Different Types of Mouthwash for Oral Health Needs

Serving Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding areas in Illinois

We all know that brushing and flossing on a daily basis is important to our oral health — but what role does mouthwash play? Industry experts agree that mouthwash should never be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing, but instead as an addition to an oral hygiene routine.

Yet not all mouthwash is created equal. Depending on your oral health needs explained to you by our Chicago dentist Dr. Alfe, there are specific types of mouthwash designed to target different issues.  

Regardless of what your specific needs may be, Dr. Alfe always stresses to choose a mouthwash that contains NO alcohol.   Alcohol dries out your mouth, your gum tissues, and washes away your natural saliva.  While it may feel like it’s working for a short time, in the long run, it’s not the best choice.

Different Types of Mouthwash & Their Purposes

  • Desensitizing. For those who have receding gumlines that are exposing the roots of their teeth, desensitizing mouthwash can help reduce the pain and sensitivity caused by eating or drinking extremely hot or cold foods. The active ingredient responsible for the desensitization is Arginine, which aids in sealing the dentinal tubules. For better results, Dr. Alfe may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste as well.
  • Flouride. Flouride mouthwash is one of the more well-known types of mouthwash available over-the-counter. This type offers added protection against tooth decay and cavities. Each bottle of this particular rinse usually contains about 0.05% of Sodium Flouride which works to build and strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Whitening. Although there are more effective ways to whiten your teeth (such as opting for in-house teeth whitening at Chicago Smile Spa), teeth whitening mouthwash is a great option for those already using whitening toothpaste and at-home whitening strips. The active ingredient responsible for whitening is Hydrogen Peroxide which works as a bleaching agent and removes stains over time.
  • Anti-Plaque. This type of mouthwash is the most effective in preventing gum disease and gingivitis when used on a consistent basis. Plaque is a buildup of bacteria that is normally found either in-between the teeth or around the gumline of a tooth. Not brushing, flossing or seeing your dentist for a regular cleaning leads to inflamed and bleeding gums which is a sign of gum disease. Using anti-plaque mouthwash contains antiseptic ingredients such as Thymol, Triclosan, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, and Chlorhexidine.
  • Cosmetic. The most common type of mouthwash is cosmetic mouthwash. The main job of this type of mouthwash is to temporarily freshen your breath. It’s convenient to purchase a travel-sized bottle to have at work or in your car for whenever you need it. Keep in mind that cosmetic mouthwash will not solve any bad breath issues you might be having.
  • Periodontal Disease and Bad Breath.  Dr. Alfe recommends the CloSYS products (paste and rinse) for patients who suffer from periodontal (gum) disease and bad breath.  Its active ingredient is chlorine dioxide which neutralizes sulfur compounds.  These are the byproducts of the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease and bad breath.  Dr. Alfe carries it in her office and you can also order it through Amazon or Walgreens.  For bad breath treatment, we recommend contacting Chicago Smile Spa for solutions.

If you have additional questions about which mouthwash or other over-the-counter oral health products to use, don’t hesitate to give our cosmetic dentist office a call at (773) 348-2704. To schedule a routine dental cleaning with Dr. Alfe or for other cosmetic dental services, please fill out our quick contact form and our office will reach out to you shortly.

Chicago Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Alfe Recommends Porcelain Veneers

Serving Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding areas in Illinois

Chicago residents who have old dental work done are often unsure what to do as far as replacement procedures go. Some of the full mouth reconstruction procedures can be extensive and may take months to heal (dental implants, for example). Dr. Alfe at Chicago Smile Spa wants residents to know that replacing old dental work doesn’t have to been painful or invasive.

Choosing Porcelain Veneers to Improve Your Smile

You may have heard that porcelain crowns are often a more affordable option to improve your smile. What you may not know is that crowns take an enormous amount of prep work in the form of removing a significant amount of your tooth’s anatomical enamel. In fact, preparation of this type generally involves trimming away around 50% of the existing tooth so that the crown can fully encase the existing tooth.

A more conservative approach to improving your smile is through veneers. Porcelain veneers are thinner than crowns and are only placed on the front-facing side of the tooth. The best part about opting for veneers is that there is less prep work that needs to be done. Minimal-prep veneers are often prepared only into the enamel, which is the outside layer of the tooth.  Dr. Alfe can often preserve up to 95% of the existing tooth structure, depending on the patient’s desired tooth shape for their new smile.

Both procedures will yield the same results as far as appearance goes, but for the patient these two procedures are drastically different in terms of conservative treatment.  Of course, don’t forget that everyone’s teeth are different and Dr. Alfe may decide to improve your smile through different cosmetic dentistry techniques. We will always sit down and have an initial patient-doctor consultation before settling on the procedure best for you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation appointment!

What are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?

Serving Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding areas in Illinois

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder among Americans and can affect those of all ages. The disorder is characterized by consistent interruptions in one’s sleep cycle due to an obstructed airway. For those who have weak airway muscles, a large tongue, or are overweight, the airway is more likely to collapse and cause apneas.

Although sleep apnea is common, many people don’t realize they have this disorder. In fact, it can go un-diagnosed for months or even years. 

