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Cosmetic Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

By Sedation Dentistry

Thankfully, sedation dentistry is a solution that can help alleviate anxiety and make dental procedures more relaxing and comfortable. If you’re hesitant about exploring the option and are wondering if sedation is safe, the answer is, yes, sedation is safe when administered by an experienced provider. 

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry helps patients relax and feel at ease, so they can get dental care in a way that’s stress-free and painless. Often, sedation is mild to moderate and you’re awake during the procedure and able to answer questions and respond to commands. 

For certain situations, deep sedation is an option too. What is deep sedation dentistry? It’s where general anesthesia is administered through an IV and you’re asleep throughout the entire dental procedure.

Sedation dentistry can be a good choice for patients with:

  • Dental anxiety or a dental phobia
  • A very sensitive gag reflex 
  • Apprehension about a specific treatment 
  • Special healthcare needs (cognitive, physical or behavioral) that are aggravated by stress or make it difficult to safely undergo dental procedures
  • Significant dental concerns requiring extensive, lengthy treatment
  • A decreased response to local anesthesia

What are the Different Types of Sedation?

The type of sedation we recommend depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of dental procedure being performed
  • How long the dental procedure will last
  • Your anxiety levels
  • Your overall health and the medications you take

While the specific sedatives used and the offerings can vary by practice, these are the ones we offer at our office:

  • Nitrous Oxide 

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has been used in dentistry for over 100 years and is the most common type of sedation for kids, though it can be used for adults as well. The laughing gas is administered through a mask that covers your nose. You’ll breathe in a mixture of nitrous and oxygen and within a few minutes, you’ll feel calm and euphoric. 

Your Naperville dentist controls the amount of nitrous oxide you get, so they can deliver mild or even moderate effects, depending on your needs. Nitrous oxide is a form of conscious sedation, meaning you’ll be awake during your treatment, though your senses will be dulled. 

When the procedure is over, your dentist will have you breathe in pure oxygen to flush out the nitrous oxide. Laughing gas wears off just as quickly as it kicks in and has very few side effects, so you’ll be able to go back to school, work or daily activities after your appointment. 

  • Oral Conscious Sedation

If you choose oral sedation dentistry, your dentist will prescribe you an oral medication for reducing anxiety. Depending on the dosage, sedation can range from minimal to moderate. You’ll take the medication about an hour before your scheduled appointment. 

During your dental procedure, as the name suggests, you’ll be conscious and able to follow instructions. However, you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed. In fact, it’s common for patients to fall asleep during their visit. 

While side effects are generally minimal, you might feel sleepy after your appointment. And, because sedatives can impact your reaction time, you will need someone to drive you to and home from your visit. 

  • General Anesthesia / IV Sedation

For patients with severe dental anxiety or people undergoing oral surgical procedures, general anesthesia could be recommended. With this type of sedation, anesthesia is delivered through an IV and your vital signs are monitored throughout. 

You’ll be unconscious and have no memory of the procedure when you wake up. After your procedure, you’ll recover for several hours at the office before leaving. You will need to have a responsible adult drive you home.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

Nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation both have very good safety profiles. Most patients experience little-to-no side effects. When you visit our practice for sedation dentistry in Naperville, we’ll perform a comprehensive exam and take a detailed health and medication history to ensure you’re a good candidate and there are no contraindications. 

Our general dentists and specialists are licensed and trained in providing in-office sedation. And our state-of-the-art office is equipped with the latest technology and tools, so we’re able to carefully monitor your vitals throughout your procedure. 

How safe is IV sedation for dental work? This type of sedation is also safe but it’s essential that the dental practice has the necessary monitoring equipment, trained personnel and an anesthesiologist on-hand. The facility should also be licensed to offer it. 

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we always consider general anesthesia on a case-by-case basis. Again, we take a complete medical and medication history to ensure it will be safe for you. We also provide you with pre- and post-operative instructions to minimize the chance of complications. 

