Dental News and Info

Strobel Dentistry is Open for Your Dental Emergency

March 20th, 2020

Dear friends,
Though we have closed our office to regular business in accordance with state, federal, and CDC guidelines, we are still your healthcare providers and we take that responsibility very seriously.
Our admin team is monitoring email, messages, and texts round the clock, and you can also reach either doctor on their cell in the event of a dental emergency. Please call us before going to the emergency room for dental pain of any kind.
We can help assess the issue, see you in our office if warranted, or refer you to the best source of care. Both Dr. Isabella and Dr. Dan are available to address concerns via teleconferencing as well.
In this uncertain and frightening time, please know that we are here to help you if you need us. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy!
Warmly,
The Staff at Strobel Dentistry
Drs Dan Strobel and Isabella Terrassa

We’re Expanding!!!

March 10th, 2020

It’s been a long time coming, so we are EXTRA stoked to finally announce that Strobel Dentistry will be expanding into the suite next door! Since this is brand new, we don’t have all the details yet, but here’s a rough timeline:

  • Immediately: We welcome the patients of Chicago Dental Smiles! The first step in our expansion was acquiring the practice next door, as Dr. Joshi had made the difficult decision to consolidate his practice to the suburbs. We’ll miss our neighbor but are SO excited to have this chance to help more members of our community.
  • Early April: Construction begins! As soon as we have our ducks in a row, we’ll begin executing our vision for our updated space. Thankfully we can remain open for our patients during almost all of this construction, so this time should have very little impact on our ability to provide quality dental care.
  • Mid July - Close for a Few Days. Since our ultimate goal involves some reorganization as we expand, it’s likely we will need to close for a few days to finish the transition. We will of course aim to keep this to a minimum and let you know as soon as we have a definitive timeline. Our team is planning to spend this time refining our skills and knowledge at a Seminar in Scottsdale.  Can’t beat Arizona in July! 
  • By the end of summer: a new and improved space! Our end result will include the following enhancements to improve our patient care:
    • Two new operatories for expanded treatment (including hopefully more specialist days on site!)
    • A brand new lab for fabricating in-house appliances in addition to our dedicated sterilization area
    • An expanded, comfortable reception area for patients to sit before their appointments begin
    • Dedicated, private spaces for patients to discuss potential treatment with one of our Patient Care Coordinators

We’ll keep you all posted as our plans progress! Thank you as always for being a part of our journey and growth!

How do Dental Memberships Compare to Insurance Premiums?

February 18th, 2020

With the increasing complexity of the insurance landscape, a lot of people are turning away from their traditional insurance options toward savings clubs and memberships run by the practices they frequent. But how do you know which is really the better deal?

That depends, of course, on a couple of factors:

Do you have access to group dental insurance through an employer?

While there are exceptions to every rule, generally you’ll have affordable access to better dental plans if you work for a larger employer - places like Accenture or Publicis, for example. Larger companies are usually able to negotiate better rates for better benefits from insurance carriers. If you source your own dental insurance, you’ll usually wind up with a plan that costs you more a month for fewer benefits.

Are your gums healthy? Do you anticipate a lot of dental restorations in the next couple of years? (think crowns, fillings, bridges)

This will have a direct correlation to what makes the most sense for you - if you are reasonably healthy, don’t need a lot of dental work, and are paying a high premium, you may be overpaying for benefits you don’t really need. Similarly, if you need a lot of work and have very bare bones insurance, a membership plan may be a better option for you. If you have access to good benefits at a reasonable rate and need a consistent amount of dental work, traditional insurance is likely the way to go!

How does the cost compare between a dental membership and traditional insurance?

Let’s take two examples:

  1. Joe is insured by a large corporation for $30 a month, and comes in for 2 check ups, one with x-rays, and a moderate filling. 
    1. With his insurance, he might expect to pay $360 in yearly premiums and another $200 in copays and deductibles
    2. With a membership plan, he would pay $389 in yearly premiums, and $250 for his filling. 
  2. Brenda is insured with a self-funded plan for $50 a month and needs the same treatment as Joe.
    1. With her insurance, he might expect to pay $600 in yearly premiums and another $300 in copays and deductibles
    2. With a membership plan, she would pay $389 in yearly premiums, and $250 for his filling. 

As you can imagine, the figures can change quickly depending on what you currently pay and what you need. Curious how your coverage stacks up? Contact our admin team today and we’d be happy to run through a breakdown specific to your situation!

Exactly How Are Teeth Supposed to Line Up?

January 28th, 2020

Hi! My name’s Jess - I’m the office manager here at Strobel Dentistry and the main contributor to this blog (we usually don’t do first person here so an introduction felt in order ;) ). I very recently started Sure Smile clear aligner therapy at our office, and aside from mild and irrational fears that I’ll revert to my grade school lisp, I’m pretty excited!

Jess, Office Manager

But it got me thinking; since my teeth aren’t in need of extreme movement, I wasn’t even sure I needed orthodontic treatment at all. As it turns out, there are ways your teeth should come together that might just never occur to you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So how, optimally, should our teeth align?

  • FROM THE FRONT:  your upper front teeth should fall in front of your lower teeth (toward your lip), and should overlap them by about 2 mm. Upper and lower front teeth should hit lightly.
  • FROM THE TOP (OR BOTTOM): The back teeth should be upright, NOT tipped toward the cheek or tongue. The tips of the cusps should fit into the grooves of the opposite teeth.
  • FROM THE SIDE: The upper back teeth should sit on the outside of the lower teeth. When the teeth go side-side, the ONLY teeth that hit should be the canine teeth.

Why Should I Care About My Bite?

Good question! An optimal bite not only allows for clear speech and efficient eating, it:

  • prevents muscle/jaw strain that can cause headaches
  • Makes teeth easier to clean, preventing decay
  • Allows teeth to wear evenly
  • Prevents undue stress on teeth that could lead to breaking or cracking

If my adventures in alignment have you curious how your bite measures up, ask us for an assessment at your next visit!

Celebrating 88 Years of Practice in 2020!

December 30th, 2019

It’s time for our yearly reflection, and here at Strobel Dentistry our hearts could not be more full with all we’ve experienced this year and everything we have to look forward to in the decade to come! A few highlights:

Dr. Isabella and Tony

Dr. Isabella got engaged! We could not be more thrilled for her and her fiance Tony to take this next step (and keep needling her for invites to the stunning wedding she’s planning in Colombia ;)).

Our hygienist Bridget and husband Mike

Bridget, our newest hygienist, tied the knot in October in a beautiful ceremony that they followed up with a 2 week European honeymoon. 

Our hygienist Aer and husband Yong

Our hygienist Aer is expecting her second baby in May! The team is really going to miss her when she’s on leave May through August, but we expect to make up for it with adorable baby snuggles.

3D printed cast

New tech! Could we let a year go by without celebrating this?? Of course not! :) Our latest addition - the 3D printer - is fitting in nicely, and our rockstar assistant Mika is working hard to integrate it seamlessly into our daily services.

2019 also saw the expansion of our in-house services: on-site night guards, complex extractions courtesy of the itinerant specialist Dr. Sam, and expanded hours for our periodontist, to name a few. 2020 promises more enhancements and improvements to keep our patients’ experience with us phenomenal!

Thank you to all our patients, friends, family, colleagues - everyone who has touched our lives and allowed us to help improve the oral health of our community members. We wish everyone a happy, healthy new year and great things in this new decade!

3D Printing: Our Newest Bit of Digital Dentistry

December 16th, 2019

3D Dental PrintingIt’s here! It’s finally here! We’ve been eyeing a 3D printer for months now, waiting for the right time to introduce one to our practice, and now the time has come. Here’s a quick FAQ on our latest technological advance!

What is 3D printing?

Very simply, a printer puts out layer after layer of thin material to build up a three dimensional object. This is often called additive manufacturing, in contrast to the “subtractive” manufacturing or milling done for our same day crowns. Instead of removing material to create an object (i.e. crown or onlay), the appropriate type of liquid resin is applied in thin layers and then cured to create the appliance or restoration needed.

3D printing has been around since the 80s and 90s, but the term and its use has recently seen a big upswing. The machines themselves are quite simple, and wouldn’t be much without the sophisticated design software that allows our dentists to design restorations, appliances and guides from start to finish in a virtual environment. At Strobel, we use Itero, Dentsply Sirona, and SureSmile software, among others!

How is 3D printing used in Dentistry?

As the technology continues to develop, the possibilities are pretty much endless! Right now, considering what will maximize resources, time, and benefit to the patient, we will be printing:

Why is 3D printing any better than traditional methods?

When evaluating any product, the most common considerations are quality, time, and cost. Bringing the manufacturing of these appliances gives us heightened control over the output, allowing us to better meet individual needs. Longer term, as we continue to integrate the technology into our practice, it will result in a considerable time and cost savings that we can pass on to our patients.

What foods can I eat after a tooth extraction?

December 3rd, 2019

If you’ve had an extraction with us, you’ve gotten the post-op rundown: soft foods only for the first two days following surgery! Stuck for ideas on what that means? Here are some suggestions from our staff: 

According to Dr. Shango, our periodontist who handles many of our extractions (and is also mother to an adorable 9 month old), you’re basically looking for Stage 3 baby food. :) You want to avoid anything crunchy and/or small enough to get stuck inside the tooth socket. Here are some food suggestions from her and our clinical staff:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mashed potatoes-sweet and regular
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Pancakes 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Soft fruits---mango/plums/peaches
  • Cooked fruits-pears/apples
  • Jello 
  • Cottage cheese

If you’re more of a recipe follower and have a sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with the Strobel Family Custard:

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • Nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a bowl until completely combined. Pour egg mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Let it sit for an hour to thicken and cool. Yum!

If you are recovering from a dental procedure and have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us right away. Do you have a favorite soft food recipe? Please share with us in the comments!

Watch a Dental Crown be Created in 22 Seconds!

November 20th, 2019

Technology is amazing!! It takes only about 20 minutes for us to mill a porcelain crown in-office while you wait, and as little as 90 minutes for the whole appointment start to finish. Watch a time lapse of a recent crown here!

 

 

Introducing a New Type of Night guard!

October 29th, 2019

We are HUGE fans of night guards, as you can imagine. They prevent wear, protect against grinding and clenching, and can help keep your teeth in place much like a traditional retainer. Traditional hard night guards, while an absolute must for some, can be bulky and uncomfortable for some people. So what’s a patient to do?

In our never ending technological march forward, we recently acquired a new machine that may offer our patients another option! This equipment allows us to create a hard night guard that is easily 3x thinner than traditional guards while being 3x more durable than your average retainer. While it won’t last quite as long as traditional night guards, it is much easier to speak with and sleep in, and can be a perfect option for moderate grinding!

It’s not indicated in all cases, but this night guard may be a good option if:

  • You aren’t comfortable in traditional guards
  • You’re mainly having problems with grinding your teeth
  • You want something more comprehensive than an OTC guard 
  • Clenching and significant jaw muscle pain aren’t issues for you

Curious if this guard could help you? Get in touch today!

What to Do When Your Child Loses Their Teeth

October 2nd, 2019

the transition from baby teeth to permanent dentition

Losing their first set of teeth is a huge milestone for your kiddos! Of course, as with any big life event, it comes with a lot of questions. When will they lose them? What do you have to do to prepare? How much do you have to pay the tooth fairy?! Let’s explore answers to some of these queries!

When will my child lose their baby teeth?

This handy chart from the ADA breaks it down nicely, but in general, you can expect your little one’s teeth to fall out roughly in the same order they came in initially. 

The lower central teeth are generally lost at 6-7 years, with the upper front teeth close behind. After that, teeth are lost/replaced around the rate of 3-4 a year until age 12 or 13. 

In addition to the teeth being replaced, your child’s more fully developed jaw is large enough at this stage to support adult molars!

There are 3 sets of these, one in each quadrant of the mouth, that bring us from a total of 20 baby teeth to 32 adult teeth. First molars will come in around ages 6-7 and second molars from 11-13 - hence you’ll often hear these called “6 year” and “12 year” molars.

The third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, don’t come in until the late teens, and sometimes don’t erupt at all. When they do erupt, they often cause issues for the rest of the mouth, which is why they are so often extracted shortly after their arrival. 

What happens if a baby tooth falls out too early?

Depends on the tooth! In the event of injury/trauma/premature loss of a front tooth, probably not a lot. It’s important to take your kiddo in to see the dentist for an assessment, but more likely than not they’ll just monitor the area until the permanent tooth erupts. 

If, however, one of the back teeth (primary Molars) is lost too early, you’ll want your dentist to address that using a “space maintainer” to prevent shifting of the other teeth, which could negatively impact the position of the adult dentition.

Why are baby teeth important?

We go into more detail on that here, but in short, baby teeth are the gatekeepers for permanent teeth. If they are not well cared for and suffer decay, it can affect the placement and development of permanent teeth, and may even lead to a more serious infection. 

How can I tell if my child will need braces?

At our office, we check children for signs of crowding/misalignment and start taking x-rays around age 6 to help determine if orthodontic treatment will be necessary down the line. Often a dentist will be able to predict future orthodontic treatment by around 8 years old, depending on the case. However, it’s important to note that at this young age, some crowding or spacing is completely normal, and may self-correct as the child’s jaw grows. 

Most of the time, monitoring is recommended until age 12 or 13, when your child has the majority of their adult teeth and can start any necessary orthodontic process. For younger children, ages 6 and up, orthodontic expanders are commonly used when the Dentist notes that the upper and lower arch are too narrow to accommodate the permanent teeth.  

What do I need to do to prepare for my kid’s adult teeth?

In our experience, outside of keeping things clean and regular dental visits, addressing pacifier use/thumb sucking is the number one way you can help ensure a healthy adult smile for your kids. Ideally, these self soothing techniques would be dramatically reduced by around age 3 - if they persist in a meaningful way to age 5 or 6, they can lead to serious teeth misalignment, speech impediment, or jaw malformation. Read up on our tips for breaking the habit. And of course, don’t hesitate to ask us if you have questions or concerns!

How Your Airway affects your Oral Health

August 29th, 2019

Do you have an airway problem?

It’s not always a simple question! Signs that you might have an airway problem (where your breathing is suboptimal due to any number of factors) include: 

  • Regular breathing through your mouth
  • Waking up fatigued
  • Needing sleep aids to fall asleep
  • Snoring
  • Sleepiness throughout the day

How can a dentist tell me anything about my airway?

Our doctors examine a number of anatomical structures during your evaluation - we don’t stop at teeth! Certain factors that we note in our assessment may point to an impaired/obstructed airway:

  • Forward leaning head posture
  • Larger neck size
  • The nose: nasal prominence, large turbinates (structures inside the nose), narrow bridge, deviated septum
  • The tongue: large size, irregular shape, tongue tie, where it lays in your mouth at rest
  • TMJ pain or dysfunction
  • Enlarged tonsils

Of course, the teeth and gums tell us a lot too! Bruxism (grinding and clenching) can often be a sign of a breathing problem, as can:

  • Excessive decay or erosion
  • A smile that shows a lot of your gum tissue
  • Small teeth
  • Malocclusion
  • The shape of your arch/jaw

How does my airway/breathing affect my teeth?

Many of the dental signs that point us to a breathing problem are also the negative effects, i.e. decay, eroded enamel, worn teeth from grinding, dry mouth, or a dysfunctional bite. 

What else does my airway affect?

When you aren’t breathing properly, it puts significant physical stress on your body. Among other issues stemming from that, stress causes the release of cortisol, which can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression
  • Poor memory
  • Poor diabetic control
  • FatigueAll Posts
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Attention deficit

Ok, I have an airway problem. What can I do to fix it?

First and foremost, consult with your medical and dental professionals to identify the root of the problem - this will help you address the cause! Your doctors will assess and may recommend sleep studies, specialist visits, or various other screening methods.

If something anatomical is causing the issue, surgery or an oral sleep appliance (mandibular advancement device, CPAP, etc.) may be the right answer for you. If habitual, the answer may be as simple as retraining your breathing to breathe more regularly through your nose. 

Have questions for our team about your breathing? Reach out today!

Oral Surgery is in the House!

July 23rd, 2019

In our never-ending quest to make optimal oral health accessible to our patients, we have recently partnered with Dr. Samer Elbatanouny to bring him on site at least one day a month. We are SO excited to say we can now help many of our patients in-house with:

  • impacted wisdom tooth extractions
  • Implant supported dentures
  • IV conscious sedation

Since we see so many impacted or otherwise complicated wisdom teeth cases, we are especially stoked for that piece of this development. You may be asking:

What does it mean to have an impacted wisdom tooth?

Sometimes your wisdom tooth tries as hard as it can, but can’t make it all the way out of the gum tissue - be it due to a physical barrier, the wrong eruption angle, or just not enough room in the jaw. These teeth are called “impacted,” and can be unerupted (completely under gum/bone) or partially erupted. 

Impacted wisdom teeth may not present issues for you, but they do put you at higher risk for any of the following:

  • Decay/Infection: leading to pain, swelling, redness, and/or bleeding
  • Misalignment of your other teeth: the pressure against your other teeth can cause crowding or other alignment issue that require orthodontia to fix
  • Damage to your other teeth: chipping, cracking, increased risk of infection to the adjacent molars
  • Gum disease: difficulty in keeping this area clean can mean bacteria buildup that can lead to periodontitis if left unchecked

What do these extraction appointments entail?

All of Dr. Sam’s extraction appointments are performed under IV conscious sedation, otherwise known as “twilight sleep.” This is not general anesthesia, and so does not require large amounts of medications, but will numb sensation and sedate you enough to essentially eliminate recollection of the procedure. You will need someone with you for the duration of the procedure who can get you home afterwards. 

The extraction itself is a relatively straightforward procedure wherein the gum is opened up to allow access to the tooth, and the tooth is fully removed from the bone, including all roots. Sutures are placed as necessary to aid healing, and post-operative instructions/prescriptions are delivered to you and your companion after you are done.

Are there risks or side effects associated with wisdom tooth extraction?

While there are risks with any procedure, the risks associated with extracting wisdom teeth is low, especially if you follow your post-operative instructions diligently. To avoid potential complications such as uncontrolled bleeding, dry socket, or infection, it’s important to NOT:

  • Smoke
  • Drink through a straw
  • Rinse your mouth vigorously by swishing
  • Don’t expectorate
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity for the first 24 hours.

Have you been told you need your wisdom teeth out but have been putting it off? Get in touch today and we can help you explore your options!

Invisalign vs SureSmile vs Direct Mail vs Traditional Braces... What is right for me??

June 17th, 2019

It seems like every day a new company promising you straight, beautiful teeth for less money and less time pops up. How do you sort through the myriad options to get the best quality for your effort and investment? Here are our thoughts!

Traditional Orthodontics

As much as those of us who had braces in high school might wish it so, the advent of removable aligner technology has not made traditional braces obsolete. While they’ve done a lot to make the treatment more palatable with advances in color and material, some cases still require braces that are physically attached to your teeth. At our office, we’re likely to suggest you see a traditional orthodontist if you have:

  • Anatomical misalignment of your jaw
  • Bilateral crossbite
  • A significant need to push teeth further into the supporting bone
  • Molars that are severely tipped

Clear Aligner Therapy in an office

With the technology behind clear aligner therapy - defined as any treatment that uses removable, clear aligners to achieve movement of the teeth - growing every day, it’s natural that a host of companies would throw their hat into the ring. So how do you decide which one to trust? First things first, let’s look at some of the issues clear aligner therapy can treat:

  • Overly crowded teeth
  • Widely spaced teeth
  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Unilateral Crossbites

In our office, we’re proud to offer both SureSmile and Invisalign therapies. Our doctors meet with prospective patients to determine what will best suit their needs, but as a general rule we recommend one over the other in the following cases:

  • SureSmile - This U.S. based company is our choice for cases where we need to expand your arches (push your teeth out) while making sure the teeth stay properly and firmly rooted in the available bone. The precision of this therapy and its integration with our 3D CBCT technology make it especially useful for cases where tissue and bone support are a concern and the potential for recession is high.
  • Invisalign - Invisalign is still the giant in its field, and currently the only one to allow unlimited aligners/refinements for 3 years from the start of the case. We recommend Invisalign for cases that will likely require longer treatment.

Clear Aligner Therapy in your home

You might be rolling your eyes already, assuming that we’re here to talk you out of the growing number of at home treatment options simply because we aren’t a part of them. And we get that instinct, but promise our concerns are not based on that!!

DIY aligners are becoming increasingly popular, and their ads promise a level of success that worries professional dentists across the board for a number of reasons:

  • User error - impressions of teeth are hard to get right! We have an entire team of highly trained assistants, hygienists, and dentists, and we still have to retake an impression on occasion. If the impressions aren’t right in these DIY kits, the movement you’ll be able to achieve will be severely limited.
  • Lack of dentist supervision - it would be fantastic if tooth movement was so predictable that it required little input after that first impression, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Lack of direct IRL professional supervision can result in movement that is too fast, worse for your bite, or damaging to your tissue and bone.
  • Liability - most of these companies will make you sign a release prior to starting treatment, so if you experience any of the above problems you may not have any recourse.
  • Adjustments - typically, only one course of treatment is paid for with these companies. If you have trouble with the system or don’t achieve the level of movement you desire, you’ll need to either see a dentist to correct or pay for another round of DIY treatment.

As with most things, these treatments are very specific to the individual and the “best” option depends entirely on your needs and desires. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

3 Reasons to Get Your Dental Work Done Before You Retire

May 29th, 2019

For those of you nearing retirement (and eagerly awaiting it) - congratulations! When you’re this close to that kind of unstructured time, it might seem perfectly reasonable to put some things off until it arrives - like time-consuming dental work, for example. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, the years before you retire are actually a perfect time to take care of your oral health, for 3 key reasons:

Insurance Benefits

Possibly the most obvious reason to knock out proactive dental treatment comes when you have dental insurance through your employer. Large companies especially tend to have solid benefits, offering you anywhere from $500 to $3000 a year in reimbursement for various dental procedures. Not sure if you fall into this category? Our admin team can help you establish if you have any benefits of which you should take advantage!

Systemic Health

We’ve covered the link between oral health and general health before, and the evidence to support this connection just keeps growing. Poor oral health has documented links to Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, not to mention general nutrition. As with any condition, this becomes harder to manage as you age without a foundation of good care.

Treatment now means less treatment later

At Strobel Dentistry, we pride ourselves on conservative care - that is, we don’t want to do anything unnecessarily and aim to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand the value of proactive treatment! Electing to take care of small things now- while your body is better able to regenerate and you potentially have dental benefits to use- will prevent more complex treatment later. A well timed filling replacement, night guard, or orthodontic course could easily prevent future crowns, root canals, or extractions/implants.

Above all else, we hope you’re sticking to your regular hygiene therapy visits with us (or whichever provider you choose). Talk to your dentist about what treatment options are right for you today!

Dental Onlays - An Alternative to Crowns?

April 15th, 2019

What is an Onlay?

An onlay is an indirect restoration - meaning it’s made completely outside of the mouth, custom fit to the area it’s replacing. This differentiates it from fillings, or direct restorations (built up inside the mouth using composite). It replaces multiple surfaces of a tooth, including at least one cusp.  Onlays in our office are made from a strong porcelain material as opposed to plastic composite material used for fillings.

When are onlays necessary?

Onlays, sometimes referred to as partial crowns, are indicated when there’s enough tooth left that a full crown is unnecessary, but a filling wouldn’t give as much added strength as the tooth needs. It’s a great conservative procedure, respecting the natural tooth that’s left while using the strength of the ceramic material to reinforce it.

We most commonly recommend onlays for functional purposes on the back teeth (molars and premolars), i.e. to strengthen a tooth weakened by decay or cracks. Perhaps the best selling point of onlays is their longevity - you can expect to get up to 20 years from an onlay, where a comparable filling would only last you 8-10.

Should I get an onlay or a crown?

If you and your dentist have caught your decay/issue early enough, you might not need a full crown! An onlay is a great alternative to crowns when there is sufficient natural tooth left to support it.

What can I expect after an onlay procedure?

The recovery process is much like a filling or a crown - potentially some mild sensitivity or soreness for up to 6 weeks. As with any restoration, it’s important to contact your dentist immediately if anything feels off with your bite so they can make adjustments!

Where can I find fluoride?

March 4th, 2019

We’ve tackled the debate on fluoride before, and it’s no surprise which side we are on. Our recommendation - and the American Dental Association’s - hasn’t changed; regular fluoride exposure is crucial to strengthening tooth enamel, preventing decay, and aid in a tooth’s natural remineralization process. We want to see you using a fluoridated toothpaste and drinking water that contains the recommended .7 mg/L fluoride (kids exposure to fluoridated toothpaste should be limited until they can effectively spit it out!).

That’s all explained thoroughly in our above link, but let’s say you’re in the know and already on board. What happens when you don’t live in a city like Chicago that fluoridates their water? Municipalities that don’t fluoridate or communities/homes that use well water may not be getting the recommended exposure. Here are some tips if you are worried that you aren’t getting enough fluoride!

  • Check your filters - while many filters won’t touch fluoride, there are some processes that remove it from water and can be found in filtration systems. Reverse osmosis and activated alumina can both reduce fluoride content, so consider filters that don’t use these processes when possible.
  • Research your wells - a lot of well water has some level of naturally occurring fluoride, though often it is lower than the recommendation. Your public health department should be able to direct you on getting your water tested for fluoride levels if the owner of your well does not already have this information.
  • Buy the right bottled water - if you are relying on bottled water for hydration, you do have options! The International Bottled Water Association provides a list of their brands that make fluoridated water; these brands do also make non-fluoridated water, so be sure to check your labels.
  • Consider alternate sources - many food and drink, such as green or black tea, contain much higher natural levels of fluoride than water, so beefing up on those may help if you are in need of more exposure. The USDA compiled a comprehensive table that can be viewed here.

