should always be considered first and surgical intervention should be the last resort. 

Schedule a Consultation With Our Naperville TMJ Expert

If you’re suffering from TMJ pain and unable to get relief, schedule a visit with Dr. LaVacca today. Dr. LaVacca and our team will use cutting-edge diagnostic technology to determine the underlying cause of your pain and then create a personalized TMJ treatment plan. 

can veneers fix crooked teeth

Can Veneers Fix Crooked Teeth?

By Invisalign

A Naperville cosmetic dentist at our practice received a question from Janet about whether veneers can fix crooked teeth. Here’s what she asked, which we’re sharing with her permission:

All my teeth are fine, except the two top front ones. These two teeth are crooked and kind of go past each other. I wonder if you can tell me if porcelain veneers can fix this kind of problem?

—– Janet 

Janet isn’t the only one wondering about fixing crooked teeth with veneers. In fact, it’s a common question we get from our patients at Naperville Dental Specialists. To give more insight into porcelain veneers, including what the cosmetic dentistry solution can fix, we’ll cover:

  • What are dental veneers?
  • Can veneers fix crooked teeth?
  • What other problems can veneers fix?
  • What are the pros and cons of dental veneers?
  • What are the other treatment options for fixing crooked teeth and similar cosmetic concerns?

What are Dental Veneers?

Before we answer Janet’s question, let’s talk about what dental veneers are. Dental veneers, or porcelain veneers, are extremely thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded permanently to the teeth. The tooth-colored shells cover the front and side surfaces of the teeth in order to mask imperfections and improve the appearance of your smile. 

There are different types of dental veneers. While options like press-on veneers and Lumineers® are advertised as easy to place, not every patient is happy with the appearance of press-ons or Lumineers on their teeth. For that reason, your Naperville cosmetic dentist will customize the veneers and the procedure to your individual needs and goals. 

How Porcelain Veneers Work?

Getting porcelain veneers is painless and you’ll see results immediately, which is why they’ve become so popular with patients who want to transform their smile. Using a digital intraoral scanner, a Naperville Dental Specialists’ team member will take quick, comfortable scans of your teeth. 

A computerized, 3D model of your mouth will be created and your cosmetic dentist will use CAD/CAM software to design custom porcelain veneers that match the shape, color and translucency of your natural enamel.

Once your dental veneers have been created, the dentist will then use special adhesive to bond the veneers to the surface of your teeth. Thanks to our high-tech approach and in-office lab, we can usually complete the procedure in two office visits or, in certain cases, even provide same-day veneers

Can Veneers Fix Crooked Teeth?

Yes, porcelain veneers can address the problem. They are very effective for fixing the appearance of crooked teeth. The end result will look stunning and natural. 

However, veneers camouflage the issue and don’t alter the position of the teeth, so we typically only recommend fixing crooked teeth with veneers when the problem is cosmetic. For more complex cases of misaligned teeth where there are functional or oral health concerns, porcelain veneers may not be the ideal solution. 

Innovative Orthodontic Centers, which is part of the Innovative Dental Partners umbrella, offers comprehensive orthodontic treatment, which, as we’ll talk about shortly, could be the better option for aligning the teeth and creating a healthy, functional bite when there is significant tooth misalignment. 

That said, if your teeth are just slightly crooked and the misalignment isn’t affecting your oral health or your ability to chew, speak or breathe properly, then veneers are an excellent alternative to orthodontic treatment. Instead of spending months in aligners or braces, the porcelain veneers will be bonded to the front of your teeth, making them instantly look straight. 

What Other Problems Can Dental Veneers Fix?

Porcelain veneers are very versatile and they can fix a range of cosmetic concerns, including:

  • Gaps between the teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Discolored, stained teeth
  • Misshapen or slightly crooked teeth
  • Worn or short teeth

Once the veneers are in place, your smile will look whiter, healthier and straighter! 

What are the Pros and Cons of Dental Veneers?