Our team follows all safety guidelines, and we have cutting-edge monitoring in place. And our board-certified professionals, including our prosthodontist and oral surgeon, have received advanced training in safe sedation. We also have a highly trained, American board-certified anesthesiologist on our team. Our anesthesiologist administers the general anesthesia.

Which Type of Dental Sedation is the Safest?

In general, conscious sedation has fewer risks than general anesthesia, but people respond differently to different types of sedation, so the form that’s safest for one person might not be ideal for you. It really depends on your medical history, the medications you are taking, your overall health and other individual factors. An experienced dentist can help you decide on the best form of sedation for your circumstances.

Weighing the Risks vs. the Benefits

As with any medical procedure, sedation dentistry involves weighing the risks vs. the benefits. If you’re not able to get the dental care you need due to anxiety, a medical condition or other circumstances, your untreated dental problems will pose a bigger risk to your oral and overall health than conscious or IV sedation dentistry.

Issues, such as tooth decay and tooth loss aren’t just painful, they also impact your ability to bite and chew, which, in turn, impacts your diet and nutrition. Oral infections, like dental abscesses, can spread to other parts of the body and, in rare cases, even be life threatening. 

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, has been tied to a number of health conditions. The inflammation of the gums and supporting bone causes jawbone loss and, eventually, tooth loss if not treated. Periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, is tied to adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other systemic illnesses

How Do I Prepare for Dental Sedation?

For nitrous oxide sedation and oral conscious sedation, you don’t need to do much to prepare. However, you should:

  • Have a light meal or snack and avoid eating anything heavy prior to your appointment. 
  • Call our office and let us know if you experience any changes in your health or medications.
  • Arrange to have a responsible adult accompany you to your appointment and drive you home if you are taking an oral sedation medication. 

If you’ll be undergoing IV sedation dentistry, following your pre-op instructions will help you have a safe, effective experience. While we’ll give you specific instructions for your situation, here are some general guidelines to adhere to:

  • Let our team know if you experience any changes in your health.
  • Your stomach should be empty during your anesthesia appointment. 
  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before your surgery.
  • Inform our team of any medications you take on a daily basis, including supplements and herbal remedies. If we give you the go-ahead to take your medication on the day of your procedure, take it with only a small sip of water.
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, short-sleeved clothing and flat, comfortable shoes.
  • Do not wear jewelry, makeup or nail polish to your appointment. 
  • Take your contact lenses out before your procedure. 
  • Arrange to have a responsible adult come with you to your procedure, drive you home and stay with you while you recover afterwards. 

Where Can I Find Sedation Dentistry Near Me?

If you’re not in Illinois, we’d recommend doing some research on local sedation dentists to find someone licensed and experienced in administering the type of sedation you’re looking for. 

If you live in the Chicagoland area, we offer sedation dentistry in Naperville at our high-tech, comfortable office. With American board-certified specialists on our team, including an anesthesiologist, and modern equipment and tools, we can help you safely get the care you need. Schedule an appointment with us today!

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 are the White Spots on Teeth and How Can You Treat Them?

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You may have noticed someone that has chalky white spots on their teeth or maybe you have them on your own teeth. Beyond being an aesthetic concern, exactly what are the white spots on teeth? Technically referred to as white spot lesions, there are a number of things that can cause them. At our Naperville cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry practice, it’s a problem we see frequently. Today, we’ll be diving into the causes, as well as solutions for how to get rid of white spots on teeth.

Why Do I Have White Spots on My Teeth?

The two most common causes of white spots on teeth are fluorosis and early decay, though they can also be the result of certain nutritional problems or genetics. Fluorosis occurs when a child is exposed to too much fluoride during the first eight years of their life. When the permanent teeth come in, parents or the dentist will often notice discoloration, including white spots. 

The other cause is decalcification, which is the first sign of tooth decay. Essentially, white spots on teeth are often early cavities, which is why we sometimes call them cariogenic white spots. White spots on teeth after braces are extremely common. Plaque tends to accumulate around the bracket and it’s hard to reach it to brush it away. When it sits there, the plaque acids cause mineral loss underneath the surface enamel of the tooth. This causes white spots to form where the brackets once were.

