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Dentist in Arlington Heights, IL | Connected Health: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Arlington Heights, IL Dentist

Dentist Arlington HeightsFor decades, scientists have been studying the links between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease. Over the years, research has continued to find strong correlations between these two inflammatory conditions. While there is work yet to be done, we have already discovered connections that may influence how we approach health care in the future. Consider a few key components of the gum disease – heart disease relationship.

Gum disease and heart disease share many of the same risk factors. Some of these include smoking, obesity, stress, nutrition, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of Americans aged 65 and older currently have periodontitis – the most advanced form of gum disease. Recent studies have suggested that patients with heart disease may have increased likelihood of developing gum disease as well.

Likewise, gum disease increases your risk of heart disease. This may be due to the higher rates of inflammation in your body that occur with gum disease. If you already have a heart condition, gum disease may worsen your illness. One study published in 2015 noted an increase in the severity of heart attacks in patients with gum disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Treating gum disease may decrease your odds of contracting or worsening heart disease. A study published in 2014 found that patients who were treated for gum disease had fewer hospitalizations and lower health care costs related to heart disease. While more research is needed to determine the exact nature of this connection, it is clear that avoiding or treating gum disease can be considered an important part of prevention and treatment for heart disease, as well.

You can reduce your risk of serious health complications from heart disease or gum disease. Healthy diet, regular exercise, good dental hygiene, and avoiding tobacco can all help reduce to your risk of developing one or both of these conditions. See your doctor and our dentist regularly for preventive care and treatment.

To schedule your periodontal screening, contact our office today.

Dentist in Arlington Heights | Are Your Drinks Attacking Your Teeth?

Dentist Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights IL DentistIf carbonated soft drinks are part of your normal daily routine, you may be causing serious damage to your teeth. Recent studies have found soft drinks to be among the most potent dietary causes of tooth decay. Soft drinks have also been implicated in increases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Before you shop for beverages this week, consider a few things you should know about soft drinks.

Most soft drinks contain substantial amounts of sugars, which interact with the bacteria in your mouth. This interaction produces a form of acid that can damage your teeth for about 20 minutes. Each time you take a drink, you reset that time window. If you consume throughout the day, you are essentially bathing your teeth in that beverage for hours.

Most soft drinks contain acids, as well. Even sugar-free varieties contain acids that can weaken the enamel on your teeth. Colas and citrus-flavored soft drinks tend to have the highest levels of acid. Over time, this weakening of tooth enamel has a cumulative effect. This can lead to decay and even tooth loss if not addressed in early stages.

Obviously, the best solution is to stop consuming carbonated soft drinks. However, it can be a difficult habit to break. Here are some tips to help reduce your risks of tooth damage from these beverages:

  • Drink in moderation. Too much sugar and acid will eventually cause damage.
  • Try sparkling water. This provides the fizzy sensation without all the sugar and acid.
  • Drink more water. You will crave soft drinks less when you are fully hydrated.
  • Don’t sip. The longer you spend drinking, the more time sugars and acids are reacting with your teeth.
  • Use a straw. This can help keep the sugars and acids away from your teeth.
  • Rinse with water after drinking to dilute acids and sugars.
  • Don’t brush immediately. Wait at least 30 minutes for acids to be neutralized by saliva before brushing.
  • Practice good dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings and exams.

Carbonated soft drinks can be harmful to your oral and overall health. Be mindful of how often you consume them and consider reducing or stopping your use of these dangerous beverages.

For more oral health tips or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

Arlington Heights, IL Dentist | Tobacco and Oral Health

Dentist in Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights DentistWhether you use smokeless tobacco or smoke cigars, cigarettes, or a pipe, tobacco use poses a serious threat to both your oral health and your overall health. In addition to the effects smoking has on your respiratory health, pregnancy, and heart health, a recent study has found profound connections between smoking and periodontal (gum) disease.

Most people are aware that tobacco use commonly causes a wide range of unpleasant side effects. Some of these include the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Stained teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of taste and smell

While these may seem like minor issues, they can lead to serious oral health complications. For example, chronic dry mouth will increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Additionally, the presence of frequent mouth sores raises your chances of developing an infection that can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.

Even more seriously, tobacco use greatly increases your risks of dangerous oral health complications. Dental implant failure is significantly more common among patients who smoke. Oral cancers are 6 times as likely to develop in smokers than non-smokers. Immune system suppression from smoking can lead to slowed healing and worsening gum disease, and even limit the benefits you receive from periodontal treatments.

Gum disease is 3-6 times more likely in smokers than non-smokers, depending on the daily intake. Gum disease in smokers can be more challenging to recognize in early stages because smokers are less likely to have bleeding gums. This is due to the blood vessel constriction common to smokers, and not an indication of healthy gums.