As with any treatment, there are pros and cons to dental veneers. After an expert Naperville cosmetic dentist evaluates your smile and chats with you about your concerns and aesthetic goals, they’ll be able to let you know if porcelain veneers are the right choice for you.

Dental veneers pros:

  • Veneers look and function like your natural teeth
  • Porcelain veneers can mask multiple imperfections and concerns at once
  • The process is painless and quick
  • The porcelain veneers we use at Naperville Dental Specialists are durable, stain-resistant and natural looking
  • Veneers can strengthen your teeth
  • The restorations will last for decades with proper care
  • Results are instant! 

Dental veneers cons:

  • Although it will be minimal, we will have to remove a small amount of your tooth enamel to fit the veneers
  • Porcelain veneers are a cosmetic solution and won’t address underlying problems, such as functional issues related to tooth misalignment

What are the Other Options for Fixing Crooked Teeth and Similar Concerns?

In Janet’s situation, if only two teeth are crooked and that’s all that’s wrong with her smile, or if misaligned teeth are creating functional and oral health problems, then Invisalign® might be the better option. This way, she can fix the crooked teeth instead of just covering them up. 

Fixing Crooked Teeth With Invisalign

Invisalign isn’t like traditional braces. There are no wires and brackets and for a minor case like Janet’s, treatment could be done in as little as six months. The clear aligners are virtually invisible, removable and comfortable. Most people won’t be able to tell you’re wearing them. 

For patients with complex orthodontic problems, comprehensive Invisalign treatment will allow them to achieve the results they want. Dr. Manal Ibrahim and Dr. Christine Gin of Innovative Orthodontic Centers are the leading Naperville Invisalign providers and have the expertise to treat even the most severe cases with Invisalign in a way that’s efficient and comfortable. 

Sensational Smiles, on the other hand, provides limited treatment. With Sensational Smiles, patients like Janet can straighten their teeth with only three office visits. A board-certified orthodontist and Diamond+ Top 1% Invisalign provider will plan and direct the treatment using real Invisalign aligners. This means you can get the convenience of at-home aligner treatment without cutting corners. 

Dental Bonding vs. Veneers

Another alternative to dental veneers is dental bonding. Dental bonding involves placing a composite resin directly onto the tooth (or teeth). The resin hardens and is polished and shaped to blend in with your smile. It’s an affordable way to fix minor imperfections. 

When comparing dental bonding vs. veneers, bonding is usually reserved for teeth that aren’t subjected to a lot of biting force and the procedure can help with small chips or gaps. Veneers are longer-lasting, more stain-resistant and durable, so they work well for a truly dramatic smile transformation and issues like crooked teeth, as well as discoloration or staining that doesn’t respond to teeth whitening

Dental Crowns vs. Veneers

For a severely decayed tooth or teeth that are worn or misshapen, dental crowns can also restore their strength and appearance. But the dental crown procedure does involve removing much more of the natural tooth’s structure, so veneers are often better for fixing cosmetic flaws. 

How Much Do Our Naperville Veneers Cost?

Your Naperville veneers cost will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of veneers we use. While every patient is different, we aim to make veneers affordable. 

We file with most PPO insurances. If your insurance offers coverage for veneers, it can reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, we accept CareCredit, a healthcare financing card that lets you break up your porcelain veneers cost into low monthly payments with interest-free options. 

Now that you know all about whether, or not. veneers can fix crooked teeth, if you’re ready to find out if it’s the best solution for your smile concerns, schedule a visit with a Naperville dentist. Our experienced cosmetic dentists have the training and artistic ability to give you a spectacular smile makeover you’re proud to show off! 

What’s the Best Way to Store Your Toothbrush?

