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General Dentistry

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.

4 new crowns and my bite is off. How are crowns adjusted?

By Dental Crowns, General Dentistry

I got 4 new crowns last month on bottom left and right molars. My bite is off and I told my dentist that before she cemented the crowns. I have gone back to the office twice and there is very little difference. It’s too high. What really needs to be done to adjust my bite? Thanks. Patrick

Patrick – After receiving porcelain crowns, it is important that your bite is correctly adjusted. A bite that is too high can cause tooth, jaw, and facial pain and jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ). It can even damage teeth and require root canal treatment.

Your dentist may have you bite down on adjustment paper. Crowns that are too high have more contact with opposing teeth, and tooth imprints on the paper often show where adjustment is needed. Additionally, the crowns and the opposing teeth will be examined, and an occlusal (the way teeth come in contact with opposing teeth) measurement instrument may be used. Certain areas of the biting surface of the crowns may need to be reduced, or the crowns may need to be remade.

You can consider visiting an experienced cosmetic dentist or a prosthodontist for a second opinion. These dentists frequently and effectively place dental crowns. He or she will examine your bite and crowns to determine the cause of the problem and what needs to be done to correct it.

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

How does a night guard work?

By Bruxism, General Dentistry

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, usually occurs during sleep. Eight to ten percent of adults grind their teeth, and about one-third of parents report that their children grind their teeth.

Stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, or a misaligned bite can cause bruxism. Regular teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, facial pain, neck pain, earaches, headaches, toothaches, and damage your teeth. A customized night guard from a dentist can help.

What is a night guard?

A customized, dental night guard is an oral appliance made of dental acrylic. The night guard repositions your jaw to prevent teeth grinding. A customized night guard is lightweight—lighter than over-the-counter products—and more comfortable, because it is designed to precisely fit your teeth and mouth.

A night guard should be worn regularly, so if it doesn’t fit properly—as with over-the-counter appliances—it can cause problems with your bite and jaw.

How do you get a night guard?

You may know that you grind your teeth. But your dental hygienist or dentist may notice signs of wear on your teeth, or bulging on the sides of your teeth. Your dentist will recommend a night guard. If you choose to receive one, impressions of your teeth will be taken to ensure a proper fit.

Your dentist will send the impressions to a laboratory to make the night guard. You will return to the dentist to ensure that the appliance fits properly. Adjustments can be made to ensure proper fit, or the night guard may be returned to the laboratory to be re-made.

Your dental hygienist will give you instructions on how to wear and clean the night guard. As you wear it, you will likely notice that you have less neck pain, jaw pain, and facial pain, and fewer headaches.

If you have dental insurance, it may provide some coverage for a night guard. Contact your dental insurance company, or your dentist to find out the details for your plan.

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

Eating disorders and your teeth

By Bulimia and Teeth, Eating Disorders and Teeth, General Dentistry, Implant Dentistry

Eating disorders can result from a variety of mental, emotionally, and social issues. Although the impact on the body physique is most prominent, eating disorders can take a devastating toll on the teeth.

Dentists are frequently the first to observe the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. And although patients may not want anyone to be aware of the disorder, it is very beneficial for a dentist to be aware.

Anorexia and Teeth

An intense fear of gaining wait can cause a person to starve himself or herself. Internal organs, muscles, and teeth will all be affected. Self-induced vomiting creates an abundance of acid in the mouth. Misuse of diuretics and laxatives can cause dehydration. All of the activities deprive the body of saliva and moisture, and promote rapid tooth decay—even loss of teeth.

Bulimia and Teeth

Binge eating followed by periods of purging through vomiting or laxatives has the same damaging effects on the body as anorexia—decreased saliva and dehydration. Teeth suffer in an acidic, moisture-deprived environment. More than 80% of bulimic patients show signs of tooth erosion, which if left untreated will become severe, resulting in teeth that crumble, rot, or fall out.

More than the teeth are affected

In addition to causing teeth to decay and crumble, eating disorders can cause salivary glands to become enlarged, lips to chafe and crack, lesions to form in the mouth, and cause the throat to become irritated and dry.


People with eating disorders need professional help to recover from the illness. A dentist will advise you not to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, but to thoroughly rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acid from the vomit. As you progress toward recovery, your dentist will discuss ways to protect your teeth from further damage, as well as ways to restore damaged teeth. When you are well on the road to recovery, your teeth can be restored to beautifully match the new you.

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

Easiest way to extract a tooth at home?