The chances that you are getting not enough or just enough fluoride are exponentially higher than the chances you’re getting too much. Try one of these tips if you are worried you’re falling short, and don’t forget to talk to your dentist if you have any questions!

What is Periodontal Osseous Surgery and How Can it Help?

January 28th, 2019

January 28, 2019

Have we mentioned how excited we are to have Dr. Jennifer Shango on site a couple of days a month? Well, we are even more stoked that she is adding days to her schedule starting in June! All that excitement got us thinking about the myriad services she offers, not the least of which is osseous surgery. But what is that exactly? Glad you asked!

What is Periodontal Osseous Surgery?

The word osseous comes from the Latin word for bone, and osseous surgery is just that - bone surgery in the oral cavity. It refers to any surgical procedure designed to gain access to the tooth roots and bone surrounding teeth affected by periodontal disease.

When is Osseous Surgery used?

Periodontal osseous surgery is often used as a “last resort” to treat advanced periodontitis. If methods such as scaling and root planing fail to halt the progression of the disease, harmful bacteria and tartar will travel too far below the gumline to be accessed without surgery. Very serious cases may also include significant bone loss as this bacteria eats away at the existing structures. The goal of the surgery is to create a shallower pocket - the area where our gums meet and attach to our teeth - and clear out diseased tissue to allow for better healing and possible regeneration.

How exactly does Osseous Surgery work?

The procedure is relatively simple and non-invasive, as surgeries go. Under sedation or by using local anesthesia, the numbed area of your gums will be opened to reveal the root structure and bone underneath. That area is then thoroughly scaled to remove harmful bacteria and tartar build up. Any infected tissue is removed, bone deformities are smoothed and the area is reshaped to allow for a shallower pocket.

If necessary, bone grafting and tissue regeneration may be performed in conjunction with the surgery to combat extensive bone loss. This simply means adding in bone graft material and a tissue membrane or structure to protect the bone graft beneath as your immune system starts working to regenerate and integrate the material with your own bone.

What are the risks of Osseous Surgery?

The risks of this procedure are much like any surgery in the oral cavity, and may include: swelling, bruising, pain, excessive bleeding, permanent or temporary numbness, and increased tooth sensitivity. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, failing to follow post-operative instructions, or failing to maintain good oral hygiene can increase these risks.

However, with a board-certified periodontist and appropriate post-op care, the risks are minimal and the chance for vastly improved oral health is great!

As with any major treatment, the first place to start is by talking to your dentist. Give us a call or shoot us an email if you have any questions about your periodontal health!

86 Years Strong

December 5th, 2018

This time of year, especially as we prepare to move into our 87th year of business (!!) always gets us reflecting on how fortunate we are. Wonderful patients, dedicated and talented staff, a rich tradition of compassionate dentistry. And so much to look forward to! Come with us as we look back on an excellent year and eagerly anticipate the times ahead.

Our extended Strobel family continued to grow this year, both professionally and personally. 2018 saw the addition of our new assistant Kimberly, our new hygienist Bridget, and our new on-site periodontist Dr. Jennifer Shango. They have each been invaluable additions to the practice!

On the personal side, our treatment coordinator Tojj is celebrating his marriage this December in India. We couldn’t be happier about this next step for him and his fiancée Divya! Our marketing coordinator Jess is welcoming her second little one in December as well; in short, please bear with us as our admin team will be a little light right at the end of the year due to all these celebratory life changes. ;)

And of course, we wouldn’t be Strobel without some exciting new technical additions. Early this year, we got in on the ground floor of laser dentistry with the Solea Dental Laser, a system that allows us to do many dental procedures without pain or anesthesia. As of January, there were only 2 of these in Chicago, and we are so stoked to be a part of this new chapter in dentistry.

We’ve no intention of losing momentum in 2019 - on the table are new business relationships, expanded services, and possibly even 3D printing technology right on site. Our team feels so grateful to be going on this journey with you, our patients and friends. We couldn’t ask for a better way to support our community than to be part of your oral health.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy holiday season surrounded by those you love!

Activated Charcoal and Your Teeth - The Uses, Benefits and Risks

November 13th, 2018

The use of activated charcoal in health and wellness is certainly not new. As early as 1500 B.C. Egyptians were using it for intestinal ailments, and in 400 B.C. Hindus and Phoenicians began using it to purify water. Fast forward to the 17/18/1900s and you see uses ranging from poultices, poison control, detoxifying pills and more.

In the past couple of years, you’ve likely seen activated charcoal plastered across the internet for use in your oral hygiene routine, specifically as a toothpaste and teeth whitener. But is this a legitimate use or an ineffective fad? Let’s take a look!

What is activated charcoal?

Activated Charcoal is a form of carbon processed to have many, many small pores that dramatically increase its surface area for things like absorption and chemical reactions. This makes it a good medium for absorbing impurities, filtration, and for certain antiseptic applications.

What are its applications for teeth?

Many companies are now selling activated charcoal powders and toothpaste designed to clean and remove stains from your teeth. The most popular claims are its whitening capabilities, with many brands asserting results in as little as one use. Some even tout its antiseptic and exfoliating properties as a general tooth cleaner.

Is activated charcoal effective? Is it safe?

As outlined in JADA’s clinical literature review from late 2017, there are “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.” They call for larger scale studies to establish conclusive evidence.

From most dentists’ perspectives, the risks outweigh the potential benefits. Concerns include:

  • Using extremely abrasive material on your teeth can irritate the gums, increase recession, and contribute to enamel erosion (which can actually make your teeth more yellow and sensitive!)
  • If patients replace their usual toothpaste with charcoal, they are losing important fluoride exposure in their daily routine, which can increase the risk of dental caries (decay)

Our advice?

If you have a history of recession, acidic erosion, or excessive enamel wear, you may want to avoid any product like activated charcoal that is so aggressively abrasive. ADA approved whitening mouth rinses or dentist-performed whitening treatments are known, safe alternatives to charcoal powders. Bottom line, use caution and talk to your dentist!

How Times Have Changed: Dentistry in the Past 86 Years

September 27th, 2018

Dentistry is not alone in having come a LONG way in the past century - most scientific fields have advanced to the point of being unrecognizable by their predecessors. We feel so privileged to have had a unique first hand experience of what this has meant for dental practices. From Dr. Greg Sr., who founded Strobel Dentistry in 1932, to Dr. Dan, who runs the practice today, here are some examples of how Dentistry has improved in three generations.

Crowns

Dr. Greg Sr. (1932-1982) - Gold

Considered the “gold standard” of dental crowns for centuries (see what we did there?), gold crowns are actually still sometimes recommended today.  A very biocompatible and reliable material, gold can create crowns with minimal tooth reduction that don’t crack like other materials. They do, however, come with an extended lab time, an additional cost and a very obvious appearance.

Dr. Greg Jr. (1975-2013) - Porcelain Fused to Metal

While all-ceramic restorations were available from the late 19th century on, they were prone to cracking and not nearly as strong as all metal restorations. They also were often only available for anterior teeth, since they couldn’t handle the biting pressure of the molars. Porcelain fused to metal crowns were a viable alternative for many years: stronger than all ceramic, and much closer to natural teeth in appearance than gold!  However, the porcelain was prone to chipping due the flexing of the metal base structure.

Drs. Dan (2005 - present) and Isabella (2013 - present) - Porcelain SAME-DAY

The advent of new, synthesized ceramic material, such as Lithium Disilicate and Zirconium, and vastly improved milling technology means that today, we can create a strong, natural looking crown on site in as little as two hours!

Fillings

Dr. Greg Sr. - amalgam and gold

From the beginning of what we’d call Modern Dentistry (1800s), any type of metal that was readily available and could be softened was a candidate for dental filling material. What you chose usually depended on your income level - tin was common for poorer patients, silver and gold for wealthier ones. During Dr. Greg Sr.’s time, amalgam (silver colored metal blend) and gold were the standards.

Dr. Greg Jr. - amalgam and composite

It’s ease of use, incredible durability and low price tag made amalgam the standard for decades. Dr. Greg placed many a complex amalgam filling earlier in his career that we didn’t have to replace until very recently! However, the mercury levels in amalgam material raised concerns over their health risks after they were introduced. Composite resin (tooth colored material) was introduced in the 60s as an alternative, and by the 90s materials and technique had improved enough for composite to become the material of choice.

Drs. Dan and Isabella - composite and porcelain

Composite is still widely used today; in our office, depending on your needs and the location of the decay, we recommend composite resin or porcelain filling material.

Anesthesia

Dr. Greg Sr. (beginning of his career) - nothing!

Though a number of anesthetics had been introduced by 1932 (ether, nitrous oxide, novocaine), in the early days of Modern Dentistry it was still common to get through dental procedures on sheer force of will. As his career progressed, novocaine was the most commonly used in Dr. Greg Sr.’s procedures.

Dr. Greg Jr. - novocaine, lidocaine

Novocaine was the go-to for many years in dentistry, well into the 1950s, and is still a household name when many patients think of getting numb. Since roughly 20% of the population is allergic to novocaine-like anesthetics, its use has gradually diminished. Lidocaine gained popularity in the ‘50s and remains one of the most widely used anesthetics today.

Drs. Dan and Isabella  - lidocaine, septocaine, and sometimes NOTHING!

When we do get patients numb, lidocaine and septocaine are our go-tos. In a sense, though, we’ve come full circle, as our Solea Laser Technology allows us to painlessly perform many procedures using no anesthesia at all!

X-rays

Dr. Greg Sr.  - slow speed film

Radiographs have been around since their discovery in 1895 - the first dental x-ray was performed by a dentist on himself in 1896, and lasted a whopping 25 minutes!! By Dr. Greg Sr.’s start in 1932, radiography had become well integrated into Dentistry, and bitewing technology had reduced the number of films necessary to get an overall view of the teeth. Film advances had only come so far, however; slow speed film was the standard, which meant overall higher radiation and longer exposures.

Dr. Greg Jr. - high speed film

By the time Dr. Greg Jr. joined the practice, significant improvements had been made to the speed of manual film, reducing radiation concerns for patients. While digital radiographs were first introduced in 1987, it took some time for the technology to improve and become widely adopted in the industry. We began using digital x-rays in our office in 2008.

Drs. Dan and Isabella - digital

Digital radiographs not only represented a HUGE reduction in radiation and exposure time for patients, but less chemical exposure for staff by removing the need to process film. Since we went digital, our office has continued to invest in the latest imaging technology, including most recently our CBCT machine for 3D scans.

What hasn’t changed much?

Surprisingly (or not), dental insurance! The traditional and PPO policies of today have typically the same annual maximum (around $1000) as they did when insurance plans were popularized in the ‘70s. Had they kept up with inflation, a typical maximum would be closer to $10,000. Think of what that would mean for our oral health!!

What is a Periodontist and How Can One Help Me?

August 13th, 2018

As you may already know, we are super excited to welcome Dr. Jennifer Shango to the practice as our new on-site periodontist! With all this perio on the brain, we thought this would be a good opportunity to talk more about exactly what a periodontist is and what one can do for you!

What is a periodontist?

A periodontist is a dentist who has trained extensively in periodontics, the specialized field of dentistry dealing with the supporting tissues of your teeth - i.e. the gum and bone. A periodontist will undergo advanced training in these areas after dental school, typically in the form of a 3 year residency.

What procedures does a periodontist perform?

The crux of a periodontist’s practice lies in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. In addition to gum grafting and periodontal therapy, periodontists can perform complex extractions, sinus lifts, implant placement and more.

When do I need to see a periodontist?

Signs that you should get yourself to a periodontist (or at LEAST a general dentist!) include:

  • Teeth are feeling loose/bite feels different - this is a very good indication that you may be dealing with serious gum disease or bone loss!
  • Bleeding, swollen or receding gums - healthy tissues don’t bleed!
  • Pain and sensitivity - pain in the mouth is not normal and should be assessed by a general dentist immediately
  • Bad breath - chronic bad breath and/or a sour taste in the mouth can indicate a buildup of harmful bacteria that leads to periodontal disease
  • Systemic health conditions - conditions like heart disease and diabetes are strongly linked to oral health, and can greatly increase your risk for periodontal disease

If you are ever unclear on what’s going on with your oral health or who you need to see, your general dentist is the place to start. They can help you identify any problems and point you in the right direction!

What Kind of Patient Are You?

June 25th, 2018

Everyone has a different relationship to their healthcare - different priorities and resources that define the kind of care you seek. We’re not judging, we promise! But in our experience, dental patients fall into one of three categories - and knowing which category fits you can help you (and your provider) determine your best plan of dental care.

The Reactive Patient

Comes to the dentist only when in pain or something specific has happened to the teeth

Pros: You’ll spend less time at the dentist, which would be appealing for anyone with dental anxiety.

Cons: You’re likely to experience more pain than most, and face potentially higher costs overall on things that aren’t caught early enough - a potential small filling now needs a root canal, a crown now becomes an extraction/implant because your dentist can no longer do anything to save the tooth.

The Proactive Patient

Comes to the dentist for regular checkups/routine cleanings and does minor work as needed (filling cavities, etc.)

Pros: You’ll maintain a solid, healthy dental condition and reduce your chance of being blindsided by bigger work later.

Cons: There is still the chance that, if only addressing minor work as you go, you will experience unexpected discomfort and cost if/when a tooth cracks or breaks down.

The Regenerative Patient

Interested in the most comprehensive, preventive dental treatment recommended - actively seeks out solutions to potential dental issues.

Pros: Covers all your bases, maintains optimal oral health, and gives you the best chance of avoiding unexpected cost and pain

Cons: Requires a larger time (and potentially monetary) commitment up front

So which type of patient are you, or do you fall somewhere in the middle? To be honest, we love to see patients fall on the spectrum between proactive and regenerative, as that gives us the best chance to help them achieve optimal oral health. But wherever you fall, make sure you are taking good care of your teeth at home and seeing your dentist as regularly as you are able!

What Dental Products Should I Use?

April 2nd, 2018

It’s an overwhelming sea of pastes and rinses, that oral hygiene aisle in the store. The dental product industry is huge, and of course everyone claims to be the best. But what’s really good for you? Here’s a list the products that we recommend in our office!

Toothpaste

Crest or Colgate Total: For the majority of patients we just want a solid, fluoridated toothpaste. We like both Crest and Colgate products in this category and are happy with the results of their basic toothpaste.

Sensodyne Pronamel: For patients who suffer from gum recession or are prone to sensitivity, we’ll recommend a toothpaste with an especially low RDA to make sure they’re treating their gums with appropriate care. Sensodyne is among the most gentle of the options available.

Clinpro: Some of our patients have trouble with cavities no matter how great they’re homecare. For those who need extra enamel remineralization help, we recommend Clinpro’s blend of tricalcium phosphate and 5000 ppm fluoride.

Antiseptic Rinse

Listerine: The gold standard of antiseptic mouth rinse - just make sure you get one of the varieties that says “Antiseptic” on the label. The rinses so labeled will help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth and protect the health of your gums - Listerine Total Care, on the other hand, can’t offer the same kind of protection.

Colgate Total Advance Pro-shield: If you suffer from dry mouth, frequent cold or canker sores, or are just looking for less exposure to alcohol, this is the antiseptic rinse for you!

Fluoride Rinse

ACT: When a patient has a higher risk of caries, we’ll often suggest alternating an antiseptic rinse with this fluoridate rinse at night to help remineralize and strengthen the teeth against decay.

Toothbrush

Sonicare Flexcare Platinum: If you make the decision to go electric, we strongly recommend the Sonicare brand in our office. An electric toothbrush is great for helping overly aggressive brushers control their speed and pressure, as well as encouraging a full two minutes of brushing (the magic number!).

Oral-B Pro-health: If you stick with manual, please, soft bristles!! We love this brand, which we give out in-office, but if you’re committed to another one, our chief concern is that it be soft to avoid abrading your tissues and damaging your enamel.

Floss

Oral-B Glide: To be honest, we don’t much care which floss you’re using as long as you’re doing it daily and properly! That being said, we do like Glide as it is unwaxed and tends to stick less in people’s teeth than some other brands.

Reach Access Flosser: For patients with less than average dexterity or harder to reach areas, we recommend this access flosser to ensure you’re hitting everything that needs it. Heads are one use and replacements are easily found in most drug stores.

Oral Health Adjuncts

Oolitt Tongue Scraper: we know, it’s not the most appealing name. But the tongue, like the teeth and gums, can be a harbor for bacteria and needs some attention! Use these as a supplement to remove bacterial deposits and keep your tongue looking and feeling healthy.

PerioSciences Gel: we’re excited to be adding this gel to our arsenal - PerioSciences can help patients with a variety of issues, including tissue healing after periodontal therapy, dry mouth, canker sores, and halitosis.

All Natural Alternatives

For those looking to avoid more industrially produced products, we get it! These are our recommendations:

  • Toothpaste - Tom's with Fluoride (if possible! If you can’t do fluoride in your toothpaste, be sure you’re drinking tap water to get at least some of the fluoride your teeth need)
  • Rinse - Oil Pulling with food grade Coconut Oil

Of course, the best products in the world can’t make up for the wrong frequencies and technique! Head over to our oral hygiene home care page for our tips.

The Best and Worst Drinks for your Teeth

February 6th, 2018

You wouldn’t think what you drink would have as strong an effect on your teeth as what you eat - after all, doesn’t the liquid wash straight over where food would stick and damage? But certain drinks can linger on the surfaces of teeth and do just as much, if not more, harm than their solid counterparts. Let’s take a look at the worst, and best, drinks for your oral health:

The Best:

  • Water- the gold standard of drinking choices - hydrating, acid neutral, and when you get it from a tap or filter it usually contains fluoride!
  • Milk- the calcium content and low acidity level of milk make it an excellent alternative to many beverage. Be careful, though - milk still has plenty of sugar, so no drinking it after you brush your teeth at night.
  • Green/Herbal Tea- plenty of antioxidants, plus lower acidity than coffee with a caffeine perk (if you go green). Be sure to pick the unsweetened variety and watch out for black tea, which is more acidic and dries out the mouth faster.  Green Tea may result in a bit of superficial staining for some, but this can be easily removed.

The Worst:

  • Soda- the absolute worst, in pretty much every way. Soda may be delicious, but that’s its only redeeming quality. As you may have gleaned from the best drink list, liquids that are high in sugar are incredibly damaging to your teeth. Sugars, when left on teeth, encourage the proliferation of harmful bacteria that cause decay. Additionally, soda is very acidic, which wears through tooth enamel, weakening the structure and making it more susceptible to damage.
  • Sport/Energy Drinks- very similar to soda in its effect on your teeth! While marketed as rehydrating and electrolyte replenishing, these drinks are often acidic and high in sugar.
  • Juice- this is a trickier one, since the inclination is to think juices are healthy because they come from fruit. While we’d rather see you drink apple juice than Coke, the concentration of juice still makes it very high in sugar and pretty acidic (especially citrus juices). Our Tip: eat your fruits, don’t drink them.
  • Wine any alcohol really, because the strength, sugar and acidity wear down enamel quickly. Red wine has the added danger of staining those pearly whites.
  • Coffee To be fair, an unsweetened cup of coffee is not the most harmful thing in the world. The sweeteners people often add and the acid level, along with its ability to stain teeth, earn it a spot on the worst list, though. If you need that morning fix, try unsweetened, cold-brewed coffee for a healthier, lower acid alternative.
  • Sparkling Water / LaCroix - A lot of people replace soda with sparkling water.  Although this has systemic benefits, in our office, we see a TON of acid erosion from LaCroix. They’re not danger free!

Now, we understand that abstaining from the above list entirely isn’t reasonable - we wouldn’t want to either! Here are some tips on lessening the effects of teeth-damaging beverages:

  • Moderation- as with anything, always in moderation. Limiting the quantity you consume limits your exposure and helps protect that smile!
  • Rinse with water- as often as is reasonable, rinse with water after consuming a sugary or acidic drink. This will wash away some of the harmful agents that might otherwise linger and attack your teeth.
  • Drink, don’t sip- consuming your beverage more quickly will limit the amount of time the liquid spends on your teeth.
  • Use a straw- lessens the amount of direct contact these liquids have with your enamel
  • Xylitol gum- gum stimulates saliva production, the body’s natural teeth cleanser. Xylitol is a great sugar alternative that actually fights decay causing bacteria in the mouth. Wins all around!

Take a look at our list of Acid and Sugar Levels in Common Food and Drink for more details on what common consumables contain!

Dental fillings without pain or anesthetic??

January 30th, 2018

Solea Dental LaserYes please!! In our never ending quest to seek out and utilize the latest technology, we are THRILLED to announce our latest advance: pain free laser dentistry. 2018 has brought the Solea laser to Strobel, and we can’t wait to see how this changes our patients’ experience for the better!

What is the Solea laser?

Solea is the first CO2 dental laser system cleared by the FDA for hard, soft and osseous tissue procedures. It allows the vast majority of procedures to be done in less time without  pain (and thus without needles and anesthesia!).

How does Solea work?

This is the really cool part. The specialized wavelength of light energy supplied by the CO2 Solea Laser vaporizes four different “photoreceptors:” hydroxyapatite, water, collagen, and plastic. It basically makes the tissue disappear! Meanwhile it overwhelms our nerves’ ability to sense pain, allowing decay and unwanted tissue to be removed quickly and without anesthesia. This energy is “pulsed” and expertly controlled by our dentists via foot pedal, guaranteeing precision and predictable results.

Are there any side effects with Solea?

You’ll feel none of the lingering numbness that you would after a traditional procedure, but just like a normal dental restoration there may be some residual soreness. During treatment you should feel no pain; our patients have reported cold sensitivity and mild pressure during use, but an overwhelming majority felt nothing else!

For what procedures can the Solea laser be used?

There are many procedures that can benefit from the use of this laser, from dental fillings to oral surgery. Some examples:

  • Direct Fillings
  • Frenectomies
  • Gingivectomies
  • Apthous Ulcer Treatments
  • Fibroma Removal
  • Crown Lengthening / Bone Removal
  • Implant Uncovering

Solea is not currently indicated for use in endodontic procedures and amalgam removals. The procedures we’ll use the laser for in our office will vary from case to case, but we expect to use it more and more as the technology continues to grow.

There are only 600 of these in the world as of January 2018, and only 2 in Chicago!! We’re so stoked to be in on the ground floor of this exciting advance in dentistry. Call us today to see if this treatment is right for you!

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Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

December 25th, 2017

As always, the ushering in of a new year gets us reflecting on how much our practice has grown and changed. So many welcomes, a few goodbyes, and of course some clinical/technological leaps… let’s take a look back at a great 2017!

In April, our admin team member Amelia welcomed her little girl into the world and said goodbye to her Strobel family (thankfully we still get lots of visits and baby sightings!!). July brought another bundle of joy to Dr. Isabella’s assistant Evette, and in September our hygienist Aer gave birth to her first little cutie. Both are back from maternity leave and doing great. This marks the second Strobel year with three births - who knows what 2018 will bring! :)

Multiple maternity leaves meant exciting new staff additions. In June we gained a new patient coordinator and dedicated treatment coordinator for Dr. Isabella, Amitoj. In August, Jammy brought his years of experience to our already excellent hygiene team, making them pretty much unstoppable! Most recently we brought on a new assistant, Aundra, to complete our awesome assistant team. We’re now at full capacity and rarin’ to go!

That wasn’t our only staff augmentation - we were thrilled to announce the addition of associate periodontist Dr. Becky Weightman to our practice, with us 2-3 days a month. This drastically increased the number of services we’re able to offer our patients in house, and we couldn’t be more pleased to work with her!​

Our practice saw other great clinical developments in 2017 as well - more successful implant cases, more comprehensive alignment cases, and more beautiful same day restorations were all a part of our continued mission to grow and improve as providers. And of course, we wouldn’t be us without the latest tech! Our server got a much needed facelift this fall, and we’ve got brand new intra-oral cameras and laser technology on the way for first thing next year.

We’re so grateful for the opportunity to keep serving our community as we head into our 86th year. You are all part of our extended Strobel family, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without you. May the new year find you happy, healthy, and surrounded by those you love!

Oral Lichen Planus - The Facts

November 29th, 2017

Oral Lichen Planus (OLP) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the oral mucosa (membrane/lining inside your mouth). Anyone can get it, but it is more common in women over 40. It may appear as:

  • Red, swollen tissue
  • Lacy, raised white patches
  • In more severe cases, open sores.

Causes of Oral Lichen Planus

Doctors have not determined an exact cause for OLP, but we know it has something to do with the immune system, as white blood cells are activated in its presence. Findings suggest the body may be reacting to an antigen in the skin, as happens in allergic reactions. This might be an autoimmune or cell-mediated immune response; more research is needed to be sure. Genetics may also play a role in a person’s susceptibility. Other potential triggers include:

  • Certain medications (blood pressure and diabetes treatments, painkillers, malaria medications, etc.)
  • Cheek biting or other mouth injury
  • Infection

OLP is not contagious, so there’s no need to worry about passing it to others. Diagnosis of OLP requires assessment by a healthcare professional, who will often perform a biopsy of the tissue to have it analyzed.

Symptoms of Oral Lichen Planus

Symptoms with OLP can range from barely noticeable to extremely painful depending on the severity of the condition. Typical symptoms include:

  • Mouth dryness/metallic taste in mouth
  • Redness and swelling
  • White patches/dots/lines
  • Painful ulcerations, peeling and blistering (this pain is exacerbated by acidic or spicy food, caffeine, smoking, and drinking)

Complications from OLP can include scarring, anxiety/depression, weight loss, or secondary infections. There are reported cases of OLP leading to oral cancer, though the link is not yet definitive. If you suffer from oral lichen planus, regular cancer screenings are imperative.

