General Dentistry


Can I sue the dentist for cutting my tongue?

By | General Dentistry, Oral Health

I’m not a person who just walks around looking to sue a dentist. I’ve never filed a lawsuit and I’m not hurting for money. I’m just considering it based on principle and rudeness and the fact that I can’t think of another way to help this from happening to another patient.

I went to an oral surgeon yesterday to get a bottom right molar pulled. The tooth was impacted and partially sideways so I was sent to this guy. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be cared for properly. He rushed me through my consultation and made little eye contact with me. My dentist recommended him so I moved forward.

So yesterday while the dentist was pulling out my tooth, he cursed. I felt pain underneath my tongue and when I said something like, “Ouch! What’s going on?!”, the dentist said I had a soft tissue tear. Then he told me he would stich it up right away. I could tell by the look on his assistant’s face that he did something careless. She looked at me like, ‘shame on him’, but she didn’t say anything to either of us. She just patted by hand.

So when the tooth was out and everything was done I asked to look at my tongue. I could tell that he cut my tongue and it wasn’t a random tear. So as asked the dentist if he cut my tongue and his reply was, “It has 8 secure stitches and in a few weeks you won’t notice it at all.” Then he left the room. Jerk.

I’m angry that he was careless, didn’t apologize and wasn’t really truthful about what happen. I am definitely reporting this to a dental board or wherever I need to report it. I’m thinking that my report will get swept under the table and I really need to sue this dentist so that he will think twice about being rude to other patients or treating them like I was treated. What do I need to document to make sure this jerk doesn’t do this again? Thanks. Brooke

Brooke – Based on your comments, it does sound like the dentist was careless and rude. Your cut sounds like it was deep or long—eight stitches!

Even the most skilled dental surgeon can make a mistake though, and it sounds like he took immediate action to repair the damage to your tongue. It also sounds like it’s really his attitude and chairside manner that are really making you angry and feeling like suing the dentist. Additionally, the dentist’s failure to apologize and failure to tell you what really happened seemed to be adding to your frustration.

We’re not defending the oral surgeon’s attitude or response, but when lower molars are worked on, it’s easy to injure the tongue. A metal retractor can be used to hold the tongue away from the extraction site and prevent injury. Perhaps it wasn’t used and your tongue was accidently cut. The surgeon might have been embarrassed and too proud to apologize.

You can report the incident to the dental board, but it might not result in any reprimand—and not the kind you might be hoping for—unless there are multiple complaints in the dentist’s file. We’re not aware of any disciplinary action of a dentist or surgeon for rudeness.

An attempt to sue the dentist probably won’t go far. Your cut was an accident that doesn’t seem to indicate intentional negligence that wasn’t properly cared for.

What you can do is let your general dentist know about the incident, in case he or she has received repeated complaints from other patients about this surgeon. We’re sorry that you had this negative experience and hope for a better outcome if you need an oral surgeon in the future.

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

My crown doesn’t match my teeth

By | Cosmetic Procedures, General Dentistry, Porcelain Crown, Prosthodontist

My crown broke about 3 weeks ago and I had to get it fixed quickly before I went on vacation. I knew it was loose, but I didn’t expect it to break. My choice was a dentist who did CEREC in his office but also who was an emergency dentist. It worked and off I went! I was so busy that I really haven’t time to really look closely at the crown until this week. It is an incisor on the right side of my mouth and it doesn’t match my other teeth. If it was a molar I would let this pass but I really want the crown color changed. This isn’t my regular dentist and he really did me a huge favor. Should I go back to that dentist to get the color corrected? Thank you. COlton

Colton – Your selection of an emergency dentist who could also make a one-visit crown is understandable.

In-office crowns require the dentist to receive training in crown creation and placement, but it doesn’t require the dentist to be an artist. An artistic prosthodontist has training cosmetic dentistry. He or she has a keenly interested in providing crowns that function well and look completely natural—blending with your natural teeth.

Crowns are colorfast. They cannot be made darker or lighter. Unfortunately, the only way to receive a lighter crown is for a new one to be made. Contact the office of the dentist you saw and explain your concern. Request an appointment for an examination. Express your appreciation for the dentist’s help during your emergency and explain your concerns.

Along with any insurance you may have, you paid for a dental crown. It is reasonable for you to request and receive a crown that matches your natural teeth. A well-made crown lasts ten to twenty years. If your crown was made well, consider whether or not you can adjust to it lasting for many years that doesn’t match your natural teeth.

You can decide if you want to give the emergency dentist another chance, or if you prefer to visit an artistic prosthodontist dentist to receive a new crown. Before you proceed, be certain to speak with your dental insurance company about the issue and ask if your plan will provide any benefits toward a replacement crown if you choose a new dentist to replace it.

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


What instrument do you play? Is your oral hygiene at risk?