By breaking the tobacco habit you can significantly reduce your risks of damage to your gums and teeth. Former smokers who stop for at least 11 years have no higher risk of periodontal disease than non-smokers. Even reducing your tobacco intake can help reduce your risks of the serious health complications that smoking and tobacco use can cause.

For information on ways to quit smoking or smokeless tobacco use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a number of resources that can help. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/quitting-resources.html.

For more information about periodontal disease or to schedule a periodontal examination, contact our office.

Arlington Heights Dentist | Are You Brushing Properly?

Arlington Heights, IL Dentist

Arlington Heights DentistMany people may be surprised to learn that they have been brushing their teeth incorrectly for years. Improper brushing may cause oral health complications, including tooth enamel erosion and periodontal disease. Learn how to brush your teeth correctly and you can protect them for years to come.

The most common way for people brush their teeth is by using a back and forth motion. This resembles sawing the toothbrush back and forth across the surface of the teeth until they feel clean and slippery. However, this is not an effective to brush your teeth. First, this method also does not clean effectively. Since the bristles are moving back and forth, they are essentially bouncing from one tooth to the next, which causes you to miss the spaces in between the teeth to remove plaque and other tiny particles of food.

In addition, brushing with a sawing motion is very abrasive to your teeth and gums. This can cause you to scrub away tooth enamel, along with food debris. Overbrushing in this fashion can increase your risk of sensitivity, tooth decay, and receding gums.

For a safer, more effective brushing method, start by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to where your teeth meet the gums. Then gently move your toothbrush back and forth and making sure the bristles cover each tooth and work their way around the sides of the tooth. This method allows you to find all the food particles and plaque in the spaces between your teeth.

Note: if you use an electric toothbrush, you may still be overbrushing your teeth. Despite your instincts to scrub manually, an electric toothbrush yields best results when used to cover each tooth individually for a few seconds, then moved to the next. The brush itself provides all the motion needed to thoroughly clean the surfaces of your teeth.

The value of proper brushing is often overlooked, but it is a vital part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Using the right method to brush your teeth will prevent build-up of harmful plaque that can lead to many oral health issues. Brushing properly can help prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, oral infections, and more.

It can be challenging to retrain yourself after you have been brushing the same way for years. Switching methods may take some adjustment, but you will love the results. If you have any questions regarding the most effective methods of brushing your teeth, please contact our office.

Dentist Arlington Heights, IL | The Truth Behind “Natural Whitening” Fads

Dentist in Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights DentistIt seems like there is a new headline nearly every week featuring someone who swears their teeth are whiter and brighter due to their natural home remedy for stain removal. These articles showcase the idea that whitening can be cheap and easy, if in some cases unpleasant. It can be tempting to consider trying for brighter, whiter teeth without investing time and money on in-office or at-home whitening under a dentist’s care. However, before you pin your hopes on one of these “natural whitening” methods, take a look at the truth behind some of the recent fads.

Fad 1: Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has been cropping up in headlines for months with claims of a wide variety of potential health benefits. It is a very old folk remedy in which a person swishes a tablespoon of edible oil, such as coconut, sunflower, olive, etc., in their mouth and between teeth for up to 20 minutes daily.

Despite the number of years this practice has existed and the number of health issues it purports to treat, there is no evidence that oil pulling whitens teeth or improves health.

Fad 2: Fruits

Due to celebrity endorsement, some people have begun to try rubbing mashed strawberries on their teeth to try to achieve a whiter smile. Others are using lemon or orange peels, and still others tout the virtues of eating pineapple or swishing apple cider vinegar.

However, there is no science to support any of these claims. In fact, one recent study found that brushing with a mixture of baking soda (which is known to have whitening effects on teeth) and strawberries did not whiten teeth. Even worse, the citric acids found in all of these fruits and vinegars can actually be harmful to the enamel on your teeth.

Fad 3: Hydrogen Peroxide

While it is true that many forms of in-office and over-the-counter teeth whitening make use of hydrogen peroxide, there is more to consider before opening a bottle. The hydrogen peroxide used in professional teeth whitening, whether in-office or at-home, is mixed with other substances and provided in a form designed for use in teeth whitening.

Simply swishing from a bottle of hydrogen peroxide will have little or no effect on the whiteness of your teeth, but may cause irritation to your gums and mouth and can be dangerous if accidentally ingested.

If you want whiter, brighter teeth, there are safe and effective ways to achieve your goal. Talk with Dr. Vallely for a recommendation for what kind of whitening will be best for your needs. For more information about whitening, contact Associates for General Dentistry, Ltd. of Arlington Heights.