Is there any treatment for Oral Lichen Planus?

While OLP cannot be cured, there are treatments that can reduce or eliminate discomfort and help keep it under control. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe topical corticosteroids such as Clobetasol Propionate; they might also prescribe systemic steroids in serious cases. Additionally, there are steps you can take on your own:

  • Watch your diet: avoid excessive use of acidic food, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Use a mild toothpaste and soft toothbrush
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits and visit your dentist at recommended intervals
  • Talk to your doctor about changing any medication that might be a trigger

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Meet the Team: Dr. Becky Weightman, Periodontist

October 30th, 2017

We wanted to sit down with our newest team member, Dr. Becky, so we could share a bit with you all about her life in and outside of dentistry. We couldn't be happier to have her!

What got you into Periodontics?

My uncle is a periodontist and he is the person that introduced me to dentistry as a career. When I was in dental school, the perio lectures were always my favorite, as I found the expression of  overall systemic health in the gum tissues to be fascinating. I then had the opportunity to try a few surgeries in dental school and spent a lot of time assisting in the department of Periodontics. From there, I was hooked.

There is a lot to think about in the treatment planning of each patient as an individual, I get to physically remove disease and rebuild the foundation for teeth with my own hands, and I also get to help patients to feel comfortable throughout a procedure that they were anxious for. It’s a very rewarding career.

 

What one thing do you wish your patients would do more?

This one is easy… floss!

Favorite hobby outside dentistry?

I love going to hot yoga. It helps me to relax, feel strong, and get the knots out of my back after a long surgery. I’ve also gotten into cooking in the last couple years. Middle eastern cooking is my favorite.

Funniest moment from dental school?

In dental school, we learned to give injections by first practicing them on each other. Can you imagine how nervous you would be if you knew the person coming at you with a needle had never given an injection before? My best friend, and roommate at the time, gave me my first injection. She dripped some anesthetic onto my tongue and tried to suction it out, but she accidentally grabbed the high speed suction instead of the saliva ejector and sucked half of my tongue up into the suction tube! She couldn’t figure out how to turn off the suction, but managed to wrestle it off my tongue, only to then get it stuck on my bottom lip. I was laughing so hard I was crying, but couldn’t talk to tell her I was okay. She thought I was injured so she ran off in a panic to get help. A dental assistant came to the rescue, turned off the suction, and I was freed.  I ended up with a bruised fat lip and a great story to embarrass my still very close friend with.

6 of the Biggest Dental Myths

September 26th, 2017

We hear them all the time, and we’ve addressed many of them before. There are some deep-seated beliefs about your dental health that are hard to let go, but completely false. Below are some of the most common ones, debunked:

Sparkling water is good for me/my teeth.

Oh, we wish it were true. While LaCroix and other sparkling water options are certainly better for your body as a whole than soda, dentally they have much the same damaging effect. Carbonated beverages are, by their nature, quite acidic, especially when citrus flavors are added to the beverages. The carbonic acid in combination with the acid from citrus will erode the enamel and lead to serious decay. We’re not going to say don’t indulge, but to limit the damage, use a straw, drink quickly and rinse with water afterward!

Studies show I don’t need to floss.

Rather, it’s that there aren’t a wealth of studies out there that can prove the benefits of flossing. This, and the fact that brushing and flossing aren’t really in their purview prompted the removal of flossing from the federal dietary guidelines in August 2016. However, the ADA and federal government were both quick to come to flossing’s defense.

The reality is most likely that it’s just difficult to execute a large, well-controlled study of flossing. You have to rely too heavily on participant reports, which are often inaccurate or use exorbitant funds to run a study where these habits are closely monitored first hand. To date the only studies that have been well controlled were small and relatively short in duration, amassing weak evidence at best of flossing’s benefits.

What it in abundance, however, is the experience of most any dentist. Show a seasoned dentist a patient’s mouth and they can immediately tell you whether or not that person flosses. In our office alone we see countless cases of what we call “flossing cavities,” or decay resulting from ignoring the areas between your teeth. With flossing being so low cost and low time commitment, why not add it to your routine?

Radiation from dental x-rays is dangerous.

It’s understandably unnerving, coming that close to something the sole purpose of which is to aim radiation at you. But when you learn more about the technology, you begin to see that the radiation involved in dental x-rays is little more than what you get on the average flight. Unless you are under specific orders from your physician, there is no reason at all to fear x-rays. Taken yearly, they pose very little risk, and the benefit of that diagnostic information is priceless!

Fluoride is dangerous.

The debate about this has been going on for years, and can get pretty heated! But for fluoride to be lethal, you would need to ingest 5-10 g. To put that in context, the recommended level of fluoride in water is .7 to 1.2 parts per million – a very diluted dose! A person would need to really try to ingest too much fluoride, and in small doses, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The only place you should use caution is in children too young to effectively spit out toothpaste – in this instance, a non-fluoridated toothpaste is recommended to avoid fluoridosis.

Listerine causes cancer!

This may be one of the more sensational myths, and we hear it a surprising amount in our office. A few years ago, a study conducted in Europe set off a frenzy of articles claiming that alcohol-based mouthwashes cause cancer. While there was some correlation found in this study, some important things to note are:

The study refers only to excessive use (3+ times a day)

It is unclear whether the alcohol content of the mouthwash or poor oral hygiene overall was the main contributing factor to increased cancer risk

The most conclusive finding of the study was that poorer oral hygiene and dental care was a factor in the increased likelihood of oral cancers, thus reinforcing the importance of good oral hygiene habits!

Everyone has to have their wisdom teeth taken out.

Thankfully this one isn’t true either! Wisdom teeth only need to be removed if they are causing a problem in the mouth – i.e. they’re painful, crowding or misaligning the other teeth, or impacted. Now, these problems are very common with wisdom teeth, which is probably why the myth exists! But as long as they aren’t affecting your dentition and you’re able to effectively keep them clean and healthy, there’s no need to remove them.

As with any field, dentistry has its own complexities. If you ever have questions or are wondering if something is true, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Introducing Accelerated Invisalign at Strobel Dentistry: Straight Teeth in Half the Time!!

July 12th, 2017

We LOVE Invisalign and the results it can offer our patients, so you can imagine how excited we were when we found a supplemental treatment that could get patients results in half the time. Introducing Propel Orthodontic Treatment, a new treatment that allows us to complete many Invisalign cases twice as fast!

How does Propel treatment work?

We use two Propel treatment aids in our office: the Excellerator and the vPro5. The Excellerator is typically applied during your first Invisalign visit by the doctor and uses a technique called micro-osteoperforation. The micro-osteoperforation process temporarily weakens the bone which allows us to accelerate the movement of the teeth with the Invisalign aligners. We do recommend getting numb for this micro-invasive treatment, but completing this 20-30 minute process will stimulate the bone allowing for straight teeth in a fraction of the normal time.

The vPro5 is an easy to use at home aid. Worn for 5-15 minutes every day, the vibrations stimulate alveolar bone growth while improving how aligners sit on the teeth, making for better, more predictable treatment results in less time. It has also been shown to reduce the already minimal discomfort of new aligners and reduce the possibility of needing additional treatment after the initial Invisalign case. And as an added bonus for all those data lovers out there, the vPro5 records compliance and tracks results that your doctor can download at your visits.

How much time does Propel save me?

When used consistently in office and at home, Propel treatments can reduce the time in each aligner by over 50% - Each aligner is typically worn for 5 days instead of the normal 14 days.

Can everyone use Propel?

Unfortunately not every case, due to varying complexity and treatment objectives, can be helped by Propel. It can help in a wide range of cases, however; if a shortened treatment period makes Invisalign a more realistic option for you, talk to us today to see if you’re eligible!

SLS Allergy and Oral Health: What to Use, What to Avoid

June 5th, 2017

Most folks don’t think to look for Sodium Laureth or Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) until they start having an issue, and then they realize it’s everywhere: soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and mouthrinses, just to name a few. While many people don’t notice the presence of these chemicals, for some it can cause significant irritation. Let’s dig deeper into SLS to see how it might be affecting you!

What is SLS?

Sodium Lauryl Ether (Laureth) Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, both commonly referred to as SLS, act as detergents and surfactants in many toiletries. They are both excellent emulsifying, foaming agents that behave similar to soap and are cheap to produce, making SLS a go to for cosmetic manufacturers.

What are the symptoms of a SLS allergy/sensitivity?

The properties of SLS can cause already sensitive or dry skin to itch, flake or crack more dramatically. Oral health care products that contain SLS are likely to cause cracking at the corners of the mouth and canker sores. Additionally, some findings indicate that residual SLS levels may be linked to a hormonal imbalance.

What’s this about a link between SLS and cancer?

While there has been a good amount of public debate about the status of SLS as a carcinogen and its link to cancer, it’s important to note that there’s no scientific evidence to date that supports a connection between the two. This lack of evidence has been backed up by the American Cancer Council, OSHA, and the National Toxicity Program. It’s worth noting, however, that the process by which Sodium Lauryl Sulfate becomes Sodium Laureth Sulfate can produce the byproduct dioxane, which is a suspected carcinogen and believed to linger longer in our system.

What dental products can I use if I’m trying to avoid SLS?

SLS can be tricky to avoid; because these chemicals can be derived from coconut oil, many companies will boast “natural” and “eco-friendly” products that still contain them. The only way to be certain is to fully read the ingredient list on the product in question. For SLS-free oral health products, we recommend the following:

KoR Whitening - How it Works and Who it's For

May 2nd, 2017

We recently added a truly comprehensive whitening option to our menu, and we’re pretty stoked. Let’s take a look at what this new system can do

How does whitening work?

Every whitening product uses the same basic science to achieve results. Tooth discoloration is caused by large pigment and stain molecules that become trapped inside the tooth’s structure: the larger the molecules, the darker the teeth appear.

All bleaching gels break down to hydrogen peroxide in the end, which in turn breaks down into free radicals that attach to and lift stains from the teeth.

So what makes KöR Whitening different?

  • Constant Refrigeration - the nature of bleaching chemicals is to break down; that’s what makes them effective in the first place! But it also means that, from the moment they are created in a factory, they start to lose potency at room temperature. By refrigerating their product from the moment of manufacture until they’re delivered to the dental practice door, KöR essentially stops this degradation, guaranteeing their gel stays at its absolute highest concentration.
  • KöR-Seal™ Trays - typical bleach delivery systems are only effective for roughly 25-35 minutes. This is due to the nature of saliva, which contains powerful antioxidants that will quickly destroy peroxide on contact. KöR combats this common effect by making custom trays that are fit precisely, sealing out saliva and sulcular fluid. With these trays, you can get 6-10 hours of effective, overnight whitening as opposed to the traditional half hour.
  • Comprehensive Program - KöR involves two weeks of overnight whitening at home, an intensive in-office session, and a monthly maintenance program thereafter. This ensures a more permanent white by fully flooding the stains with bleaching agents and restores teeth to their youthful ability to whiten easily.

For whom do we recommend KöR Whitening?

This whitening program is not for the casual user - it definitely requires a commitment! Every small step matters in this process, so compliance is key. We think KöR’s program is especially well suited to the following cases:

  • Tetracycline stains
  • Tough whitening cases for which other methods of whitening have been unsuccessful
  • Patients who desire ultra-ultra white teeth

If you think KöR might be right for you, set up a consultation today!

​Photos credit of KOR website and used with their permission.

Vaping and its Effect on Oral Health

April 3rd, 2017

We all know the negative effect of smoking cigarettes on oral health - and on all other aspects of your health, for that matter! But what about vaping? Since its rise in popularity, e-cigarettes have been widely seen as a “healthier” alternative to their predecessor. Yet the research is thin on vaping (the action of inhaling the vapors produced by e-cigarettes) and its actual effect on oral health; what’s more, the evidence that is out there doesn’t look great. Let’s take a closer look at some of what we do know about vaping:

  • E-cigarettes eliminate some of the things we don’t like in traditional cigarettes. Vaping does not result in the tooth discoloration, plaque build up, or bad breath that come with traditional smoking. So they’ve got that going for them!
  • Vaping does still (usually) result in the inhalation of nicotine. Though there are nicotine free options, many e-cigarette cartridges contain nicotine, which when inhaled can have many harmful consequences. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow. This directly impacts the mouth’s ability to fight off bacteria, reduces cellular regeneration and healing ability, and can lead to periodontal disease.
  • These vapors do have a negative impact on gum tissue. A study published late 2016 in the journal Oncotarget found that e-cigarette vapors, when burned, cause the release of inflammatory proteins in the gum tissue. This puts stress on the cells, resulting in damage that could lead to oral diseases such as periodontitis.
  • The flavoring in e-cigarettes may be quite harmful. The above study found that flavored vapor, some flavors especially, did even more damage on the cellular level than unflavored vapor. Additionally, while these flavoring chemicals boast an FDA rating of “generally recognized as safe,” it is important to note that this refers to ingestion, not inhalation. Which leads us to:
  • Vaping may be harmful to your respiratory system just like cigarettes. Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found in their tests that e-cigarettes produce similar, if not farther reaching, suppression of key immune genes in our nasal passages and respiratory system, as compared to conventional cigarettes.

The one thing that’s best known about electronic cigarettes is more research will be needed to fully understand the long-term consequences of vaping. It’s not looking great, though, for those hoping to make a lateral move from the cigarettes of old. If you’re worried about your oral health, abstinence is the safest bet in this case!

Common Causes of Tooth Pain and What You Can Do Before You See Your Dentist

March 2nd, 2017

Why does my tooth hurt?

There is no question more pressing when you are in pain, and it’s often a hard one to answer. Tooth pain can be attributed to a number of factors, but here are the most common:

  • Decay - as decay eats away at the outer structures of the tooth, the dentin or underlying tooth structure becomes exposed, causing increasing pain.
  • Infection - of the tooth or of the gums, either can cause pain in a tooth. A deep and severe infection of a tooth can result in an abscess or destruction of the nerve and may necessitate root canal therapy.
  • Trauma/Fracture - a break in an existing filling or natural tooth can expose sensitive tooth structure, causing sensitivity and pain. Sometimes a fall or other trauma may not fully break the tooth, but can cause internal fracture or damage that will cause similar pain.
  • Teeth Grinding (bruxism) - this is a sneaky one, since you may not even know when you grind your teeth! Consistent clenching and grinding of the jaw can result in pain and, in severe cases, tooth fracture.
  • Sinus problems - an unexpected side effect of sinus pressure/infection is tooth pain! When swollen, the sinuses can press down on the top teeth and cause generalized discomfort of the upper teeth.

Are there home remedies for tooth pain?

The best and safest bet when experiencing tooth pain, especially sudden or unexplained, is to make an appointment to see your dentist. There are, however, a few things you can try to ease your discomfort while you’re waiting to get into the office:

  • Avoidance - if it’s broken, don’t use it! When temperature, sugar or pressure cause pain in your tooth, avoid chewing on that side to relieve some discomfort.
  • Saltwater rinse - this is a great stop gap solution before you see your dentist - a warm saltwater rinse can reduce pain, swelling and flush out debris. ½ tsp to 8 oz water is a good ratio - make sure to spit this out and not swallow. You can also follow this up with some gentle flossing to remove and stuck food that might be exacerbating the issue.
  • Ice - helpful only in cases of swelling, ice can effectively numb the area and reduce inflammation. Try an ice pack on the cheek or a small amount of wrapped ice directly on the tooth.  Note ice will make pain worse in cases of large cavity or temperature sensitivity.
  • Painkillers - when in doubt, an over the counter painkiller containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen should help dull the pain until you can have the issue addressed. Make sure you take these as recommended and DO NOT put them directly on the tooth as some home remedies suggest - not only will that not help, it will damage the surrounding tissue!
  • Clove Oil - for those who prefer more homeopathic pain relief, place a small amount of clove oil onto a cotton ball and hold the cotton against the affected tooth until the pain subsides. Clove is a natural anesthetic and will help to numb the nerve.
  • Hydrogen peroxide - this might not take the pain fully away, but hydrogen peroxide is a proven germ fighter, and rinsing with a mix of peroxide and water will aid in killing offending bacteria and flushing out debris.

Three Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Insurance

December 30th, 2016

Many companies celebrate the turn of the year by switching insurance policies on you. As 2016 speeds toward its end, let’s take a look at 3 common questions about dental insurance so you know what to expect!

What will dental insurance cover?

It varies from policy to policy, but there are some benefits you can expect to see in most plans, which fall into three categories:

  • Preventive: this covers the essentials - cleanings, oral exams, x-rays, fluoride treatments  for children. These are the highest paid services of the plan, often covered in full depending on the provider and the policy.
  • Basic: this category will almost always include fillings, one of the most frequently performed dental restorations. Also likely to be in this category are procedures like root canals, periodontal therapy, and fabrication of night guards. You will always owe something for the procedures in this category, usually 20-30% of the total charge.
  • Major: crowns, dentures, and implants (if covered) are typically found here. Procedures in this category, given their higher expense, will have restrictions on how often and under what circumstances they can be replaced. You’ll most commonly see 40-60% of the total fee covered here.

In addition to these, the more comprehensive dental policies will often have some orthodontic allowance for children and/or adults that is paid out separately from your annual benefits.

Does it make sense to pay for dental insurance?

That all depends on the insurance options available to you and your general level of oral health. If you have a history of poor health, multiple dental restorations or gum disease, dental insurance will almost certainly save you money in the long run. This is especially true if you have access to a subsidized plan through your employer.

If you don’t have a subsidized option and are in relatively good health, however - needing only your bi-yearly cleanings and the occasional filling - dental insurance might not be for you. At that point you’d want to weigh the cost of these common dental services against your yearly premium to see where you come out on top. Some dental offices, including ours, also offer dental savings plans that give the uninsured a discount on common services.

What type of dental insurance should I choose?

When shopping for self-funded plans or looking over options from an employer, you may be asked to pick between an DHMO and a PPO, the two most common types of dental insurance. There are a couple of key differences between the two:

  • DHMO - usually the cheaper of the two plans, a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) will limit you to a specific network of contracted dental providers. This is done to control the overall cost of services. However, it can put limitations on the services these providers are able to reasonably offer and will restrict you to a specific set of dentists. This is a good choice if you need something economical.
  • PPO - a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) has both a network of contracted (preferred) providers working at an agreed upon fee, and an “out of network” rate for all other providers. The premiums are usually higher with these plans, but you are free to see the dentist of your choice. While there is a difference between the contracted and out of network rate in some of these plans, it is often negligible. This is the best choice if you want freedom in picking your provider, or if you know that the contracted and out of network rates on your plan are functionally the same.

Our admin team works hard to stay up to date on the ins and outs of our patients’ policies. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about your benefits; email or call us today and let us know how we can help!

What a year it has Been

November 29th, 2016

Well, 2016 has been one for the record books! For our country with the unprecedented election, for our city with the historic Cubs win, and for our practice as well. We’ve had quite a few changes and some exciting additions, and as always this time of year gets us in the mood to reflect!

For the first time in our 83 years, THREE of our staff were expecting at the same time! Our dental assistant, marketing coordinator and hygienist each welcomed their precious bundles in April, May and August respectively. While we were thrilled with each new addition to our Strobel family, it did mean saying good bye to a wonderful assistant and administrator (thankfully our hygienist Ali is still with us part time!).

Outgoing staff means one exciting thing, though - talented new hires! Visit our staff page to learn about our new dental assistants and members of our administrative team. We’re excited for the group we have going into the new year and the ways in which we can serve our patients as a team!

As our staff has been changing and growing, so have our services. After extensive training, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Dan has begun placing implants in office! This means we can offer many of our edentulous patients a start to finish implant restoration in house. Dr. Isabella has been hard at work as well, training in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea to help the many patients we meet that have problems with breathing at night.

We’re constantly striving to better serve our community and are grateful for all the opportunities we’ve had this year. As 2016 winds down to a close, we look back with appreciation for all we have had and forward with eagerness to be even better in the new year. May this season bring you a happy, healthy smile and precious time with the ones you love!

 

How to Identify and Treat Tonsil Stones

October 26th, 2016

To begin, let’s start with a little tonsil 101:

What are tonsils? Your tonsils are masses of tissue that live on either side of the back of your throat. They are a type of lymph node and are a part of your immune system.

Why do we have tonsils? Good question! They are there to filter out bacteria, viruses and foreign objects that might otherwise slip into the lungs. They also produce antibodies and white blood cells. They may be more of a vestigial organ, however, as many experts agree that they don’t do their job very well - in fact sometimes they can be more of a bane than a blessing!

Now on to the problem at hand - the tonsil stone.

What is a tonsil stone? Tonsils have deep crevices, referred to as crypts, that accumulate debris and bacteria. Occasionally, these crypts are so deep that these particles get stuck and harden or calcify, forming a tonsil stone (aka tonsillith). This is more common in people with chronic tonsil inflammation and infection.

Are there symptoms? Not always, as many stones are too small to be much trouble. Symptoms of the larger stones include:

  • Redness, swelling and irritation of the tonsils
  • White, yellow or grey formations visible on the tonsils
  • Bad breath - this is a common one!
  • The feeling of something being stuck in your throat, or a sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain - even though the stones are not touching the ear, pain can refer there due to shared nerve pathways

How can I remove a tonsil stone? For stones that are causing you discomfort, there are a couple of options:

  • Saltwater gargling: often gargling with a saline solution is enough to dislodge the pesky stones.
  • Energetic coughing: sometimes this motion is sufficient to shake the stones loose
  • At home manual removal: IF you can identify your tonsils and see the tonsilliths, you may be able to dislodge them with a toothbrush or cotton swab. Be VERY careful! The tonsils are made of delicate tissue and it is easy to do more harm than good here.
  • Antibiotics: while these will often dissolve the stones, they can have their own side effects and do not address the underlying cause of the stones, so should be used with caution
  • Cryptolysis: the use of a laser or charged ions to eliminate the deep crypts that accumulate the tonsilliths
  • Tonsillectomy: for people with chronic stones and/or infection, removal may be the best option. Studies have shown that people with intact tonsils are no less likely to suffer from bacterial/viral infections than those who have had them removed, so you may be gaining more than you’re losing

Can tonsil stones be prevented?
Often you can keep tonsilliths at bay by committing to good dental hygiene! Brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic rinse regularly are the best ways to keep your mouth clean and healthy, and to remove bacteria that might otherwise get stuck in the tonsil crypts. However, if your hygiene routine is on point and tonsil stones are still an issue, removal of the tonsils may be the only way to prevent future occurrences.

Feeding Baby to Sleep and What it Means for Teeth

September 29th, 2016

When you’re a new parent, you’ll take pretty much anything that gets that baby to sleep! Very often that includes nursing or bottle feeding until your little one is out for the night. But what happens when your child starts to develop teeth? Is it time to break those bedtime habits?

There is little evidence to suggest that breast milk alone does anything to promote tooth decay. In fact, some studies suggest that the lactoferrin in breast milk may actually help to kill S. Mutans, the bacteria responsible for much of tooth decay. Breast milk also does not lower the pH of the mouth in the way that other liquids can; a low pH environment can encourage the proliferation of this bacteria.

Given that, there is no rush to wean a child from nighttime feeding immediately upon the appearance of that first tooth - especially since that can happen as early as 3 months! However, breast milk does contain sugars, as does formula (which can also create a more acidic oral environment). Allowing baby teeth to be bathed by sugary liquids for prolonged periods can increase the risk of tooth decay, especially if an older child is drinking juice or a similar high-sugar drink out of their bottle.

Baby bottle tooth decay can have some serious consequences for primary teeth, including crowns and extractions in extreme cases. Wondering why baby teeth are so important? They are crucial to the proper development of your child’s permanent teeth and jaw, as we’ve discussed on this blog before. Failure to take care of them can result in the misalignment of a child’s bite, malformed permanent teeth or painful infection.

Here are some tips to avoid excessive decay and keep that night feeding going longer:

  • Try to keep baby from falling asleep with unswallowed milk - remove the breast or bottle once your little one has fallen asleep.
  • Keep juice out of the bottle! Stick to breast milk, formula and water (for older babies).
  • Limit the introduction of your saliva to the equation once baby’s teeth start to come in - this will limit your baby’s exposure to S. Mutans. Avoid wet kisses, sharing spoons/sippy cups, or putting your baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
  • Aim to start weaning off nighttime feedings by one year old. For mothers who are still nursing at that point, day feedings can continue as long as you and your baby would like!

​Start with good oral hygiene right from the beginning!

What Flossing Does For You and Why That’s Important

August 24th, 2016

Earlier this month, the AP created quite the buzz with an article on the government’s removal of flossing from the federal dietary guidelines. They cited a lack of clinical evidence supporting the act - based on their own review of 25 studies - as the reason for the change, and questioned whether flossing had any benefit at all. The American Dental Association and the federal government were quick to come to flossing’s defense, calling it an “important oral hygiene practice,” but the question is now out there. With all this fuss over flossing, we wanted to weigh in on just why it is so important to dental health.

Flossing, quite simply, goes where brushing can’t, removing bacterial build up from in between the teeth before it can harden into damaging plaque and calculus. If not removed, this build up of bacteria can cause inflammation and infection, leading to gum disease, tooth decay and potentially bone loss. We see the difference with our patients all the time - puffy, red, bleeding gums and cavities between teeth for our patients who don’t floss, and a happier, healthier smile for those who do. This video from Coco Floss gives a great visual of just how much build up floss can remove.

So what prompted the removal of flossing from the guidelines in the first place? According to the ADA’s statement, it was not really about a lack scientific research, which was not even reviewed by the 2015 committee. Rather, brushing and flossing are supporting recommendations to actual dietary changes, such as avoiding added sugars, which fall within the purview of these guidelines. Since flossing was not reviewed, it was not included, but that was certainly not meant to imply it is not important.

