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Scharfenberg Dental Blog

Pediatric Dentistry Explained By Our Elmhurst Family Dentists

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

As family dentists, our Elmhurst dental team is committed to helping patients of all ages maintain optimal oral health. There are some special considerations to keep in mind when helping young patients safeguard their smiles. Keep reading to learn more about what we emphasize when working with kids!

At-home oral hygiene routine 

Develop good habits—we want to help our young patients get into the habit of brushing their teeth every morning and evening, and flossing once a day. Make this part of your family’s daily schedule so that it becomes an engrained part of your child’s routine. A thorough oral hygiene routine helps to:

  • Minimize plaque accumulation
  • Fight bad breath
  • Prevent cavity and gum disease development
  • Reduce enamel discoloration
  • Allow your child to retain his or her primary teeth until their adult teeth are ready to emerge

Professional appointments

The ADA recommends that all patients complete professional dental cleanings and assessments at least twice a year. When young patients have positive experiences in the dentist’s office, they are less likely to experience dental fear and anxiety as adults. During your child’s appointment we:

  • Clear away bacterial plaque and tartar—because tartar is calcified plaque, it can only be removed by professional methods
  • Treat existing infections before they spread
  • Head-off any future structural dental problems
  • Make recommendations for at-home care, to improve its efficacy

As always, our Elmhurst dentists are here to answer any questions that you have about pediatric and family dental care. The easiest way to get started is to schedule a consultation with our team by phone or through our Contact Us page.

Take Steps To Protect Your Smile This Halloween With Help From Our Elmhurst Dentists

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

For many of us, this time of year comes with an influx of sugary sweets and candies in our homes. Indulging is always fun! But our Elmhurst dentists are here with some simple tips to help you safeguard your smile at the same time. It’s all about making smart choices and making a plan before temptation strikes! Keep reading to learn more…

Minimize the candy at hand

One easy way to protect your smile is to eliminate the mindless candy consumption of which we are all guilty. Make it a tradition to, post trick-or-treating, sort through your candy, keeping only your favorites. There are often organizations around town that will happily take your donated treats.

Set specific times to indulge

Another way to cut down on automatic/mindless snacking is to schedule in specific times to enjoy sweets. Because oral bacteria only remain active and feeding on sugars for about 20 to 30 minutes after you eat, you are actually helping your smile by indulging all at once, rather than continuously.

Increase your water consumption

Water is always good for your smile, because it promotes healthy saliva production. Saliva works to neutralize bacteria and re-mineralize enamel. Along with sipping H2O, try to get into the habit of vigorously rinsing your mouth after meals and snacks.

If you have any more questions about how sugar affects your smile, and what you can do about it, please don’t hesitate to give our Elmhurst dentists a call. You can also use the Contact Us page on our website, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We hope you have a fun, safe, and trick-free Halloween!

Get The Facts On Dental Enamel From Our Elmhurst Family Dentists

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Did you know that every one of your teeth is comprised of different layers? As you might imagine, the deeper you go into a tooth, the more sensitive and vulnerable the dental structure is.

Dental enamel is the outermost layer of any tooth, and as such, it serves as a protective layer. However, enamel is by no means unbreakable. Keep reading to learn more from our Elmhurst dentists

A number of different issues can thin and weaken enamel:

 

  • Bruxism: this condition is characterized by chronic dental grinding and clenching. Bruxism can manifest during the day or at night while the patient is asleep.

 

  • Abrasive substances: if you habitually chomp on hard candies or ice, this can create micro-cracks in your dental enamel. Over time, these weak spots can become wider and deeper, while accumulating dental debris and bacteria.

 

  • Sugary and acidic treats: acidic substances temporarily weaken dental enamel, and leave it susceptible to damage. Additionally, oral bacteria produce acids as they feed on sugars and refined carbohydrates. All of these things contribute to dental enamel de-mineralization.

 

As your dental enamel is diminished you may notice

 

  • Increased dental sensitivity: dentin and dental pulp are more sensitive than dental enamel. So, as your enamel becomes more porous, you’ll likely experience more tooth sensitivity than normal.

