Illinois Jaw Docs

Rubber Tipping: A Guide to Gum Health

'Rubber Tipping' 'woman in dental chair'Brushing and flossing are important aspects of our daily dental routine, but they’re only two parts of the oral health equation. Good oral hygiene goes beyond a simple teeth cleaning. While gum health is often overlooked, a quick trip to the drugstore is all it takes to find the right tools for keeping gums healthy! If you want to avoid the risk of gum disease, it’s time to introduce rubber tipping to your routine.

What is rubber tipping?

Rubber tipping is a technique that strengthens the gums with the use of a handheld dental instrument called a rubber tip gum stimulator. You simply apply pressure to the gums to help prevent gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, and periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

How do you use a gum stimulator?

  1. Brush and floss your teeth first to remove as much food debris as possible.
  2. Run the rubber tip of the gum stimulator under hot water to soften it for gentler use.
  3. Gently massage the gum line with the rubber tip. You can also run the stimulator between your teeth to remove any remaining food debris.

Why should I use a gum stimulator?

Gum stimulators are time-efficient, multipurpose instruments that improve overall oral health. They primarily stimulate the gum tissue to strengthen it against infection, but they also help with cavity prevention by assisting food and plaque removal.

How does rubber tipping affect jawbone health?

Jawbone loss is a serious concern that is linked to poor gum tissue health. Tooth loss is a primary symptom of gum disease, and it has a devastating impact on the jaw. With missing teeth, the jawbone no longer has something to support, and it begins to deteriorate from underuse. Jawbone loss drastically worsens jaw function and facial structure overtime.
Because gum stimulators are crucial in preventing gum disease, they also eliminate the need for procedures such as bone grafting, which promotes bone regeneration after the jaw has atrophied.

If you have any concerns about your gum health, consider adding rubber tipping to your dental care repertoire!

The Benefits of Jaw Surgery

'man in pain' 'pre jaw surgery'As doctors, we always weigh the risks and benefits of any procedure or medication therapy. One of the most significant procedures that we perform in our office is orthognathic surgery, more commonly known as “jaw surgery”.

Orthognathic surgery has the ability to enhance a patient’s life, giving him or her the comfort needed to eat properly and, often, the freedom from pain. Because the decision to have jaw surgery is such a serious one, we would like to take a moment to look at the positive side of the procedure in this blog, focusing on the benefits of orthognathic surgery:

  • Pain Relief – There are several reasons that a person may experience jaw pain bad enough to warrant orthognathic surgery. They may have unnecessarily been causing excessive wear and tear in the joints over many years and living with constant inflammation. Correcting the alignment of the jaws through surgery is sometimes the only way to set the jaw back on the correct path, reducing strain and therefore pain. Another common scenario occurs with injury to the jaw, often from trauma caused by car and sports accidents. If the jaw is knocked too far out of place or suffers significant trauma, it may not heal on its own and may require resetting through a surgical procedure. These two situations represent occasions where the benefits of orthognathic surgery far outweigh the risks.
  • Regular Eating Patterns – A misaligned jaw can make it difficult to chew and swallow, particularly if your teeth do not line up correctly. Often, braces are not enough to correct the alignment issues with the teeth and the jaw itself must be altered. Sometimes, patients don’t even know that they are working too hard to chew because they are used to it always having been that way. Once their bite is corrected through surgery, they are pleasantly surprised to find a significant enhancement in their quality of life.
  • Better Overall Health – The health of your body starts in your mouth. Proper nutrition is key to everything from longevity to happiness. Whether your jaws are misaligned from injury or genetics – if your bite is significantly affected, your nutritional habits may be as well, and orthognathic surgery may be the best option for getting your health back on track.

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

'woman getting checked for oral cancer'Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you!

What is oral pathology?

This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.

What should I look for?

Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?

Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.
Ask us about performing an oral cancer screening when you visit – we’re here to ease your mind and give you the tools you need to maintain your health!

Orthognathic Surgery: The Post-Surgery Diet

Orthognathic Surgery-Post-Surgery DietOrthognathic surgery, commonly referred to as “jaw surgery,” is used to correct a wide range of both minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, often the misalignment of the jaws and teeth. Patients looking at undergoing orthognathic surgery are often faced with an extensive recovery period, as well as a restricted diet in the beginning of their recovery process. Post-surgery patients are discouraged from chewing to allow the bone to heal and stabilize. Due to the fact that adequate healing can take up to 8-12 weeks, patients will initially be on the “swallowing diet” for a number of weeks.

When it comes to the “swallowing diet,” the name of the game is high calorie, high protein, and low volume. Facing a large volume of liquid each meal that meets both the necessary caloric and protein needs can be overwhelming. Consuming enough calories, as well as enough protein is a necessity to heal in a timely manner. In order to get adequate volume of fluid and nutrition daily, it may require you to eat smaller meals 5-6 times per day, rather than the usual 3 times per day.

Patients who are well prepared for their surgery often have a smoother recovery. Here is an example of smoothie recipe a patient can consume following orthognathic surgery:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • 2 chilled bananas, broken into chunks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups ice cubs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Place bananas, milk, peanut butter, honey, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Though patients are faced with a restricted diet post-surgery, it is important to remember to try and maintain a balanced diet. In particular, foods rich in vitamins A and C. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), plenty of vitamin C is one way post-surgery patients ensure a timely recovery!

No Teeth? No Problem!

No Teeth No ProblemAre missing teeth causing you difficulty, discomfort or embarrassment? Don’t worry – we have all the facts about tooth replacement treatments and the effectiveness of dental implants as a long-term solution for missing teeth.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are replacement teeth made of titanium. They are composed of an artificial crown attached to a screw that is surgically implanted into the jaw for stability. Implants are an effective treatment for missing teeth because they maintain the strength of the jaw.
There are a few alternative treatment options, some more lasting than others:

Flippers are temporary, removable plastic teeth. They are attached to a retainer for easy removal. Flippers are one of the most cost efficient tooth replacement methods; however, they are the least durable alternatives to dental implants and are considered short-term solutions until a more lasting treatment can be performed.

Fixed bridges literally “bridge” gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge consists of a false tooth, called a pontic, and two abutment teeth, which are crowns that anchor the bridge to the teeth on either side of the gap. Abutment teeth can be secured to both natural teeth and dental implants; however, anchoring them to natural teeth can cause damage.

Dentures are a common treatment for individuals missing all their teeth in one or both of their jaws. They are made of a removable frame that holds an entire set of teeth.

Removable partial dentures are removable frames that hold a partial set of teeth rather than a full set of teeth. This option is often considered for individuals who are missing some but not all of their teeth in one or both jaws.

Modern Options for Bone Grafting Technology

Bones, grafting, or any combination of the two are rarely the subject of casual conversation. Most of us, regardless of our profession, are happier discussing recent football scores, the price of gasoline, or the abnormally high number of Dunkin Doughnut franchise locations. Perhaps for it is for this very reason, however, that we should bring up this important topic–to raise awareness, maximize modern technology, and inform the public about the options offered in terms of dental implant surgery.

Bone grafting for dental implants is the process by which bone tissue is placed (grafted) into the mouth to act as a placeholder for tissue that has been lost. In the modern medical landscape this is a safe, painless, and routine process: indeed, more than two million bone-grafting operations occur worldwide each year, making bone the second most transplanted organ (after blood!).

As well as natural bone tissue, synthetic tissue is an alternative for patients seeking the best results. Structured as a ‘biodegradable scaffold’ that can be implanted within the body and trigger bone regeneration, this strong, flexible material has been compared to tire rubber! Dr. Karin Hing, author of the study and reader in Biomedical Materials at Queen Mary’s University of London Institute of Bioengineering stated that the challenge being tackled currently is the development of a graft that is as clever as bone. By mechanically evaluating the way bone adapts to its environment and reacts to chemical and physical components, progress is taking place in leaps and bounds.

What does this mean for the average person who just wants to be happy with their mouth? Comfortable outpatient procedures complete with local anesthesia or intravenous sedation make bone grafting a sensible and worry-free choice. Browse our procedures page for more information on maximizing your resources!

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

??????Wisdom tooth removal has become somewhat of a rite of passage – puffy-cheeked post-extraction photos, a diet of Jell-O and mashed potatoes. But not everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out. In fact, not everyone has wisdom teeth at all! Have you ever wondered why some people have four wisdom teeth while others have fewer or even none? We’ve got the facts behind how many wisdom teeth people have and why!

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Third molars, or wisdom teeth, were once very useful to our ancestors. Because prehistoric man’s diet of hard-to-chew plants and uncooked meat required powerful chewing muscles, our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to fit 32 teeth, not just 28. Now that humans have evolved a better means of chewing and digesting our food, we no longer have large jaws, so we simply have no need or no room for wisdom teeth. Many scientists believe humans are currently evolving third molar hypodontia, or the lack of wisdom teeth, due to their inability to develop in the first place.

How many people have wisdom teeth?

About 20-25% of the human population is born with 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and 35% is born without any wisdom teeth at all.

Why do some people have wisdom teeth and some don’t?

There are a few reasons why scientists believe that not everyone develops wisdom teeth:

  1. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a genetic mutation occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, causing some people to be born without wisdom teeth.
  2. Environment: Percentages of people who develop wisdom teeth varies from culture to culture. Certain ethnic groups are known for low percentages of wisdom teeth development, while others are known for high percentages. Environmental factors during dental development are also a possible explanation.

Will wisdom teeth become obsolete?

With the number of people lacking wisdom teeth steadily growing, it’s possible that we could someday completely evolve to not develop wisdom teeth at all. Scientists have experimented with chemically preventing the development of wisdom teeth. Researchers have found that children ages 2-6 that are given local anesthesia for dental work have a higher chance of not developing wisdom teeth later on. Maybe in the future, simple injections at a young age will keep all of us from having to go through wisdom tooth extraction!

Dental Implants: High Tech Teeth

Dental Implants-High Tech TeethWhat are dental implants? Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that provide a foundation for both fixed and removable replacement teeth. Like roots, dental implants are secured within the jawbone and not visible once surgically placed. Teeth replacement is not new to dental technology. Early civilizations practiced teeth replacements; archaeologists have discovered skulls where teeth have been replaced by cast iron and sea shells. Despite their primitive methods, some of these implants were fused with bone like modern dental implants! However, unlike the ancient cast iron or sea shell implants, modern implants are composed of titanium. Titanium is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device — 98%. Dental implants are available in several designs that meet individual needs: single tooth replacement, multiple tooth replacement, implant supported prosthesis (removable), and an implant stabilized denture. Aside from meeting individual needs, there are a few other advantages to having dental implants:

  1. Improved appearance. Dental implants are designed to fuse with bone, and look and feel like your natural teeth.
  2. Improved comfort. Because dental implants become an extension of your natural mouth, implants remove the discomfort associated with removable dentures.
  3. Easier eating. Dental implants act as your natural teeth, allowing you to eat without the pain and discomfort that often accompany slipping of dentures.
  4. Improved self-esteem. Dental implants give your best natural smiling, helping build self-confidence!
  5. Improved oral health. Dental implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth. The jawbone needs consistent chewing action to stimulate continual bone growth. Tooth/teeth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to prevent bone loss.
  6. With proper care, consistent brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, dental implants can last 40-years to life.

If you are interested in dental implants, or have any questions regarding the procedure, call the office today!

Bite Sized Wisdom: Facts on Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the late blooming elder teeth of your mouth, behave a little differently than your other teeth.

Know the facts:

  • Wisdom teeth get their name from the time frame at which they finally show up in your mouth. They typically appear in a person’s late teens or early twenties, sometimes called “The Age of Wisdom,” though your parents may disagree.
  • Wisdom teeth cause trouble because they often grow at odd angles. This makes it hard for them to break out of your gum, if at all.
  • Bite Sized Wisdom- Knowing the Facts on Wisdom TeethAnother reason wisdom teeth often can’t get out of gums is because there is not enough room for them. The plus side is that this could be because you’ve kept your teeth nice and straight.
  • Some people never grow wisdom teeth!
  • Wisdom teeth, among other teeth, house valuable stem cells that can be saved to help you treat other conditions you may have down the road. A pearl of wisdom for you.
  • Wisdom teeth removal, with proper sedation, is painless. The tough part is recovery, which can last a few days to several weeks. Following your physician’s instructions will help you through recovery as quickly as possible.
  • In ancient times, when diets were harder on teeth, wisdom teeth made more sense. People couldn’t influence the way their teeth moved around so it was easier for wisdom teeth to find space to pop in. With today’s high-quality dental care, wisdom teeth aren’t necessary.
  • Given that most people end up removing these teeth surgically, research is being done to find ways to prevent their growth altogether. This would save a trip to the surgeon!
  • You may or may not ever notice that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Some people notice some pain or irritation, some notice nothing at all. Making an appointment with our office is the only way to know for sure.
  • Most people have four wisdom teeth. It’s possible to have fewer or more than four, though it’s very uncommon.

Wisdom teeth can be quirky and troublesome. To make sure you or your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t creating difficulties down the road, make an appointment with us today!

April Oral Cancer Awareness Month: Let’s Spread The Word

hncaHas there ever been a moment in your life where you felt that you should be a part of something bigger than yourself? An organization, a charity, or a non-profit perhaps? Humans are born with the innate desire to help others, so it’s no wonder that we may feel the need to give back to the world in one way or another. And sometimes, it’s the simple acts that yield the most difference. This month you have the opportunity to get involved with a sweeping issue that goes unnoticed too often, and you may help save a life by doing it.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we need to stir up some conversation.
Oral cancer awareness in the American public is extremely low, with very little acknowledgment of its devastating realities. According to the AAOMS, oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the upper throat and mouth) collectively kills nearly one person of every hour of everyday of the year. Approximately 48,250 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. While smoking and tobacco use are still major risk factors, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is healthy, young, nonsmoking individuals. We know this sounds scary, but the truth of the matter is that it is scary, and we need to confront the concern head on.

Awareness is so much more than just knowing about an issue, it’s also about collective, meaningful action.
Share this information with your family, friends, and coworkers. Help educate those around you about the importance of regular self-exams and screenings. Oral cancer is not a new phenomenon, but with advancing technologies and the ability to rapidly share information, we can have a new approach. It is possible for fatalities to be avoided! As reported by the AAOMS, the death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. This means our voice can carry the power to make a difference in the world of oral cancers.

April 10-16th is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Week (OHANCAW).
A message from President Louis K. Rafetto, DMD, mentions that the AAOMS is joining a number of dental organizations in support of the Oral Cancer Foundation’s 17th annual observance this April. This designated week will support free oral cancer screenings and encourage practitioners, patients and other interested individuals (like YOU) to promote head and neck cancer awareness through the use of public service announcements, news releases, talks at middle and high schools, walk-a-thons, and other community-based activities.

As an Oral and Maxillofacial surgical care practice, we have the unique ability to diagnose and treat these conditions. Call us to discuss the steps that you and those within your community can take to help detect early signs of oral cancer.