Scharfenberg Dental Blog

Elmhurst TMJ Dentist Explains How TMJ Disorder is Diagnosed

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a new patient, Becky. Becky came in to Scharfenberg Dental complaining of generalized pain and tenderness on the sides of her face. She had tried to ignore this pain for some time, in the hopes that it would improve, but it hadn’t. By the time she scheduled an appointment with us she was really suffering and experiencing significant discomfort.

For months, Becky couldn’t figure out why she was having such persistent facial and oral pain. As soon as she meet with our dental team, however, the reason became clear—she was suffering from TMJ dysfunction.

The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects skull and the jawbone. For some patients this joint becomes irritated and inflamed, and the muscles surrounding this joint malfunction—this is TMJ dysfunction. Some patients may find that TMJ disorder negatively impacts their ability to speak, chew, smile, yawn, and swallow.

Here are some common symptoms of TMJ disorder:
• Swelling around the jaw joint, neck, and throat
• Tenderness around the jaw joint
• Clicking or popping noises when you move the jaw
• Limited jaw mobility—this may mean that your jaw gets “stuck” and is unable to open fully, or that your jaw does not easily move up and down or from side to side
• Headaches
• Dizziness
• A toothache sensation

Because many symptoms of TMD can be confused with other disorders, it is important that you address your concerns with a dental professional. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists conduct a thorough evaluation to diagnose TMJ dysfunction. We will access your jaw mobility, and examine the jaw joint for swelling and irritation. Additionally, using panoramic X-rays we can determine whether TMD is affecting your tooth health, which may contribute to facial swelling and pain. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to order more advanced imaging in order to survey the extent of TMD.

Working with a TMJ dentist, many patients can regain pain-free normal functioning using simple dental appliances. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists utilize simple, non-surgical dental devices to realign the bite and relieve pain. If you notice any symptoms TMJ, let your dentist know—the faster you begin treatment the less likely it will be that you’ll suffer from more serious complications. Give us a call if you have any questions about TMJ disorder, or you’d like to learn more about treatment options—(630) 733-1624.

Elmhurst Dentist Talks About How Cavities Develop

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our Elmhurst family dentists recently saw a new patient, Janet, who found out in her first appointment with us that she had three new cavities! Janet hadn’t been to see a dentist in years, but she thought she could stay cavity-free by brushing and flossing diligently every day. Unfortunately, Janet didn’t know that daily brushing and flossing alone are not enough to prevent cavities—in order to prevent decay every patient needs professional cleanings as well as at-home care.


Once you understand how dental cavities form, it’s easy to see why professional cleanings are so important. So let’s review how cavities develop:


Dental enamel is the hard outer covering of the tooth. Enamel protects dental pulp, which is the sensitive bundle of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue in the inner core of the tooth. When the enamel is compromised, it develops holes and exposes dental pulp.


Plaque is a sticky substance of bacteria and sugar that coats dental enamel. Everyone has plaque every day, because it is a natural byproduct of eating and drinking. Brushing and flossing can brush away bacteria and prevent plaque buildup. However, it’s impossible to reach all of the plaque in your mouth, and eventually this plaque hardens in to tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar is plaque that has solidified on the enamel, so it can only be removed by dental professional. Regular, professional dental cleanings eliminate both plaque and tartar, keeping your smile sparkling!


Obviously, it’s important to brush and floss at least twice daily. Your home dental hygiene routine can help control and minimize plaque buildup. But what we’ve learned is that in order to remove hard to reach plaque and solidified tartar, you need a professional dental cleaning. Working with our Elmhurst family dentists, you can defend yourself against harmful cavities. As always, give us a call at (630) 733-1624 if you have any questions or you’d like to schedule an appointment—we’re here to help.

Elmhurst Cosmetic Dentist Reviews How To Avoid Tooth Discoloration

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists get the same request from patients day after day, week after week—“a whiter smile, please!” Our cosmetic dentists have multiple teeth whitening options to fit the needs of our patients. And today, I’m actually going to be reviewing some things that you can keep in mind in your daily life to help minimize tooth discoloration and perhaps avoid considerable enamel stains.


The truth is, there is no “normal” shade of whiteness for teeth—teeth are naturally shaded on a spectrum of whiteness and brightness. Therefore, some patients may be looking to whiten their natural tooth color, while other patients may want to restore their teeth to their base shade of whiteness. No matter which camp you fall into, certain environmental and biological factors can affect the color of your teeth.