 

  • Yellow or dull looking teeth: because dentin is yellower than healthy enamel, your entire tooth can start to look discolored as more dentin is able to show through the thin enamel layer that covers it.

 

  • More cavities: thin dental enamel is not as effective as healthy enamel at protecting the inner tooth from bacteria. Thus, as your enamel becomes weaker, you’ll likely experience an increase in cavity development and dental damage.

 

No matter what your teeth look like today, our Elmhurst dentists can help you achieve a smile that you’ll love to show off in the future. The best way to get started is to schedule a personal consultation with our dental team—give us a call or use the Contact Us page to reach out!

 

Our Elmhurst Dentist Helps You Maintain Oral Health This Cold And Flu Season

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A lucky few of us will make it through this winter without contracting the flu or a cold, but, for the rest of us, our Elmhurst dentists have put together this short review on ways to protect your smile when you’re not feeling your best.

When you’re ill, you may notice:

Dehydration

It is very common to become dehydrated when you’re ill, especially if you are vomiting. Keep water handy, and take small sips when you can. Even if you aren’t able to keep anything down, try to gently rinse your mouth out with water throughout the day; this keeps your oral tissues moist, and supports healthy saliva production.

Post-Nasal Drip

When you are dealing with a head cold you may notice that your throat hurts or feels itchy, and that you are experiencing hard-to-treat bad breath: these are all signs of post-nasal drip. When your sinuses are full, mucus will actually trickle down into the back of your throat.

To combat post-nasal drip, make sure that you’re drinking enough water, and rinse your smile regularly. You may benefit from gargling warm salt water to alleviate discomfort. Talk to your doctor if your throat begins to hurt more intensely and acutely, as this could be a sign of strep rather than a common cold.

Vomiting

When you throw up food, whether due to the flu, food poisoning, sickness etc., the acids in your stomach come along. Protect your smile by rinsing your mouth with water, warm salt water, or a medicated oral rinse. Take special care not to brush your teeth for 20 to 30 minutes after vomiting, as your enamel may be softer and more fragile during this period; it’s better to rinse first and brush later.

Don’t let a short-term illness create long-term issues for your smile. Give our Elmhurst dentists a call to learn more and to schedule a personal consultation with our team. 

Our Elmhurst Dentist Gives 3 Helpful Tips For Beating Bad Breath

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Bad breath can be a particularly annoying and embarrassing problem, especially when it is chronic and hard-to-treat. That is why our Elmhurst dentists have put together this short article with helpful tips on treating bad breath. Let’s get started!

We all occasionally deal with bad breath due to particularly odorous foods or drinks we’ve consumed. This type of bad breath is temporary, and doesn't necessarily indicate an oral health issue about which you need to be concerned.

The more worrying type of bad breath is called halitosis; it is chronic and usually caused by a build-up of harmful oral bacteria in the mouth. You see, when oral bacteria feed, grow, and multiply, they release unpleasant odors as a byproduct. In order to beat bad breath for good, you have to prioritize fighting oral bacteria. To that end, you can…

Drink Plenty of Water

It’s crucial that you stay hydrated so that your body is able to produce enough saliva to neutralize bacteria. Untreated dry mouth absolutely puts patients at risk for developing halitosis.

Rinse After Meals

Oral bacteria love sugars and refined carbohydrates. For about 20 to 30 minutes after you eat, oral bacteria on your teeth and gums are active feeding on food particles and growing as a result. In order to make it harder for oral bacteria to capitalize on this time period, you should get into the habit of rinsing your mouth vigorously with water after meals and snacks.

Eat and Sip Smartly

When you understand how oral bacteria feed, grow, and take root in your smile, you can plan your meals and snacks to minimize bacterial growth. Remember that oral bacteria are able to keep feeding on sugars and refined carbohydrates for about 30 minutes after you’re done eating and drinking. Thus, it is better for your smile for you to eat and drink at specific times of the day, rather than continuously. Let’s make it more difficult for bacteria to thrive!

Want to learn more? Please feel free to give our Elmhurst dentists a call! 