How to Get Rid of White Spots on Teeth

We know discovering white spots on teeth after braces is especially disheartening because you went through the effort to get a perfect smile. When the big day arrives, and your brackets come off, the last thing you want are white spot lesions ruining the show. The good news is, there are ways to remove white spots on teeth and help you reclaim your smile, regardless of the cause. Here are some of the treatments for white spot lesions:

  • Prescription Paste – A prescription product called MI Paste, which is the commercial name for casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate, or CCP-ACP, and sodium fluoride (NaF) may both help remineralize white spots. However, researchers are still looking into the treatments and they tend to work better when used preventatively.
  • Remineralization – Some dentists offer remineralization treatments after orthodontic treatment, such as a fluoride varnish. Remineralization replaces the minerals that were lost due to the plaque acids and should, theoretically, stop the decay from progressing and help even out the appearance of white spots. While one study did show that fluoride helped reduce the appearance of white spots on teeth after braces, more research is needed and it might not give you the dramatic results you’re looking for.
  •  Icon Infiltration Technique – Icon infiltration is a cutting-edge way to gently treat white spots on teeth without needles or drilling. Research has shown that resin infiltration is more effective than CCP-ACP and fluoride in the esthetic improvement of white spots. We offer Icon caries infiltrant in Naperville at our office. We inject a highly fluid resin into the enamel where the white spot is. It makes its way into the tooth’s pore system and it fills the area, quickly stopping decay and esthetically blending the white spots so they match the rest of your enamel. The infiltration technique also has the added benefit of preserving your tooth and increasing its life expectancy.
  • Veneers or Composite Fillings – As a last resort, veneers, composite fillings or bonding can give you the even, white smile you want. However, since a treatment like veneers will involve filing down healthy teeth, it’s best to try less invasive options first, such as the Icon infiltration technique.

Ways to Prevent White Spot Lesions

You can prevent white spots on teeth after braces, or at any time in your life, by following these tips:

  • To prevent white spots on your child’s smile, avoid excessive fluoride. Talk with your pediatric dentist about how much fluoride your child should be getting before adding any topical fluoride products to the mix.
  • Practice good oral hygiene, especially when you’re wearing braces. Brush using an electric toothbrush in the morning, after meals and before bed. Be sure to floss once daily as well. If you need a little extra help cleaning around your braces brackets, use an interproximal brush or a water flosser in addition to your toothbrush and dental floss. These tools are good for getting in tight spaces and around brackets.
  •  Watch your diet. Acidic foods and drinks, including citrus fruit, sports drinks, soda, white wine and fruit juice eat away at your tooth enamel and can increase your risk of getting white spots. Try to enjoy these types of foods and beverages in moderation.
  • Ask your orthodontist or dentist about topical fluoride. If you’re at a higher risk for cavities or white spots, they may prescribe a special fluoride rinse or toothpaste or apply a fluoride varnish in the office.

If you’re unhappy with the white spots on your teeth, we can help! Schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists today and learn about how we can remove white spots on teeth and restore your smile with the Icon infiltration technique. 


The Ultimate Guide to How to Whiten Teeth

By Blog, Teeth Whitening No Comments

If we’ve learned anything in our years as Naperville’s general dentists, it’s that everyone wants a perfect pair of sparkling pearly whites. But between the foods we eat and the habits we create, getting shiny white teeth can be easier said than done. Whitening your teeth (and keeping them that way) requires good oral hygiene practices, including brushing, flossing, regular cleanings, and avoiding things that cause damage and discoloration, like smoking and poor diet.

If you’re suffering from teeth stains or yellowing teeth, don’t worry — you’re not alone. There are many ways to whiten your teeth, both at home and at the dentist, and things you can do to keep discoloration at bay. But while at-home practices can be effective, nothing will give you the same dramatic results as professional teeth whitening.