Risks of Un-Diagnosed Sleep Apnea

If sleep apnea goes untreated, there are health risks involved that range from mild issues to severe long-term problems. Since sleep apnea disrupts the sleep cycle, people often complain about their low energy levels and inability to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks. Sleep deprivation caused by this disorder can also lead to traffic accidents due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. In 2000, more than 800,000 traffic accidents were sleep apnea related. High blood pressure is also a common symptom and side effect of this sleep disorder.

The more serious and long-term health issues of sleep apnea include an irregular heartbeat, heart disease, stroke or heart attack and Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Luckily sleep apnea is easy to diagnose and there are a handful of treatment options available depending on the severity of symptoms. Dr. Alfe will first recommend you see a sleep specialist for further testing after you’ve taken the Sleep Observer survey. After you’ve consulted with a sleep specialist and they’ve determined you only have a mild case of sleep apnea, Dr. Alfe will usually recommend the NTI nightguard. Other solutions include a Respire, SomnoMed MAS or Oral/Nasal Airway System (OASYS).

If you believe you have sleep apnea or have not sought treatment for sleep apnea yet, please contact Dr. Alfe at Chicago Smile Spa today to learn more about your treatment options.

Good News for Gum Chewers: Gum May Prevent Cavities

Serving Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding areas in Illinois

Good news for all you gum chewers out there — there’s strong evidence that chewing sugar free gum for 20 minutes every day can prevent cavities and tooth decay. The 25-country study published in the American Journal of Dentistry noted that $4.1 billion in dental costs could be saved if everyone just chewed more sugar free gum.

“Chewing sugar-free gum as a preventive measure for tooth decay has the potential to deliver significant dental care cost savings worldwide,” said professor Reinhard Rychlik, the study’s lead author.

Of course, Dr. Alfe from Chicago Smile Spa warns patients to take this new information with a grain of salt. Chewing a piece of gum for 20 minutes every day should not — by any means — replace the need for brushing twice a day and flossing. However, popping in a stick of gum after lunch for a light oral cleanse may be more convenient than running to the office restroom to brush your teeth.

The study mentions that not only can sugar free gum prevent cavities and tooth decay in adults, but also children. Tooth decay and dental cavities are becoming more common in younger adults and children due to poor diets and lack of information on what is acceptable dental hygiene.

How Chewing Gum Can Help

So how exactly does chewing gum help prevent these oral health issues? It all has to do with our salivary production. Our body’s natural reaction to chewing something is to create saliva. Saliva is a fluid that contains enzymes which help aid in the digestive process of food. The fluid also works to continually flush away bad bacteria from our mouths and create a protective coating around our teeth and gums. Chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands which in turn help flush away bad bacteria. The gum may also work to dislodge any food stuck between teeth.

At this point, there isn’t enough data from more developed countries to state that American citizens should include chewing sugar free gum as part of their daily oral hygiene routine.

Our Chicago cosmetic dentist recommends that individuals continue to schedule routine dental cleanings every six months to prevent cavities and tooth decay. If you’ve noticed signs of cavities or tooth decay, Dr. Alfe can help! Contact our office to schedule a free consultation on how we can improve your smile.

I’ve Had Previous Cosmetic Work Done, Can I Still Whiten My Teeth?

Serving Chicago, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding areas in Illinois

As we age, our teeth naturally begin to fade and discolor due to our eating habits, oral hygiene and other factors. As a quick fix, adults are turning towards teeth whitening procedures from cosmetic dentists. Light enhanced teeth whitening from a professional such as Dr. Alfe is much faster and more effective than over the counter whitening products. However, many of Dr. Alfe’s patients have also had previous cosmetic dental work done and are often concerned about whitening their teeth.

Potential Risks

As with any cosmetic dental work, there are a few (minor) risks involved with teeth whitening. One problem that should always be taken into account is that if you’ve undergone procedures such as dental bonding or tooth colored fillings, then whitening your natural teeth can make these cosmetic changes stand out. The dental bonding or tooth colored fillings were most likely made to match the current shade of your teeth. Unfortunately, these materials won’t change color when you whiten your teeth. Natural teeth have an enamel coating that responds well to the chemicals used in teeth whitening, whereas bonding or fillings consist of a type of dental cement.

Solutions to These Risks

Luckily with Dr. Alfe’s knowledge of cosmetic dentistry, there are a couple solutions for those with previous dental work who still want to whiten their teeth.

  1. Replace Bonding & Fillings. Although this is a more tedious process, Dr. Alfe can remove and replace the bonding and tooth colored fillings after you’ve achieved your desired shade of white. You can determine whether or not the color difference is significant enough to warrant a replacement.
  2. Porcelain Veneers. Another option that can improve your smile even more is porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are a thin porcelain layer that covers the front of your existing teeth. These veneers can be designed with any shade of white in mind, and they work to correct any chips or gaps in your teeth that dental bonding or fillings would normally fix.

We understand that an evenly-colored smile is important to our patients, which is why we encourage those with existing cosmetic dental work to contact our Chicago office today to discuss your teeth whitening options with Dr. Alfe!