The studies reviewed by the AP certainly call to light a lack of scientific research into the practice of flossing, which may be due in part to the limited funding available for dental research as a whole. While a lack of evidence in no way proves a lack of benefit, we would welcome additional clinical studies on the benefits of flossing to support the clear evidence we see in our practice every day. Hopefully this article serves as incentive to fund more research!

Of course, flossing is just one piece of the puzzle. Check out our oral hygiene home care tips for our recommendations on your daily routine!

Restoring Smiles with Veneers

July 17th, 2016

About 1 in 4 adults in the United States feel embarrassed by the look of their smile. Our dental office is proud to offer porcelain dental veneers to new and existing patients. Drs. Dan and Isabella have the training and experience to provide porcelain veneers to patients who wish to restore a whiter, healthier, more even look to their smile.

Porcelain veneers are a cosmetic and restorative dental solution that are designed to mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Veneers create an immediate improvement in the appearance of a smile. They are a minimally invasive treatment option and can be more cost-effective than many other cosmetic improvement options.

Patients whose teeth are healthy, but are chipped, cracked, crooked, or mildly stained can benefit from veneers. Patients whose teeth are uneven or have gaps may also find veneers are a great solution for improving the look of their smile.

We offer custom-crafted porcelain veneers that are fitted precisely to cover the front surface of the tooth. Because porcelain is a semi-translucent material, the tooth continues to have a natural healthy appearance with the veneer in place. Veneers are chosen with care to match the natural teeth around them, to ensure optimal aesthetic results.

Once placed, porcelain veneers are a strong, stain-resistant, and long-lasting cosmetic dental solution. However, porcelain dental veneers need ongoing dental care, just like natural teeth. They should be brushed and flossed regularly and normal dental exam and cleaning schedules should be maintained. When cared for properly, veneers can last a lifetime.

There are some additional factors to consider before choosing veneers. First, it is common to experience some sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages for a few days following the placement of veneers. This is generally mild and unlikely to last more than a week.

Second, while porcelain is a strong and durable material, it is recommended to avoid activity that will put great stress on the veneers, such as chewing excessively hard foods or using the teeth to attempt to open a nut or bottle. Finally, any patient who has issues with bruxism (grinding) should discuss this with our doctor before deciding whether to have dental veneers placed.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with our expert dentist, contact our office today. We're here to give you a smile you can wear with pride!

What is a Frenectomy and How Can it Help Me?

June 16th, 2016

A frenectomy is simply the surgical removal of a frenulum or a small fold of tissue that prevents a given organ in your body from moving too much or too far. In dentistry, we’re mainly concerned with three types of frenula:

  • Labial – connects your upper lip to the gum tissue of your upper teeth
  • Lingual – connects your tongue to the floor of your mouth
  • Gingival – attaches to the gum tissue between two teeth

Generally, frenula are quite useful in helping to control the movement of otherwise poorly restricted organs, but occasionally the tissue does more harm than good. This is most common with the labial and lingual frenula and is usually first noticed in children as their dentition is developing.

When the labial frenulum is overgrown or putting too much pressure on the gingival tissue to which it’s attached, it can cause a number of problems: discomfort, gum recession, impediment of the teeth erupting, or a large gap between the front two teeth, which may not be correctable through orthodontic treatment. Removal in these instances can significantly relieve discomfort and restore normal function of the front teeth. When possible it is usually advised to wait until a child’s permanent teeth have erupted to remove the frenulum.

An overgrown lingual frenulum, on the other hand, can result in what’s commonly known as being “tongue-tied” When this attachment extends too far towards the tip of the tongue it can result in serious restrictions on your child’s ability to eat and speak properly. This will often start to present as a problem as early as 12 – 18 months, when you notice your child having a hard time speaking. Older children may also notice the tissue getting caught in their lower teeth. A dentist can also help diagnose a potential problem, and may notice the lingual frenulum causing gum recession of the lower teeth. Removal in these instances removes the risk of periodontal trouble and restores eating and speaking functions.

The good news is that frenectomies, when performed with a laser, are quick, fairly painless procedures with next to no bleeding and little recovery time needed. In our office, we perform them in as little as 20 minutes. If you think you or your child might benefit from this procedure, call us and schedule an exam today!

Meet the Staff Series Part III: Ali, our Senior Hygienist!

March 29th, 2016

When and why did you decide to become a hygienist?

I knew I wanted to become a hygienist after graduating high school. My best friend mentioned it because her uncle was a dentist and she thought it might be interesting.  She decided to go a different route, but I spent the summer assisting a dentist while his assistant was on maternity leave so I could get a feel for working in the dental field. I loved it!

My initial plan was to attend Iowa State University and get a business degree, then go into Hygiene school. I found that business classes didn't interest me and decided to finish up at ISU while I applied to Dental Hygiene programs. I transferred to the Dental College at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Lincoln, NE where I got my Bachelor Degree in Dental Hygiene.

I've always been into the maths and sciences - so the healthcare field worked for me. I wanted to be able to interact with people and work with my hands. I'm a very tactile, visual person. I like being able to help others and educate them so they can help themselves too. I find every patient is different and makes me continuously have to think and apply myself. A great part of the job is that, not only am I getting to do what I love, but I also have been able to build relationships with patients over the years.  I know about them as people not just a patients.

What’s your favorite hobby?
It use to be playing volleyball and hanging with friends, but now most of my time is spent being a mom to 2 wonderful children with a 3rd on the way. I really enjoy watching HGTV and feel like I have a bit of a designer inside me. :)

Is there one thing you wish more patients knew?
I like hearing about what is going on in their lives too, not just if they have dental concerns. Hygienists really do care about patients and their health. We want the best for them, and just want to help them achieve it. We don't want to feel like we are lecturing.

What is the biggest change the practice has seen since you’ve been here?
I have been with the practice for over 10 years now, and many things have changed in that time. There have been faces that come and go, but the practice itself is very solid and continues to evolve with the times. When I started we were still using paper charts and cards to track treatment.  As the use of computers in every room became available, the electronic charts were easy to access, made everything more uniform for providers and allowed us to record more data at visits.

​Going paperless was a big change but well worth it! With easy access to everything we have been able to implement other technologies over the years - digital x-rays, digital charting, 3D imaging, intraoral cameras, cavity detection devices, etc. Hygiene appointments now encompass more assessment and treatment in an hour than ever before, and often the patient isn't even aware. Also the decor has continued to be updated over the years - lookin’ good!

Anything that may surprise people about you?

  • Strobel Dentistry is my first job out of Hygiene school.
  • I have the biggest sweet tooth.
  • I'm from Iowa, went to Iowa State and NE but am a Iowa Hawkeyes fan.

Why is Treating Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth Important?

February 29th, 2016

We’ve delved into the subject of baby (primary) teeth on this blog before - we’ve talked at length about when to expect them and how to take care of them. The story doesn’t end there though! When oral hygiene falls short or other factors come into play (inadequate amounts of fluoride, genetic predisposition, etc.), your child’s primary teeth can develop decay.

It’s an unfortunate misconception that this decay isn’t a big deal. “I don’t need to worry about these baby teeth, they’ll just be replaced!” Right? WRONG! Decay in primary teeth, when left untreated, can have some serious consequences:

  • Problems with alignment in adult (permanent) teeth - first and foremost, primary teeth are space savers. They ensure that the adult teeth have the space to erupt properly and in correct alignment with each other. If baby teeth are allowed to decay and are subsequently lost too quickly, others can shift into that empty space, resulting in the impaction and misalignment of the adult teeth underneath. This can mean costly orthodontic treatment to correct that would not have been needed otherwise.
  • Infection and pain - untreated decay will continue to worsen, and if it spreads far enough, it can cause an infection in the nerve and lead to an abscess. This is very painful for your child and results in complicated dental treatment to fix!
  • Malformed permanent teeth - decay and infection, as described above, don’t know to stop when they’ve gotten through the primary teeth. Unchecked decay can have a direct impact on the developing teeth below, resulting in malformed or stained permanent teeth. It can also spread to any permanent teeth that have already erupted.

Another big concern is what this early decay can indicate. A leading cause of decay is a poor oral healthcare routine at home - if the cause of your child’s cavities is an excessive sugar intake, poor brushing or a lack of flossing, these negative habits can follow them into adulthood and lead to recurring issues with their adult teeth.

If you’re wondering how to help your child take care of their teeth, or worried about existing decay, talk to your dentist today. They’ll have helpful tips and tricks to get your child back on the right path!

4 Ways to Break Your Child’s Thumbsucking Habit

January 29th, 2016

It’s adorable. It’s endearing. It’s something most of us engaged in at least once or twice when we were little. But thumbsucking doesn’t just lose its cuteness as your child gets older. It can have serious dental consequences for kids who suck their thumbs regularly and for too long.

Thumb sucking is both a natural habit for young children and a common way to learn self-soothing or provide instant comfort. Often this behavior will fade away on its own with no lasting effects, but this isn’t always the case. If your child is still sucking his thumb when his/her adult teeth start to come in (around 5 or 6), it can cause the following problems:

  • narrowing or malformation of the jaw: the pressure created by suction can affect the growth of a child’s upper jaw, which in turn can cause a misaligned bite.
  • misalignment of the teeth: as teeth erupt, thumb sucking will often push them in the wrong direction, aggravating existing alignment problems and sometimes creating a “thumb hole” in the front teeth. This leaves the bulk of the chewing to the back premolars, and the resulting imbalance can affect the structure of the mouth and jaw.
  • lisp and other speech impediments: malformation of the jaw, teeth and bite can result in lisps and other speech impediments that might require therapy to correct.

It is important to note that a particularly aggressive thumbsucking habit can cause these types of problems even earlier, when your child is still using baby teeth - if you think this may be the case, consult a dental professional.

So what are some ways we can nip this habit in the bud before it starts to become a problem?

  • reward positive behavior: be careful not to criticize your child’s thumbsucking, since it's usually associated with a need to self soothe or anxiety, and criticism will just make it worse. Instead focus on the times when they aren't resorting to that behavior and reward/praise accordingly.
  • identify triggers: determine what times of day, conditions and stressors exacerbate the habit and work to nullify those triggers.
  • distract and substitute: when you notice thumb sucking, immediately give your child something else to do that requires both hands, e.g. a toy/book/other activity. If it's a bigger problem at night, send them to bed with a large stuffed animal that they'd need two hands to hold or use a similar distraction.
  • start a conversation: many kids do it automatically without thought or do it for attention. Explain the repercussions of thumb sucking for too long. Frame giving the habit up as a rite of passage, as part of being a “big kid.” When you notice the behavior, gently remind your child of what they're doing.

If you’re worried about what thumbsucking may be doing to your child’s mouth, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist. He/she can help you assess the severity of the issue and troubleshoot from there!

Our Year in Review

December 31st, 2015

As the year winds to a close and the time for reflection sets in, we hope you all have found happiness in where you are and what the year has brought you. For us, it was another year of great growth and change at Strobel Dentistry, and we couldn’t be happier!

The office got another facelift - Michelle, our office manager, worked hard to give our lobby a sleek, inviting look. Those of you who remember the old couch know it will be missed, but the chairs make the process of getting back up oh so much easier. :) We think she did a great job!

 

​We continued our march ever forward with the latest technology - in November we added a Cone Beam machine to our office! This replaced our panoramic machine and allows us to get incredibly detailed, 3 dimensional scans of each patient’s oral cavity, head neck and airway. We’re psyched for what this will allow us to do for our patients, from enhanced decay detection to expanded dental services!

 

Speaking of expanded dental services, our doctors have been hard at work this year, undergoing comprehensive training to bring new treatment options to our patient community. Dr. Isabella will soon be offering risk assessments and treatment for patients suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (it’s more common than you might think!). Dr. Dan is training with one of our most trusted oral surgeons to learn the science of placing implants, and we look forward to being able to help patients with these from start to finish later next year!

Our staff is ever growing and changing as well. In April we welcomed our newest administrative employee Amelia. Brand new to the field of dentistry, she’s done a great job of learning the ropes and gets along famously with our patients. We consider ourselves lucky to have another fantastic member of the team! Additionally, two of our employees are expecting (only 8 weeks apart!) and will be taking time off in 2016 to welcome new little ones. Never a dull moment with the Strobel Dentistry crew!

We’re so grateful to be able to share our lives and work with all of you, and so excited to start our 85th year in practice in 2016. We wish all of you a happy, healthy New Year surrounded by those you love!

How Cone Beam Technology Works and What it Can Do for You

November 30th, 2015

We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t have a new piece of technology that we were SUPER excited to share with our patients. Today it is a new way of taking comprehensive radiographs to help us diagnose and treat, known as a Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) machine. Taking the place of our more traditional panoramic x-ray machine, it gives us that full image and so much more. Let’s look into what exactly this technology is and what it means for our office and patients!

What is CBCT?

A CBCT machine is a 3D imaging system that captures data by rotating around the patient and taking images using a cone beam shaped x-ray. It captures hundreds of images, or “slices,” in as little as 17 seconds, and then reconstructs these to form a 3D representation of the patient’s head, neck and oral cavity.
The radiation level from a dental CBCT scan is very low, and significantly lower than its medical CT counterpart. It ranges from 70-128 microsieverts - basically equivalent to a roundtrip flight between New York and L.A. or normal radiation from walking around Chicago for 2 weeks.  See our x-rays page for more information and context on radiation in dental imaging.

History of CBCT

The first type of CT scanner dates back to 1972 in England, when the “EMI Scanner” was able to make tomographic sections of the brain. Whole body CT scanners followed in 1976, those these machines took hours to acquire a single “slice” of data and days to reconstruct an image. The 80s saw the development of spiral and helical scanning, as well as “multi-slice” scanners, and CBCT technology was first introduced in 1997. Scientific development has been relatively constant in the field since then, and today’s scanners are incomparable in terms of scan time, low radiation level and high resolution.

Uses of CBCT in Dentistry

The volume of data we get from this technology allows for a wealth of possibilities in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Some of the uses we’re most excited about:

  • Diagnosis of infection/source of discomfort- 2D images, while they can show the trained professional a lot, come with several limitations when diagnosing dental conditions. These images, by their nature, will suffer from some degree of distortion, superimposition and misrepresentation of the different structures of the oral cavity. 3D imaging allows for an exponentially more accurate representation of the head, mouth and teeth, making diagnosing things like a fractured tooth, root canal infection, obscure dental decay, or hard tissue abnormalities much easier.
  • Implant Placement- this imaging method is crucial in the placement of dental implants. It allows our dentist to assess viability of the surrounding anatomical structures, determine bone density and create surgical guides that will tell us exactly where the implant needs to go. This will pave the way for our office to start placing implants on site - look out for more on that soon!
  • Sleep Apnea Treatment- as we discussed in last month’s blog, a staggering percent of the population suffers from some level of sleep apnea. CBCT imaging will allow our dentists to assess not only the mouth and jaw but all the different parts of our patients’ airways. Through this we can identify potential concerns of indications of disorder and help refer our patients to the right avenues for further diagnosis and treatment.

Decision to add CBCT to Strobel Dentistry

Strobel Dentistry strives to provide exceptional service in a compassionate environment.  As part of that mission, our doctors tend to err on the side of conservative treatment, wanting to be 100% sure of their diagnosis before moving forward with definitive treatment.  We have found that we have been referring more and more patients to other specialist offices for CBCT scans for definitive diagnosis.  This demands additional time and cost to our patients.  In the interest of improving our diagnostic capabilities, and moving further into the areas of dental implants and sleep apnea, we decided to make the investment in this technology.  We look forward to implementing this technology responsibly and effectively into our growing practice.

5 Signs You May Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea and What You Can Do About It

October 28th, 2015

Most of us have heard of the term obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but do we know what it means and how serious it can be? Read on to learn more about what OSA is and what you can do to treat it if you’re a sufferer!

Why do I need sleep?

Let’s first look at why sleep is important. For our bodies to function at optimum performance, they need rest. The rest we get during proper sleep allows for restorative processes like muscle growth and tissue repair. It also aids in a process called neuroplasticity - our brain’s ability to create new neural connections based on memory acquisition and learning.

When we don’t get adequate sleep, it can lead to a host of problems. These can range in severity from issues like irritability and poor memory to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and depression.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Simply put, OSA is when breathing stops or is significantly decreased one or more times during sleep.  More technically, it occurs when airflow is decreased by at least 80% for more than 10 seconds. These interruptions can happen 30 or more times an hour. So what exactly happens?

  1. You fall asleep, causing the body to relax and lose muscle tone. This causes a significant, if not complete, collapse of your airway, interrupting the normal inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide.
  2. This obstruction leads to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen reaching the tissues, and carbon dioxide build up.
  3. The brain alerts the body to breathe, which leads to arousal.
  4. Upon waking your muscle activity increases, reopening the airway and allowing for normal breath.

As you fall back asleep, the above cycle repeats itself again throughout the night.

It is estimated that 17 - 20% of adults suffer from OSA, though less than 10% have been diagnosed. It is more prevalent than diabetes or asthma. An even greater percentage, up to 67%, experience heavy snoring. The chances of having OSA increase if you are overweight, but anyone can be affected.

5 major signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • loud snoring
  • occasionally waking up with the sensation of choking or gasping
  • waking up with a very dry, sore throat
  • headaches in the morning
  • irritability and a decreased ability to concentrate

How can I treat Sleep Apnea?

There are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of OSA and/or treat an existing condition. These include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight- excess weight is a leading cause of OSA.
  • Quit smoking- when don’t we advocate for this, right? Among the other negatives of the habit, smokers are 3 times more likely to have OSA than those who have never smoked.
  • Limit the use of system depressants- sedatives, alcohol and tranquilizers can all relax the muscles in the throat and exacerbate OSA.
  • Surgery- if the cause of your OSA is more anatomical in nature - large tongue, thicker walls of the throat, naturally narrow airway - your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the excess tissue.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)- perhaps the most common treatment of severe OSA and the gold standard of treatment among many physicians, this machine covers your nose and mouth while you sleep and uses air pressure to keep your airway open.
  • Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)- these are a great alternative to the more cumbersome CPAP machines for people with OSA. The best results are seen in mild and moderate patients, but it’s also an alternative for people with severe apnea that don’t tolerate CPAP well, and something that a specially trained dentist can help you acquire.  These function more like night guards, helping to adjust the jaw and structures in the mouth to keep the airway open.

If you think you might suffer from OSA, don’t delay in speaking to your doctor or dentist. They can help point you in the right direction and get you the help you need!

4 Things You May Not Know About Dr. Dan Strobel

September 25th, 2015

​In the first part of this series, we got to know a little bit more about Dr. Isabella Terrassa. This month, we're asking a few questions of Dr. Dan Strobel to figure out what makes him tick! :)

What are you currently most excited by in the world of dentistry?

I am super excited about the current technology that will allow us to integrate 3-dimensional radiology with our CEREC crown imaging system.  One of the major advantages of this technology is that it allows me to help patients who are missing a tooth and choose to have an implant placed.  With it, I can treatment plan precisely how I want the crown to look, superimpose it over the patient's actual bone/tissue and position the implant EXACTLY where I want it to be placed.  After fabricating a guide that sits on the teeth and has a hole pre-drilled into it, I can place an implant with minimal to no risk, in good, solid bone.  Our office is on pace to have this technology and training completed by Early May 2016.

Do you have a favorite hobby?

I have to admit that my hobbies are basically my kid's hobbies!   I thought I should preface that before listing the following -

  • Playing Peter Pan: Flying is simulated by throwing small children 2-3 feet onto basement couches
  • Fantasy Ponyland: This is played by bouncing little ponies up/down and trying to set up realistic scenarios that are immediately shot down by 3 y.o. girls
  • Wrestling with toddlers: Finding that right balance between hugs and tickling without the biting... I always lose.

Honestly, I really enjoy just about all sports (both watching and playing), running and hiking, cooking, and would like to learn more about wood working in the future.

Do you think any of your kids will wind up carrying on the family tradition?

I sure hope so.  Missy, my wife, and I talk about it.  Not sure who it will be yet.  Dentistry was NEVER pushed on me and I don'f feel any inclination to do so for my kids.  Having said that, it is a wonderful profession and has helped make me and my family very happy.

Top 3 places you'd really like to visit:

Greek Islands - Love Greek food.  Grandfather was Greek.  Hear it is beautiful!
Hawaii - Never been, can't miss.
Bora Bora - Love Chicago, but I love the sun more.

5 Tips for a Brighter, Healthier Smile

August 28th, 2015

Smiling is not just a means of communicating joy - it is also a great way to relax and inspire confidence in others. Multiple studies over years have linked a bright, healthy smile to increased social acceptance, job placement and other successes. Without the right care, however, your naturally beautiful smile can quickly become a hinderance!

Here are five things you can do to keep your smile bright and healthy:

  • Brush, floss and rinse: Twice a day! There’s a reason the big three come up in nearly every conversation you have with a dentist. Proper oral hygiene at home is the number one way to fight off bacteria and keep your teeth clean and bright. There is a right way to brush and floss, though! Technique is just as important as frequency when it comes to taking care of your teeth.
  • Know what foods to avoid: It stands to reason that what you consume has a direct impact on your teeth. Foods that increase teeth staining, are highly acidic or filled with sugar can all negatively impact the appearance and health of your teeth. Limiting the intake of these foods and rinsing regularly with water after consumption can dramatically reduce these effects.
  • Whiten: Even though it may not be wholly accurate, a white smile is universally associated with health. As you can see in the link above, there are many factors that can cause staining. If you have stained or discolored teeth, there are a variety of at home and in office teeth whitening options you may consider to improve the appearance of your smile.
  • Straighten: Unfortunately for many of us, straight teeth are not a given. From overcrowding and wide spacing to overbites and underbites, there are a variety of conditions that keep a smile from being aesthetically and functionally ideal. A Kelton market research study showed people with aligned teeth make a distinctly better impression on strangers than those without. Beyond appearance, the functional issues behind misaligned teeth can eventually lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss if severe. Straightening your teeth if you suffer from any of these issues can be a vital step in overall oral health.
  • See your dentist!: We end on this note often, and we promise it’s not self serving. Regular visits to your dentist are the only way to guarantee early detection of problems that could affect your gums, teeth and overall smile. Additionally, visits at least twice a year will allow your hygienist to remove the pesky bacteria that you can’t get at with home care alone, keeping your smile at its cleanest and brightest!

Does Oil Pulling Really Work

July 30th, 2015

Over the past year or so, we’ve all seen articles on the miracle of oil pulling and its untold health benefits. But how much of this is true? Let’s examine this practice a little more deeply to see if there’s anything to the craze.

What exactly is oil pulling?

The method itself is quite simple: you take a tablespoon of edible oil (coconut seems to be especially popular, but you can use sesame, sunflower, olive, etc.) and swish with it, pulling it through the teeth for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. It is an ancient folk remedy rooted in the Ayurvedic health care tradition with centuries of use.

What are the benefits?

Depending on who you ask, this method can cure all your ills. Anecdotally, proponents of oil pulling claim it can:

  • remove toxins and harmful bacteria from the mouth and the body as a whole
  • reduce plaque and improve cavity protection
  • whiten teeth

Ayurvedic texts also claim oil pulling can cure up to 30 systemic diseases, from headaches to diabetes and asthma.

However, it’s important to note that there is little to no scientific evidence that oil pulling provides actual benefit. The American Dental Association (ADA) is quick to say that, while there is historical, popular and anecdotal support for the practice, scientific studies regarding it are at best inconclusive.

Additionally, as noted by the ADA in the same response, there are documented cases of diarrhea, upset stomach, lipid pneumonia and mineral oil aspiration, so the practice is not without risk.

What do dentists think about oil pulling?

At the end of the day we can really only speak for our dentists, who have both seen positive effects in some of our patients from oil pulling. Swishing with any non-harmful, non-acidic liquid for a prolonged period is likely to have SOME benefit - namely disrupting the biofilm that has settled on your teeth and dislodging/removing potentially harmful bacteria.

If done with proper caution, they feel the potential for adverse effects to be minimal - though be aware of the quality of the oil you’re using. Oils marketed specifically for the practice (non food grade) may not be appropriately tested for harmful levels of metal and arsenic.

Drs. Strobel and Terrassa are both quick to say, however, that this should be an adjunct to your home care routine, not a replacement. Brushing twice daily for 2 minutes a pop, rinsing with an antiseptic rinse like Listerine and flossing are all clinically proven, essential ingredients to successful home care.

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Meet the Team Series – Part I: Dr. Isabella Terrassa

June 25th, 2015

Since our wonderful patients share so much with us, we thought it only fitting that we give a little back and shed some light on what makes our staff members tick! This month’s highlighted team member is Dr. Isabella Terrassa, who is coming up on two years at our practice.

Why did you choose dentistry? 

I chose dentistry when I was 4 years old. Not quite sure why. But over time I liked it more and more. There is a drawing somewhere saying “when I grow up I want to be a dentist.”

The most eccentric hobby that you absolutely love? 

Don’t know if it’s eccentric but I love paper quilling. (Ooh neat! What’s that?) Quilling is folding and rolling strips of paper and making them into shapes. My hero is Yulia Brodskaya – she’s amazing. I got into it because I saw these greeting cards made by someone and they used quilling (only I didn’t know what it was called). Told my grandma and she signed me up for classes.

What’s your favorite dental procedure and why?

Changes on a monthly basis. Right now I’m partial to implant restorations. There’s a lot of planning that goes into it and it’s great when you see all the pieces fall into place.

Favorite childhood memory?

My grandma showed up to my kindergarten class with a huge cake decorated and made by her. I think this is one of my first memories.