No matter which teeth whitening method you choose, the experts at Naperville Dental Specialists are here to help you restore your teeth to their former brilliancy. Let’s take a look at what causes tooth discoloration and how to put the “white” back in your pearly whites. 

What Causes Yellow Teeth

There are many factors that contribute to yellow teeth — from lifestyle and diet choices to genetic predispositions and aging. Some of these things are in our power to change; for example, we can choose to eat more fruits and veggies and avoid smoking. Other things are just a part of how we’re built.

When it comes to whitening your teeth, it’s important to understand that your teeth have two basic parts: the enamel (or outer layer) and dentin (or inner core). As we age, dentin naturally yellows which unfortunately is just a part of growing older. But there are ways to combat the aging process, and to whiten your enamel, to keep your teeth looking whiter for longer. Here’s how:

  • Eat healthy, nutritious foods: A diet that lacks proper vitamins and nutrients will lead to premature aging of the dentin, meaning your teeth will look yellow quicker. At the same time, your enamel can become discolored by highly pigmented foods and drinks, like red wine, coffee and tobacco. Fortunately, eating a diet rich in healthy, nutrient-packed foods will slow yellowing down and whitening treatments are extremely effective to clear up your enamel.
  • Protect your teeth from trauma: Grinding and trauma from accidents, falls or sporting injuries can all accelerate the aging of the dentin. As we’ve learned, that equals yellow teeth. When you grind your teeth or suffer damage from an accident, the force can cause the dentin to shrink and trigger the aging process, so be sure to take good care of your teeth.
  • Get a whitening treatment: From at-home solutions to in-office professional services, there are so many ways to get whiter teeth. Keep reading to find out more and then ask your dentist which method is best for you.

How to Get Whiter Teeth

Now that you know what’s dulling your teeth’s shine, let’s talk about the best way to get whiter teeth. The most effective solution is professional teeth whitening but it can be more of an investment than some patients are ready to make. For those who prefer to whiten their teeth on their own, there are plenty of DIY teeth whitening practices you can try. Just be aware that while at-home methods and regular cleanings at your dentist will help get rid of surface stains, they won’t be able to clear away deep, set-in discoloration. In most cases, professional teeth whitening is the best solution.

  • Teeth whitening strips: It seems that every major toothpaste brand has some sort of teeth whitening product that promises to give you the shiny, white teeth of your dreams. This type of method is super popular for good reason: it’s super affordable and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

The truth is whitening strips are actually effective — but that doesn’t make them safe. These strips typically contain hydrogen peroxide, which definitely makes your teeth whiter by breaking down the molecules that cause discoloration in both your enamel and dentin. But hydrogen peroxide is considered toxic or harmful when used in the mouth, so the side effects may not be worth the pearly whites after all.

  • Activated charcoal: This one is for the DIY-ers out there. Activated charcoal has long been used to promote detoxification and treat poisoning, dating back nearly 200 years. The healing properties of activated charcoal have stood the test of time and are now used in all types of beauty and health products, including teeth whitening methods. Unlike hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal cannot reach the dentin and can only whiten surface stains caused by environmental factors, food and drinks — but it is a 100% safe, natural way to whiten your teeth.
    To try it out, make a paste with activated charcoal, then smear it on your teeth and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse and brush away anything remaining. Since charcoal is quite abrasive, it’s best to only use this homemade toothpaste a few times a week.
  • Professional teeth whitening: Like we’ve mentioned, this is the only guaranteed way to get whiter teeth that last. Professional teeth whitening can safely get rid of stains and yellowing on both your enamel and dentin, giving you the whitest smile possible.

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer Zoom Tooth Whitening. Using a specially designed, light-activated gel, this method breaks down stains. In less than an hour, you’ll have the brightest, whitest teeth you’ve had in years. All you have to do is follow our aftercare instructions and practice good oral hygiene. With our professional teeth whitening service, we’re confident we can put the sparkle back in your smile.