Dentist Arlington Heights | 7 Ways to Combat Bad Breath

Dentist Arlington Heights, IL

Arlington Heights DentistHalitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is commonly associated with certain foods. Garlic, onion, and cabbage can all cause a foul odor and taste for several hours after you’ve eaten them. This type of temporary halitosis is easily solved by avoiding the foods that cause it. However, in some cases bad breath is a chronic problem that simply changing your diet won’t solve.

Long-term bad breath is caused by the presence of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are most often found on the back of the tongue and thrive when your mouth is dry. There are a variety of ways you can help reduce or eliminate chronic bad breath. Some of these include:

Practice good oral hygiene.

Brush your teeth after you eat as often as possible and at least twice daily. Clean between your teeth using dental floss or another interdental (between teeth) cleaner at least once each day. Food particles between teeth will break down slowly and cause unpleasant odors and tastes.

Brush your tongue.

Even if you brush and floss your teeth as recommended, the bacteria causing your bad breath may remain on your tongue. Use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to gently scrape away any particles of food or bacteria every time you brush. For best results, place the scraper or brush as far back as you can manage without gagging. This will generally become easier over time.

Keep well-hydrated.

Dry mouths allow bacteria to thrive. By drinking plenty of water, you can help prevent the bacteria growth and reduce or stop bad breath.

Avoid bad breath triggers.

Onions, garlic, cabbage, coffee, and tobacco products are all known to cause bad breath.

Chew sugarless gum.

By chewing sugarless gum, you increase saliva production and keep your mouth moist. This helps slow or prevent bacteria growth, minimizing chances of bad breath.

Improve your diet.

Crunchy fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and foods rich in vitamins C and D all work to prevent the growth of bacteria, keep your mouth cleaner, and increase saliva flow.

See your dentist.

Follow your regular schedule of dental hygiene appointments and exams. If you have tried the tips above without improvement, make an appointment for an exam to see if there may be an underlying condition that requires treatment. Treat any oral illnesses, such as decayed teeth, periodontal (gum) disease, or infection.

For more information about the potential causes and treatments for halitosis, contact our office.

Dentist in Arlington Heights, IL | Kill the Pain, Save the Tooth

Arlington Heights Dentist

Arlington Heights IL DentistRoot canal, or endodontic, therapy treats inflammation or infection within the pulp of a tooth. If you are awaiting your first root canal treatment, you may feel anxious or uncertain. It can be difficult to separate myth from fact when trying to learn what to expect. Here is some useful information about root canal therapy and some common misperceptions you may encounter.

Despite common belief, root canal therapy does not cause pain. Instead, it relieves the pain you are already experiencing by treating the underlying cause of the infection or inflammation. Some common reasons for tooth pulp inflammation or infection include:

  • Deep tooth decay
  • Chip or crack in tooth structure
  • Tooth root fracture
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Repeated treatment on a single tooth

Once inflammation begins, the pulp experiences swelling and pressure that cause pain. If left untreated, permanent damage to the pulp can occur, including pulp tissue death. When this happens, you may experience temporary relief of pain, but it may lead to painful infection and tooth loss.

Root canal therapy is the removal of diseased or dead pulp tissue from the inside of a tooth. We use specially designed instruments that clean out the pulp chamber and root canals. Next, we disinfect the canals with special medications and clean them once more. Finally, we seal the canals to prevent re-infection. You may experience minor discomfort for a few days, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications.

After your root canal treatment, your tooth will need a permanent restoration to replace the lost tooth structure and protect the remaining tooth. This may be a filling or crown, depending on your need. We will discuss your restoration plan with you prior to your root canal therapy.

Whenever possible, saving your natural tooth is our goal. Root canal therapy can help to preserve your tooth. To learn more about root canal therapy or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

Dentist in Arlington Heights | Digital X-Rays

Dentist Arlington Heights

Dentist Arlington Heights

X-rays, or radiographs, have long been used in dentistry. Traditional film x-rays are a safe and effective part of your dental care, but they do require a small amount of radiation. In our office, we utilize digital x-ray technology that provides the benefits of film imaging but uses up to 80% less radiation. With our advanced digital radiographs, we can view your teeth and surrounding structures with remarkable accuracy.

Unlike traditional x-rays, digital x-rays require no wait time for film to develop. Instead, the images are available on the computer screen within seconds. These images can then be enhanced and enlarged for more accurate diagnosis. Digital x-rays can be stored, printed, or even transmitted electronically to a specialist or laboratory, if needed.