What 3 books would you take to a desert island? 

Very hard to pick just three… Harry Potter: I’d like to take all of them, but if I must choose then I think it’s the 5th. Anything by David Sedaris, as I’ll probably need something to laugh about. The Shadow of the Wind (Spanish version) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Lasers: The Future is Now!

May 29th, 2015

If you read this blog regularly, you know by now that we love our toys. :) And we are super excited for the ways in which we can help our patients with our latest acquisition: a Biolase EPIC dental laser!

Let’s begin with a little introduction to lasers in general. The word LASER is actually an acronym, standing for Light Amplification by Stimulation Emission of Radiation. Don’t let that last word scare you - the thermal radiation produced by a laser is non-ionizing, and not the type of radiation you think of when you’re being warned against exposure. Lasers have been in use in the dental industry since the 1990s and are gaining greater traction every day with continuing advances in the field.

Simplistically, lasers deliver energy in the form of light. From a dental perspective, we’re looking for the intended tissue to absorb this light and thus affect change. There are a number of photobiological effects this interaction can have that are useful for our office:

Photothermal: meaning the energy is transformed into heat. This process is beneficial for surgical incisions, hemostasis, biopsies and removal of diseased tissue.

Photochemical: lasers can stimulate chemical reactions, i.e. hardening a filling

Photoacoustic: the pulse of laser energy can act on hard tissues (the enamel and dentin that comprise your teeth) to remove decay.

Non-surgical: Laser energy can produce an oxygen radical that is used to disinfect periodontal pockets and root canals. It can also stimulate tissue to promote wound healing, pain relief, collagen growth and general decrease of inflammation.

So to whom are we most excited to introduce this new technology? The acquisition of this laser will allow us to treat many types of patients more efficiently and with less pain:

  • Patients with Periodontal Disease: The laser will be incorporated into our normal "deep" cleaning protocol.  We will begin with what is called laser bacterial removal (LBR). This process takes less than 10 minutes and kills 80% of the bacteria that contributes to periodontal disease. Afterward, we will complete our normal scaling to remove the rest of the bacteria and finish up with the laser to remove any remaining diseased tissue.
  • Patients with moderate-severe bacteria and bleeding: We will offer the option of LBR for a fee of $30 in conjunction with your normal bi- or triannual cleaning visit.
  • Patients with irregular gingival levels: Are your front teeth different lengths? If so, it may actually be the current positioning of your gingiva at fault. Our laser can be used to quickly and easily remove this extra tissue and help create a beautiful smile!
  • Patients with extra tissue: This may be the result of past trauma or due to the positioning of your teeth. We can use the laser to remove this extra tissue, making the patient more comfortable and helping them keep their teeth clean.

Another day, another new technology at Strobel Dentistry to help us better serve our patients. Thanks for geeking out with us, stay tuned for what comes next! :)

Halitosis – the Malodorous Elephant in the Room

April 22nd, 2015

We've all fallen victim to bad breath - clinically known as halitosis - at some point in our lives. Often the cause is simple and the fix a breeze, but sometimes halitosis can be a symptom of something larger. We've touched on the condition on this blog before, but felt it was time to dig back in and take a look at what causes bad breath, how you can address it, and when it can be a sign of something more serious.

Common Causes:

  • Food: Perhaps the best known culprit, strong smelling food will naturally result in strong smelling breath. But wait! It’s not just particles left in the mouth that cause bad breath, which is why brushing and rinsing are only temporary masks for this cause. As the food is broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream, it finds its way to your lungs and is exhaled through your breath. Sadly at that point all you can do is play the waiting game until your body has finished with your meal!
  • Smoking: It can’t surprise anyone that smoking is a primary category on this list - as really it is on any lists of things that are bad for you. Not only does it worsen breath by virtue of its smell, it promotes the development of foul smelling bacteria. These bacteria won’t just hurt your breath, but your overall oral health.
  • Dental Decay: Cavities (caries) and other decay in your mouth can cause halitosis
  • Disease: A number of diseases can make themselves known through your breath, ranging in gravity. Some common ones:
    • Xerostomia (dry mouth): the lack of saliva production results in fewer food particles being cleared away, promoting bacterial growth and halitosis
    • Periodontitis (gum disease): bad breath caused by excessive bacterial growth, plaque build up, poor oral hygiene and other factors can be one of the first noticeable symptoms of more serious gum disease
    • Systemic infections and diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, lung infections, diabetes, kidney disease and liver problems can all present through changes in your breath.

Solutions:

  • Watch what you eat: simple enough, right? If you know you need to keep your breath minty fresh for the next several hours, avoid foods that are known to cause bad breath (garlic and onions, we’re looking at you).
  • Proper Home Care: we’ve gone into extensive detail about this before; as you guys know, brushing, flossing and rinsing are the keys to keeping harmful (and foul-smelling) bacteria out of your mouth! A less commonly mentioned but no less important addition for keeping you so fresh and so clean:
    • Tongue scraping - yep, it sounds gross and feels weird. It’s also a fantastic and effective way to clean your tongue, which left alone is a harbor for enemy bacteria. We like the Oolitt tongue scraper, but brushing your tongue with your toothbrush is also a good start.
  • Smart Mouth Rinse: a patient recently turned us onto this rinse; while we don’t recommend it as a replacement for antiseptic or fluoride rinses, it gets unparalleled reviews for its efficacy in fighting bad breath.
  • Regular Dental Visits: It’s not just because we miss you when you’re not around (though of course we do!). Seeing your dentist for regular hygiene visits allows them to clear out the build up you can’t reach with home care alone and keeps bad breath at bay.

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A Few of Our Favorite Things

February 16th, 2015

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are swell, to be sure. What really gets us excited, however, is a well crafted dental hygiene product. (Because really, we’d be in pretty big trouble if we at the dental office DIDN’T geek out over this stuff).

It can be hard for people who don’t spend all their time thinking about dentistry to sort through the available options though. It’s understandable; you’re hit with a literal wall of dental products at every pharmacy! To help, here’s a short list by category of our favorite products to keep those pearly whites healthy.

Toothpaste

Colgate Total: For the majority of patients we just want a solid, fluoridated toothpaste. We like a number of Colgate products and are happy with the results of their basic toothpaste.

Sensodyne Pronamel: For patients who suffer from gum recession or are prone to sensitivity, we’ll recommend a toothpaste with an especially low RDA to make sure they’re treating their gums with appropriate care. Sensodyne is among the most gentle of the options available.

Antiseptic Rinse

Listerine: The gold standard of antiseptic mouth rinse - just make sure you get one of the varieties that says “Antiseptic” on the label. The rinses so labeled will help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth and protect the health of your gums - Listerine Total Care, on the other hand, can’t offer the same kind of protection.

Colgate Total Advance Pro-shield: If you suffer from dry mouth, frequent cold or canker sores, or are just looking for less exposure to alcohol, this is the antiseptic rinse for you!

Fluoride Rinse

ACT: When a patient has a higher risk of caries, we’ll often suggest alternating an antiseptic rinse with this fluoridate rinse at night to help remineralize and strengthen the teeth against decay.

Toothbrush

Sonicare Flexcare Platinum: If you make the decision to go electric, we strongly recommend the Sonicare brand in our office. An electric toothbrush is great for helping overly aggressive brushers control their speed and pressure, as well as encouraging a full two minutes of brushing (the magic number!).

Colgate Wave Sensitive: If you stick with manual, please, soft bristles!! We give out this model in office, but if another one strikes your fancy, a soft brush head is our chief concern.

Floss

Oral-B Glide: To be honest, we don’t much care which floss you’re using as long as you’re doing it daily and properly! That being said, we do like Glide as it is unwaxed and tends to stick less in people’s teeth than some other brands.

Reach Access Flosser: For patients with less than average dexterity or harder to reach areas, we recommend this access flosser to ensure you’re hitting everything that needs it. Heads are one use and replacements are easily found in most drug stores.

Tongue Scraper

Oolitt Tongue Scraper - we know, it’s not the most appealing name. But the tongue, like the teeth and gums, can be a harbor for bacteria and needs some attention! Use these as a supplement to remove bacterial deposits and keep your tongue looking and feeling healthy.

5 Things You Should Know About Cold Sores

January 16th, 2015

1. Cold sores are caused by a virus - specifically, the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). HSV type 1 will usually affect areas above the waist, more precisely on the face and around the mouth. Type 2 usually hits below the waist and is generally considered a sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms of HSV type 1 can include fever, sore throat and swollen glands, especially at the start of infection. The most recognizable symptom, of course, is the cold sore itself. Here are some characteristics of these sores - which some infected people are lucky enough to never get:

  • Tingling and burning is often present in the area 24-48 hours before the breakout.
  • Groups of small blisters around the mouth and on the lips will erupt; they begin clear and become cloudy.
  • After blisters appear, they will break open a leak a clear liquid, revealing bright red sores.
  • Sores will then crust over and disappear after several days - couple of weeks.
  • Cold sores may be quite painful.


2. They are contagious -
so pay attention when you’re necking! HSV type 1 can be spread through contact with infected liquid, and so is often passed through contact with saliva, sharing of utensils or kissing. The virus is most contagious during times of active outbreak, but can potentially be spread even when the virus is dormant.

3. Cold sores are NOT canker sores - even though the two share some of the same treatment options. Canker sores, unlike cold sores, will NOT appear on the outside of your mouth, and don’t blister in the same way. Check out our article on canker sores for more info!

4. There is no cure - sadly, once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. There is no known cure for HSV. This makes prevention especially important!

5. Speaking of, there are things you can do to prevent and treat breakouts!

First and foremost, avoid interaction with infected fluids! This includes avoiding the sharing of utensils and food with anyone you know to be infected. If you do contract the virus, there are measures you can take to lessen the severity and frequency of breakouts, including:

  • Regular use of sunscreen and lip balm: over-exposure to sun can increase your chance of breakout!
  • Avoidance of other triggers that increase your frequency of cold sores: too much stress, flu, common colds, etc.
  • Keeping the area clean: avoid touching the sore and wash your hands often!
  • Over the counter treatments: Abreva, Zilactin, and Johnson Compeed have all been very highly reviewed as effective treatments to shorten healing time and alleviate discomfort. Abreva has been specifically approved by the FDA and supported by clinical trials for this purpose.
  • Visiting your doctor for an anti-viral prescription to help lessen break out frequency. Common anti-virals for HSV include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex).
  • To alleviate pain associated with the sores, try an oral pain relief gel such as Anbesol

A Year in Pictures

December 16th, 2014

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It’s been another big year for us at Strobel Dentistry! Full of weddings, babies, expansions; we've said goodbye to some and hello to others as we celebrate our ever changing work family. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to come together and serve our community. Each of us is proud to be a part of each patient’s oral health, and in many cases, to count them among our dear friends. In that spirit, we’d like to share a few photographic highlights from our momentous year.

In February, our senior hygienist Ali welcomed her second child, a beautiful boy named Nicholas Joseph. With the extra fun at home, Ali decided to drop down to two days a week with us. We’ll take it!

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Come May, we assembled at Navy Pier to celebrate the marriage of our hygienist Aer to her long time partner Yong. A magical night for an awesome bride and groom!

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In July we took a moment to celebrate as a team and went on our yearly summer outing. Not nearly as momentous as our other news, but we can’t resist posting a sunny picture as the weather turns ever colder.

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This August, our assistant Sylwia left us to pursue her dream of opening a deli. We were sad to see her go but have since welcomed our new assistant Brooke, and couldn't be more excited to have her on the team!

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September saw the birth of our hygienist Nicole’s adorable bundle of joy Cristiano. What started as a maternity leave quickly became a full time gig Nicole couldn't imagine giving up. She will not be returning to us in a full time capacity, but we’re sure to convince her to help out now and again. We’ll miss you Nicole!

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October and November were all about building - we began our office expansion. We’ll be wrapping up over the next month to get things fully up and running, but here is a sneak peek at our new and improved space.

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Earlier this December we held a shower for our assistant Melissa, who will be welcoming a little girl in January. She will be leaving the practice to focus all her efforts on their new addition - we hate to say goodbye but are so happy for her new adventure! 

Keep an eye out - more changes are invariably ahead, and we can’t wait to fill you in on the fun. Wishing everyone a happy holiday season surrounded by loved ones!

The Wisdom Behind Wisdom Teeth

November 14th, 2014

We've all heard of them, these allegedly “wise” teeth. How they get to be so wise, on the other hand - their function, benefits and pitfalls - may not be so obvious. Let’s take a look at these guys more closely to see how they can help and hurt!

Also known as your third molars, wisdom teeth are the teeth furthest back in each quadrant of your mouth, which when functional can aid in mastication (chewing). Generally, wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 25 - this later development is said to have given rise to their name, since people were in theory wiser by the time they came on the scene.

Wisdom teeth are vestigial molars, meaning they no longer serve a critical function at this point in human evolution. The working belief is that our human ancestors had larger jaws with room for more teeth, and our third molars were there to help break down plant tissue. As we evolved and our diet changed, our jaws decreased in size, but the teeth kept showing up to the party!

Normally, all four will grow in, but it is possible for fewer - or in rarer cases extra - to develop. When properly aligned and fully erupted (broken through the gum tissue), wisdom teeth can be perfectly helpful chewing teeth. However, they rarely come in so simply. They can have a host of problems including:

  • Misalignment - though they ought to, teeth don’t always come in straight as an arrow. Wisdom teeth might tilt into or away from the other molars, or may even grow in horizontally. This can put undue pressure on the surrounding teeth, affect your bite and make these teeth hard to keep clean.
  • Partial Eruption - sometimes a wisdom tooth will try it’s hardest to break through the tissue and join its friends, but it just can’t quite make it. The result is a tooth half realized, poking out of the tissue and creating a dangerous opening in what should be a relatively closed system. This opening in the tissue is a playground for harmful bacteria, the culprit of many of the issues listed below!
  • Impaction - sometimes they can’t make it to the light of the oral cavity at all. These wisdom teeth are referred to as impacted, buried underneath the gum tissue and bone. If these teeth don’t dramatically affect the jaw, nerves or nearby teeth, they might live there peacefully forever. Once they start interfering with adjacent structures, problems can arise.

To avoid problems down the line, many dentists and oral surgeons will advocate extracting wisdom teeth before complications develop, as early as possible. When these teeth first form, their roots are shorter, making extraction easier and decreasing the chance of any nerve involvement. Younger patients will also heal much faster and have a greater capacity to regrow bone/supporting tissues post-extraction. For these reasons, our office will often recommend extraction at the first sign of potential trouble to make the procedure as successful and easy for the patient as possible.

Problematic wisdom teeth that are left unchecked can cause the following issues:

  • Damage to nearby teeth -  a misaligned or impacted tooth can put constant pressure on an adjacent one, promoting chipping, cracking, misalignment and decay
  • Pain from infection or pressure
  • Extensive tooth decay - if you can’t reach it to clean it, it’s a harbor for harmful bacteria!
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Cysts or tumors that arise from significant bacterial infection

To make sure all your teeth are as healthy as they should be, keep to regular dental visits where your provider can combine your biyearly mouth exams with regular panoramic x-rays to keep an eye on those pesky wisdom teeth. They’ll be able to advise you on the best course of action for your vestigial chompers!

The Skinny on Sealants

October 15th, 2014

We’ve touched on sealants on this site before, but wanted to dig a bit deeper - what’s their deal? Why are they useful? When should they be applied? As always, we’re here to help answer your burning questions on preventive dentistry! :)

Sealants are as simple as the name implies – a protective coating that seals the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent tooth to prevent bacteria from causing decay. Pre-molars and molar teeth, located way in the back of the mouth, naturally have many pits and fissures on their occlusal surface. Their shape and location make them hard to keep clean and cavity prone, especially during pre-adolescent and adolescent years. A sealant helps protect against decay on these teeth by literally filling in the cracks and providing a protective shield that bacteria and food can’t penetrate.

Dentists have been trying to prevent cavities for decades - as early as 1905, Willoughby Miller was applying silver nitrate to the surfaces of teeth to fight against specific types of bacteria known to cause decay. The 1920s saw the first preventive fillings - teeth that were at risk for cavities were treated before decay even began, and the widened pits and fissures were filled with amalgam.

A big breakthrough came in 1955, when M.G. Buonocore demonstrated that resin could be bonded to enamel through acid etching, which paved the way for future sealants. Subsequent decades gave rise to progressively better sealing materials and brought us to where we are today!

The process for applying sealants is straightforward. The teeth in question are thoroughly cleaned and etched to microscopically roughen the surface, making it easier for the sealant to adhere. Each tooth is then rinsed and thoroughly dried. Composite acrylic sealant is then painted directly on to the tooth and allowed to harden with the aid of a curing light. The appointment is quick – in our office we routinely apply sealants to four teeth at a time in 30 minutes.

Sealant material is a thin, liquid plastic that is composed primarily of BPA derivatives. There has been much speculation and study regarding the relationship between BPA and dental sealants. The American Dental Association maintains that sealants pose no consumer risk due to the low and infrequent nature of the exposure: BPA derivatives are being used instead of pure BPA, and the exposure to the raw material is extremely brief, as long as it takes to cure and harden.

So who should be lining up to have their teeth sealed? At our office we like to recommend sealants for young children who:

  • Have had at least one cavity on their primary (baby) teeth
  • Have permanent teeth that are not completely mineralized
  • Have generally poor oral hygiene
  • Have permanent teeth with abnormally deep, narrow grooves

We feel sealants are most effective for getting children at high risk for decay through their teenage years. Adults who have no history of cavities may benefit from sealants as well. However, treating adults raises some concerns - there is the risk that sealing over teeth that have been exposed to bacteria for several years could allow for cavities to develop under new sealants.

Sealing the teeth at a young age is simple and beneficial, but it’s not all roses - as with most things, sealants are an investment you need to protect if they’re going to continue to work well. As sealants age, they chip and crack - potentially allowing bacteria to fester underneath the remaining plastic layer. To prevent complications you should maintain excellent oral hygiene at home and see your dentist regularly so they can check on the functionality of your sealants.

Wondering if sealants are right for you or your little one? We’re always happy to field questions. Get in touch today to find out if sealants are the ticket!

Fluoride – the FAQs

September 16th, 2014

What is Fluoride exactly?
Fluoride is an anion of the element Fluorine which is abundant in the Earth’s crust. It almost always occurs in nature as a compound, existing as a component of the minerals found in rocks and soil. As water passes over the ground, it picks up the fluoride compounds present, with the result that all water is naturally slightly fluoridated. (More on water fluoridation later!)

What does it do?
Fluoride compounds - the most commonly used being sodium fluoride - affect the body in two ways.

  • Systemic Fluoride - Fluoride ingested through food and water works to strengthen the teeth from the inside out. During tooth development, systemic fluoride is deposited along the entire tooth surface, strengthening the protective enamel layer before the tooth even erupts. Systemic fluoride also works its way into the saliva, which continuously bathes erupted teeth in a topical application of the compound, aiding in the remineralization cycle of the tooth.
  • Topical Fluoride - Topical applications of fluoride, such as gels, toothpastes, rinses and varnishes, work directly on the surface of already erupted teeth to strengthen the enamel and aid in remineralization.

Why is it good for my teeth?
The remineralization process, as you might have guessed, is the key here. While a tooth can’t completely repair itself, there is an allowance for replacing some of what’s lost to the hazards of the oral environment. Bacteria and acids will attack the surface of the tooth, demineralizing the enamel, eating away at the structure of the tooth and eventually causing decay. Mineral compounds such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride, when deposited on the tooth surface, help to replace what has been lost before decay can begin. The levels found in foods and untreated water are often insufficient to aid this remineralization, which is where supplements like water fluoridation and topical applications come in.

Will Fluoride kill me?
NO! We know what a popular battle this has been in communities as the prevalence of fluoridated water has dramatically increased. While it is true that too much ingested fluoride can ultimately be fatal, the amount necessary to seriously harm someone is way more than what’s found in your water supply or recommended by the ADA. A lethal dose of fluoride is estimated to be at 5-10 g for most adults. In comparison, the recommended level of water fluoridation by the ADA is 0.7 to 1.2 ppm (parts per million), a very diluted dose.

That being said, it is important to be aware of how much fluoride your children are exposed to, as excessive exposure can lead to dental fluorosis, or a mottling of the tooth enamel that occurs during development. Children should not be given topical applications of fluoride until you are confident that they can spit them out effectively, generally at around 6 and older.

How often should I be getting fluoride?
This varies depending on your age and level of oral health. As we mentioned above, children below 6 should not receive topical applications of fluoride - they are getting plenty from what they ingest as long as you live in a community with fluoridated water. (If you don’t, read about the ADA’s recommendations for fluoride here).

Children ages 6 - 16 should be using a fluoride toothpaste and getting treatments every 6 months from their dentist, We like a topical fluoride varnish for this application - the fluoride is essentially painted on and saves your child the discomfort of those messy gel applications we all remember!

Adults who are generally healthy and have no special concerns should be fine with just a fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water. At your regular dental visits we’ll provide a minute long fluoride rinse for good measure.

There are adults for whom the above isn’t enough. This includes people who suffer from Xerostomia (dry mouth) due to medications or systemic disease, people with a history of periodontal infection or frequent cavities, and people who have a lot of dental restorations already present in the mouth. If you fall into one of these categories, we may recommend one or more of the following additional fluoride treatments:

  • Prescription toothpaste - we carry Prevident in our office, which is a significantly higher percent solution (1.1% sodium fluoride) than over the counter toothpastes.
  • Fluoride Gel - again, our choice here is Prevident, at the same concentration. We recommend this for use topically or in conjunction with custom fitted trays to aid the remineralization process.
  • MI Paste Plus - while this does contain a low concentration of fluoride, calcium and phosphate are the two main ingredients in this paste that aid remineralization. This paste can be used as you would a fluoride gel - topically or inside custom fitted trays.
  • Fluoride rinse - we always want you rinsing twice daily, even if you’re the picture of health. But if we’re trying to up your fluoride exposure we may suggest switching out your evening antiseptic rinse for a fluoride rinse - we generally recommend ACT or Sensodyne Pronamel rinses for this purpose.

My Baby’s Teeth Have Finally Arrived – Now What?

August 13th, 2014

We addressed teething last month, but knowing when to expect those first chompers is only the beginning. Caring for your young one’s teeth is critical to ensuring their health and instilling good habits. With that in mind, we thought we’d share some tips on navigating the waters of pediatric oral hygiene!

Don’t wait to start cleaning. Keeping your baby’s mouth clean should start before teeth even appear - a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth does wonders for the gums. As soon as that first tooth  pokes through, begin twice daily (at least!) brushing.

Use the right stuff.

  • Toothpaste - until age 3, you should be using a smear of fluoride toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. From about 3 to 6 that should only increase to the size of a pea. If your child is not yet able to effectively spit, have them tilt their mouth down so the paste dribbles out into a cup or the sink to limit consumption.
  • Soft bristled toothbrush - you want something very soft and age appropriate - children’s brushes are sold with recommended age ranges listed, so they should be easy to spot. If small hands still have a hard time grabbing, find a brush with a larger handle, stick the handle inside a tennis ball or try attaching the brush to them with a hairband.
  • Floss - you should begin flossing for your little one as soon as they have two teeth that touch. Continue flossing daily and going over techniques with them until they are competent with the floss and can handle going it alone.
  • Rinses - until you’re certain that they’ll be able to swish and spit a rinse without swallowing, these are best avoided. Once they have that skill down pat - usually around age 7 - a fluoride rinse twice a day under close supervision is a great habit to encourage.

Keep it fun! Sing a song (two rounds of “Happy Birthday” is about the length of time your little one should be brushing), do a dance - keep them engaged! Once your child is old enough, letting them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste from a pre-approved selection can get them more invested, and brushing your teeth when they brush theirs makes it feel like a fun family event. As soon as they can hold and manipulate a brush, encouraging them to brush themselves is a great way to instill a sense of ownership - just be sure to double check their work and help them hit areas they’ve missed.

Be aware of those thumbs and pacifiers. Sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, etc. is a well established natural reflex in young children, and can be important to a child’s development and their sense of well being. It’s important to curb the habit before they get too old, however - in kids over 3, sucking habits can have detrimental effects on their bite and can promote tooth decay.

Watch out for sugar. Really now, when don’t we advocate keeping the sugar intake to a minimum? Teeth and sugar just don’t get along, and baby teeth are no different. Make sure you’re cleaning your child’s mouth after every meal, limiting sugary drinks during the day and after brushing at night (that includes milk at bedtime!) and not dipping their pacifiers in anything sweet.

Get that baby to the dentist! It should happen sooner than you might think - we recommend that the first visit occur by the age of two years old, for sure no later than three. That first visit is really more of a meet and greet - designed to make your child feel comfortable and pave the road for successful future visits. They can sit in the big chair with mom or dad, meet the hygienist and doctor, and go through as much of an examination as they’ll sit through - ideally looking in the mouth, assessing the tissue and counting teeth. As your child grows your provider will do more and more until they are getting a full blown cleaning every 6 months.

Teething: the What’s, When’s, Do’s and Don’ts

July 14th, 2014

They go by many names - baby, milk, primary, deciduous - but any way you slice it, the process by which your baby gets their first teeth can be a tedious one! Teething can begin as early as 3 months and as late as 15, though most commonly you see the first teeth at around 6 months. This first round of teeth can take up to 3 years to fully emerge. Generally, they erupt on the schedule shown on the right.

These teeth don’t just magically appear, of course - they've been developing for a while. Tooth buds form under your baby’s gums in-utero - later, when the roots of the tooth begin to grow, the crown is forced up against the gums. This pressure breaks down the surrounding gum tissue and lets the tooth through.