By General Dentistry

We talk a lot about brushing teeth. After all, brushing your teeth twice a day is an important way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, as well as keep bad breath at bay. But, what about how to store your toothbrush? This is what a patient, Lucee, wanted to know when she sent the following email to a Naperville dentist at our practice, which we’re sharing with her permission:

“My boyfriend bought some of those plastic toothbrush cases to keep our toothbrushes in, but I noticed that they feel soggy in the morning. I always kept my toothbrush upside down in Listerine overnight. My mom keeps hers in a toothbrush holder and lets it dry, but to me, there are too many gross bathroom germs to do that. What’s the best way to store our toothbrushes? Thanks, Lucee”


All of the toothbrush storage ideas mentioned by Lucee might sound okay. After all, is there really a right and wrong way to store your toothbrush? Actually, there is! Proper toothbrush storage will keep your toothbrush sanitary and prevent the growth of bacteria.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Where to store your toothbrush
  • How to store a toothbrush
  • 5 extra steps to take for sanitary toothbrush storage and use

Where to Store Your Toothbrush

While Lucee didn’t ask specifically about where to store a toothbrush, we thought we’d talk about this first since there’s a lot of debate about whether or not to store a toothbrush in the bathroom. 

Yes, your bathroom contains your toilet and, as you may have read in recent years, there is such a thing as toilet plume. Toilet plume is the aerosolized cloud of microscopic particles that goes into the air and nearby surfaces when you flush the toilet. 

While there isn’t a standard distance for how far toilet plume reaches, keeping your toothbrush right next to your toilet probably isn’t the best toothbrush storage idea. However, there’s no need to leave your toothbrush in an entirely different room of the house. After all, in reality, your toothbrush isn’t sterile, even when it comes out of the package. 

Additionally, according to the American Dental Association, though toothbrushes have been found to harbor bacteria, including bacteria from toilet flushing, there is no evidence that these bacteria cause adverse health effects. And while research suggests there could be some risk for the transmission of certain viruses, including norovirus, from the toilet particles after flushing, this transmission is based on the viral particles in the air and hasn’t been tied directly to toothbrushes.

So, while it’s likely more of the gross factor and less of a health threat, when it comes to how to store toothbrushes in the bathroom to avoid germs, your best bet is to simply keep your oral hygiene supplies as far from the toilet as you can. 


How to Store a Toothbrush

Now, on to answering Lucee’s question about how to store a toothbrush. Though using a toothbrush case in the bathroom or putting your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet might seem like an appropriate tactic for keeping it safe from toilet plume, it’s actually not the best way to store a toothbrush. 

Instead, let your toothbrush air dry completely between uses to prevent bacteria growth. To do this, store it upright and uncovered. Ideally, if you can, put your toothbrush by an open window as it dries. If you store your toothbrush in a plastic case, in a cabinet or in a covered toothbrush holder, you’re creating the ideal conditions for bacteria and mold to thrive, and no one wants a germ-covered, moldy toothbrush. 

Will a toothbrush stand do the trick? Toothbrushes shouldn’t be stored touching or in close proximity in an open container, holder or stand because cross contamination can occur. Therefore, a multi-brush stand that’s crammed with the entire family’s toothbrushes isn’t recommended. That said, a toothbrush holder is fine as long as yours is the only toothbrush in it or the brushes are spaced far apart, and it’s open, ensuring your toothbrush head is able to air dry. 

What about how to store an electric toothbrush? The basics for how to store an electric toothbrush, bamboo toothbrush or conventional, manual toothbrush are the same. Since electric toothbrushes tend to be a bit bigger and you still want the toothbrush to be upright to air dry, storing it in a cup or a stand with a big enough opening to dry between brushing sessions will be helpful. 

girl uses toothbrush to brush her teeth


5 Tips for Sanitary Toothbrush Storage and Use

  1. After using your toothbrush, rinse it thoroughly with water to remove food debris and excess toothpaste before putting it away. 
  2. Soaking your toothbrush head in an antibacterial mouthwash as Lucee suggested can decrease bacteria growth. After soaking it for about 15-20 minutes, rinse it off, and let it air dry. Use a clean container to soak the toothbrush so cross contamination doesn’t occur.
  3. Never share toothbrushes with anyone else.
  4. If you’re concerned about toilet plume, or someone in your household is ill, make it a habit to close the toilet lid before flushing. This will prevent the particles from escaping in the air and coming into contact with your toothbrush.
  5. Replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head about every three months. If the bristles look frayed, replace it sooner. Worn bristles don’t clean teeth effectively. 