Intraoral x-rays create an image of the teeth, bone, and tissues inside the mouth. This image can be used for prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment planning, depending on the need. X-ray images can be used to identify or diagnose potential oral health issues that may not be fully visible to the naked eye. Some of these may include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Cracks or fractures
  • Impacted teeth
  • Tooth root infection
  • Bone loss
  • Cysts, tumors, or other abnormal growths

How often you need dental x-rays will change over your lifetime. Healthy adults may only need radiographs taken every 2-3 years. Children and teens often need more frequent imaging to monitor the growth and alignment of their teeth. However, there are several additional factors that can influence how often digital x-rays are recommended. Some of these include:

  • Multiple dental restorations
  • Periodontal disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Tobacco use
  • Orthodontics
  • Root canal therapy

Your safety is our primary concern. Before having a digital x-ray taken in our office, let us know if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have had a dental x-ray in another office within the past year
  • You are or may be pregnant
  • You have any questions or concerns about x-rays

For more information on how our digital x-rays benefit you, contact our office.

Arlington Heights, IL Dentist | Root Canal Treatment: Common Myths Busted

Dentist in Arlington Heights

Dentist in Arlington Heights IL

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), there are three major misconceptions many people have regarding root canal therapy. Unfortunately, these patients may make decisions about their health care based on this incomplete or inaccurate information. Take a look at these myths and truths behind this important treatment option.

Myth 1: Root canal treatment causes pain.

This commonly held perception predates modern dentistry. Patients who have actually experienced root canal therapy are 6 times more likely to describe the procedure as painless than those who have never had the treatment.

Truth 1: Root canal treatment relieves pain.

In reality, the only pain that is generally associated with root canal therapy is caused by the underlying reason for the treatment – tooth decay or infected or diseased tissue. The root canal treatment removes this damaged tissue from the tooth, relieving the pain in the process.

Myth 2: Root canal treatment causes further illness or infection in the body.

This unfortunate belief stems from a long-discredited report from nearly 100 years ago that still turns up during internet searches. This report by Dr. Weston Price was highly criticized in its own time for the sub-standard research methods he used, and his conclusions were being debunked as early as the 1930s. 

Truth 2: There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that suggests root canal treatment may cause other illness or infection in the body.

In fact, root canal therapy has been proven to have a much lower incidence of bacteria entering the blood stream than tooth extraction and causes much less trauma to the patient. Recent research has also found that patients who have had multiple root canal treatments have a 45% lower risk of cancer than patients who have not. 

Myth 3: Tooth extraction is always a better option than root canal treatment.

Sometimes a tooth cannot be saved. When that happens, extraction is far better than leaving a diseased tooth in place. However, there is no perfect replacement for a natural tooth. Even the best tooth replacement options may leave you needing to avoid certain foods. Additionally, missing teeth can lead to jaw bone resorption over time. 

Truth 3: Saving natural teeth, when possible, may be the best option for overall health.

By saving the natural tooth whenever possible, doctors and patients avoid the need for further, more costly restoration treatment. Root canal treatment has a very high success rate and can often allow the natural tooth to last a lifetime. 

Our doctor makes every effort to preserve your natural teeth whenever possible. We will review your oral health needs carefully before recommending any treatment. 

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our office.

Arlington Heights Dentist | Say Cheese!

Dentist in Arlington Heights, IL

Dentist Arlington HeightsIt has long been known that dairy products contain high amounts of calcium, which is important for developing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. However, not all dairy works in the same ways. Did you know that a recent study has found that cheese can actually help protect teeth against cavities?

How does cheese prevent cavities?

Eating cheese helps stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth, which washes away sugars, acids, and bacteria on your teeth. Additionally, cheese is a great source of both calcium and phosphorous, which can help strengthen tooth enamel. What’s more, the scientists who performed the study found that some of the other compounds found in cheese seem to adhere to tooth enamel, further protecting the teeth from acids in the mouth.

Are all cheeses the same?

No, some cheeses are healthier for your family than others. To get the greatest benefit from your cheese intake, stick with real cheese varieties, rather than processed cheeses. American cheese, cheese dips, and pre-packaged cheese products, such as those found in jars or spray cans, have added sugars to enhance their flavor. These sugars can be harmful to teeth, rather than protecting them. In addition, these types of cheese products contain a significantly reduced amount of actual cheese content. These processed cheeses can even wear down tooth enamel, increasing risk of decay.

What kinds of cheese should I eat?

There are hundreds of types of real cheese available, which are packed with calcium and great for tooth protection. If you enjoy aged cheeses, Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey jack are all tasty options. If you prefer softer cheeses, Mozzarella, Brie, or Camembert may be a great way to enjoy a snack that makes you smile. Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other similar cheeses have much to offer for those who have a more expansive palate.

What if we’re on a low-fat diet?

Good news! The fat content of your cheese choices do not affect its ability to protect your teeth. The low-fat or non-fat versions of your favorite varieties of cheese contain just as much calcium, phosphorous, and other tooth-protecting compounds as the full-fat varieties.

With so many great options to choose from, consider eating cheese instead of sugary or starchy options for a snack or end of meal treat. Cheese tastes great and is healthy for your teeth. For more ideas for healthy snacking, contact our dental office.