Food and Drink: Deeply colored foods and drinks can stain tooth enamel and contribute to a dull smile. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are popular drinks, but likely to cause discoloration. Additionally, red berries, juice, as well as red wine can stain enamel. Another substance likely to stain teeth is tobacco—chewing tobacco as well as cigarettes and cigars.  If you avoid these substances, or brush frequently after using them, you are less likely to experience tooth discoloration from environmental factors.


The Aging Process: When we are young, our teeth appear white because we have healthy and strong dental enamel. As we age, our dental enamel wears down and deteriorates—causing the darker dentin under the enamel to show through. This is why many people find that their teeth appear more yellow as they age. This is an inevitable process, but cosmetic dentists can use professional treatments to help you whiten your smile and reduce yellowing.

It’s no mystery why so many patients come into our office asking for rejuvenated, whiter smiles. A white, bright smile makes a patient appear young and vibrant (and now we understand why—young enamel is white!). Some stains are avoidable—those that are caused by food and drink—however, your teeth will naturally and unavoidably change color as you age. Our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists use a variety of in-office and at-home whitening treatments to address environmental and biological tooth discoloration. Give us a call if you have any questions or you’d like more information about cosmetic dentistry treatments—(630) 733-1624.

Elmhurst Dentist Reviews the Uses of Fluoride Treatment

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
As dentists, and as parents, we know how important pediatric dental care is for children to enjoy healthy smiles through adulthood. Some of the most frequent questions our Elmhurst family dentists get are about how much fluoride children should get and how that fluoride should be administered. Many parents have questions about why and how fluoride is used for kids and adults. Today I’m going to explain the benefits and methods of using fluoride in pediatric and adult dentistry.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural element found in soil, fresh water, salt water, and rocks. As you know, dental enamel is the hard outer surface of your tooth. Enamel allows you to chew, and protects your inner tooth from infection and decay. Fluoride is absorbed easily into tooth enamel, and can be used to strengthen teeth.

As you go through your day eating and drinking, your dental enamel is consistently under attack by acid, which weakens teeth by dissolving calcium and phosphorous in the enamel—this process is called demineralization. Fluoride actually protects teeth from demineralization, because it contains acid-neutralizing calcium and phosphate. Additionally, fluoride can also strengthen weak spots in the enamel through the process of remineralization.

How is fluoride used in dentistry?

Many adults receive adequate fluoride from the foods and drinks they consume daily. In addition, in the United States, tap water is actively fluoridated to help prevent tooth decay.

Patients can get additional fluoride from fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes. Professional fluoride treatments are administered in-office—these can be gels, foams, or mouth guard products. Professional fluoride treatments contain a significantly higher level of fluoride than over the counter dental products.

Many patients with compromised dental enamel can benefit from fluoride treatments. Fluoride is also frequently used in pediatric dentistry because children’s teeth absorb it easily—it strengthens developing bones and permanent teeth. However, children under the age of 18 months should not use fluoridated products, and children under the age of 6 should be monitored when using fluoride, because if it is ingested children could suffer from fluorosis. Fluorosis permanently stains and discolors permanent teeth as they are forming.

The best way to determine if you and or your family can benefit from flouride treatment is to consult with a family dentist. The fluoride found in home and in-office products can help strengthen tooth enamel and fight demineralization. Our Elmhurst family dentists are happy to answer your questions about using fluoride in your or your children’s dental care—feel free to give us a call at (630) 733-1624.

Elmhurst Dentist Reviews Root Canal Therapy Treatment

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
As a dental professional, I’ve seen firsthand how far people will go to avoid a root canal. Simply uttering the term can sometimes send people running for the hills! Our Elmhurst root canal dentists understand that the idea of a root canal can be pretty scary. However, we also know that the reality of root canal therapy is never as painful or frightening as patients imagine it to be.

Honestly, much of the fear associated with root canals is the result of misinformation and urban legends. Modern technology, especially sedation dentistry, has revolutionized root canal therapy—most of our patients report that their root canals were no more painful than having regular dental fillings. Unfortunately, the anxiety associated with root canals means that many patients avoid the treatment they need.

So what exactly is a root canal?

The inside of every tooth is filled with dental pulp—nerves, tissue, and blood vessels. This material is generally protected from bacteria by the exterior enamel and dentin of the tooth. However, sometimes the dental pulp becomes infected and inflamed. When the inside of the tooth begins to deteriorate, a dentist will perform root canal therapy—removing the infected dental pulp from the inside of a tooth, sanitizing the hollowed out space, and sealing the empty space with a filling.