Our Elmhurst Dentists Discuss Dental Issues Associated With Tooth Grinding

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

If you are one of the many adult dental patients who suffers from bruxism, or chronic dental grinding, then you may be unknowingly undermining the strength and structure of your smile. That’s why our Elmhurst dentists are here to help you take control of your oral health. Keep reading to learn more about this common condition…

Not all of us grind or clench our teeth during the day; some of us are unconsciously damaging our teeth as we sleep! This often occurs because the patient’s top and bottom teeth do not come together comfortably and naturally. Thus, when the patient is asleep they are moving their teeth back and forth in an effort to find a comfortable resting position.

Bruxism can also develop due to:

  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Temporomandibular joint damage, which makes it difficult to move your jaw joints through their full ranges of motion
  • Aging dental restorations, which throw off the balance of your smile

When treating bruxism, our Elmhurst dentists have two goals; we want to protect your teeth from damage, and minimize your grinding habit to reduce your risk of TMJ damage. To that end, we may recommend that you:

  • Wear a protective oral appliance at night, to shield your teeth from enamel-on-enamel damage
  • Replace old restorations with custom crowns
  • Use dental bonding to build up and shape specific teeth
  • Pursue orthodontic treatment to move your top and bottom teeth into better positions

This entire process begins with a personalized consultation. Our dental team will thoroughly assess the function of your smile, as well as your existing oral health status. In some cases, it may be a good idea to correct oral health problems prior to addressing bruxism.

The sooner that you are able to address bruxism, the better your long-term oral health prognosis will be. Our Elmhurst dentists are here to help you from start to finish, so give us a call to schedule a consultation!

Our Elmhurst Dentists Explain How Structural Dental Issues Can Affect Oral Health

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Our Elmhurst dentists are here to help our patients develop comprehensive, personalized oral health plans, so that they can enjoy attractive and strong smiles for years to come. One important consideration when going through this process is the existing structure of a patient’s smile. Keep reading to learn more…

When we talk about dental structure, we are referring primarily to the way that your teeth are aligned, and your top and bottom jaws come together. As you may imagine, dental alignment affects jaw function, and vice versa.

In a well-designed smile, the patient’s top and bottom teeth meet comfortably and evenly. When this isn’t the case, the patient is at an increased risk of suffering from:

  • Premature tooth wear and tear
  • Unhealthy, thin dental enamel—this leaves your teeth vulnerable to damage, and it may make your smile appear darker and yellower
  • TMJ dysfunction—your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) attach your bottom jaw to your skull
  • Bruxism, which is characterized by tooth grinding and clenching

The key to successful treatment is to first identify the root cause of your structural dental problem. You may have aging restorations that have thrown your smile off balance, or an overbite/underbite/crossbite may make it difficult for you to bring your top and bottom teeth together comfortably.

The treatments we use to improve these types of structural problems are versatile and patient-friendly:

  • Custom-crafted crowns
  • Dental bonding with composite resin, to build up specific tooth surfaces
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Shaping and refining the natural tooth

As with most dental issues, the sooner that you are able to address structural dental imbalances, the better your long-term prognosis. Our Elmhurst dentists are here to answer any questions that you may have, and to walk you through your treatment options. Get started by giving our office a call or by using the Contact Us page on our website to submit an inquiry and your contact information.

Learn More About Aesthetic and Structural Dental Problems Our Elmhurst Invisalign Dentists Treat

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Improving the appearance and the health of your smile is easier than ever before thanks to state-of-the-art treatments like Invisalign. This versatile and effective treatment can optimize your smile without disrupting your life. Keep reading to learn more from our Elmhurst Invisalign dentists

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is an orthodontic system that incrementally moves teeth into better alignment using clear plastic aligners. Invisalign is completely metal-free and removable.

Can Invisalign Help Me?

Invisalign is designed to improve dental alignment, so, it might be right for you if you want to:

  • Close gaps between your teeth
  • Straighten crooked or crowded teeth
  • Correct an overbite, underbite, or crossbite
  • Widen your smile

What many people do not realize is that making these aesthetic changes to your smile can also improve the health of your mouth. It is easier to clean between straight, properly aligned teeth, for example. Additionally, research shows that properly structured bites wear better over time than underbites, overbites, and crossbites. By taking steps to refine your smile now, you can protect your oral health for the future.

How long does treatment take?

