Our Dental Blog

Posts for: February, 2018

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
February 15, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  
EncourageYourCollege-BoundChildtoPracticeGoodOralHealthHabits

It's a big transition when your child enters college — for both of you. You may find “cutting the apron strings” a little rocky at times.

But like most parents, you'll soon condense what you still want your college kid to do down to a few major habits and choices. Be sure to keep health, diet and lifestyle choices on that list, areas which could have the most effect on their long-term health and well-being.

That should include dental care. Hopefully, they've already developed good hygiene habits like daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits. But, on their own now, they're faced with other choices that could affect their dental health.

For example, eating a balanced, nutritious diet is necessary for a healthy mouth. That includes limiting sugar intake, especially when snacking. Disease-causing oral bacteria thrive on carbohydrates like sugar. These bacteria also secrete acid, which at consistently high levels can erode tooth enamel.

Tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol affect teeth and gums because both can inhibit secretion of saliva. Besides containing antibodies that fight infection, saliva also neutralizes mouth acid. A dry mouth caused by these habits, could put their mouth at higher risk for disease.

Your college student might also be influenced by the fashion of their peers to display piercings. Mouth piercings with lip or tongue hardware in particular can damage teeth. The constant movement and friction erodes enamel or may even cause a tooth fracture. If possible, try to steer them to self-expression that poses less risk to their dental health.

There's one other area that, believe it or not, could impact dental health: sex. While each family handles this particular subject differently, be sure your child knows that some forms of sexual activity increase the risk for contracting the human papilloma virus (HPV16). Among its many destructive outcomes, HPV16 profoundly raises the risk of oral cancer, a rare but deadly disease with a poor survival rate.

Going from home to college is a big step for a young person — and their parents. As a parent, you can help steer them to practice good habits and make wise choices that will protect their lives and health and, in particular, their teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on helping your college student maintain their dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Health Tips for College Students.”


By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
February 13, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Root Canal  

If your dentist recommends a root canal, your first reaction may be one of fear, especially if you believe root canal therapy’s bad reputation. root canalHowever, contrary to popular belief, this important procedure is easy and only takes about an hour, potentially saving your tooth from needing extraction. Find out more about root canal therapy and how to spot the signs you may need one with Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL.

Do I need a root canal?

You may need a root canal if you experience a toothache, broken tooth, or other trauma to the tooth. A root canal becomes necessary when the tooth’s inner pulp and nerves become damaged, causing pain and, if left untreated, an infection which can result in a dental abscess. While the most common cause of this damage is severe tooth decay, other factors can also damage these elements and make a root canal necessary to save the tooth. The root canal itself removes the damaged tissues and nerves from within the tooth, then fills the tooth to restore its natural structure.

Root Canals and Dental Crowns

Your dentist may also recommend a dental crown to cover the tooth and protect it from future damage. A crown fits over the top of the tooth and encompasses its sides to form a barrier between the tooth and everyday use. A crown ensures that, if the tooth endures trauma or damage again, the crown takes the brunt of the damage and gives the tooth an added layer of protection.

Why is a root canal important?

A root canal ensures that you do not need a full extraction of the tooth altogether. Though this option may seem like the easier route, missing teeth come with more side effects than just a gap. If left open, the teeth surrounding the gap could shift or move to compensate for the new extra space. Additionally, the bone beneath the tooth is no longer stimulated, causing bone atrophy.

Root Canal Therapy in Decatur, IL

For more information on root canals, please contact Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL. Call (217) 422-7448 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Cunningham today!