What You Need to Know About Getting a Dental Crown

By Dental Crowns No Comments

The dental crown procedure is among the most common restorative treatments and it’s one our Naperville cosmetic dentists perform frequently. Unfortunately, crowns get a bad rap because the process has a reputation for being time consuming and, in some cases, it can require multiple visits to different practices. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we have a team of general dentists and specialists under one roof, so you don’t need a referral to another office and all of your treatments, including getting your dental crown, can be done in the same place. We also have an in-house laboratory, so same-day crowns are an option, meaning we can restore your tooth in a single visit. Whichever route you choose to go, here’s what you need to know about getting a dental crown:

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Can a gentle dentist give me sedation or a shot in my gums that I can’t feel?

By Sedation Dentistry

Will I need a shot in my gums? I’m sweating trying to find a gentle dentist or one who does sedation and can fit me in their schedule. There is a bump on my gums at one of my bottom left molar teeth. Yesterday, I sterilized a needle and stuck the bump with it. A bunch of yellow pus came out. It hurts pretty bad and the bump is seeming just to fill up with pus again. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been to a dentist. I have tried to avoid the dentist for this bump on my gums, but I might not have a choice. Will a dentist have to give me a shot in my gum? If I can find a gentle dentist will they be able to make it absolutely pain free?? Thanks. Jon

Jon – The bump on your gums that you described is an abscess that is caused by an infection. The infection will not go away on its own. It needs to be treated by a dentist. Sedation dentistry will help you get the treatment you need

After you are sedated, the dentist will clean the area around your tooth and numb your gum. There is no need to worry, though. A gentle dentist will use topical anesthetic or a hand-held pulsating device to numb your gum and give you a pain-free injection. The injection will relieve your pain and prevent you from feeling pain that may otherwise result from the dental procedure.

If there is an infection in your tooth, a root canal treatment will remove it. After that, the tooth will be protected with a dental crown. It is important that you get help right away to treat the infection and avoid further pain and discomfort.

Find a Gentle Dentist Who Offers Sedation Dentistry

You should speak to a gentle dentist about your anxiety. Sedation dentistry can help you relax during dental visits so you can get the treatment you need.

Nitrous oxide – This is also called laughing gas. During your appointment, you can breathe it in to relax.

Oral conscious sedation – A dentist can give you anti-anxiety medication to take before your appointment. You will be drowsy and relaxed.

Learn more about these options on our sedation dentistry page.

Don’t delay in getting the bump on your gums treated. A gentle dentist can use his or techniques and sedation dentistry make your experience pain free.

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

My tooth turned gray after I used teeth whitener

By Teeth Whitening

I recently applied a bleach-based tooth whitener to my teeth for the first time.  The next day, one tooth turned gray and my cheek inside my mouth has a small bump on it. Neither the tooth nor the bump hurt. I just think it’s strange. I don’t want to believe that it’s related to the tooth whitener, but I didn’t have any problems before that. What could have caused my tooth to turn gray? Is there anything I can do to reverse what the teeth whitener did and get my tooth back to its original color? – Brie

Brie – It is strange that your tooth would turn gray after using teeth whitener. Make an appointment with your dentist to examine your tooth, and bring the whitening agent with you to the appointment. Your dentist can examine it, the contents, and if necessary have it tested to determine what’s really in it.

Why Did Your Tooth Turn Gray After Whitening It?

There are several things to consider:

  • It may be that your tooth was damaged before you applied the whitening gel to it, and it became irritated afterward.
  • The problem might stem from the whitening gel. Depending on its source, the gel could be old, contain harmful ingredients, or not be bleaching gel at all.
  • Only a dentist can make the determination after examining your tooth and the bleaching gel.

Although many people prefer to whiten their teeth on their own, there are still many advantages to getting your teeth whitened by a dentist. In advance of providing you with the whitening gel, your dentist will examine your teeth, determine if whitening gel will work for you, anticipate any problems that will occur, and monitor your progress. The results will be predictable and exactly what you hoped to achieve.

The bump on the inside of your mouth will need to be examined to determine why your oral tissue is irritated. Whenever you have oral health issues, it’s best to receive an examination from a dentist and not to determine the cause and treatment. Prompt treatment can save you time and money, and prevent further damage to your tooth.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Would a prosthodontist be willing to do porcelain veneers for me?