By | General Dentistry

The March/April 2011 issue of the journal General Dentistry revealed that if not kept clean, wind instruments can become heavily contaminated with bacteria and fungi that are associated with serious to minor infections in the mouth, on the lips, and skin, and as allergic diseases.

Why the concern?

Children often obtain used instruments for school music or band classes. Adults frequent pawn shops or online advertisements for affordable instruments. Some people have instruments at home that they loan to friends or family.

The study tested the mouthpiece, chambers, cases, and other components of 131 used woodwind and brass instruments. 442 bacteria were found, including staphylococcus. 58 molds and 19 yeasts were also identified. Many of the bacteria found are highly resistant to commonly prescribed antibiotics.

In September 2010, Chest® Journal, the official publication of the American College of Chest Physicians, reported that “respiratory physicians should be aware of the risk of hypersensitivity pneumonitis in saxophone or perhaps other wind instrument players.” The problem is due, in part, to colonization of potentially pathogenic molds in a wind instrument. A complimentary investigation of 15 saxophones found that 13 of the 15 instruments showed a fungal colonization.

If you buy a used wind instrument, or have one that is on loan, that hasn’t been properly sanitized, it likely contains bacteria from someone else’s mouth. The bacteria can remain weeks—or even months—after the last use.

The lessons:

  • Don’t share your instruments with others—particularly if they are instruments that come in contact with your mouth or face.
  • When you obtain a used instrument, take it apart, and thoroughly cleaned it in its entirety—not just the mouthpiece.
  • Frequently clean the part of the instrument that comes in contact with the skin and mouth.
  • Take it apart regularly to thoroughly clean it.

If you suspect that you’ve received oral contamination from an unclean instrument, schedule an appointment with your dentist. If you think your health in general has been affected, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.

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

2 loose teeth

By | General Dentistry, Gum Disease

I have 2 loose teeth. I get dental cleanings regularly and I am sure that they have noticed my teeth are loose but I think it’s strange that no one ever said anything to me. My sister told me that I should check with another dentist just to be sure that nothing serious is wrong. Now I am scared and a little angry that this problem was overlooked. I got my teeth cleaned 2 months ago. Wouldn’t they have noticed a problem? If I go to a dentist with loose teeth will they automatically pull them out? – Faith P.

Faith – If you go to the dentist with loose teeth, he or she will x-ray and examine your teeth to determine why they are loose.

Trauma can cause loose teeth, in which case they may need to be stabilized. Have you recently experienced trauma to your teeth? Over time, grinding your teeth can cause them to become loose. Also, if teeth are misaligned, they can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become loose.

Periodontal (gum) disease is another cause of loose teeth. If you have periodontal disease, loss of gum and bone around a tooth can make it loose.

Your dentist or a periodontist may perform a periodontal pocket procedure to fold back your gum tissue and remove the bacterial. Damaged bone may be smoothed. This procedure will help your gum tissue attach itself to the healthy bone.

Instead of extracting your teeth, every effort will be made to save them. If it is necessary to extract a tooth, it can be replaced with a dental implant.

Don’t worry excessively though, the cause of your loose teeth has to be determined first. Your dentist will recommend options. Since you are seeking a new dentist, we recommend that you find a prosthodontist—a specialist with advanced training in restoring teeth. You can get a second opinion before you make a final decision for a dental provider.

This blog post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Can you get nanodiamonds with that root canal treatment?

By | General Dentistry, Root Canal Treatment

What do diamonds have to do with root canal treatments? More precisely, what do nanodiamonds—byproducts of diamond mining and refining—have to do with this dental procedure?

Yearly, about 15 million root canal treatments are performed in the U.S. alone. During the procedure, infected tooth pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned out and filled. At times, bacteria remain in tips of the root. Bacteria can linger, and a tooth can get infected again. This requires a second root canal treatment.

Gutta percha is the material used to fill a tooth after the infection has been cleaned out. But it’s limited in fighting infection and any remaining bacteria. Researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry have found that adding nanodiamonds to gutta percha reinforces the filler material. Antibiotic-enhanced nanodiamonds strengthen the filler material and prevent bacterial growth.

What does nanodiamond-enhanced gutta percha mean for patients with root canal treatments?

  • Stronger filler material makes a weak, damaged tooth stronger.
  • Antibiotic-enhanced filler material fights bacteria and reduces the risks for needing future root canal treatments in the same tooth.
  • These combined advantages make it much more likely that a damaged tooth can be permanently saved.

Can you ask your dentist for this innovation in root canal treatment? Not yet. Researchers will spend the next two years refining the process. After that, clinical trials will begin at UCLA. Meanwhile, do what you can to avoid the need for a root canal treatment.

  • If you play sports, wear a mouth guard to protect your mouth and teeth from trauma, which can lead to a root canal treatment.
  • Remove bacteria from your teeth and gums by flossing daily and brushing your teeth twice a day.
  • Limit sugary snacks, food, and drinks, which promote tooth decay.
  • Go easy on your teeth. Only use them to smile and eat. Don’t bite hard or sharp objects, or use your teeth to take off bottle caps or open metal containers.
  • Keep your regularly scheduled appointments for dental cleanings and exams. Early detection is a key to preventing dental issues that require aggressive treatment.

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

For teeth’s sake! May have a little milk with my tea?

By | General Dentistry, Oral Health

Each day, approximately 158 million Americans drink tea. What’s that have to do with your teeth? Tea stains your teeth—in fact, because of its higher tannin content, it’s more likely to stain your teeth than coffee. Tannin is a compound that gives tea its dark color.

Of course brushing your teeth daily can help limit surface stains in tooth enamel, and so can rinsing your mouth with water after drinking tea. But research shows that adding a little milk to your tea can help prevent stains in tooth enamel.

The study, published in the November 2014 issue of the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, shows that the casein protein in milk binds the tannins in tea and limits their staining properties. The study showed that the effectiveness of milk on teeth is greater than whitening toothpaste and comparable to some bleaching gels!

Many people like their tea “straight,” without milk or cream. But for those who can tolerate a little milk in their tea, in addition to diligent oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings, it can help keep your teeth white!

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


Pediatric dentist wants sealants on my daughter’s primary teeth

By | General Dentistry, Pediatric Dentist

I took my daughter to a new pediatric dentist, and she is recommending sealants on all of the molar teeth. May daughter is 6 years old, so these are primary teeth. Is this really necessary? Thanks.Aubrey


Aubrey – A pediatric dentist’s recommendation for dental sealants is to protect the teeth—even if they are your daughter’s primary teeth. Primary teeth reserve the position for permanent teeth and help guide them to the proper position.

An examination likely reveals that your daughter’s molar teeth are susceptible to cavities, if the hasn’t already had a history of cavities. Sealants are a proactive step to prevent cavities. The sealant will be painted onto the molar teeth. It will harden and bond to the teeth to protect them from acids and bacteria that promote decay.

Sealants are also beneficial for adults who have deep pits and crevices in their molar teeth, and help guard against decay.

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

Can she use sewing thread instead of floss?

By | General Dentistry

My sister is a seamstress and has more sewing thread than she can every use. She finally decided that she is going to floss her teeth regularly, so somehow she got the idea that she can use the thread instead of buying floss. I told her that floss is inexpensive and it is made for the teeth. Is it okay to use sewing thread instead of floss? – T.C.

T.C. – Sewing thread is designed made for sewing fabric, and floss is specifically designed to clean between our teeth. Sewing thread is not sterile, nor is it meant for use in the mouth.

Sewing thread can get break, get stuck between teeth, and be harsh on gums. Floss glides alongside the teeth and between teeth and gums to remove trapped food particles. Clean floss should be used daily and thrown way after use. Used floss is not as effective and can reintroduce bacteria in your mouth.

If your sister is still insists that it is okay to use sewing thread instead of floss, you can suggest that she speaks with her dental hygienist or her dentist about the issue.

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

What’s the best age to have my wisdom teeth removed?

By | General Dentistry, Wisdom Teeth

What’s the best age to have my wisdom teeth removed? I want them out before they start causing me problems. – Mauricio

Mauricio – Your wisdom teeth may not need to be extracted if they completely erupt, are pain free, cavity free, and free of disease.

When your jawbone is too small and there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt completely, the teeth will be impacted. An impacted tooth can cause infection in other teeth, and it can cause other teeth to shift and become misaligned.

If it becomes difficult to clean between your teeth, food and debris can get trapped. The resulting bacteria can lead to gum disease.

Wisdom teeth that are impacted, painful, have cavities or are promoting gum disease, or that are harmful to adjacent teeth, should be surgically removed to prevent further damage.

During your regular dental cleanings and examinations, your dentist will examine your wisdom teeth to determine if they are healthy, or if they need to be removed. Let your dentist know if any of your wisdom teeth become painful.

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

Can grinding my teeth really make them break if I don’t wear a night guard?

By | General Dentistry, TMJ

My dental cleaning appointment was yesterday. When the dentist examined my teeth he told me that I am putting too much stress on them, probably from grinding my teeth at might. He also said that I need a night guard and that if I keep putting it off my teeth will break. Is this true? – Randy

Randy – A night guard absorbs the pressure on your teeth that comes from grinding and clenching them. It protects your teeth from fracture. Fractured teeth are weakened teeth, so if the grinding and clenching continue, you can wear away your teeth and cause them to crack.

Headaches, toothaches, and neck pain are often improved with a custom-fitted night guard. A custom fit from your dentist provides the protection needed based on your bite (the way your teeth fit together). A store-bough night guard won’t give you the same results.

The jaw joints are also protected with a night guard, which helps the muscles relax while you sleep. If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, they will improve. Your dentist’s comments are based on an examination of your teeth and the damage that is already being done to them. Heed the advice and protect your teeth and your oral health.

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