As you might imagine, the answer to this question varies greatly on a case to case basis. The average treatment time for Invisalign is 12-18 months. Your treatment timeline may be different depending on the current state of your smile as well as the dental goals you want to achieve.

The best way to get an accurate idea of how long treatment would take for you is to schedule a consultation with our Elmhurst Invisalign dentists. Once we take a look at your smile, and talk to you about your dental goals, we can give you a better idea of whether Invisalign is right for you, and what your treatment process would look like.

Give our office a call, or use the Contact Us page on our website to get started, today! 

Maintain A White And Bright Smile With Our Elmhurst Cosmetic Dentists

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Almost every patient that we speak to wants to show off a white, bright, and luminous smile. However, for many of us, this gets harder to achieve as time goes on. Daily life, and the realities of aging dental enamel, can make our smiles start to look dark, dull, and stained. The good news is that our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists have the tools and treatments necessary to refresh your smile again!

The first step in the treatment process is to determine precisely why your smile is looking discolored or dull. This type of aesthetic change can occur due to:

  • Enamel thinning, which allows more of the yellow dentin to show through the surface of the tooth
  • Accumulated environmental stains from foods, drinks, and especially tobacco products
  • Damaged teeth, especially if the nerves or roots of the tooth have been damaged
  • A buildup of unsightly plaque or tartar on the dental surface

Understanding why your smile looks discolored allows our team to personalize our treatment recommendations to suit your specific situation. You may end up using one of these treatment solutions, or combining a few for maximum results:

  • Professional dental whitening treatment—using a concentrated topical gel, our dental team lifts discoloration from the tooth surface. This type of treatment is especially effective in combating environmental stains.
  • Dental bonding—this treatment option actually covers unsightly enamel with a fresh layer of custom-shaded dental resin. Bonding takes only one day to complete, delivers immediate results.
  • Porcelain veneers—this is another option that actually covers your natural enamel to achieve results. Every dental veneer is individually crafted to the patient’s specifications. Once the veneer is bonded in place, it completely transforms the visible tooth structure.

There is absolutely no reason to continue living with a smile that looks older or duller than you want it to look. Thanks to advances in the world of cosmetic dentistry, we now offer a range of solutions to dental discoloration! Remember, you can always call our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists to learn more and to schedule a personal consultation!

Our Elmhurst TMJ Dentist Answers Questions About Living With Jaw Dysfunction

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

For many people, when they think about oral health, they think primarily about teeth and gums. However, in reality, all of the parts of your smile, including bone structure, are interconnected. This is why it’s so important to be mindful about jaw health, and stay alert for signs of TMJ issues, so that you can seek treatment before your smile is compromised. Keep reading to learn more from our Elmhurst TMJ dentists.

How and why do jaw problems develop?

There are a number of potential causes of jaw dysfunction. Sometimes jaw damage is the result of a discrete injury—like a bike or sporting accident. In these cases, it’s pretty clear that the jaw joint is injured, and it is crucial that you undergo treatment so that ill-effects do not linger. Other causes of TMJ problems are subtler. Uneven teeth for example, will put strain on your bite, and cause structural problems. Also, people who suffer from bruxism, or chronic dental grinding, often deal with jaw damage as a result.

What are some common symptoms of TMJ damage?

Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction may be chronic or they may come and go. Regardless, you should speak to your dental team if you notice:

  • A popping or clicking sensation when you chew
  • Jaw pain or discomfort
  • Limited jaw mobility: some people are able to feel their jaws “lock” when they try to open their mouths all of the way
  • That you are unconsciously altering your bite to compensate for jaw dysfunction

How does Dr. Scharfenberg treat TMJ problems?

Effective TMJ treatment begins with identifying the underlying cause of jaw dysfunction. Our dental team always matches the treatment to the root source of jaw damage. If, for example, a poorly aligned bite is putting strain your temporomandibular joints, then orthodontic treatment or customized restorations can help alleviate this pressure. Patients who suffer from bruxism may benefit from protective dental appliances.  

TMJ problems can be effectively and comfortably treated by our Elmhurst TMJ dentists. Please, don’t hesitate to contact our team to schedule a personal consultation! 


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