By Porcelain Veneers No Comments

I’m wondering if a prosthodontist would be willing to do porcelain veneers for me. I’ve been to 2 dentists about veneers and neither of them will do them for me because I grind my teeth a lot. They say the veneers would break under the pressure from grinding. I know that different dentists have different techniques and some can accomplish things that others won’t touch. The issue with my teeth is that they are too small. My smile is short and looks like it belongs to an adolescent. I’m 37 years old and would very much like a change. Is a new smile with porcelain veneers something a prosthodontist would be willing to do? Thanks. Jess

Jess – Many dentists would not recommend porcelain veneers if you’re a heavy teeth grinder. Bruxism (teeth grinding) can cause damage to natural teeth, porcelain veneers, and even porcelain crowns.

Before addressing the cosmetic issues with your teeth, a prosthodontist would try to determine the cause of your teeth grinding habit. Treatment, which can include relaxation techniques, minimizing stress, and wearing a custom night guard can help protect your teeth and dental restorations.

A prosthodontist wouldn’t give you porcelain veneers right away. Several things have to be done first. Some of them include:

  • Examine the health of your natural teeth and gums to determine if you’re a candidate for porcelain veneers.
  • Collaborate with you to determine the cause of your teeth grinding.
  • Determine if you need TMJ (temporomandibular joint) treatment.
  • Recommend therapy or jaw exercises to alleviate discomfort from teeth grinding
  • Provide a customized night guard to minimize grinding and protect your teeth

A prosthodontist is a specialist in the replacement and restoration of teeth. After general dentistry training, a prosthodontist receives up to four years of specialized training. They understand dental aesthetics and what is required to improve your smile.

Porcelain veneers aren’t the only option for lengthening the appearance of your teeth. A prosthodontist will let you know your options, based on your case and the condition of your teeth and gums.

We suggest that you find a specialist who can address your bruxism and your desire to lengthen the appearance of your teeth. A prosthodontist can do both. You can get a second opinion from a prosthodontist to discuss your options.


This post is sponsored by American Board certified prosthodontist and Naperville implant dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is full-mouth reconstruction really necessary?

By Cosmetic Procedures No Comments

When I was a child I never had the privilege of seeing a dentist. Now that I’m 26 years old I’ve moved out and am on my own. I have a job and dental insurance. I also have horrible teeth. 4 of my teeth are missing and I have a few other teeth that are worn and chipped. I’m in treatment for periodontal disease that is really advanced. My current dentist recommends full mouth reconstruction. It should like a good idea, but I don’t know if it is really necessary. Even if it is a good idea, I don’t know how I could afford it. Do I really need full mouth reconstructions or are there other ways to give me a decent smile? – Bennett

Bennett – Full-mouth reconstruction is a huge project for the most skilled dentists. It requires skill, technical knowledge, and training that’s much more advanced that what is taught in dental school.

A dentist has to be trained in aesthetics and restorative dentistry to ensure your teeth are functional—individually and as a unit. Most dentists aren’t trained or qualified to provide it, but experienced prosthodontists and some cosmetic dentists have the training and experience required.

If you need full-mouth reconstruction and if you are considering it, cost should not be the primary consideration. This treatment requires meticulous planning, technique, and care. It is an expensive process.

Full-Mouth Reconstruction – Learn About Your Options

  • Find two to three board-certified prosthodontists or accredited cosmetic dentists and schedule consultations with me.
  • Check each dentist’s credentials in advance of your visit, and check patient reviews.
  • Take notes from each consultation you have and record the options and estimates you are given.
  • After each dentist explains your options, ask about the results you can expect with dental crowns, dental bridges, or dental implants. Carefully record the details you are given.
  • Ask each dentist what can be done to make treatment affordable for you. A dentist might offer payment plans or financing so you can pay for care over time.

Compare your options, as well as each dentist’s experience with cases like yours. It will help you make an informed decision.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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