Our Dental Blog

Posts for: April, 2017

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
April 19, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Magician Michel Grandinetti can levitate a 500-pound motorcycle, melt into a 7-foot-tall wall of solid steel, and make borrowed rings vanish and reappear baked inside bread. Yet the master illusionist admits to being in awe of the magic that dentists perform when it comes to transforming smiles. In fact, he told an interviewer that it’s “way more important magic than walking through a steel wall because you’re affecting people’s health… people’s confidence, and you’re really allowing people to… feel good about themselves.”

Michael speaks from experience. As a teenager, his own smile was enhanced through orthodontic treatment. Considering the career path he chose for himself — performing for multitudes both live and on TV — he calls wearing an orthodontic device (braces) to align his crooked teeth “life-changing.” He relies on his welcoming, slightly mischievous smile to welcome audiences and make the initial human connection.

A beautiful smile is definitely an asset regardless of whether you’re performing for thousands, passing another individual on a sidewalk or even, research suggests, interviewing for a job. Like Michael, however, some of us need a little help creating ours. If something about your teeth or gums is making you self-conscious and preventing you from smiling as broadly as you could be, we have plenty of solutions up our sleeve. Some of the most popular include:

  • Tooth Whitening. Professional whitening in the dental office achieves faster results than doing it yourself at home, but either approach can noticeably brighten your smile.
  • Bonding. A tooth-colored composite resin can be bonded to a tooth to replace missing tooth structure, such a chip.
  • Veneers. This is a hard, thin shell of tooth-colored material bonded to the front surface of a tooth to change its color, shape, size and/or length; mask dental imperfections like stains, cracks, or chips, and compensating for excessive gum tissue.
  • Crowns. Sometimes too much of a tooth is lost due to decay or trauma to support a veneer. Instead, capping it with a natural-looking porcelain crown can achieve the same types of improvements. A crown covers the entire tooth replacing more of its natural structure than a veneer does.

If you would like more information about ways in which you can transform your smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the techniques mentioned above by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening,” “Repairing Chipped Teeth,” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

By Gentle Art of Dentistry
April 10, 2017
Category: Dental
Tags: jaw pain   tmj  

If you've had ongoing pain or stiffness in your jaw, you might have TMJ. This disorder of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles can be tmjcaused by an injury, joint degeneration or simply anatomical issues. It's a common problem, affecting between 5% and 12% of the population, according to the National Institute of Health. Dr. Carol Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, is well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ. She goes into detail about this disorder and how it can be treated here.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint, which is the portion of the jaw that opens and closes. The problems with it may also be referred to as TMD or TMJD, with the 'D' standing for dysfunction. Regardless of the acronym, it refers to the misalignment, inflammation or underlying problem, such as arthritis, in the jaw joint or the muscles surrounding it. TMJ's symptoms are unmistakable: a clicking, popping or grinding sensation when chewing or talking, an inability to open the mouth all the way, and an aching pain in and around the ear, cheeks and mouth. Your dentist also sees patients with TMJ who experience a ringing in their ears, dizziness or pain that travels down the neck and shoulders.

What can be done to treat TMJ in Decatur?

Your dentist will first evaluate your condition to rule out any other possible causes, such as gum disease, tooth decay or sinus issues. X-rays can also help to detect the presence of TMJ. Dr. Cunningham may recommend dental restorations, certain analgesics to help relieve pain and may suggest treating the area with ice or heat. There are also therapeutic exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen the muscles and improve motion in the joint.

If you think you might be dealing with TMJ, don't delay in contacting Dr. Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, right away for treatment. We want to help you achieve your best oral health!