Common symptoms of teething include:

  • excessive drooling or dribbling
  • rubbing of the cheek and tugging on the ear
  • irritability and increased crying
  • gum swelling
  • sleeplessness
  • increased urge to bite and chew hard objects

We’ve come a long way in our consideration of teething: for instance, it is no longer considered a common cause of death, as it was in the early to mid 19th century when serious diseases were regularly attributed to teething. We no longer try to “treat” teething by use of bleeding, blistering, placing of leeches or cauterization. Nor do we line our babies’ gums with mercury filled powder. Ah, the good ol’ days.

For all this progress, a fussy, teething baby at 3 am can still pose quite a challenge to an exhausted parent! With that in mind, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help through the night:

Do:

  • Get that baby something to chew on! There are many popular teethers on the market - look for something large, firm, and made of non-hazardous material. The pressure of chewing helps to break down the gum tissue and encourages the tooth’s emergence.
  • Keep things cool - lightly freeze a damp washcloth and offer that to chew on, or offer up cold foods if your baby is already eating solids. The cold helps to numb the tissues and reduce inflammation, providing pain relief.
  • Change up the bottle - your baby’s appetite might be more finicky during this time. A different shaped nipple or sippy cup may improve feeding and reduce discomfort.
  • Massage the gums - gentle massaging of your baby’s gums with a clean finger or washcloth will help stimulate the tissue and alleviate some pain.
  • Consider a pain reliever - this is a bit of a controversial one. There are pain relievers in the form of medicinal gels and children’s ibuprofen that can help with severe teething pain, but the general consensus is to use sparingly and never without your physician’s approval. Never use aspirin to relieve teething pain.

Don’t:

  • Disregard a fever. It’s a common misconception that fevers are part and parcel of a baby’s teething experience. While a low grade fever MAY occur in some cases, anything above 101 F should be reported to your physician. This could be indicative of a more serious infection - the herpes virus, for example, is common in children that age and can present with a fever.
  • Expose your baby’s gums to cold for too long. While some cold can provide relief, too much can cause damage to the gum tissue.
  • Let your baby chew on anything small enough to be a choking hazard (we know you’ve got this one down already, parents, but it’s got to be said!)
  • Give up hope! If you’re baby is having a rough time with those pearly whites, try some of these tips and know that at least it can’t last forever. :)

The Anatomy of a Tooth

June 17th, 2014

We've already delved into enamel in all its wonder and glory on this blog, and discussed in depth why it’s so important to protect. That doesn't mean that the other components of each tooth are any less important, however, and we felt it high time to take a look at the other building blocks of our pearly whites. That being said:

Welcome to Your Tooth!

There’s a world of goodness in each one, so let’s start by working our way in from the outside.
Enamel: This hard mineral coating is your tooth’s first line of defense. Read all about it here.
Cementum: In essence the enamel of the root, cementum is a hard, calcified substance that coats the root of each tooth and anchors your periodontal ligaments, which then connect the tooth to the surrounding gum tissue and bone.
Dentin: Below the cementum and enamel we find the dentin, a material made from living cells that secrete a hard mineral substance. When enamel starts to wear away and the teeth start to yellow, this is the dentin peeking through. It’s the last line of defense before we get to...

Pulp: We’ve arrived at the living center of your tooth, where all the blood vessels and nerve endings lie. This is the area everything else is designed to protect - when decay works it’s way through enamel and dentin and hits the pulp, that is when the real pain starts, infection occurs and root canal therapy becomes necessary.

So those are the players that make up each tooth, which can then be broken down into three sections:

  • the crown: visible portion of the tooth that lays above the gum line
  • the neck: where the enamel meets the cementum on your tooth, ideally right at your gum line
  • the root: the shafts of each tooth that “root” it in the bone below (it’s not just a clever name!) and connect the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth to the rest of the nervous and circulatory system.

While the building blocks of each tooth are the same, they come in different shapes and sizes, are designed for different functions, and each one is unique. On your upper and lower arches, you’ll find 4 types of teeth:

Incisors: The most anterior of your teeth, these guys are responsible for shearing or cutting your food when you chew.
Canines: Separating your incisors from your premolars and molars, the canines compliment both sets of teeth in their function. Their primary responsibility, however, is tearing food during chewing.
Premolars: Before you get to the heavy hitting molars, you come to your pre molars, two in each quadrant of your mouth. While their functions vary during chewing, generally your first premolar will assist more with tearing and your second with grinding.
Molars: The most posterior of your teeth, your molars are responsible for grinding your food. In addition to first and second molars, many adults will have their third molars - or wisdom teeth - come in during their late teens/early twenties.
There you go! A quick tour of your teeth and what makes them what the special creatures they are. :) Now that you know everything that goes into them, don’t be shy about protecting those chompers!

The Newest Addition to the Strobel Family!

May 14th, 2014

Look at it! Isn’t it precious? Alright, so it’s not an adorable baby (though stay tuned, there are bundles of joy on their way for some of the Strobel Dentistry staff!), and many of you likely don’t get as stoked as we do by new dental equipment. But we could not be more excited for what this newest addition - the CEREC - will allow us to do for our patients!

The Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics (CEREC) allows us to create many of the dental restorations we provide our patients, especially crowns on posterior teeth, entirely in-house. It employs a method known as CAD/CAM - computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing.

The original method was created Prof. Werner H. Mörmann and Dr. Marco Brandestini at the University of Zurich in 1980. Since then, it has gone through several generations of development. While the fundamental technology behind system has been usable since the first patient restoration in 1985, there has been a marked increase in quality over the past few years, thanks to  ever faster advancements in digital imaging and design software.

So how does this time-tested, cutting edge system work?

We begin with a digital impression. This in itself is a huge plus - if you've had a traditional crown before, you know how uncomfortable those physical impressions can be! With this system we use an intraoral camera to record the prepared tooth, the tooth it hits against and how your bite comes together. All this information is fed into proprietary software so the doctor can sit down and design the perfect restoration for the tooth.

The design is then wirelessly submitted to our milling machine, where your restoration is created from a single ceramic block in as little as ten minutes! Don’t be alarmed when it first comes out - it will most assuredly be purple after this stage. Once we’ve checked the fit and made sure everything’s perfect, off to the oven the restoration goes. After baking and glazing the restoration will be perfectly matched to the shade of your natural teeth.

Gone are the days of imperfect impressions and weeks waiting on labs to bring us our finished product - well, almost gone, at least. With this new system we are currently bringing our patients crowns in as little as two and a half hours, and we can’t wait to watch this technology grow and continue to expand its use in our office. After all, if you have to have a major restoration, we want it to be as good - and as convenient - as possible!

Our Favorite Toy – the Votes Are In!

March 14th, 2014

The technological enhancements we regularly make to our clinical equipment aren't just fun to play around with, however; they have proved to be indispensable tools in diagnosing and treating our patients’ dental conditions. We were curious as to the favorite among the staff, and our quick poll showed a clear winner – our Air Techniques Intraoral Camera.

What does it do?
Pretty much exactly what you’d expect – it is a camera small enough to fit comfortably inside your mouth, allowing us to take close up pictures of your teeth in fantastic detail. The LED-lit, fixed focus camera connects directly to our computer and practice management software via USB cable, making capturing an image as easy as a few clicks of a button. During your regular dental visits with us, don’t be surprised if our hygienist stops to snap a couple of pictures during her examination!

Why do we love it?
We cannot stress enough our appreciation for the trust you put in us as providers. You come to us for guidance and treatment to optimize your dental health, and we do our absolute best to give you top-notch care. When we find a problem, our first priority is making sure we communicate to you what’s wrong and what your options are in the clearest way possible. Conversations are great for this, but “a picture’s worth a thousand words” didn’t become popular just because it’s catchy.

The intraoral camera allows us to show you what we see. Be it a new cavity, obvious cracks in the teeth, an old silver filling that needs to be replaced or an extreme build-up of plaque in between cleanings – the more you can see what’s wrong, the easier it becomes to understand what needs fixing.

We also gain an important documentation tool when we use this camera. Is there a filling that’s starting to break down but doesn’t yet need attention? We’ll snap a picture so we can compare at your next visit. Is insurance giving us a hard time because the decay is hard to see on a traditional x-ray? These pictures offer an alternative view guaranteed to support us in maximizing your insurance benefits.

Technology is a miraculous thing, and we’re improving upon what we do with new tools all the time. We just wanted to share our little love note to our current favorite – who knows what future advancements hold in store!

Tooth Enamel: All the Things You Want and Need to Know

February 13th, 2014

What is it?
Only the hardest substance in the human body! Amazingly, our bodies are able to produce something that is almost entirely inorganic: enamel is composed of roughly 96% minerals (primarily calcium phosphate crystals), with water and organic material comprising the rest. Enamel forms before the tooth erupts into the mouth and is built to cover the whole exposed surface of the tooth. It’s a translucent material that can vary in color, ranging from yellows to blues to whites. In its completed state, enamel has no blood or nerve supply, making repair and regrowth nearly impossible.

Enamel is your tooth’s first line of defense. It protects the underlying dentin, cementum and dental pulp - the other three tissues that make up your tooth - from environmental factors, food and bacteria.

What causes enamel erosion?
An extremely high mineral content – which accounts for its incredible strength – also makes enamel a very brittle substance, and one prone to demineralization (loss of tooth structure). Several factors can contribute to the loss of enamel:

  • High sugar/acid intake: excessive consumption of sugar or starchy foods, as well as sugary and acidic drinks, can significantly contribute to enamel erosion, especially when allowed to sit on the teeth for long periods of time.
  • Xerostomia: more commonly known as dry mouth due to decreased saliva production. Our saliva helps neutralize the acid present in our mouth and wash away harmful bacteria; when you have dry mouth, this ability is impaired, and the enamel suffers.
  • Certain Medications: Some medications, such as antihistamines, vitamin C tablets and aspirin, can increase acid levels when they hit the surface of the tooth and contribute to demineralization. These guys also contribute to Xerostomia, leading to a similar result.
  • Diseases: Acid reflux, bulimia, alcoholism and any disease that results in frequent vomiting can increase the acidity of the mouth and encourage enamel wear.
  • Environmental factors: Up to now we've mainly looked at factors that make the mouth more acidic and encourage demineralization. Other factors speak to the brittle nature of enamel – these are conditions that cause wear and tear, cracking or abrasion. Brushing too hard, clenching and grinding or chewing on inedible, hard objects (pen caps, ice, fingernails) can all cause damage to a tooth’s protective enamel coating.

What are the symptoms?

  • Sensitivity: Your teeth may become anywhere from slightly to extremely sensitive as enamel wears away and exposes the underlying tooth structure. This may be brought on by heat, cold or sweets, and will increase as erosion worsens.
  • Change in color: Since enamel is translucent to begin with, it stands to reason that it would get more so as it becomes thinner. Yellowing teeth may mean that the dentin underneath the enamel is beginning to show through more.
  • Cracks, chips or cupping: The environmental factors listed above can cause noticeable physical damage to the tooth – fracturing, chipping or pitting on the chewing surfaces.

How can I protect my teeth?
As we learned earlier, fully formed enamel has no living cells, meaning unaided regrowth of enamel is simply not possible. The body does, however, have a natural process of remineralization – diffusing calcium and phosphate into the tooth to reinforce the existing crystalline structures - that can arrest enamel wear. Erosion and decay will occur when this process is outpaced by any of the above factors, but there are things we can do to support it:

  • Diet: For a host of reasons, enamel protection included, it’s best to avoid food and drink that is high in sugar, overly starchy or particularly acidic. When you do consume these items, try to limit the amount of time they’re on your teeth – drink through a straw and rinse with water after drinking or meals.
  • Dental home care routine: What you do on a daily basis is extremely important. Use fluoridated toothpaste to promote tooth strength – if you are particularly prone to cavities, you may want to add a fluoridated rinse into your routine as well. Brush gently to avoid causing damage to your teeth and tissues, and practice proper flossing techniques – we want these measures to be helping, not hurting!
  • Treat medical conditions: Staying on top of the aforementioned diseases will help you protect your teeth as well – the relationship between our bodies and mouths is a strong and complicated one!
  • Avoid teeth grinding: If bruxism – clenching and grinding your teeth – is a problem for you, it will certainly be a problem for your enamel. Talk to your dentist about treatment options such as night guards to alleviate discomfort and arrest enamel wear.
  • Regular dental check-ups: We can help! Your dentist can spot the signs of enamel erosion and give you the best advice on treatment and prevention.

What does the future hold in store?
Scientists from Bristol University and the University of Leeds have made developments over the past few years on a gel that can theoretically rebuild enamel. As yet, these gels are not commercially viable or fully tested. But, as with all the sciences, it would seem the future holds the promise of some amazing advancements!

Teeth in Dreams – What Does it All Mean?

January 14th, 2014

Our dreams comprise a huge part of our lives. They are the things that fuel us, that keep us working. It’s the place we go to make sense of the day, where we’re safe to express all that which is consciously inexpressible during waking hours. Our teeth enjoy a similar level of importance – eating becomes a near insurmountable task when you can’t chew, and so their presence is key to our survival. Chances are you've had at least one dream about the loss of your teeth – perhaps they fell out, or crumbled, maybe they were even pulled. According to dream experts it’s one of the five most common recurring dreams for people – but what does it all mean? Let’s take a look at some popular interpretations.
This subject matter is certainly not new. Written interpretations of tooth loss in dreams can be found as early as 2nd century B.C.E., when Ancient Greek diviner and geographer Artemidorus wrote of the phenomenon in his tome Oneirocritica. In it he posited that it foretells death or loss of property, and went into surprising detail to explain what each tooth might represent.  Upper teeth, for instance, denote persons of higher rank, and lower more inferior acquaintances. If the teeth lost are from the right, the person to die will be male - if lost from the left, female. Front teeth represent the young, canines the middle aged, and molars the old.
The interpretation of these dreams as the portending of death is not unique to Ancient Greece, though not everyone got quite so specific. Bar Hedwa, an interpreter of dreams in the Talmud, saw tooth loss dreams as a precursor to the death of a family member. Evidence of this popular belief can be found many other places as well, ranging from literary works written in the Middle Ages to documented belief systems of Navajo Indians.
As we move into the 20th century, we start to see a broader range of interpretation. Freud held dreams of losing teeth to be (shocker) a symbol of sexual repression. Jung believed them to be symbolic of childbirth – the common thread being something is removed from the body - when the dreamer was female. Jerome M. Schneck published a study in 1974 wherein he related tooth loss in dreams to a fear of aging.
Contemporary dream experts seem to have moved away from naming a specific fear or labeling the dreams a premonition. Common themes in current thought focus on the larger context of the dream and how it relates to your current environmental factors. Did you recently say something you shouldn't have or reveal information best kept secret? The dream expert on Dr. Oz’s website would say that is the cause of your toothless dreams. Jungian therapist Richard Nicoletti, on the other hand, holds that the meaning can be anywhere from an inability to access emotional experience, a failure to really “bite into” an important issue in life, a fear of aging or a feeling that one’s destiny has not been fully realized.
Yet others consider these dreams to be representative of depression, anxiety, a loss of control or a loss of personal power. This tracks an interesting parallel to a study completed in 1984, where 28 subjects were interviewed and those with recurrent dreams of losing teeth reported much higher incidences of anxiety, depression and general dissatisfaction with life.
As is so often the case with matters of the mind, there is no universal consensus on why we dream about losing our teeth and what it all means. It seems that a commonality in these theories is loss – loss of a loved one, loss of confidence, loss of youth, loss of emotional control. When asked in a Huffington Post article what people can do to prevent their occurrence, Nicoletti answered simply “live freely.” He advised confronting your issues but not dealing with them too aggressively - "Psychoanalysis is the process of trying to understand one's life issues. If one has an attitude that one is looking to resolve, don't avoid the issue. Or, one may be overzealous about resolving issues in waking life, in which case the dream may be saying, 'Back off.'" No matter the cause of your toothless sleep, the call to live freely seems always a good one to answer!

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

December 13th, 2013

December is, as always, a time to reflect. ‘Tis the season (as they say) to contemplate everything that has transpired and look forward to all that is to come. In that spirit, we wanted to take a minute to think about all the big changes ahead of and behind us at Strobel Dentistry.

2013 was a big year! Our 81st year in business, in fact, and there were plenty of momentous events to mark the occasion. April saw the wedding of our hygiene assistant Melissa and June brought news of our hygienist Nicole’s engagement. In September Dr. Dan and his wife Missy welcomed their newest child Tommy to the world.

Not all the news was quite so simply joyous; November marked the end of a tremendous 38 year career for Dr. Greg, an exciting but bittersweet transition for us all. That same month, however, we were fortunate to be able to introduce Dr. Isabella as our newest staff member, the practice’s first associate in over 20 years and a fantastic addition to our team.

This train isn't stopping, and we couldn't be more excited for what comes next for the office in 2014. We’ll be expanding the office in the spring to accommodate two additional operatories. More space means updated technology with which to serve our patients – look out for a CAD-CAM to make an appearance after our renovation, allowing us to make some crowns on-site in as little as a day! We’ll also be taking a look at our practice management software and likely making the move to the cloud – we’re committed to keeping up with the latest advancements to make patient visits as pleasant and efficient as possible.

We’re not finished with big life events either. Our hygienist Ali can’t wait to welcome her second child in February and our hygienist Aer celebrates her wedding next Memorial Day. With Nicole sealing the deal next November, we’re pumped for celebrations all year long!

All of us consider ourselves so fortunate to have completed our 81st year in practice and still be going strong. We’re proud of our service to the community and so grateful for the opportunity to work with our wonderful patients each day. We hope that you find as much joy and contentment in your reflection as we have in ours. Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays and an exciting new year!

Things We’ll Miss

November 8th, 2013

We weren't sure how to begin when we decided to write our humble tribute to Dr. Greg and his impressive dental career. It can be hard to reminisce without sounding like you’re writing a eulogy, and this retirement is certainly not something to be mourned. Dr. Greg has a world of excitement awaiting him in this new venture: travels to the north and south, quality time with his loving wife Marilyn, a pack of adoring grandkids just waiting to be spoiled. But there are things we’ll miss, and we couldn't let this pass without taking a moment to consider some of them.

Dentistry wasn't even Dr. Greg’s original plan. He initially began his post-high school education in seminary prep, destined to become a man of the cloth. Lucky for him - and for everyone touched by his 38 years in the field - he met Marilyn during that time, and knew that he needed to reassess. He found his way to dentistry and took up the mantle of his father’s business, becoming the second generation of Strobels to provide dental care in downtown Chicago.

Thirty-eight years is a long time, a lifetime, which makes it even harder to distill everything we want to say about Dr. Greg into a single post. A few things stand out universally among his employees’ memories…

He was one of the most compassionate practitioners you’ll ever meet, and fiercely loyal. This was evident even as a dental student, when he went to every superior he had to fight restrictions that would have prevented him from getting a patient out of pain. Instead of treating her many teeth - each in need of root canal therapy - one at a time per school policy, he lobbied until he was able to get her comfortable and stable first, then proceed with treatment. She returned this dedication to her health by remaining a patient of his for the next 38 years.

Dr. Greg could not stand the thought of a patient in pain - something you would hope you could say about any healthcare provider, but a thing we sadly know to be less common. He would regularly disregard personal convenience to get a patient on the schedule and out of pain immediately, and would treat them regardless of their ability to pay. His pro-bono work is one of the things our staff remembers particularly fondly - Dr. Greg took his role as a healthcare provider seriously, and knew that this meant doing whatever he was capable of for as many as he could.

His patients were more than acquaintances; they were friends. The level of familiarity and care that Dr. Greg brought to the practice is extremely rare in a big city like Chicago, and it’s a quality he helped instill in the entire office. The outpouring of well wishes and love that we have seen from patients since he announced his retirement is a testament to that.

Dr. Greg’s compassion didn't end at patients - he was extremely good to his staff as well. He knew the importance of generosity and respect when dealing with employees (who really became more like family), and his skill at relating to them and running the business kept people in his employ for stretches greater than 20 years. A perfect example:

One of our hygienists, new to the practice and struggling with a really unlucky streak of patient miscommunications, came into the back one day in tears. Ready to give up, convinced that it was just not a good fit, she broke down as the doctors were sitting at their desks. Dr. Greg leapt up, gave her a big hug, and promptly began to assure her that it would all be fine. That vote of confidence and show of affection is the reason that hygienist stayed with us, and she has gone on to show her incredible talent and develop a fantastic relationship with our patients since.

Compassionate as he was, Dr. Greg did have a strong, serious business side, and could always be counted upon to ask the good questions that kept everyone moving forward. Professional, exacting and authoritative, he always expected the best from his staff and engendered the respect necessary to get it. He brought his hyper-intelligence and extremely inquisitive nature to bear every day, always pushing to make sure we were doing things the best way possible.

Since he had plenty of “down to business” time, watching him loosen up was always a treat. Dr. Greg was always good for the unexpected, well-timed joke at our office parties. You could bank on a funny comic appearing on the break room wall or making it to Facebook weekly. And when his grand-kids came into the office, it was all over. His face would melt and he was no longer Dr. Greg, but doting Grandpa. The goofy, softer side that lightened our business days may well be what we will all miss most.

It’s hard to say goodbye, even when it’s not really goodbye but just a transition into a different phase. We’re thrilled for him but a little sad, and it’s important to acknowledge that as we adapt and grow. We miss seeing you at your desk every day big man. Don’t be a stranger! :)

Chris Randolph
11/8/2013 04:01:56 am

And let's not forget Dr. Greg's matchmaking skills. It was an emergency visit 20 years ago that first brought me to the office. Dr. Greg squeezed me in at lunch, having never seen me before. Sure enough...a root canal was needed. I was tempted not to continue after he took care of the immediate pain, but I really liked him and felt comfortable completing the necessary work. That set up numerous office visits, in which I was able to meet Teresa. A friendship blossomed over the next year and a half and we were married in 1996. 17 years later, still happily married, still great friends with the Strobel Family. If it wasn't for Greg's ability to make me feel comfortable at the dentist office, I may have not come back, never married Teresa, never had the Strobel's in my life, and had horrible teeth!! Thanks, Dr. Strobel!!

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Strobel Dentistry
11/8/2013 04:11:19 am

A perfect addition to the tribute and an amazing story. :) Thank you for posting!

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It’s Not Your Average Denture…

October 8th, 2013

We can all likely conjure a mental picture of the typical denture from days past: a rather large, clumsy, obviously fake set of teeth that had moderate staying power at best. Thankfully, as is the case in so many areas of life, technological advancements have come to the rescue and brought us many better ways to replicate teeth. A particularly neat method among these is the implant-supported denture.

What exactly is an implant-supported denture you ask? Just as the name implies, it is a full denture that attaches to dental implants placed in your upper or lower jaw. By attaching to elements embedded in your bone, this denture offers a level of stability unheard of in other types. It is more common to find this type of denture in the lower jaw, where traditional models have a hard time staying put, but it can be used for both upper and lower.

There are two main types of implant-supported dentures:

Bar-retained: Two to five implants are placed with this method, and a thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached. The denture fits over this bar and is securely held by metal attachments.
Ball-retained: This is secured by ball and socket joints - each implant in the jaw ends in a ball attachment that fits into its corresponding socket in the prosthetic. You often see four implants placed for this style of denture.

The process is definitely a time commitment - often it will take around 5 months for the lower jaw and 7 months for the upper, but the procedures from start to finish can take a full year depending on everything that needs to be done.

The first crucial step is determining that you are a good candidate for implants. A specialist can tell you if you have adequate bone levels to support the placement of an implant and if any complementary procedures - such as sinus lifts or bone grafting - are needed before your mouth is ready for implant surgery.

Once you get the green light, you’ll be made a temporary denture for your missing teeth (if you don’t already have one). This in itself can take a number of weeks and involves multiple appointments where impressions are taken and models are tried out. This temporary then serves as a guide for your surgeon in the subsequent implant placement.

The implants usually require two surgeries, though in many cases, the industry is seeing increased success with a one-surgery procedure. Typically, however, the first surgery will place the implants and the second surgery (3-6 months later to allow for healing and osseointegration) will uncover them and prepare them for the supporting materials.

After successful implant placement and preparation, you’ll go through a similar try-in process with your denture as you did initially. Once everything is where is should be, the teeth are permanently cemented into the denture and you are on your way!

While this represents a significant time and financial commitment, it is one of the better options available to replace large numbers of missing teeth. Talk to your dentist about your options and find out if this could be right for you!

The Dental Hygiene Visit: Why We Do What We Do

September 2nd, 2013

“Hi, I need to make an appointment; it’s just for a cleaning.” We hear this at our office every day. And that’s a perfectly valid response to something that, quite often, isn’t perceived as all that important. Sure you’ve been told time and again you need to go twice a year to keep your teeth healthy, but do you really know why? Do you know the many things that go into a hygiene visit and why they happen? Let’s take a walk through our office’s typical hygiene visit to see exactly why we do what we do.

Review Medical History: The connection between your oral health and overall health is something we love to hammer home on this blog. Updating your medical history each visit clues us into any changes of which we should be aware. Different medications, surgeries, illnesses, and conditions can all affect the health of your tissues and how we treat you, so don’t be afraid to share even the smallest change.

Blood Pressure: Once we’ve updated your medical history, the hygienist will take your blood pressure using one of our wrist cuffs. There are a couple of motivating factors at work here. First and foremost, if your blood pressure is too high at the time of your visit – specifically if your systolic pressure is above 160 and your diastolic above 100 – it would be unsafe for us to treat you. Those numbers signify stage 2 hypertension, a serious health risk that requires immediate attention from your physician.

Secondly, many of you will wind up coming to see us more often than your doctor (we’re flattered! J). That being said, it’s our responsibility to gauge your overall health at each visit. Taking your blood pressure allows us to help you catch potential problems early and to track your general cardiovascular health over time.

