Our Dental Blog

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
April 12, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Untagged

When was the last time you saw your dentist for a checkup?


Life gets busy. We get it! But it should never get so busy that you forget to see your dentist. It is time for you to turn to Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens of Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, for your routine teeth cleaning. After all, these six-month checkups are truly the best way to keep your smile healthy.


What happens during a dental cleaning?


When you come into the office for your six-month checkup here’s what to expect:

  • A thorough professional cleaning using specialized tools that will fully remove plaque and tartar buildup, while also removing surface stains
  • A comprehensive oral examination to make sure that your teeth look healthy and that there aren’t any issues
  • An oral cancer screening to evaluate the soft tissue of the mouth to look for lesions, patches, and other warning signs of oral cancer
  • Once a year we will perform X-rays to get a more in-depth look at the health of your entire mouth including the face and jaw (it can also detect decay between teeth)
  • We will provide recommendations as necessary. If you grind your teeth at night we may recommend creating a custom nightguard that you’ll wear to protect your teeth while you sleep

How often do I need a dental cleaning?


Most people need to see the dentist twice a year. Smokers, those with active oral health diseases, and pregnant or menopausal women may be more at risk for developing dental issues and may want to come in every 3-4 months for cleanings and checkups. 

If it’s been more than six months since your last routine cleaning, then it’s time to turn to Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens of Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL. To schedule your next visit, call (217) 422-7448.


By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
March 04, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tmj   TMD  

Are you dealing with a TMJ disorder? Find out how to alleviate your discomfort.

Everything from dental misalignments to stress can lead someone to deal with an uncomfortable and common jaw problem known as a TMJ disorder. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which are joints found on both sides of the face that connect the jawbone to the skull. These joints are responsible for all jaw movements, from speaking to chewing. From the office of your Gentle Art of Dentistry dentist, Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens, learn more about TMJ-related jaw pain and how you can reduce symptoms in Decatur, IL.

Is my jaw pain due to a TMJ disorder?

So, how do you know what’s causing your jaw pain? This is where our services come in. If the pain is severe enough or persistent, then you may want to play it safe and schedule a consultation with us. If you do have a TMJ disorder, symptoms may include:

  • Aching jaw pain
  • Jaw pain that gets worse when speaking, chewing, or biting
  • Jaws that are tender to the touch
  • A clicking or popping sound when opening your jaws
  • Jaws joints that lock up when opening or closing your mouth
  • Limited mobility of the jaw joints

You may also feel like your jaws get tired more easily, especially when chewing. Of course, there are some people who have a TMJ disorder but don’t experience pain or other issues. 

How do you treat jaw pain?

Medications, certain therapies, and lifestyle modifications may be recommended to help reduce jaw joint pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Some people find success by eating softer foods and avoiding bad habits like chewing their nails. Even avoiding bubble gum can help!

Common medications include muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories, to reduce both pain and swelling. You can also apply moist heat or a wrapped ice pack to the area when pain is exacerbated.

If your TMJ disorder is due to a tooth and jaw misalignment, orthodontic treatment may be recommended to correct the problem. If your TMJ disorder is due to teeth grinding or stress, our dentist can create a custom night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep. