Common Dentistry Questions in Chicago

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

Chicago Smile Spa Answers Dentistry Questions

The following are common dentistry questions we most frequently hear from our Chciago area patients. If you would like further information or have another question, please contact our dental office or ask during your next visit. We are always ready to help our patients in any way we can.

Aren’t I too old to get cavities? And why didn’t my previous dentist mention any of this to me?

Cosmetic dentist in Chicago, Dr. Alfe, gets asked those questions at least once a week! Unfortunately, none of us will ever outgrow the possibility of getting a new cavity. Many of our patients are no longer

Diagnodent Cavity Detection Chicago

Diagnodent Schematic

teenagers, and most of our new patients had been seeing another dentist regularly. They can often get distressed to find out that they may have 3-4 “new” cavities. As we explain, if their previous dentist did not use the DIAGNOdent to check for cavities, a number of the cavities could have been missed. With the way that cavities grow in post-fluoridation teeth, the cavities could have been growing for a number of years before they would be large enough to be felt or seen on an x-ray. And since Dr. Alfe always wants to do the most conservative treatment for her patients, taking care of cavities when they are smaller is the best option for her patients.

Does one-hour laser bleaching work? Will it hurt? Does it damage my teeth?

Using a laser or light during in-office bleaching does NOT enhance the long-term results of bleaching. Teeth may initially look lighter at the end of the session, usually because the heat from the light or laser dries out the teeth (dehydration), which can make them appear whiter and chalky. Within a few days the color will often “rebound” as the teeth rehydrate and not look as bright as the day the bleaching was done. This dehydration is also a major cause of post-operative pain.

Dr. Alfe uses the in-office AcquaBrite™ system, which consists of two one-hour in-office visits two weeks apart. We fabricate custom-fitted trays for you to wear both during your in-office visits, as well as during your at-home bleaching in between your in-office visits. This combination of in-office strength bleach along with a milder form for at-home bleaching has been extremely effective in lightening even the darkest, most stubbornly stained teeth.

Dr. Alfe explains that you can’t expect to go to a personal trainer for just a one-hour session and undo all the damage from the previous 10-20 years. You would expect to have to work out on your own in between sessions to get the best results- bleaching works similarly. You shouldn’t expect to reverse years of coffee, tea, and red wine stains in just one hour with no follow-up. Long-term whitening can be achieved with easy at-home touch-ups. On average, wearing your trays one night every month to two months will maintain your bright smile for many years.

Bleaching works much like a facial treatment does for your skin. The bleach cleans the pores in your teeth, bubbling out deposits and giving a brighter overall appearance. The combination system Dr. Alfe uses has been very successful in achieving 6-10 shades of lightening with minimal to no sensitivity. Even patients who have previously been told they are not candidates for whitening have had fantastic, comfortable and long-lasting results. Visit our Smile Gallery to see our results!

What is periodontal (gum) disease, and can I avoid it just by brushing and flossing? Should my gums bleed and be sore when I floss?

We are excited when patients brush and floss regularly, as well as come in for their scheduled hygiene visits. The reality is that brushing and flossing alone is often not enough to combat the millions of bacteria and their by-products that cause gum disease. The most recent studies from the American Periodontal Association have reported that the bacteria in our mouths produce a biofilm, which is like a sticky net around the teeth and gums. This traps the bacteria and their by-products. The longer the bacteria are left alone, the more they multiply, and the more poison they produce. It is this combination that causes gum disease, and then periodontal (bone) disease. This is the number one reason for most adults to lose their teeth today.

Periodontal disease is usually painless, so many (75% of the population) adults suffer from it without realizing it. Some early symptoms include: bad breath, gums that bleed with brushing and/or flossing, a bad taste in your mouth, and soreness in the gums. Left untreated, it can progress to include loose teeth, gum infections, and eventually tooth loss. Gum and bone loss cannot be reversed, but it can be halted and controlled. Visit our Preventive Services page for all of the options Dr. Alfe offers her patients to help them stay healthy and keep their teeth.

What is sleep apnea? How do I know if I have it?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition where you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds multiple times throughout the night. It is dangerous because it increases your risk for more severe conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, and weight gain, just to name a few. For more information, visit our sleep apnea page and take a quiz to see if you are at risk.

Dr. Alfe has been helping patients treat their sleep apnea and snoring without uncomfortable, noisy machines (CPAP) or surgery since 2009.

Are there alternatives to mercury silver fillings?

Bonded composite fillings and all-porcelain restorations are wonderful alternatives to dangerous and destructive silver mercury fillings. If Dr. Alfe catches your cavity while it is still very small, the best and most amazing alternative is ozone therapy. Visit our ozone therapy page for more information on this revolutionary treatment that can help you avoid the novocaine shot, the drill, and years of maintaining expensive dental restorations.


Do you suffer from frequent migraines and/or tension headaches, and are tired of taking expensive medications? Do you suffer from TMJ pain? There are alternative treatments available.

Dr. Alfe has been treating migraine, tension headache, and TMJ pain patients with the NTI-tss™ mouth guard system since 2000. It is the only FDA approved, custom-fitted mouth guard designed to significantly reduce clenching and grinding, which are among the main causes of migraines, tension headaches, and TMJ problems. The NTI-tss system is non-invasive, comfortable, and has helped many patients avoid expensive medications and all of their side effects. Click here or here for more information.

I’ve been told I need a crown, but I am concerned about having
a temporary for a few weeks. Is there a one-visit alternative?

E4D porcelain crowns

Dr. Alfe has the E4D in-office porcelain milling system in her office, which allows her to provide one-visit all-porcelain crowns and onlays in many cases. If for some reason she cannot fabricate your restoration in that one visit, her turnaround time can often be as quick as one day.

I’m not happy with my smile but I am worried about having extensive, invasive work done to my teeth. What choices do I have?

Dr. Alfe has been helping her patients smile better for many years. Because of her vast experience in cosmetic dentistry, she can offer you many choices for treatment.

Using DURAthin® veneers or LUMINEERS®, often you can change the shape, size, color, and length of your teeth with minimal or no preparation in as little as two visits.

Invisalign® or ClearCorrect® are two clear aligner systems Dr. Alfe uses to straighten teeth without traditional braces and wires. For those who know they will not be compliant with removable aligners, Six Month Smiles® is another aesthetic option.

AcquaBrite™ bleaching is a very conservative way to brighten your smile if you are happy with the shape and size of your teeth, but notice that they have dulled and darkened over the years.

Chairside bonding can be an option if there are minor changes you wish to make. Bonding doesn’t last as long as porcelain veneers so Dr. Alfe can help you determine if you are a good candidate for this.

Sometimes the best option is a combination of any of these procedures. Dr. Alfe will sit down with you, listen to your concerns, show you pictures of similar patients she has treated, and then devise a customized treatment plan that works for you. Visit our Smile Gallery to see real patient before and after photos. Chances are you’ll see someone there who looks just like you.

Dental visits scare me. What can you do to help me relax?

Chicago Dental Office Serving Lincoln Park, Lakeview

Dr. Alfe’s main concerns are her patients’ comfort and safety. She has a number of ways to help her patients relax, from being able to watch DVD’s with personalized headphones (to drown out the noise of the drill) to using a numbing cream on your gums before she numbs you so you barely feel the pinch of the needle.

She has pillows, blankets, eye masks, dark goggles, and warm mittens to help you feel comfortable as well.

“Do you take my insurance?”

We process all non-HMO insurance on your behalf, but we are not part of any network. Our patients pay in full at the time of their visit, and the insurance companies reimburse our patients directly, usually within 2-4 weeks. Because our office is “out of network” for all insurance companies, your reimbursement amount may vary. Please check with your insurance carrier for more details.

A long time ago, our Chicago dentist took an oath to provide the best and most conservative treatment for her patients. Often, this does not coincide with what insurance companies are willing to pay. She treats her patients in the way she would want to be treated, especially in a medical situation, and this allows her to see one patient at a time, for personalized care. We understand that dentistry in Chicago may be expensive, and we have many financial options available for our patients so they can receive the care they want or need, without having to compromise.

Call Dr. Alfe!