X-rays: We know! No one loves x-rays. They are, however, the only way for us to accurately diagnose and treat you. Read more about why here. Not every hygiene visit will include x-rays; you can expect to take them about once a year.

Hygiene Exam: Before they get into the meat of your dental cleaning, the hygienist needs to do a comprehensive assessment. She’ll examine your glands, teeth, gum tissue and tongue to make sure everything is in order. In the course of this exam, she will also perform a Periodontal Screening and Recording (PSR). This is a less intense version of full periodontal charting and allows the hygienist to quickly assess the health of your gums and their attachment to your teeth. The data she collects in her PSR and exam will inform both your doctor’s exam and the type of cleaning you receive.

Patient Education: What you know and do at home is every bit as important as what we do for you in the office. Going over the results of the hygienist’s exam with you provides us a great opportunity to assist in your homecare with a bit of education.

Every lesson is better with visual aids, so we’ve made it a point to keep the latest technology available to help illustrate things you’re doing well and highlight areas of concern. If the hygienist has found something worth extra attention during her assessment, she may use our intra-oral camera to give you a “tour” of your teeth, so you can see what she sees. She may also employ a disclosing solution, which will color the plaque on your teeth (pink for anything present for fewer than 24 hours, purple for bacteria that have been there longer). This is a great way to bring your attention to areas that may need extra help from you.

From there you two will discuss home care. Your hygienist will ask what you are currently doing to take care of your teeth at home, make suggestions for ideal home care practices, and may even demonstrate some techniques for flossing or brushing.

Scaling and Polish: We’ve made it to the cleaning! Once we’ve got the roadmap for where we’re going and provided no deeper cleaning is necessary, the hygienist will begin the scaling and polishing of your teeth. This removes bacteria, built up plaque and stain, and is exactly the part of the visit you think of when you think dental cleaning.

Doctor Exam: The dentist might come in at any point after your hygienist has given him the okay, so don’t be surprised if we’re not completely done with the cleaning when he pops his head in. This is our way both of avoiding any waiting on your part and allowing the doctor to provide the best, most focused attention to each of his patients. During this exam, the hygienist will fill him in on everything you two have done so far, and ask him to pay specific attention to any areas of concern that have come up during the visit. He will thoroughly assess your teeth, tissue, and glands in the context of the data that has been collected. Once he’s done with this assessment, they’ll sit you up, and you three will discuss all the findings and any recommended restorative treatment, should any exist.

We know it’s hard to make time for the dentist, and chances are when you’re here, you want to be in and out. We want to respect your schedule and get you on your way while providing you with the absolute best care. Hopefully, this helps shine some light on where we spend our time and why it’s important!

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Dentist?

August 2nd, 2013

Where Dental Phobia Comes From and What We Can Do

Dentistry has historically gotten a bad rap, this much we know. There is a world of jokes out there about the pain (mental, physical, financial) that a dental visit can cause. For some, however, the thought of a dentist isn’t just unfunny. It can spark anywhere from mild anxiety to deep rooted, uncontrolled fear, preventing many from seeking the dental care so crucial to their overall health. Let’s look at some things that can cause dental phobias – known also as odontophobia - and some tips that may help allay these fears.

Up to 20 percent of the population experiences some level of dental anxiety, with five to eight percent so afraid that they avoid going altogether, according to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington. Symptoms of odontophobia can include tension, trouble sleeping, increasing nervousness, panic attacks, feeling physically ill and the strong urge to cry, all just at the thought of the dentist. There are, naturally, a variety of reasons why people become afraid of the dentist, and everyone is a little different. Some common causes are:

Bad Experience: This is probably the most common cause, and completely understandable. We all learn from our experiences, and it’s not a big leap from a negative, painful dental visit to the belief that all visits will be that way.

Fear of pain and discomfort: Our body’s instinct is to protect itself. Whether you’re considering something that’s just uncomfortable (leaning back in the chair, breathing through your nose, irritating or loud equipment noises), or facing the prospect of potentially painful shots and treatment, a dental visit can definitely trigger that response. This fear is often a self-fulfilling prophecy – the longer you avoid going to a dentist, the more likely you are to require invasive and potentially uncomfortable treatment.

Fear of the unknown: The root of many, if not most, human problems – if you don’t understand something, aren’t familiar with it, it’s pretty hard to trust. Foreign dental equipment, technical language and unfamiliar procedures can all elicit this fear.

Feeling out of control and helpless: Laying back in a chair while a relative stranger performs actions you can’t see in one of the most intimate areas of your body can be intense. It’s not hard to see why this would feel invasive to some; you’re in a very vulnerable position and placing your trust in someone else completely. This fear can be especially difficult to manage in victims of previous trauma or abuse.

Fear by association: Again, dentists get a bad rap. Prevalent jokes, stories and images that paint the dentist as a horrible experience to be suffered through reinforce our notions that this is something to fear.

Like the cause, the solution is going to be different for everyone. Prevention is critical; like every fear, odontophobia needs to be faced head-on. If you hate going to the dentist but are hyper-vigilant in your preventive care, you will eliminate the need for more visits in the future, thereby removing the more threatening appointments that would otherwise loom on the horizon. Here are some tips to make those visits more bearable:

Finding the right dentist: This may sound obvious but it is absolutely, 100% the most important consideration. If you are facing a dental fear, you want a dentist who will understand and respect the obstacle you’re trying to overcome. You are looking for a gentle provider who will explain to you exactly what is going on every step of the way and frequently ask your permission to continue whatever procedure you are receiving. You want someone who is open to conversation and questions. Above all you want someone you can trust. There are many providers out there who fit this bill, and in many areas you can find clinics that are specifically dedicated to patients with odontophobia.

Taking control: This goes hand in hand with finding the right dentist. Start with the phone call – a very tough call to make. Explain your situation, and for those dealing with extreme fear, ask to schedule a consultation first. Any dentist who is right for you will be willing to sit down and talk to you before doing anything else. Once there, ask questions. LOTS of questions. Ruminate on the specifics of your fear and then get your dentist to explain those aspects of treatment to you until you feel more comfortable. Ask to see or hold the equipment that will be used to familiarize yourself. Develop signals with your dentist so you know you can stop a procedure whenever you need to, and plan on timed breaks for more extensive treatment.

Relaxation techniques: Common relaxation techniques can be very useful during a dental visit. Deep, rhythmic, SLOW breathing will help trigger your parasympathetic nervous system and encourage a relaxation response. You can also employ a technique called progressive muscle relaxation, where you contract and relax each of your muscles in turn. Meditation before and during can also help: not only does it promote relaxation, but placing yourself in a different situation mentally can help distance you from your physical reality.

Distraction: When in the chair, anything that distracts you from the situation is a good thing. Bring music that you like and pop in your ear buds - not only will this distract you but it conveniently drowns out some of those not so pleasant sounds. Bring a stress ball to squeeze or something to fiddle with if you tend to have overactive hands when you’re nervous. Maybe find a dentist with a television in the treatment room. Find the thing that will capture your attention, and make sure you have it with you.

Cognitive Techniques: Prior to your appointment, try visualization techniques to imagine yourself getting through the appointment successfully and without fear. Use cognitive restructuring (consciously identifying negative thought patterns, then rationally disputing them and reimagining them as positive ones) and optimism to buoy yourself up before you even walk through the door. These mental exercises take practice and determination, but can be life savers.

Bring a buddy: There’s safety in numbers. Have someone you trust come with you, especially on that first visit – the safer you feel, the easier it will be to face your fear.

Pharmacological Solutions: We will always recommend trying a natural approach first. If it’s something that can be conquered mentally, that is a far better option than a chemical one. Unfortunately sometimes it’s just not possible, and when that’s the case there are alternatives. Anti-anxiety medication, anesthesia and even full sedation are all utilized by dentists to promote the level of relaxation necessary to complete the procedure. If you get to this point, talk to your dentist about potential side effects and which course of treatment is right for you.

If none of the above tips work, or if even starting down that road is too much to bear, you may need to see your psychologist before you find a dentist. Whichever professional you see first, do whatever you can to take that first step! It’s the best thing you can do, for all aspects of your health.

Toothache? It May Not be Your Teeth at All

July 1st, 2013

We see it pretty frequently in our office. A patient will come in with pain and pressure in the upper back molars, with no positive response to our diagnostic tests - no dental reason whatsoever for this problem. When that happens, our minds jump to one likely culprit -  the sinuses.

It may sound odd, but the relationship actually makes perfect sense. Like fingerprints, everyone's sinuses- mucous-lined, air-filled spaces in the skull - are a bit different, but there are overarching similarities. You likely have four sets of paranasal sinuses:

  • two frontal sinuses in the forehead above your eyes
  • two maxillary sinuses - one inside each cheek bone
  • a group of cavities known as ethmoid sinuses that live behind the bridge of the nose
  • sphenoid sinuses, located behind the nose underneath the brain

The sinuses serve a number of functions, including insulating the eyes and dental roots from temperature fluctuations, humidifying inhaled air and providing immunological defense. When infection, allergies or autoimmune conditions cause severe inflammation of the sinuses, you get sinusitis, and that's where the dental problems can set in.

The maxillary sinuses sit right above the upper teeth. As the expand due to inflammation, they have nowhere to go but down, pressing up against the roots of your teerth and causing the pressure and pain that might lead you to the dentist. This will often be diffuse pain, hard to localize to one tooth. In fact, if you are missing teeth, sinuses will often continue to pneumatize (their natural process of expansion during development) into the vacancy. When this happens it becomes necessary to surgically lift the sinus to make room for dental implants.

The resulting tooth ache won't be your only hint that you've got sinusitis. Congestion, headaches, swelling, mucus discharge and fever are all potential symptoms. Home remedies such as applying moist heat to the face, keeping a humidifer running, taking decongestants and using saltwater nasal washes can all help. In many cases however, especially when dealing with a bacterial infection, you may need to see your doctor and take a course of antibiotics or other medication.

No question, when you've got a toothache, go see your dentist. But in the absence of a diagnosed problem with your teeth, consider visiting your ENT - this pain may be a sinus issue!

The Bane That is the Canker Sore… Can Anything be Done?

June 1st, 2013

The Symptoms:

Chances are we’ve all had canker sores (or to get technical, aphthous stomatitis). These annoyances present as painful sores inside the mouth, including the tongue, soft palate and inside of the cheek. You may notice a tingling or burning sensation just prior to their development, and once there you’ll notice round white or gray lesions with a bright red border. Severe cases may even result in fever, physical lethargy and swollen lymph nodes – basically all the classic signs your body is fighting something more substantial.

Important to note: canker sores will NOT appear on the outside of your mouth – these are most likely cold sores. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are extremely contagious and caused by a viral infection, so if you think that may be the issue, consult your physician immediately.

The Cause:

Sadly no one knows for sure - it’s a mystery for the ages, this one. Factors that may exacerbate canker sores or increase their frequency include stress, smoking, or injury to the tissue. Certain foods – especially acidic foods like citrus fruits, figs and tomatoes – may also be triggers.

More complex cases of canker sores are thought to be linked to underlying health issues, such as nutritional deficiencies, an impaired immune system, and gastrointestinal diseases like Celiac’s or Crohn’s. Studies have been published by the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology and Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine that have linked low levels of vitamin B12, folate and iron to the incidence of canker sores, though these proved a correlation more than an explicit cause and effect.

The Cure:

As you might have guessed, it’s hard to pinpoint a cure for something that doesn’t have a definite cause. Thankfully, these little pests usually clear up sans aid within a week, and the pain subsides after a few days.

For larger, more persistent sores, your dentist can prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse, corticosteroid ointment or other medication to lessen the symptoms. Our office has had particularly good luck using Debacterol®, a topical liquid agent designed specifically for the controlled debridement of such ulcerating lesions. It can be applied in office or written as a prescription for home use. Many pharmacies aren’t great at keeping Debacterol® in stock, so your dental office may be the best source for this remedy.

Some tricks that are thought to help lessen their duration and/or prevent their occurrence:

  • Avoid irritating foods – citrus, acidic vegetables, spicy foods
  • Avoid irritation caused by gum chewing
  • Eat foods high in vitamin B12, folate, iron (most meats, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans, etc.)
  • Brushing after meals with a SOFT bristled brush
  • Flossing daily

Though there is no cure, hopefully these tips help keep the issue at bay. As with any condition, if you suffer from canker sores that persist longer than a couple of weeks or have symptoms that significantly worsen, talk to your doctor or dentist immediately!

Hmm, They’re Not Supposed to be That Color…

May 3rd, 2013

A Guide to Things that Stain Your Teeth

We’ve talked on our blog before about ways to whiten your teeth, but how we get stains in the first place is equally important. It will come as no surprise: we dental professionals consider prevention key! Knowing what to avoid is half the battle. So what are the main culprits behind those unattractive stains? Let’s break it down by category.

Deep Colors: Chocolate, wine, coffee, tea, berries… even soy sauce and some curries can stain the teeth. In short, if you’d freak over it spilling on your white shirt, it’s probably not great for your pearly whites. A lot of foods that fall into this category are really good for you, so we’re not recommending abstinence here. In addition to the tips above, mixing in crunchy fruits and veggies can help cleanse the teeth, and chewing sugar-free or xylitol gum can stimulate saliva flow and keep everything fresh.

Poor Dental Hygiene: Without proper home care, bacteria and stains build, plaque forms and hardens, and the teeth begin to appear discolored. Flossing daily, brushing and using mouth rinse twice a day and keeping up with your dental visits can keep this at bay – neglecting this routine threatens not only your health but the whiteness of your smile.

Acids: We’ve come down on acidic foods before, namely because they erode your enamel and put the health of your teeth at risk. This same erosion makes them guilty of tooth discoloration – thinner enamel reveals the yellow-brown dentin underneath, giving teeth a yellowish cast. Limiting your consumption of acidic drinks and foods – alcohol, citrus, sports drinks and sodas to name a few – not only helps your oral health but keeps everything looking pretty. When you indulge, keep the amount of time the acid sits on your teeth to a minimum – consume quickly, use a straw and rinse with water.

Tobacco: We don’t even really need to go into detail here, do we? If tobacco can stain your fingers it will certainly stain your teeth. And make you cough. And give you bad breath. And encourage serious decay and disease. Just… just don’t.

Sweets and Starches: This is another favorite for us dental professionals to pick on. The common denominator here is sugar – when it sits there too long it softens the enamel and encourages the development of plaque, diminishing the natural whiteness of the teeth. Same rules apply here as when dealing with acidic foods, and don’t forget to floss!

These of course are the things we can control. Other factors can play a role, such as genetics, certain types of diseases and some medications. If you’ve made all the adjustments you can and you’re still unhappy with the color of your teeth, talk to your dentist about your options!

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What AREN’T Your Smartphones Good For?

April 1st, 2013

A great new application to promote good oral hygiene in children

Seriously, these things tackle every topic. It’s been proven time and again. The latest from United Concordia – available on Android and iPhone – is called “Chomper Chums,” a playful app designed to encourage proper brushing and flossing habits in youngsters.

United Concordia Dental listened to the advice of its members on how to teach kids about brushing to create an interactive, educational experience. The result is three animal characters – a lion, a horse and an alligator – that lead children through the steps of a successful oral healthcare home routine.

The mouths of their chosen animal are animated with “sugar bugs,” which children follow into every quadrant as they brush and floss, ensuring that no area has been missed. A timer is included to help kids know when they’ve hit their two minute brushing goal – the golden rule for getting rid of all that bacteria! There is even animation that mimics the swooshing as children rinse at the end.

Correct brushing and flossing earns the children coins, which can be used to purchase food for their animal. By relating healthy food purchases to the health of their animal buddies, this app has an added bonus of encouraging better diet choices for the kids themselves.

Does your little one need help brushing, or are you just interested in making the time more fun? Check this out:

https://secure.ucci.com/ducdws/individual.xhtml?content=individual-chomper-chums

“Do I Really Need to Take Those?” The Debate on X-Rays

March 1st, 2013

Short answer:  Yes, you do. And it’s important you know why. So let’s take a look at what dental x-rays entail and why they’re critical to your oral health.

Digital dental x-rays, the choice of our office and the popular choice among dentists today, use a very small amount of electromagnetic radiation to capture an image of your teeth and their surrounding structures. The sensor will penetrate each part of the tooth, tissue and bone differently. Denser areas– such as amalgam fillings and other restorations – will block most of the photons and appear white, while teeth and tissue will show in shades of gray. Tooth decay will appear darker than the surrounding area due to its decreased density.

These images (radiographs) are the ONLY way a dentist can diagnose certain problems, including: cavities between the teeth, bone infections, types of benign and malignant tumors, bone loss and impacted wisdom teeth. Without them, your provider is limited in the care he/she can provide, and may miss catching a problem early enough for it to be successfully treated.

There are many types of x-rays, each with a different purpose and recommended frequency. This will vary depending on the patient and the situation, but generally, the ones we like to have for our patients are:

  • Panoramic x-ray: This image gives us a good view of all the soft and hard tissue of your oral cavity. It is the primary way a dentist can assess any potential bone loss and the health of your wisdom teeth. We like to update this x-ray every 5 years.
  • Bitewing x-rays: These are cavity detection x-rays that allow the doctors to see in between your back teeth, one of the most common spots for cavities to develop. We like to get a set of these every year, and they're comprised of a quick 2 images on each side.
  • Periapical x-ray: Sometimes, the doctor just needs a focused image of a single or few teeth, whether because they see something suspicious or because the patient is experiencing discomfort. This single shot gives them a clear view of the tooth from root to tip.

Three primary concerns leap to mind when considering why some people are so adverse to x-rays:

I don’t have time!

Taking digital x-rays adds, at most, 5 minutes to any given appointment, making them a quick and invaluable part of your examination.

They are too uncomfortable!

A lot of this fear stems from memories of the extremely uncomfortable full mouth x-rays of old, which used 18 separate films to get a complete picture of your teeth. New technology means no more uncomfortable film, smaller sensors and faster image capture. It’s painless, we promise!

I don’t want all that radiation!

This is by far the most frequent complaint we hear, and the biggest myth in need of dispelling. Especially given the advent of digital x-rays, radiation exposure involved is minimal. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that the average person is exposed to roughly 620 millirem per year, which has been judged to be perfectly safe for humans and of which half comes from natural sources. In contrast, a single digital dental x-ray is about 0.1 millirem. To put that in context, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements pegs the occupational radiation exposure limit at a whopping 5000 millirem per year, or around 5000 times what you’d get from a set of yearly x-rays. It’s about the equivalent of exposure from a cross country flight, and a completely worthwhile cost to ensure your oral and systemic health.

Hopefully this helps to show that avoiding x-rays, unless pregnant or under a doctor’s instruction, is quite unnecessary. Find a dentist you trust, and then trust them. :) They will tell you what they need to take the best care of your oral and general health.

Dry Mouth: It’s Not Just Annoying

February 4th, 2013

We’ve all been parched on occasion, and know how little fun it can be. However, in those for whom it happens chronically, Dry Mouth may be an actual condition in need of treatment, known medically as Xerostomia. About 15 – 20% of adults in their twenties complain of dry mouth, and that frequency just increases with age - to roughly 30 – 40% of people age 60 and older. So what can cause Dry Mouth, and what can we do to combat it?

Xerostomia results from a lack of adequate saliva production, which can be caused by many factors. It can be a side effect of many medications and medical treatments or a product of dehydration or lifestyle indicators such as smoking and breathing through your mouth. Dry mouth can even be an indication of certain diseases and infections, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and mumps.

No matter the cause, the symptoms need to be addressed. Symptoms can include:

  • a sticky, dry or burning feeling in the mouth
  • dry throat
  • cracked lips
  • a dry, rough tongue
  • bad breath
  • mouth sores

Unchecked Xerostomia can lead to difficulties chewing, tasting, swallowing and speaking. It increases your chance of developing dental decay and mouth infections, as saliva is not present in sufficient supply to help wash away food particles and limit bacterial growth. Additionally, a lack of saliva may affect proper digestion.

So what can we do? Treatment depends largely on what’s causing the condition. If it’s a by-product of a medication or medical treatment, discussing alternatives with your doctor may be all it takes to resolve the issue. In many cases, however, it is not possible to fully correct Xerostomia, and controlling it is our best and only bet. Things to try on your own to stimulate and maintain saliva production:

  • Sipping water and other sugarless drinks frequently
  • Sucking on sugarless candy or chewing sugarless gum- especially products with Xylitol
  • Using a humidifier at night
  • Avoiding drying agents - caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, spicy and salty foods, sodas, etc
  • Breathing through your nose as much as possible

In some cases, your doctor may recommend a prescription mouth rinse, drug or saliva substitute to combat the symptoms. When in doubt, check with your dentist or physician to get the combination of treatment that’s right for you!

Pregnancy Gingivitis: Why it Happens, and What You Can Do

January 4th, 2013

As if pregnant women didn’t have enough to contend with; apparently no system in the body is off limits when carrying a little one, including the gums. Pregnancy gingivitis is surprisingly common – 50 to 70 percent of women are likely to develop the condition between their second and eighth month.

The culprits here, as with most changes during pregnancy, are hormones and increased blood flow. Progressively greater concentrations of estrogen and progesterone in the body combine with an increase in blood and fluid retention to do a number of things. They make the gums more sensitive, increase inflammation and encourage the production of bacteria that leads to gingivitis. All of a sudden, moms-to-be aren’t just dealing with an increased levels of bacteria-caused plaque, but a hyper-sensitive mouth that doesn’t lend itself to maintaining proper oral hygiene. As plaque builds up, the health of the gums decline, and the result is gingivitis – which left untreated over a long period can turn into the more serious condition periodontitis.

Pregnancy gingivitis isn’t just a concern for one’s oral and systemic health. If left unchecked, it can mean bad things for baby as well. A number of major studies have shown a link between gum disease and premature birth. Bacteria attacking the gums can also enter the bloodstream, and therefore travel all the way to the uterus. The body’s natural response to the presence of these bacteria is to produce prostaglandins, the fatty acid that normally controls inflammation and smooth muscle contraction.

However, in pregnant women, prostaglandins increase and peak during labor. It is possible that, if extra prostaglandins are produced to fight gum disease, it will trigger the body to induce labor and result in premature delivery.One study in The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that pregnant women with chronic gum disease were up to seven times more likely to give birth before week 37 than those with healthy gums, and in the most severe cases, as early as 32 weeks.

Signs of pregnancy gingivitis range from redder gums with slight bleeding during brushing to severe swelling and bleeding of gum tissue with little provocation. In some cases a pregnancy tumor, also called a pyogenic granuloma, may even develop (don’t let the name scare you, these are completely benign). This is where areas of intense inflammation have resulted in a growth on the gum tissue that bleeds easily and can inhibit normal eating and speaking. If gingivitis was already a concern prior to becoming pregnant, these symptoms are even more likely to develop.

Though this may seem a bit terrifying, pregnancy gingivitis is often minor and disappears after the pregnancy is over. Being proactive in your oral health care is essential to prevention and treatment. Brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouth rinse twice daily are musts. In addition, make sure you keep up with your dental cleanings – at least two over the course of your pregnancy is a good goal. Perhaps most important, talk to your dentist at the first sign that something is not right. Prevention and early treatment can mean the world to you and your little one!

The History of the Toothbrush

December 1st, 2012

Such a small thing, but they’re so important. And so many uses – we’ve seen toothbrushes clean teeth, scrub grout, even save space stations! So we thought it’d be fun to take a quick look at the history of this useful little guy.

Archaeological excavations have uncovered a variety of materials used in oral hygiene from before recorded history: tree twigs, bird feathers and porcupine quills to name a few. There are cultures that continue along these ancient traditions today: the Miswak, for instance, is a popular choice of twig in Muslim inhabited countries, and Neem twigs are quite common in India and surrounding areas.

The bristled toothbrush that we know and love is thought to have begun in China during the Tang Dynasty (619 – 607 BCE) and was comprised of hog bristles. There is evidence, however, from archeological digs that place bristled toothbrushes in Africa as early as 1600 BCE. From there our timeline gets a little more specific:

1223 – Japanese Zen master Dōgen Kigen recorded seeing Chinese monks clean their teeth using horse hair brushes with ox-bone handles.

17th c. – Europe adopts use of the toothbrush as a result of brushes being brought back from China by travelers.

1690 – The autobiography of Anthony Wood contains the earliest identified use of the word toothbrush.

1770 – William Addis of England jailed for starting a riot; begins searching for alternatives to the currently accepted prison practice of rubbing a rag with soot and salt on the teeth to clean them.

1780 – William Addis founds a company and begins mass-producing his version of the bristled toothbrush – as of mid-2012, they were still producing under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes.

1840 – Toothbrushes are now being mass-produced in England, France, Germany and Japan, with pig bristle seen on cheaper toothbrushes and badger hair on the higher end models.

1857 – H.N. Wadsworth acquired the first toothbrush patent (US Patent No. 18,653) in the United States.

1885 - The United States sees its first mass production of tooth brushes.

1900s – Celluloid handles gradually replace bone.

1938 - Dupont de Nemours manufactures the first nylon bristle toothbrushes.

1945 – The end of World War II and the return of soldiers, who had to brush their teeth daily, finally introduces tooth-brushing as a routine for families in the U.S.

1954 – The Broxodent, the first electric toothbrush, is invented in Switzerland.

1980s – Johnson & Johnson releases the “Reach” toothbrush, the first toothbrush designed especially to increase effectiveness. Other manufacturers soon followed with more effective models of their own.

2003 - Lemelson-MIT Invention Index lists the toothbrush as the number one invention Americans could not live without.

