If we could all start thinking about our smiles the way we think about our cars, everyone would probably enjoy better oral health. We use our smiles every day to get around in social and business situations, just like we use our cars to get around town. A smile needs all the same regular care and maintenance that a car needs. Tuning up your smile every six months is key to keeping it looking great and performing well.
It’s about More than Just Teeth
The teeth do so much. They help us chew the foods we love. They are essential to making the sounds that make up normal speech. They provide support to the cheeks and lips, helping you face appear fuller and younger. We often forget that those teeth wouldn’t be there without the support and health of the gums, jaw, throat, and other oral structures. In addition to gentle but thorough dental cleanings, we also carefully assess the health of your gums at every checkup. If we detect the signs of this inflammatory and potentially serious disease, we can provide a number of treatment options ranging from amping up your at-home dental care routine and making lifestyle changes to deep cleanings. Addressing gum disease early – or avoiding it altogether – will help you keep your natural teeth longer and increase your chances for enjoying better overall health.
To help our patients enjoy an optimal level of oral health, free of disease and discomfort, at 123 Dental Group Dr. Kim offers the following preventive services:
This examination is provided to all new patients on their first visit unless requested otherwise. A full set of radiographs (x-rays) is taken unless provided by your previous dentist. The doctor will evaluate you for cavities, oral cancer, gum disease, abnormalities of the mouth and jaws, TMJ disorders, and more. Pictures may be taken with a digital camera or intraoral camera to show you exactly what the doctor sees and to help inform you of the treatment required. Complete diagnosis will be done and treatment planning will be provided. At any time during your examination, we encourage you to ask questions or voice concerns.
Routine prophylaxis is of paramount importance of any patient who has the desire to keep their teeth forever! At 123 Dental Group, we can skillfully yet gently use a variety of instruments to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Bacterial plaque is responsible for causing tooth decay and gum disease. While daily brushing and flossing help keep plaque at bay, it will still accumulate in harder reach places toward the back of the mouth. Our patients leave a dental cleaning with incredibly smooth, healthy looking teeth and refreshed breath.
At 123 Dental Group, we see most of our patients only twice a year. While regular checkups and cleanings are an essential part of an oral health regimen, consistent at-home care of your teeth and gums is absolutely necessary for maintaining optimal oral health. Dr. Kim encourages their patients to practice the following habits to preserve a healthy smile between visits to the office.
Brushing and Flossing Basics
These habits make up the cornerstones of every oral health program yet many patients, young and old alike, could stand to brush up their technique. To remove plaque and food particles, freshen your breath, and keep your teeth looking clean and bright, follow these guidelines:
To Rinse or Not to Rinse
While not as essential as brushing and flossing, rinsing with a dentist-recommended mouthwash can provide a nice complement to your daily regimen. Mouthwash varieties range from ones that focus on freshening breath to ones that promise to whiten teeth. We recommend you use an antimicrobial mouthwash (such as Listerine) or a fluoridated mouthwash (such as Act or Crest Pro-Health).
A healthy diet low in sugary foods and beverages will help maintain improved oral health by keeping acid-producing bacteria at bay. While most people understand this concept, putting it into action can prove daunting. The following tips can help you ease into more smile-friendly eating habits:
The TMJs: Strong but Sensitive
Pain in the joint of the lower jaw to the side of the head in front of the ear is collectively called TMJ condition. Symptoms of TMJ include:
The TMJs have to withstand constant use to help us eat, speak, laugh, and yawn. However, when excessive pressure or movement places too much stress on the TMJs or if they are injured, serious problems could erupt.
TMJ disorder is usually caused by the nighttime grinding or clenching of the teeth referred to as bruxism. Since bruxism episodes generally happen at night, while the sufferer is sleeping, many people are unaware of the fact they have a problem. In most cases, they wake up with soreness or pain in the jaws. Bruxism can have potentially serious effects, including the chronic pain in the jaw, neck, and shoulders associated with TMJ as well as tooth sensitivity and worn down enamel.
Treatment Options for TMJ Pain and Teeth Grinding
The most common treatment is a construction of a night guard which is worn mainly during sleep. It does not allow the teeth to grind and thus discomfort is minimized or eliminated in most cases. Other treatment may require the use of anti-inflammatory medications. In rare cases, referral to a TMJ specialist may be needed. In addition, lifestyle changes could address the causes of bruxism and TMJ. Since stress and anxiety often prompt the development of bruxism, stress-relieving techniques such as regular exercise, meditation, and cutting down on your caffeine intake could mitigate the problem.
A Closer Look at Gum Disease
Gum disease is an inflammatory disorder that, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, affects nearly half of the adult population of the United States. Gum disease is caused by an infection which can lead to the loss of supporting tooth structure. Treatment plans vary depending on the type and severity of each patient’s case. Your treatment will be customized to your needs to give you the best chances of successfully managing the disease. Every patient is evaluated for gum disease when they come in for a regular checkup at Loukas Dentistry of Park Ridge.
Dr. Kim provides several treatment methods to address gum disease. Deep cleanings, antimicrobial agents, surgery, and antibiotics can successfully treat different levels of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent checkups and cleanings to keep your disease from returning or progressing.
What is a Deep Cleaning?
A deep cleaning, also referred to as scaling and root planing, is a cleaning that focuses on thoroughly removing bacterial plaque from deep below the gum line. Scaling removes bacterial plaque while root planing smoothes out the rough surfaces of roots so that plaque has nothing to cling to. Anesthetic may or may not be required during a deep cleaning. After care for gum disease is of paramount importance. Routine maintenance in the dental office as well as meticulous home care must be strictly followed to achieve a consistently healthy oral environment.
Gum Disease and Overall Health
Research from across disciplines points to the fact that gum disease, an inflammatory disorder, can exacerbate the inflammatory response throughout the body. This means that allowing gum disease to go unchecked can not only compromise you oral health. It can increase your risk of developing other inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular illness, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Maintain a health smile and you have a better chance of enjoying a lifetime of good overall health.