Now that you know the best way to store your toothbrush, don’t overthink it or worry too much. As long as you allow your brush head to air dry, it’s not touching other toothbrushes and you replace your toothbrush every three months, you’ll be fine. The risk of not brushing your teeth is a whole lot greater than the risk of brushing with a toothbrush that’s been sitting out in a bathroom. If you have any additional oral hygiene questions or you’re looking for expert cosmetic dentistry, general dentistry or specialty care in Naperville, schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists today! 

Girl in pain using home remedies for tooth pain

What Are The Home Remedies for Tooth Pain That Really Work?

By Toothache, Blog No Comments

You bite down on something hard and suddenly get a shooting pain in your tooth? You try to shrug it off and tell yourself it will go away on its own, but a day later, your tooth is throbbing and the pain is so bad you can’t concentrate at work or even sleep. In an effort to put off going to the dentist a little longer, you hop on Google to find out how to stop tooth pain fast. The good news is, while, yes, you will need to seek dental care sooner rather than later, there are home remedies for tooth pain that are safe and effective to use until you can make an appointment 

Keep in mind that tooth pain is an indication that something is wrong. The earlier you see a dentist, the easier and less invasive treatment will be. Your dentist will also be able to rule out or treat things like tooth and gum infections and abscesses, which, if not addressed, can spread to the surrounding bone and tissue, or even other areas of the body, potentially causing systemic problems. 

That being said, these home remedies for tooth pain may help to reduce discomfort. They won’t eliminate pain permanently or get rid of an infection, but they can provide temporary relief. The team members here at our Naperville general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and specialty practice are sharing some of the common causes of tooth pain and tips for keeping yourself comfortable in the short term. 

What are the Causes of Tooth Pain?

The common causes of toothaches, include:

Tooth Decay 

A cavity, or tooth decay, is the most common culprit behind a toothache. While you might not feel any discomfort at first, if not treated, a cavity will get larger and can reach the tooth’s nerve, which is one of the main causes of severe tooth pain. Tooth nerve pain is often persistent and throbbing. While pain may go away temporarily if the nerve dies, it still needs to be treated to prevent more serious infection or tooth loss. Usually, if you have a large cavity, pain will be sharp and significant enough to wake you up at night. Pain may also get worse when you’re lying down. Your best bet is to visit the dentist at the first sign of pain, before it becomes unbearable. Small to medium cavities can often be fixed with a tooth-colored filling. Larger areas of tooth decay could need a dental crown or, if it reaches the tooth’s pulp, a root canal.

Loose Crown or a Loose or Missing Filling

A loose crown or loose filling can allow bacteria and food particles to get trapped beneath them, which can lead to pain and, eventually, decay or pulpitis (inflammation of the tooth’s pulp). You may also experience sensitivity and a sensation of pressure in your tooth. If a filling falls out completely, this can leave behind a large space that gets packed with food, leading to pain when chewing or even worse tooth sensitivity. Thankfully, a loose crown or missing or loose filling is usually simple to fix if dealt with quickly. 

Dental Abscess

An untreated tooth infection can lead to a dental abscess. An abscess typically looks like a small pimple on the gums and it’s filled with pus. An abscess can cause persistent, throbbing pain, though sometimes it results in throbbing tooth pain that comes and goes. An abscess is serious and needs to be treated as soon as possible. You’ll often have a fever and can experience swelling around the tooth or even in the face. The infection can spread to other areas of the mouth and body and cause illness. 

Fractured Tooth

A cracked or fractured tooth is another of the causes of severe tooth pain. You may have pain and sensitivity when biting and chewing, and if bacteria is able to reach deep into the tooth, pain will become more persistent. Depending on how large the crack or fracture is, a dental crown could be needed to protect and strengthen the broken tooth. 


If the inside of your tooth becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal will probably be the only way to eliminate tooth pain for good. When the tooth’s pulp is infected, you’ll likely have throbbing tooth pain that comes and goes. The pain may even wake you up when you’re sleeping. You might also feel pressure in the tooth. As we said, the pain can disappear if the tooth dies (becomes necrotic) but the infection will remain, so treatment is still necessary. Gum infections don’t lead to pain inside of the tooth but the human body isn’t great at telling the difference between tooth and gum pain. So, sometimes patients who come in with toothaches actually have gum infections. In its earliest stages, a gum infection, or gum disease, is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible with professional dental care and good oral hygiene practices. If not treated, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis, a more severe type of gum disease. Periodontitis can’t be cured but it can be managed. By stopping the progression and eliminating the acute infection, we can get rid of pain and prevent bone loss and tooth loss.


Getting hit in the face or tooth can result in tooth pain. The inside of the tooth may begin to swell and as pressure builds up, the tooth will hurt. If it’s mild, tooth pain from an injury might go away on its own in a few days as the swelling goes down. However, if the pain is severe, your tooth is discolored, or the pain doesn’t disappear in a few days, visit your dentist.

Teeth Grinding or Clenching (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding, called bruxism, or jaw clenching can cause toothaches. You might even feel a sharp bolt of pain when biting down after grinding your teeth in your sleep. Usually, you’ll feel the pain all over your mouth, or in the teeth on one side, as opposed to throbbing tooth pain in one tooth, unless your teeth grinding causes damage to a tooth’s enamel. Your Naperville dentist can teach you relaxation techniques to help with bruxism or create a custom night guard for teeth grinding and clenching that prevents damage and pain.

TMJ Disorders

You have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on either side of your face that connects your jaw to your head and lets you open and close your mouth. Problems with the TMJ are referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD). Sometimes, TMJ disorders can cause jaw pain that feels like severe tooth pain. Similar to the discomfort from teeth grinding, you’ll usually have pain in more than one tooth. With a TMJ disorder, the pain is often closer to the ear and may be accompanied by a clicking or popping noise in the jaw. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we have advanced diagnostics to give you an accurate diagnosis and help you find relief, whether that’s with lifestyle changes or a custom oral appliance.

Your Sinuses

Your sinuses are located right above your upper teeth. When the sinuses are inflamed or full of gunk, such as when you have a cold, seasonal allergies or a sinus infection, the pressure can cause the upper teeth to ache. When this is the case, you’ll probably have nasal congestion and several teeth in the area will hurt, instead of just one. If your sinuses don’t improve on their own, see a doctor for treatment. Once the infection is gone, you can evaluate whether or not you still have tooth pain. These are the most common causes of tooth pain, however, there could be other issues resulting in your discomfort. The only way to determine what’s behind a toothache is to visit your dentist to have it evaluated.


man experiencing tooth pain at home


Home Remedies for Tooth Pain Relief

Now, on to how to get rid of tooth pain, or at least minimize it, until your dental appointment. None of these home remedies for tooth pain will treat the underlying reason for the toothache, and if you have tooth nerve pain, getting relief can be more challenging. With that said, these methods are safe and might be worth trying:

Saltwater Rinse 

A saltwater rinse is one of the best ways to get tooth pain relief, and it can help with gum infections prior to your dentist appointment. Mix a half teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Swish the solution around in your mouth and then spit it out – never swallow it. You might also want to try gently flossing around the tooth that hurts in case any food particles are stuck. 

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

When it comes to how to stop tooth pain fast, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be extremely helpful. Even if you’re experiencing severe, throbbing tooth pain, research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association in 2018 found that nonsteroidal, OTC pain relievers, with or without acetaminophen, such as ibuprofen, offered the best balance between benefits and risks for the relief of acute tooth pain as compared to opioid pain relievers. One caveat: take pain relievers orally. Putting aspirin directly on your sore tooth or gums is an old folk remedy that not only doesn’t work, but can also damage your mouth.

Rinse With Hydrogen Peroxide 

Rinsing with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water and then spitting it out (again, don’t swallow it) may also offer some degree of tooth pain relief.


If you have a toothache after getting hit in the face or you’re experiencing facial swelling, holding an ice pack on the outside of your face can reduce swelling and some of the associated pain. Facial swelling can be a sign of an abscess, so this is a case where you should call the dentist immediately. You can also try sucking on an ice cube to numb a painful tooth. 

Over-the-Counter Anesthetics

There are plenty of over-the-counter pain-relieving liquids and gels designed to get rid of tooth pain fast. Most of them rely on benzocaine to numb the area. Apply them to the tooth and surrounding gums. These anesthetics aren’t meant for long-term use, so only use them to tide you over until your appointment with your dentist. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning, products with benzocaine shouldn’t be used on children for a toothache or as a teething remedy, particularly little ones under the age of two, as it can cause a rare but serious health condition in kids.

Clove Oil

Clove oil is frequently mentioned when talking about home remedies for tooth pain. This natural solution numbs the area, temporarily stopping discomfort. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Dentistry found clove oil to be just as effective as benzocaine as a topical anesthetic. 


Proponents of natural tooth pain remedies claim if you crush a garlic clove, the oily, disease-fighting liquid, known as allicin, that it releases can help with tooth pain. Studies haven’t proven whether or not this is really effective, but it’s safe and worth giving a go if nothing else is working. You can either chew a clove of garlic or put some minced garlic bits on your aching tooth. 

Use Wax or Gum

If you have a broken tooth or your filling has fallen out, you can temporarily cover the exposed area with softened, sugarless chewing gum or dental wax. This can reduce sensitivity and pain. For a loose filling or crown, gum or wax may help hold it in place, though there is also temporary cement you can purchase at the drugstore to secure your restoration.


Peppermint tea has a numbing effect that may provide tooth pain relief. Once your tea cools, you can swish it around in your mouth. The tannins in black tea have astringent properties, which is why some folk remedies claim you should place a warm, wet black tea bag on your sore tooth for short-term pain reduction. Alternatively, you can brew up some peppermint or black tea, dip a clean cotton ball in the tea and hold the cotton ball against your tooth. 


Wheatgrass isn’t just a superfood for better overall health; it can enhance your oral health too. There are a number of benefits of wheatgrass for teeth, in general, and you can also use wheatgrass for a toothache. It’s rich in chlorophyll, which boats antibacterial properties and helps to stop the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. This antibacterial effect even reduces halitosis, or bad breath. Aside from the benefits of wheatgrass for teeth, it also contains antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that support periodontal (gum) health and reduce inflammation. All of these properties are thought to be helpful for alleviating tooth pain. When using wheatgrass for a toothache, swish an ounce of the juice in your mouth, just as you would with a mouthwash. 

These home remedies for tooth pain are safe and some have been proven effective for temporarily relieving certain types of toothaches. If you’re experiencing discomfort, try a few of the suggestions until you’re able to visit the dentist. Again, severe, throbbing tooth pain requires immediate care. Yet, even minor pain should be checked out since the earlier the underlying problem is dealt with, the easier and more affordable treatment will be. 

Our Naperville dentists always prioritize patients in pain and we’ll get you in for an appointment right away. We use the latest technology and tools to quickly and accurately pinpoint what’s causing your tooth to hurt and give you effective, quick relief. Don’t put off your dental visit if you’re in pain. Book your appointment at Naperville Dental Specialists today! 

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