Whatever model – of the hundreds now available – you choose, there’s no denying the importance of this nifty little contraption. Now that you’re a toothbrush history buff, stop by our oral hygiene home care blog for tips on how to best make use of one!

Food for Oral Health: Five Foods to Avoid and Their Teeth-Friendly Alternatives

November 2nd, 2012

It stands to reason: your teeth are critical to the ingestion of food, so why wouldn’t food be critical to the health of your teeth? Just like with the rest of your body, the food you consume can have positive or negative affects on your oral health. Here we’ll take five foods that are best avoided and give you some healthier alternatives.

The bad: Gum with sugar
Gum in itself can be a great habit. It loosens food that gets stuck in teeth and helps stimulate saliva production, serving to clear the mouth of bacteria and acting as a buffer for acid that may be eroding teeth. However, when sugar is present in the gum, these effects are essentially negated. Sugar is left to sit on the teeth, which - as discussed in 5 Habits Your Dentist Wants You to Break - causes decay, leading to cavities and other serious oral health problems.

The good: Xylitol Gum
Not only is this gum free of the sugars often added to food products, but it’s sweetened with Xylitol, a natural sugar extracted from a variety of plants. Xylitol works specifically against mutans streptococci, a bacterium responsible for tooth decay. It effectively starves bacteria, reducing their growth and allowing the teeth to remineralize with less interruption. In short, it’s a sugar your mouth can feel good about!

The bad: Bottled water
This one is pretty straightforward. Dental professionals by and large recommend a trinity of fluoride treatments to keep teeth healthy: brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, get regular dental cleanings that include a fluoride application, and consume fluoridated water. Most bottled waters use filtration and processing methods that remove all traces of this natural mineral, and a low intake of fluoride can result in weakened enamel and increased tooth decay.

The good: Tap water
Fortunately, if you’re in an area with a public water system, chances are very good that you have fluoridated tap water to help keep your teeth protected and strong. If your local water doesn’t have the recommended amount of fluoride, look into bottled waters that add the mineral or fluoride tablets to add to your drinking water. The level you’re looking for is 0.7–1.2 ppm (.7 – 1.2 mg per liter).

The bad: Starch-heavy foods
It’s easy to spot the sugar in sweets and sodas, but we’re often not as quick to associate this cavity-causing ingredient with the savory items on the menu. Items like bread, potatoes and pasta, which contain a lot of starch, begin converting almost instantly to sugar when consumed, broken down both by bacteria in our mouths and pre-digestive enzymes in our saliva. Additionally, these foods raise acidity levels in the mouth and can easily get caught in between teeth, leaving more for bacteria to feast upon.

The good: Nuts
Excellent sources of fat and protein – not to mention a nice, filling snack – nuts are a great option for your oral health. Peanuts and almonds will provide a calcium boost, cashews are great for stimulating saliva and helping to clean teeth, and walnuts pack a powerful combination of vitamins and minerals (iron, thiamine, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and zinc to name some).

The bad: Citrus Fruits
Oranges, lemons, grapefruits – while they’re providing you that much needed Vitamin C, they’re also giving you quite the dose of citric acid. This acid is powerful enough to have become a popular cleaning agent, so imagine what it can do when left on your teeth! To avoid enamel erosion and the other ills of acid exposure, rein in your citrus consumption. When you do indulge, eat quickly and rinse with water afterward.

The good: Cucumbers and Crunchy Veggies
Instead of a citrus snack, consider trading up for crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery and cucumbers. High-fiber raw vegetables are natural scrubbers for your teeth, helping to remove buildup while you eat. Veggies with high water content will also help to neutralize acid in your mouth and lessen its negative effects. Above and beyond these benefits, cucumbers are particularly good for your oral health. They help fight diseases of the teeth and gums, and are especially helpful for people with periodontitis.

The bad: Gatorade
By now we’re well versed in the evils of sugar and acid on the teeth, and know them to be present in sodas, juices, energy drinks and the like. Gatorade definitely falls into this category, but what’s more troubling is that studies have shown Gatorade to erode enamel even faster than some of its counterparts. While these studies are certainly not conclusive that Gatorade is worse, it’s pretty clear that it’s no better. If you’re an athlete using Gatorade as replenishment, you may want to check out coconut water instead – an all-natural beverage that’s been shown to effectively re-hydrate after exercise (but be careful! Keep coconut water consumption to only after intense activity).

The good: Milk
If Gatorade is just another beverage for you, and not needed to restore electrolyte levels, try switching things up with a glass of milk. The calcium and phosphates present (not to mention Vitamin D in enriched milk) strengthen teeth and the surrounding bone structure. The casein, whey proteins, enzymes and antibodies in milk all have strong antibacterial properties, which aid in cavity prevention. If you’re lactose intolerant, consider a dairy-free alternative of enriched almond milk, fortified with many of the vitamins and minerals that make traditional milk so great.

Breaking Down the Stains: A Guide to Whitening

August 29th, 2012

We all want a bright white, healthy smile, and there are a multitude of products on the market to help us get there. But what works best and how do they get the job done? Here are some things to know before choosing your whitening option:

How Whitening Works
All whitening products use Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) in some form, be it pure or in a less broken down state known as Carbamide Peroxide, to achieve their goal. This oxides the molecules that help to form stains under the surface of your enamel. The stronger the concentration of H2O2, the faster your teeth will whiten.

Not everything will whiten equally. We typically see the best results on yellow/brown extrinsic staining. This kind of staining works from the outside in, and usually comes from things like smoking, red wine, and coffee. Intrinsic stains and gray staining tend to be less receptive to whitening. Also immune are any restorations your dentist has performed. Whatever color those fillings are, that’s where they’ll stay!

Side Effects
Whitening is completely safe! The only real risks associated with the use of these products are teeth sensitivity and gingival irritation, which should cease upon discontinuation of use. If you’ve experienced sensitivity in the past, it’s a good idea to begin using sensitivity toothpaste (we like Sensodyne) 1-2 weeks before you begin using your whitening product. Varying the duration and frequency of treatment, while often resulting in a longer whitening process, can also help keep sensitivity at bay.

Whitening Options

  • Over the Counter (OTC) products – Whitening strips can easily be found in most grocery and drug stores. There are a wide variety of options to accommodate the duration and frequency you’re looking for. If your teeth are sensitive, there are “gentle” options to be had (~ 6% H2O2 in the Crest 3D Gentle Routine strips), but most strips you buy OTC will be in the 10% range. OTC white strips are cheaper than other options to start, but we find people often need multiple boxes to achieve the desired effect, and the generic fit of an OTC product can lead to a less than ideal result.
  • Custom Whitening – Some dental offices (including ours) can create custom fit whitening trays and provide you whitening gel to use at home. The major benefits here are the precise fit, allowing the gel to stay exactly where it needs to be, and the reusability of the trays. At our office, we use gel in the 7.5 – 9.5% H2O2 range. Both are good for long term bleaching, with the lower percentage offering an option to those who experience sensitivity. Once made, you can keep and reuse your trays for years, provided nothing major changes with your teeth or bite.
  • In-Office Whitening – This is definitely the fastest, and usually the most expensive, option out there. Contrary to the claims of some systems, lights and lasers have not been shown to make ANY difference in actual whitening. Their main purpose is to dehydrate the teeth, giving an immediate appearance of whiter teeth that fades as the teeth re-hydrate within a few hours. The main active ingredient in this kind of whitening is the concentration of H2O2.Our in-house system, Opalescence Boost, contains 40% H2O2. The effect here is distinctly more immediate and noticeable, but tends to fade much faster than gentle, longer-term methods that can slowly attack the stains. We recommend this route only when someone needs a quick fix for a special occasion.

Whether you’re unsure of which option to choose or just not sure that whitening will work for you, talk to your dentist! They’ll be able to guide you towards the whitening option that will provide the best fit.

5 Habits Your Dentist Wants You to Break

July 31st, 2012

Anyone who sees a dentist regularly knows the oral home care spiel. Brush twice daily, use an antiseptic mouth rinse, and don’t forget to floss! What you may not take away as readily from these visits are everyday habits that your dentist would LOVE to see you break. There are a number of daily activities, which, if limited or quit altogether, would result in a healthier, happier smile. Let’s examine our practice’s top 5:

Smoking  
This one should come as no surprise; for years we’ve heard nothing but the evils of smoking from doctors, dentists, surgeons general, and the media. But let’s look at exactly how this affects your teeth.

In addition to the more aesthetic issues of yellowed teeth and bad breath, smoking can lead to serious oral health problems. To begin, it dramatically increases plaque and tartar build up, making it much harder to keep your teeth clean in between dental visits. Even more critical, smoking has been shown to affect normal gum tissue function. It loosens the attachment of your gums and bone to the teeth and inflames the tissue, making you more susceptible to infections like periodontal disease and decreasing your body’s ability to heal itself. Smoking also puts you at a dramatically increased risk of developing oral cancer.

Sugary, Acidic Beverages  
It’s not just soda we’re dealing with here – coffee, black tea, juices and energy drinks all have their downfalls. And it’s not just the sugar – though that’s a large part of it. An over-abundance of sugar, allowed to sit in the mouth after consumption, will decay the teeth and form cavities. Left unchecked, these cavities could take over the entire tooth, eventually requiring a crown or even extraction.

We also need to be aware of the acid in these drinks. Beverages with high levels essentially bathe your mouth in acid, which when left there can erode enamel and begin disintegrating your teeth. Juices, coffee, tea and soda all contain acids that can have this effect. Energy drinks may be among the worst, as many of them add citric acid to their product. Be sure to check those labels before imbibing.

Our tips if you decide to indulge in these beverages? Drink quickly. Sipping over a long period of time just gives the liquid more time to sit on your teeth. Use a straw whenever possible. And rinse with water when you’re done!

Grinding/Clenching 
This habit can be tricky; you may not even know you’re doing it. Grinding and clenching, known as bruxism, often happens during sleep, so if your loved one hasn’t clued you in to the sounds of you grinding in the night, you may have no idea it’s happening. Tell tale signs include dull, regular headaches, jaw pain, facial soreness and generalized tooth sensitivity. Grinding may occur due to heavy amounts of stress, an abnormal bite, or crooked/missing teeth.

Bruxism should not be left untreated. Chronic grinding can result in tooth fractures or bone loss. It’s possible to wear your teeth down to stumps if no treatment is sought, necessitating crowns, implants, and possibly full dentures to correct.

The primary method to treat bruxism is having your dentist fit you with a mouth guard. This will protect your teeth from grinding in your sleep. Additionally, there are things you can do on your own to help prevent grinding. Avoid alcohol and coffee if you can; these are known to make the problem worse. When you notice clenching or grinding during the day, place the tip of your tongue between your front teeth. This position helps train your jaw to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth to the hinge of your jaw (on your cheek in front of your ear lobe) to help relax those tight muscles.

Chewing Ice, Pens, Fingernails…    
The key concept here is chewing things that aren’t food. Hard objects like ice, pens, pencils, etc., chip away at your enamel and can ultimately result in larger chips on your tooth. Nail biting, since the teeth often come down hard against each other in the process, has a similar effect. Such habits can also cause the teeth to shift, leading to more serious problems down the road. Not to mention the foreign bacteria you’re introducing to your mouth by chomping on such objects… our mouths have enough bacteria to fight on their own! Aside from the dental concerns, these habits can be signs of larger issues. They may be symptoms of a compulsive disorder, or in the case of craving ice, may be a sign of anemia. If this habit feels like something you can’t control, talk to a healthcare professional.

Brushing too Hard  
This is a difficult one for dental professionals. We love to see you brushing your teeth and want to do everything to encourage it. However, brushing too hard can sometimes do as much damage as not brushing at all! When you brush too aggressively, it wears down your tooth structure faster than normal and can exacerbate gum recession. Not only does this increase tooth sensitivity, but gum recession can lead to exposed roots and loose teeth, and may eventually require surgery. So take it easy! See our blog on oral hygiene for a breakdown on how to brush safely and effectively.

So what’s your takeaway? We all have habits we need to break, some more urgently than others. Try your best and see your dentist; they’ll help keep you on the right track.

Oral Health and Overall Health: A Proven Connection

June 29th, 2012

The concept that oral health and systemic health have a direct connection is certainly not novel.  For years researchers have been studying the link between the two, and it seems every day we learn something new that further solidifies the relationship. Yet this fundamental symbiosis seems slow to work its way into the larger public perception. So what are the basics of this link between your mouth and the rest of your body?

The bacteria found in your mouth can be seen as a gateway to the rest of your system. When kept in balance by good oral hygiene, and not affected by other disease, this bacterium is usually healthy and doing exactly what it should be. When poor oral hygiene and other factors lead to periodontal disease, bone loss or tooth loss, the opportunities for harmful bacteria to enter your system increase substantially. Periodontal disease is often the first sign of systemic problems, and will always exacerbate existing conditions. Periodontitis has a direct reciprocal link to the following health problems, among others:

  • Cardiovascular Disease – Research tells us that people with periodontal disease are at significantly higher risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke. Bacteria from oral infections travel to other systems via the blood stream, resulting in injury and inflammation of the blood vessels. This can lead to the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques and the lessening of available blood flow to the heart.
  • Pregnancy Complications – Studies have found that mothers suffering from periodontal disease during pregnancy are up to 7 times more likely to give birth prematurely to underweight babies. This may be the fault of toxins present due to periodontal bacteria affecting the fetus, as well as responses by the maternal immune system to the presence of oral infection.
  • Diabetes – High blood sugar levels, as well as high levels of sugar in saliva, are common in people with poorly controlled diabetes. This leads to a dramatically increased risk of caries and periodontal disease. Conversely, research shows that people with periodontal disease have greater difficulty controlling their blood sugar level, and that severe periodontal disease may even cause diabetes in patients who have not been previously diagnosed.
  • General Nutrition – On the most basic level, problems in our mouth, especially those that cause us pain, can lead to a reduced or compromised nutrient intake, leading to worsened overall health. Similarly, if our nutritional intake is less than ideal, our oral health suffers, and this can lead to caries, periodontal disease and other dental concerns.

Being aware of the problems that can occur due to an imbalance in the oral health-systemic health relationship isn’t enough. It’s also important to note the preventative benefits of recognizing this connection. Diseases will often manifest in the mouth first, and allowing your dentist a vital first look into what may be going on can save you valuable time. Periodic oral examinations can detect early signs of many diseases, including Osteoporosis, oral cancer, eating disorders such as Anorexia, and even HIV.

So what can you do to support the healthy dynamic between oral and general health? No doubt about it, it’s a two way street. Good oral hygiene, including routine brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, are critical. So too are a balanced diet, exercise and routine check-ups with your physician. Above all don’t forget: no part of our body or mouth can afford to be ignored!

A Guide to Oral Hygiene Homecare

May 31st, 2012

There are three essential components to great oral hygiene care at home. To begin, let's examine brushing:

Proper brushing takes at least two minutes - that's right, 120 seconds! Ideally we want to see patients brushing twice daily. To properly brush your teeth, use short, gentle strokes. Pay extra attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach back teeth, and areas around fillings, crowns or other restorations. Use a toothbrush with soft or extra soft bristles that will not be harsh on the gum tissues.

  • Place bristles along the gum line at a 45-degree angle.
  • Brush using a short, vibrating roll/stroke motion away from the gums on the outside surfaces, and along all the inner tooth surfaces as well.
  • Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Make several up & down motions using the front half of the brush.
  • Place the brush on the chewing surfaces of the teeth and use a gentle back & forth motion. Brush the tongue from back to front to remove odor-producing bacteria or use a tongue scraper.
  • Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. A toothbrush with worn, split, uneven or toothpaste-clogged bristles can't clean your teeth effectively and may even harm your gums. If you experience a significant illness or infection, we recommend replacing your brush as well.

And let's not forget flossing:

Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach - under the gum line and between your teeth. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended.

  • Wrap 18" of floss around your middle fingers, leaving an inch or two to work with.
  • Gently follow the curves of your teeth.
  • Be sure to clean beneath the gum line, but avoid snapping the floss onto the gums!

Finally, let's wrap it up with rinsing: Mouth rinse is recommended in addition to regular brushing and flossing. Antiseptic and Fluoride rinses both play an important role in your oral health. Antiseptic rinse is used to improve gum health by killing a variety of germs that form plaque and cause gingivitis and bad breath. Listerine is a popular brand of antiseptic rinse and should be used 2x a day. Fluoride rinse is used to strengthen and protect the teeth. The flouride strengthens the enamel through a process called remineralization. ACT is a popular brand of flouride rinse and should be 1x a day for patients who have a history of cavities.

3 Things Everyone Should Know About Their Dental Insurance

April 3rd, 2012

1) There are MANY different types of policies out there!
There are a lot of options when it comes to Dental Insurance, and what type of policy you or your employer has chosen will affect where you can go and whom you can see. The most common types of dental insurance are:

DHMO (Dental Health Management Organization):This type of policy requires you to stay within your insurance carrier’s contracted network of dentists. While often the most affordable, it is also the most limiting of the different policy types.

PPO (Preferred Provider Organization):There are two types of PPOs. Overwhelmingly popular is the variety that allows the patient to see doctors in or out of network with set percentages for each type of provider. There also exist PPO policies that require you to stay inside their network of doctors, though this is less common.

Fee for Service: Often known as Dental Indemnity of Direct Reimbursement plans, this type of plan allows the patient to go in or out of network and pay a specific percentage for each procedure regardless.

Of the above, the Dental PPO is probably the most prevalent. Let’s take a look at what that typically comprises (you’ll see a lot of similarities in break-down here with DHMO and Fee for Service plans).

2) How a Dental PPO policy typically breaks down:
While every policy is different, there are some over-arching similarities in PPO dental insurance policies. Insurance companies will almost always break your coverage down into four major categories:

Preventative: This will include services like cleanings, exams and often xrays.

Basic: You usually see fillings, root canals and periodontal work (dealing with your gums and bone) in this category.

Major: Crowns, bridges, dentures and other extensive work appear here.

Orthodontics: Insurance carriers may add orthodontic coverage to their policies, though often when they do it is limited to children. This varies WIDELY, so if it’s something you are interested in pursuing, make sure to call your carrier and check what benefits you have!

Each category will be covered at a different percentage by your policy, and may or may not be subject to a deductible. While this varies quite a bit from plan to plan, a typical policy will have:

Preventative:           80 – 100%, deductible does not apply

Basic:                            60 – 80%, deductible applies

Major:                           40 – 60%, deductible applies

A typical deductible will be between $25 and $100, with an annual maximum benefit of $1000 – $2000.

There are a few other key features of dental insurance that are worth noting when choosing a policy or examining your existing one. They are:

Waiting Periods: Some policies will institute waiting periods, either as a general rule or due to late entry to an existing group policy. These are typically in the 6 - 12 month range and usually only apply to basic or major services.

The Missing Tooth Clause:  Plans will either provide benefits for teeth you’ve lost before you had the policy or not. This is called the missing tooth clause. Some plans will put one in effect for only the first year or two that your coverage is in effect, creating a specific kind of waiting period.

Preventive Frequencies: Most plans will limit the number of times you can get preventative services within your benefit year (which may be different from a calendar year!). Typically you’ll see cleanings and exams allowed either twice a year or once every 6 months. These are not the same! One allows the cleanings to be anywhere in the year where the other dictates how far apart they must be. You’ll see a similar situation with xrays, which may need to be separated by anywhere from 1 to 5 years depending on the type. Make sure you and your dentist are paying attention to when these services are performed to get the most out of your benefits!

3) You may have Out of Network Benefits you’re not using!
A lot of people think that the benefits they have only work for them if they stay in network. Not necessarily true! What we see in our office most often is out of network benefits that equally match in network for preventative services, and match or cost only 5 – 10% more for more serious work. Many times the only difference comes in how the insurance companies determine their allowable charge (what they’ll pay for each procedure). When going in-network, allowable charges are based on contracted rates determined by the insurance company. When outside of the network, these charges are based on the Usual, Customary and Reasonable fee (UCR) for the geographical area you are receiving service in. If your dentist bases their charges similarly on what is common in the area, you may see very little difference in these out of network rates.

If you have a fee for service or PPO policy and the dentist you want to see is not in your network, all is not lost. Check with your dentist or with your insurance company directly for the lowdown on what your plan offers; you may have more benefits than you think!

The Skinny on Brushing

March 1st, 2012

What to Do and How Often to Do It

Research shows that, above all else, TIMING is key when it comes to brushing. Ideally you should brush at least two times a day, for 2 MINUTES at a time. Most adults don't come close to brushing that long. One good trick for getting your time in appropriately is to use a stopwatch, focusing for 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth (upper left, lower left, lower right, upper right). To take the guess work out of it, you can always invest in an electric toothbrush, many of which are timed to lead you through a proper brushing experience.

Now of course, timing isn't EVERYTHING. Technique is also critical in maintaining excellent oral health. You want to use short, gentle strokes and pay extra attention to your gum line, keeping the bristles at a 45-degree angle to your teeth. Make sure to hit the outer, inner and top surfaces of each tooth, focusing on two to three teeth at a time. To help keep breath fresh, don't forget to brush that tongue!

Once you've got the timing and technique down, it's time to consider the right instruments to use. We recommend a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles (make sure you replace it every 3 months!). If you are interested in an electric toothbrush to take the guesswork out of the equation, the two we really like are:

Rotadent Electric Toothbrush
Sonicare Electric Toothbrush

Toothpaste choice will ultimately depend on your needs and your dentist's recommendation. We like to recommend a fluoridated toothpaste to help keep your teeth strong. If you experience sensitivity or are interested in whitening, there are a world of options out there: talk to your dental professional about which is right for you!

The Importance of Flossing

February 1st, 2012

You might be interested in the variety of at-home tooth-bleaching products that are available if you think your pearly whites have become off-white. But remember that no teeth whitening product replaces twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing as a consistent dental care routine.

The majority of stains that we see in our office are NOT on the teeth themselves, but rather on the tartar from sugars and acids that adhere to the tooth surface. Regular use of dental floss removes plaque and tartar, helping to prevent "stained teeth."

Think of a carpet before and after you vacuum. You may not really see the dust and dirt, but once you vacuum and the dust and dirt is removed, the carpet looks brighter. The same principle applies to flossing. So while you’re thinking about using a teeth whitening product, try re-committing to daily flossing and twice-daily tooth brushing, which can improve the appearance of stained teeth in some cases. Many whitening toothpastes have extra chemicals or polishing ingredients to improve their stain-removing properties.  However, you should avoid these toothpastes if you have any gum recession.

If you have tooth-colored fillings or tooth-bonding material on your front teeth, bleaching agents won’t affect the color of these materials. Instead, ask your dentist about replacing your current stained bonding with either new bonding or porcelain veneers.

How to Prevent Bad Breath

August 25th, 2011

We have had several patients in recently who complained of bad breath.  We hear all kinds of different descriptions of the taste, "metallic taste", "ammonia", "stale garlic", you name it!  We try our best to help determine what is causing the problem.  I thought I would send out a quick note on common causes.

What causes bad breath?
Types of Food: In most cases, it is caused by bacteria that forms on your teeth and tongue and releases a sulfur compound that gives your breath an unpleasant odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash only mask the odor.

Types of Medications: Specifically, those that include central nervous system agents, anti-Parkinson drugs, antihistamines/decongestants, anti-psychotics, anti-cholinergics, narcotics, anti-hypertensives, and anti-depressants.

Periodontal (gum) disease often causes persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, and persistent bad breath may mean a sign that you have gum disease.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) may also cause bad breath due to decreased salivary flow. Saliva cleans your mouth and removes particles that may cause odor.

Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods and irritate your gum tissues.

In rare cases, bad breath may also be a sign that you have a serious health problem, such as a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.

Here are characteristic bad breath odors associated with some of these illnesses:

  • Diabetes - acetone, fruity
  • Liver failure - sweetish, musty
  • Acute rheumatic fever - acid, sweet
  • Lung abscess - foul, putrefactive
  • Blood dyscrasias - resembling decomposed blood
  • Liver cirrhosis - resembling decayed blood
  • Uremia - ammonia or urine
  • Hand-Schuller-Christian disease - fetid breath and unpleasant taste
  • Scurvy - foul breath from stomach inflammation
  • Wegner`s granulomatosis - Necrotic, putrefactive
  • Kidney failure - ammonia or urine
  • Diphtheria, dysentery, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever, tuberculosis - extremely foul, fetid odor
  • Syphilis - fetid

Caring for bad breath
Daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings, will normally take care of unpleasant breath. And don't forget your often overlooked tongue as a culprit for bad breath. Bacterial plaque and food debris also can accumulate on the back of the tongue. The tongue's surface is extremely rough and bacteria can accumulate easily in the cracks and crevices - be sure to scrape your tongue!

Eliminating periodontal disease and maintaining good oral health helps to reduce bad breath. If you have constant bad breath, make a list of the foods you eat and any medications you take. Some medications may contribute to bad breath.

If your mouth is healthy and the odor is not oral in nature, you may be referred to your family physician or to a specialist to determine the cause of the odor and possible treatment.

Welcome to Our Blog!

July 6th, 2011

Welcome to the Blog of Strobel Dentistry!

Whether you are an existing patient or searching for a dentist in the Chicago area, we're excited you are here. With the dental industry advancing, we recognize the importance of keeping our patients and visitors up to date with all of the new and exciting things taking place in our practice.

As we move forward with our blog, we hope to promote dental awareness as a vital part of your healthy lifestyle. Here you will find a variety of articles and topics including dental news, advancements in dental technology and treatment, practical dental health advice and updates from Dr. Strobel and his staff.

We hope you find our blog to be helpful, engaging and informational to ensure your best dental health.

As always, feel free to contact us with any dental questions or concerns.

--The Strobel Dentistry Team