Some patients avoid dental treatment because they experience extreme anxiety when considering root canal treatment. Consequently, the infection intensifies and becomes more serious. Left untreated, this infection can cause devastating complications such as:

• Abnormal swelling of the face and neck
• Dental deterioration, causing holes in dental enamel
• Loss of jawbone density and bone strength

Seeking effective treatment in a timely manner can help you avoid these long-term problems. Make sure to discuss your dental concerns with your dentist during your semi-annual check-up, and be on the lookout for these common signs of infection:

• Intense toothaches
• Tooth tenderness or pain when pressure is applied
• Tooth sensitivity and pain from hot or cold materials
• Gum tenderness or swelling
• Raised bumps on the gums
• A darkening, dull-looking tooth

Root canals are a necessary treatment for some patients. Although root canals may initially seem daunting, they do not need to be painful. The most important thing is to seek adequate treatment for dental infections, so that fear doesn’t negatively affect your overall health. Our Elmhurst root canal dentists are always happy to answer your questions and discuss your dental options in more detail, feel free to give us a call at (630) 733-1624.

Fast and Easy Dental Treatments Explained By Elmhurst Dentists

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Many dental patients come to our Elmhurst dentists because they want to improve their smiles quickly and easily. Our dental team provides a number of treatments that fit the bill. Keep reading to get the details on some of the effective and efficient treatments that we offer.

Professional teeth whitening

If you have stained or dark enamel, professional dental whitening treatments may be able to refresh and brighten your teeth. This treatment involves our dental team applying a topical whitening formulation to your teeth. As this formulation sits, it activates and lifts discoloration from the dental enamel.

Many dental patients achieve full results after just one treatment. If, however, you want to further whiten your teeth, we can repeat the treatment until you are happy with the whiteness of your smile.

Professional dental whitening is a topical treatment; it is non-invasive and comfortable for the patient to undergo. Sometimes people report some dental sensitivity right after whitening, but this subsides quickly.

Dental bonding

Dental bonding is a treatment that is used to restore teeth and to achieve cosmetic results. By applying dental resin to your real teeth, our dentist can make your smile look whiter, brighter, straighter, and more seamless. We can also fill in dental cracks, and rebuild chipped away portions of teeth.

Dental bonding is completed, from start to finish, in just one appointment. With bonding you can truly transform your smile in a matter of hours.

Once the dental resin that we apply to your teeth has cured, it is hard, sturdy, and visually similar to natural enamel. Plus, dental resin is shaded to match the patient’s enamel color for seamless results.

As you can see, you can make major improvements to your smile in a very short period of time. Our Elmhurst dentists can give you all of the information that you need when you come in for your consultation!

Elmhurst Dentist Explains Why Dental Implants are Durable

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If you’re missing a tooth you know how disruptive tooth loss can be to your life. Increasingly, many of our patients are interested in replacing missing teeth with permanent dental implants. Patients often ask our Elmhurst dental implant dentists how implants differ from alternatives like bridges, crowns, and dentures. Dental implants are more stable and long-lasting solution for missing teeth. Today let’s talk about some of the reasons that dental implants are so durable.


The Strength of Titanium


The root of the dental implant is placed directly into the bone—it replaces the root of the missing tooth. The root of the dental implant is made of titanium or titanium alloy, which has many advantages. First of all, titanium has reliable strength and is resistant to fracture. Most importantly titanium is accepted readily by the body—over time, the titanium roots will actually fuse with the bone. This is what allows dental implants to mimic natural teeth and hold up over time.


Retain Your Healthy, Natural Teeth

Dental implants are crafted to work in harmony with your other teeth—keeping your dental implants and natural teeth strong for years. Dental implant roots can be used to secure bridges, dentures, crowns, and other restorations. Unlike alternatives, dental implants do not require our Elmhurst dentists to file away healthy tooth structure. Consequently, the adjacent teeth remain strong and stable. Additionally, the visible part of your dental implant—the restoration—is made of sturdy porcelain or composite resin, and crafted to fit your bite and smile. This prevents uneven strain or wear and tear on your teeth.

As you can see, dental implants are a sturdy, long-lasting option for replacing teeth. Many patients can benefit from the strength of titanium and the structural integrity of dental implants. Give our Elmhurst dental implant dentists a call—(630) 733-1624—if you are interested in learning more about dental implants or you’d like to discuss your options.

Elmhurst Dentist Explains the Importance of Treating TMJ

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

As a dentist, it is always my goal to help my patients achieve smiles that are beautiful and functionally healthy. Last week I saw a patient of mine who was really struggling with jaw discomfort and tooth soreness. She had always taken excellent care of her teeth, and was cavity-free, so she didn’t understand why she was suddenly in pain. It turned out that she was suffering from the disruptive symptoms of TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), which can strike no matter how well you take care of your smile.


Many of our patients come in to our office complaining of jaw soreness, headaches, and tooth pain without realizing that these are symptoms of TMJ disorders. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists are always on the lookout for these problems when they meet with patients, but today I’d like to give you a brief overview of TMJ problems so that you can actively seek treatment if you need to.


The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw joint to the skull. This joint allows you to speak, chew, and move your jaw from side to side. TMJ disorders result when dysfunction of the muscles surrounding this joint restricts the movement of the jaw and causes pain.


Common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include jaw pain/tenderness, headaches, dizziness, teeth grinding, jaw popping/clicking, and restricted jaw mobility. You may even find that your jaw “catches,” meaning that you are unable to open your jaw all the way.


TMJ symptoms are painful and disruptive. Importantly, if they are left untreated they can become significantly worse over time. Eventually you could experience muscle spasms, inflammation of your temporomandibular joint and jaw, and sleep disturbances. Chronic teeth grinding and uneven biting will cause your teeth to weaken and wear down prematurely. This is why it’s so important to seek treatment from a TMJ dentist if you experience such symptoms.


Not many patients realize that TMJ problems are treatable with non-invasive, easy to use solutions. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists often use small dental appliances to adjust the bite and relieve TMJ symptoms. Hopefully you now know that if you have TMJ problems you can recognize them and seek effective treatment to relieve your discomfort. If you are interested in learning more about TMJ disorder or you’d like to discuss your options with our Elmhurst dentists, please give us a call at (630) 733-1624.

Elmhurst Veneers Dentist Explains the Benefits of Porcelain Veneers

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

If you want to correct crooked teeth, a stained smile, or gaps between teeth, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of porcelain veneers. Last week, one of my patients asked a very logical question—“Isn’t porcelain used in dishes? Why use this material for dental veneers?” The truth is, the porcelain that our Elmhurst veneers dentists use to create restorations is a little bit different from porcelain used for dishes and sculptures. Today I’d like to explain just a few reasons why porcelain veneers are useful for dental restorations.

Porcelain Mimics Strong Enamel

One primary benefit of porcelain veneers is that porcelain—once bonded to the tooth—acts very much like natural enamel. The elasticity, hardness, and durability of bonded porcelain are all comparable with enamel in many ways. Durable porcelain veneers, therefore, work harmoniously with your natural teeth.

A Radiant Smile

Porcelain is an exceptional material for veneers because it allows light to penetrate dental restorations, allowing them to shine. Because porcelain veneers are not dull and opaque, but rather made of vivid, translucent layers of porcelain, they transmit and refract light similarly to natural teeth. Our Elmhurst veneers dentists create restorations without unsightly black lines and metallic underlayment. This means that your veneers will be sparkling white, and blend seamlessly with your smile—no need to worry about fake looking restorations.

Although initially the word “porcelain” may seem out of place in a dental blog (my patient last week said it made her think of her grandmother’s china!), upon closer inspection porcelain is an advantageous material to use for dental veneers. Because of their strength and natural luminosity, porcelain veneers have helped many Elmhurst patients enjoy beautiful smiles. I hope this blog entry has shed some light on this common question—as always if you are interested in learning more about porcelain veneers, or you’d like to discuss your dental options with our Elmhurst dentists, please give us a call at (630) 733-1624.

Elmhurst Cosmetic Dentist Explains the Benefits of the KöR Teeth Whitening System

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today I had a patient ask me whether she could transform her discolored, sensitive teeth with teeth whitening. She was looking for a cosmetic solution that would be easy to use and fit in with her daily routine. I told her that the revolutionary KöR Whitening System could be the perfect solution for her dental woes.

What is the treatment process like? It’s simple! The KöR Whitening System is convenient and easy to use. Our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists will simply take molds of your teeth and create custom whitening trays for you. Then, you’ll have an in-office whitening session, followed by two weeks of whitening with a take-home kit. During those two weeks, you’ll wear your whitening trays at night. Then, you’ll come in for one more in-office appointment, and you’re done!

Is it safe?
Yes. Teeth whitening is safe and non-invasive. The KöR Whitening System is specifically designed to be a gentle whitening option. Most patients experience little or no sensitivity during treatment.

Does it work?
Yes. Over-the-counter treatments are unreliable, and many of our patients come to us because they are disappointed with the results of non-professional systems. On the other hand, our cosmetic dentists administer the KöR Whitening System—ensuring that you will see the whiter, natural-looking smile you want. Some of our patients have lightened their smiles by up to 16 shades! This is also the only whitening treatment that has been show to lighten tetracycline-stained teeth.

As you can see, the KöR Whitening System is a great option for rejuvenating your smile. If you’re interested in whitening your smile, or if you’d like to discuss your options for teeth whitening with our Elmhurst dentists, please give us a call at (630) 733-1624.

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