By Dental Emergency, General Dentistry

I have a tooth that is killing me. It’s on the top left. I don’t want a dentist touching it. I would rather yank it out myself. What is the best way with the least pain to pull the tooth myself? – Lyle

Lyle – There is no best way to extract your own tooth. You need to see a dentist. And the dentist probably won’t have to remove the tooth at all.

A gentle dentist will numb your gums to give you a pain-free injection. After your tooth is numb, you will receive an examination and x-ray. Your tooth is probably infected, in which case, a root canal treatment is needed. It can be pain free.

Extracting your own tooth will be quite painful, and it can cause damage to nearby teeth, which will cause even more pain. When a tooth is missing, the remaining teeth will begin drift into the space. Misaligned teeth will create additional problems for you.

Saving your teeth is important to your oral health. We advise patients who are on a budget or who don’t have dental insurance to let us know. We will work with your budget to make dental care affordable for you.

If you are nervous or anxious about dental appointments, make it known when you schedule your appointment. Steps will be taken to ensure you are comfortable during your dental visit.

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

Drinking lots of water but my mouth is still dry.

By General Dentistry

I probably drink almost a gallon of water a day but my mouth is still dry. What could be the problem? Thanks. Turner

Turner – Dry mouth is a result of decreased saliva flow, which has several possible causes. Certain medication, antihistamines, decongestants, diuretics, and certain medical disorders can reduce saliva production.

Saliva flow is important to control of the level of acidity in your mouth and to help prevent tooth decay. It’s good that you are drinking plenty of water, but if your mouth is still dry, you can start with a visit to your dentist. Your dentist will perform an examination and review your medical history.

Depending on the cause of the reduced saliva flow in your mouth, your dentist may recommend a mouth rinse designed to increase saliva production or another treatment. You may need to be referred to a medical doctor for further examination. An examination with a dentist is your first step for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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

Why do I keep getting canker sores?

By General Dentistry

I keep getting canker sores? It almost seems like before one goes away, I get another. What is causing this and is there something I can take or rinse my mouth with to prevent them? Thanks. Jerome

Jerome – There are many things that can cause canker sores. You really need to visit a dentist to have your sores and mouth examined, but some of the causes are listed below.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate – you may be sensitive to this ingredient, which is commonly found in mouthwash and toothpaste
  • Sensitivity to food, including highly acidic food, and chocolate, strawberries, coffee, nuts, and eggs
  • A vitamin or mineral deficiency – vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron
  • An injury to your mouth from dental work, aggressive tooth brushing, a sports accident, or biting your cheek
  • Emotional stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Immune disorder, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, or other conditions

In addition to an examination, a dentist will review your history of canker sores, and your medical history to determine what is causing them. You will also receive appropriate treatment, which may be a mouth rinse, topical paste, oral medication, or whatever is appropriate for your case. Call a dentist to schedule an appointment for an examination.

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

I keep getting blood in my mouth

By General Dentistry

Just randomly, I keep getting a significant amount of blood in my mouth. It doesn’t seem to happen with any particular event. It has happened when I am awake, asleep, in the morning, at night, eating or not, standing or sitting. I rinse my mouth then it seems to go away. It doesn’t happen every day, but it just happened a few minutes ago. What is going on? Is this an emergency? – Pam

Pam – When your mouth is bleeding, it’s usually coming from your teeth or gums. Gum disease can cause your gums to become inflamed, and they will bleed. If you bite your cheek and the wound is deep, it can cause continual bleeding, and stitches may be required.

Bleeding can also come from your tongue, cheek, or floor of the mouth. The cause of the sudden bleeding can vary, but it may be due to a bleeding disorder, or even a broken vessel in your mouth. Ongoing bleeding can cause your blood count to drop, and when the bleeding is in your mouth, it can be difficult to tell on your own how much blood you are losing.

Please make an appointment with your dentist immediately. If you don’t have a regular dentist, call an emergency dentist who will see you right away.

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

33 yr old adult with primary teeth

By General Dentistry

I am 33 yrs old but I still have 3 primary teeth. They are an incisor on the right and the 2 teeth behind the incisor. If I want adult sized teeth for these three places, do I have to get them pulled and replaced with dental implants? DeAnna

DeAnna – In some cases, smaller teeth in adults are permanent teeth that are smaller than normal. Porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns can be used to enhance the appearance of your teeth.

At times, permanent teeth are impacted below the primary teeth. An x-ray will reveal whether or not the teeth are impacted. Impacted primary teeth can be removed, and the permanent teeth can be exposed so that they will erupt.

Removing the primary teeth and replacing them with dental implants is another possibility. Schedule an appointment with a credentialed implant dentist. He or she will take diagnostic studies of your teeth and let you know your treatment options.

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

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