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Why Do I Have a Bump on My Gums?

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It can be alarming when you notice a bump on your gums, especially if it’s painful. While any time you experience changes in the soft tissues of your mouth or have oral pain, you should visit your dentist, not every bump is a sign of a serious issue. In this post, we’ll cover the causes and what to do to get relief. 

Why Is There a Bump on My Gums?

Here are a few common reasons why you might have a bump:

  • An Abscess – An extremely sensitive, painful bump on your gums that looks like a pimple is likely an abscess. An abscess is due to a bacterial infection and occurs as pus collects under the gum, forming a bump or boil. 

There are different types of abscesses, including a periodontal abscess, which is usually caused by periodontitis (advanced gum disease), and a periapical abscess, which is an infection at the tip of your tooth’s root from tooth decay or an injury. A periapical abscess usually presents as a bump on the gums above or below the affected tooth.

If you do have an abscess, it will often be accompanied by other symptoms including:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Fever
  • Discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Facial swelling
  • Persistent pain that may spread to the ear, jaw and neck

It’s important to have an abscess evaluated and treated. It won’t go away on its own. While it can drain and provide temporary relief, the infection will still be present and can spread to the jaw and supporting tissues. In rare cases, a dental infection can reach the brain and cause serious health complications. 

Treatment for an abscess will involve treating the infection, whether through periodontal care or a root canal, and, sometimes, antibiotics. We might also drain the abscess to give you immediate relief. 

  • A Canker Sore – We’ve had patients at our Naperville dental practice visit worried they had an abscess and it turned out they had a canker sore, or aphthous ulcer. Even though canker sores are benign and don’t cause serious issues, they can be extremely painful.

A canker sore usually looks like a flattish, yellow or white bump or blister on the gums surrounded by a red border. The sores can appear in a cluster and they make talking and eating difficult. 

Canker sores are not contagious and no one knows exactly what causes them, though it’s thought that the following can play a role:

  • Stress
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Food allergies
  • Genetics
  • illness
  • Mouth injuries
  • Certain medications 

The mouth ulcers don’t usually require treatment and tend to resolve on their own within two weeks. 

  • Cyst – A cyst will look like a small, liquid-filled bubble, or bump, on the gums. Dental cysts tend to pop up around the root of diseased, malpositioned or impacted teeth. Many times, cysts are painless. However, they can grow larger and put pressure on the teeth and jaw or become infected, both of which will cause pain. 

While you should have a cyst looked at by your Naperville general dentist, whether it requires treatment or not will depend on its cause and size. Most cysts resolve on their own, however, some need to be removed surgically. 

  • Oral Fibroma – An oral fibroma appears as a smooth, hard bump on the gums. A fibroma is a tumor-like mass of connective tissue that’s almost always benign. Fibromas develop when an area of the mouth is constantly irritated or traumatized, such as from a habit like biting the inside of your cheek or from ill-fitting dentures or another oral appliance.

Treatment will depend on the size, location, type and cause of the fibroma. You may need to have your dentures or oral appliance re-fitted so that it stops irritating your mouth. 

Though fibromas aren’t usually painful, if they get larger, they can become easily irritated, leading to discomfort. In those cases, surgical removal could be recommended. 

  • Bony Growth – A bony, round, hard bump on the gums is known as a dental torus (or tori plural). It’s a bony protrusion that grows on top of existing bone. The bumps are usually smooth and covered completely in gum tissue. 

The different types of dental tori are classified by their location. For example, a torus mandibularis is located on the inside of the lower jaw on the side nearest the tongue. A torus palatinus is a protrusion from the roof of the mouth, or palate. 

Dental tori don’t usually interfere with function or cause pain. Rarely, a tori will continue growing and become irritated or get in the way of dentures. In these cases, it may need to be removed. 

There isn’t a known cause of bony growths on the gums but some experts think bruxism, genetic factors, diet and/or stress on the jaw from a bad bite may be the cause. 

  • Oral Cancer – While most bumps are benign, occasionally, a small growth or lump on the gum tissue is a sign of oral cancer. It might be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
  • A red or white patch on your gums
  • Thickening of the skin
  • A sore that bleeds and/or won’t heal
  • Jaw or tongue pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • A family history of oral cancer 
  • Heavy drinking
  • Tobacco use
  • Having human papillomavirus (HPV) 
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • A lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer VELscope oral cancer screenings. VELscope is a small, handheld tool that uses light to painlessly identify pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

When caught early, oral cancer has a high survival rate. If you’re worried a lump is cancerous, schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists. It’s also good practice to have a screening as part of your routine dental exams. 

Can I Pop a Bump on My Gums?

No. You should never pop a bump on your gums. Even popping a harmless bump will cause irritation and pain, making the situation worse. 

Though an abscess will sometimes drain on its own, popping it can damage the soft tissue and it will release bacteria into your mouth. If an abscess does drain on its own, gently swish with a saltwater rinse to get rid of the foul-tasting liquid and keep your mouth clean. 

 

How to Get Rid Of Bumps on Gums

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get rid of bumps on your gums at home, in most cases. You should see your dentist for treatment if the bump doesn’t go away after a few weeks or it is accompanied by the signs of an abscess or oral cancer we noted above. 

While you’re waiting to see your dentist, you can alleviate pain by:

  • Swishing with a saltwater rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water)
  • Avoiding irritating the bump when brushing or flossing or wearing an appliance
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed
  • Sticking with a soft foods diet

To prevent painful bumps on your gums in the future:

  • Practice good oral hygiene
  • Break repetitive habits that cause oral irritation like biting the inside of your cheek or grinding your teeth
  • Maintain a well-rounded, healthy diet
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid heavy drinking and using tobacco products
  • Keep up with regular dental exams and cleanings

 

Schedule a Visit with a Naperville General Dentist 

If a bump on your gums is bothering you or causing you to worry, schedule a visit with a general dentist at Naperville Dental Specialists today. We use high-tech diagnostic tools, so we can determine what’s causing the bump and create a personalized treatment plan to help you find relief. 

 

Bone Graft for Dental Implants

How Long After a Bone Graft Can You Get a Dental Implant?

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While you’ve probably heard of dental implants, not everyone is as familiar with bone grafting. But, for many patients, getting a bone graft is part of the dental implant process. Once the bone grafting material is in place, it takes time for it to heal and for new bone to form in order to support the implant. So, how long after a bone graft can you get a dental implant? The experts at Naperville Dental Specialists have answers. 

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • What is a dental bone graft?
  • Is a bone graft always part of the dental implant process?
  • What happens during the bone grafting procedure?
  • How long does a bone graft take to heal and what is the recovery like?
  • How long after a bone graft can an implant be placed?
  • What is the dental implant process timing from start to finish?
  • How long does a bone graft last without an implant?

What is a Dental Bone Graft?

When you’re missing teeth, the underlying jawbone isn’t stimulated anymore, which signals to the body that it’s not needed. Over time, the body reabsorbs the bone. This jaw bone loss can not only impact your facial appearance and the health of your remaining teeth, it can also make it difficult to place dental implants. This is because implants need adequate quality and quantity of bone to support them.

The good news is, a dental bone graft is an excellent solution. Our Naperville implant dentist, Dr. Anthony LaVacca, places bone graft material into the empty socket after a tooth is extracted or in areas of the mouth where bone is deficient. The grafting material acts almost like a scaffold and new bone cells are created around it. Eventually the bone regenerates, replacing the graft materials and giving you bone where you need it. 

The type of bone graft procedure and material will depend on your unique needs. However, most commonly, Dr. LaVacca and his team use allografts. These grafts are made of donated bone materials that have been refined and sterilized. Allografts are biocompatible, high quality and don’t require another surgical procedure to take bone from somewhere else in your own body. 

Is a Bone Graft Always Part of the Dental Implant Process?

Not always. At Naperville Dental Specialists, Dr. LaVacca offers advances like All-on-4® dental implants. If you’re a candidate, the technique allows him to replace all of the teeth in one or both arches using just four, strategically placed implants without bone grafting. Additionally, some patients naturally have enough bone to support a dental implant or are able to replace a missing tooth before any bone loss occurs. When that’s the case, bone grafting isn’t necessary.

That said, it is extremely common for getting a bone graft to be part of the dental implant process. If you’re having a tooth extracted, we can usually perform a bone graft immediately after the extraction. This way, you’ll be ready for a dental implant. Even if you’re not sure about dental implants, a bone graft after an extraction might still be recommended in case you do decide to get an implant in the future.

Bone Graft

What Happens During the Bone Grafting Procedure?

There are several different types of bone graft procedures, including socket preservation, a sinus lift and ridge augmentation. Though the specifics will be slightly different depending on your needs, it’s actually a quick, minor procedure. 

We use local anesthetic (we also offer sedation if you’re anxious) to numb the area, so you won’t feel any discomfort. Dr. LaVacca then places the bone grafting material into the empty tooth socket or makes an incision and places it in the section of the jaw that needs augmenting. 

If you lost an upper molar or premolar and you’re having a sinus lift performed, Dr. LaVacca makes a small opening above the missing tooth. He then lifts the sinus membrane up and packs bone grafting material beneath it. This ensures there will be enough room to place the dental implant without damaging the sinus pocket. 

Depending on the type of graft, Dr. LaVacca may place a covering, or membrane, over it and secure it with dissolvable stitches. 

How Long Does a Bone Graft Take to Heal and What is Recovery Like?

Pain is usually pretty mild after a bone graft. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help manage discomfort. Swelling is normal, especially if you also had a tooth extraction. Hold a cold compress in the area of the procedure for 10 minutes at a time for the first day after surgery. Try to sleep with your head elevated and avoid strenuous physical activity until your dentist gives you the go-ahead. 

You’ll want to stick with liquids and soft foods in the days right after the procedure. Even after you resume your normal diet, don’t eat hard, crunchy or sharp foods for a few weeks. Be sure to follow the detailed post-op instructions we give you, which will include how to keep the area clean and any complications to keep an eye out for.

As for how long a bone graft takes to heal, you will probably feel completely back to normal within two weeks. But, the bone will still need to regenerate, so it takes three to nine months for most patients to fully heal. 

How Long After a Bone Graft Can an Implant be Placed?

There are some cases where we can do a sinus lift and dental implant placement in a single procedure. However, many times, such as with socket preservation, a bone graft needs to mature before it can support a dental implant. 

In order to determine how long after your bone graft you can get a dental implant, Dr. LaVacca will have you come in for a post-op visit so he can monitor your healing. The timing can vary depending on your oral and overall health, as well as other factors. Generally, we can place an implant three to four months after a bone graft, though it might be a bit sooner or later. 

What is the Dental Implant Process Timeline From Start to Finish?

The dental implant process timeline varies according to the procedures you need. Dr. LaVacca is an American board-certified prosthodontist and stays on the leading-edge of his field. He’s able to offer revolutionary treatment options, including All-on-4 and Teeth-in-a-Day®.

If you’re a candidate for a procedure like Teeth-in-a-Day, you’ll get your permanent replacement teeth on the same day as your dental implant surgery. If you didn’t require an extraction and bone graft beforehand, you won’t have any waiting period. A few weeks after your consultation, you’ll get a brand new smile.

If you opt for traditional dental implant surgery, the dental implant process timeline will run about three to six months. Dr. LaVacca will place a titanium or zirconia dental implant into your jawbone. The implant will be allowed to heal for three to six months, during which it will fuse with your jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. After it heals, Dr. LaVacca will attach your permanent replacement tooth. 

How long is the dental implant process when bone grafting is involved? It will look something like this:

  • Extraction and bone graft 
  • Three- to four-month healing period
  • Dental implant surgery 
  • Three- to six-month healing period
  • Permanent replacement tooth

That means the process can take six months to a year to complete. Whichever option you go with, we often give you a temporary replacement tooth during the healing period.

How Long Does a Bone Graft Last Without an Implant?

Maybe you’re thinking about getting a bone graft or you already got one and you’re still trying to decide if you want a dental implant. If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering, how long does a bone graft last without an implant?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete answer that applies to everyone. In general, we encourage patients to get a dental implant within six to 12 months of the bone graft. This is because the implant puts the same pressure on the bone that your tooth roots did, which maintains the quantity and quality of bone, preventing bone loss. 

However, technically, a bone graft can last forever in some patients, though the quantity of bone will change. Over time, if a dental implant isn’t placed, the new bone that formed thanks to your graft will resorb just like your natural bone did. The atrophy will eventually slow, however. It really depends on your unique situation and oral health as to whether you can get a dental implant years down the road without needing another bone graft. 

The Bottom Line:

There are cases where bone grafting and dental implant surgery can be done at the same time. For others, Dr. LaVacca offers state-of-the-art tools and techniques like All-on-4, which can help certain patients avoid bone grafting altogether. However, most patients who require a bone graft will need to wait three to four months after the graft to have dental implants placed. 

 

Learn More About Bone Grafting & Dental Implants in Naperville, IL

As a leading prosthodontist, Dr. LaVacca can help you replace missing teeth with dental implants in the safest, most precise and efficient way possible. Using high-tech diagnostics, he’ll determine if you need a bone graft and create a personalized treatment plan and timeline for you. The end result will be a beautiful, functional smile and improved oral health. To learn more about your options, schedule a consultation with our Naperville implant dentist today!

Is Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding Making You Age Faster?

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Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grindin

Teeth grinding and clenching, technically called bruxism, is a common issue. Some people find themselves clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth during the day when they’re under stress. However, for others, bruxism happens during sleep when they’re not conscious of the habit. 

Chronic bruxism, particularly sleep bruxism, can lead to a number of complications, including chipped, cracked or worn teeth, damaged dental restorations, headaches, and facial and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. But can teeth grinding change your face shape or make you age faster? The experts at Naperville Dental Specialists have answers. 

Can Teeth Grinding Change Your Face Shape?

It might come as a surprise, but teeth grinding and jaw clenching can change your face shape. What’s the link between bruxism and your jawline? Well, clenching and grinding work the chewing muscles, including the masseter muscle, which connects to the cheekbone and the lower jaw, and the temporalis muscle, along the side of the head. 

Due to the overuse from bruxism, the masseter and temporalis muscles get stronger and more pronounced, just like any other muscle in the body does in response to exercise. This enlargement, called hypertrophy, can lead to a square jaw that looks undefined and stereotypically “masculine.”

Aside from a squared jawline, bruxism can also change your face shape by giving it a swollen appearance and adding bulk to the cheek area. 

Can Bruxism Make You Look Older?

Unfortunately, yes. According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the repetitive facial expressions that occur when grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw are a culprit behind premature aging of the lower face. 

Teeth grinding makes teeth shorter as enamel erodes, which also contributes to changes in your facial appearance. In extreme cases, the constant biting force and, sometimes, even resulting tooth loss, cause jawbone loss and, in turn, facial sagging as the lower third of the face loses support and volume. 

Can Bruxism Make You Look Older

Can Changes to Your Facial Appearance from Bruxism be Reversed?

To some extent, they can. Getting treatment for teeth grinding and clenching will prevent bruxism from causing further changes to your face shape and reduce the appearance of overworked chewing muscles. For stress-related clenching and grinding, managing stress will go a long way in keeping the habit under control. 

If you grind your teeth in your sleep, stopping can be harder. In order to treat sleep bruxism and reverse changes in face shape, you may need:

  • A custom night guard

A night guard is similar to an athletic mouthguard, but it cushions against the grinding forces and also helps to relax the facial muscles. A Naperville dentist can create a custom guard that will keep your teeth safe from wear and, as you contract your masseter muscle less frequently, cause it to shrink.

  • BOTOX® in the masseter muscle

Masseter muscle Botox has increased in popularity. Botox temporarily blocks the nerves from signaling the muscle to contract. Eventually, the masseter muscle atrophies and the face slims down. However, you’ll need to have regular Botox injections to maintain the results, which can be pricey. 

  • TMJ disorder treatment

Often, bruxism and TMJ disorders go hand in hand. One of the treatments for TMJ disorder we offer at Naperville Dental Specialists is tmj NextGeneration™. The FDA-cleared, custom ear inserts sit comfortably and virtually invisibly in your ear canals. The devices support the TMJs, reducing pain and encouraging healing. They also alleviate strain on the chewing muscles and provide cognitive awareness of clenching and grinding, helping to stop bruxism. As teeth grinding and jaw clenching decreases and the muscles relax, the jaw will look less square.

  • Cosmetic dentistry 

If face shape changes from jaw clenching and teeth grinding are due to worn enamel, one of our skilled Naperville cosmetic dentists can restore the shape, length and appearance of your teeth with treatments like dental veneers or cosmetic dental crowns. This will make you look years younger. 

  • Orthodontic treatment

A misaligned bite can actually make you more susceptible to bruxism. In these cases, getting braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth and improve your bite will be beneficial for stopping grinding and bringing your facial features into harmony. If you do need orthodontic treatment, as part of the Innovative Dental Partners family, we’re under the same roof as the talented, world-class orthodontists at Innovative Orthodontic Centers. We can refer you to the practice and easily coordinate your care. 

  • Dental implants

Lastly, facial sagging because of bruxism-related tooth and bone loss can be remedied with dental implants and, if needed, a bone graft. Our leading American board-certified prosthodontist, Dr. Anthony LaVacca, offers a wide range of dental implants in Naperville, IL. He will assess your teeth, jaw and facial structure and recommend the best type of implants for your needs. The dental implants will support your lower face, lifting it and adding youthful volume. 

Worried About a Change in Face Shape From Jaw Clenching or Teeth Grinding?

If you’re concerned about premature aging or changes to your face shape and jawline from bruxism, schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists. With a team of general dentists and specialists in one practice, we can diagnose and treat bruxism in order to help you find relief and reclaim your appearance.

Naperville Dental Specialists

ADVANCED SAFETY PROTOCOLS

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Updated 7/1/2022

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we are still committed to the safety of our patients and staff. We continue to have advanced protocols to make your visit safe. Please read below for a quick introduction to these steps, and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

FACEMASKS

All patients, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face coverings per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the American Dental Association (ADA).

PRE-SCREENING OF EVERY PATIENT

A quick health questionnaire should be completed 24 to 48 hours prior to the in-office appointment.

CDC-APPROVED INSTRUMENT STERILIZATION

As always, we will continue our high-level disinfection between patients, hospital grade sterilization of instruments, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

APPOINTMENT RESCHEDULING

Please reschedule your appointment if anyone in your household has been sick in the last 14 days.

ADVANCED STAFF TRAINING & HEALTH CHECKS

Each member of our team has completed additional awareness and prevention programs to enhance their knowledge to provide safe dental care. Each day, we complete health checks for our team with no-touch temperature checks and a quick set of questions.

Thank you for your understanding as we work together to achieve your best smile! As guidance for COVID-19 prevention changes, we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in the office. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions! We are looking forward to seeing you soon!

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. 

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. 

Pros:
Lowest cost teeth whitening option
Easy to use
Gets rid of mild surface stains
Cons:
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. 

Pros:
Most options are fairly affordable
More effective than whitening toothpaste
Will get teeth several shades whiter
Can be done at home
Cons:
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. 

Pros:
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
Cons:
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. 

Pros:
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
Cons:
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. 

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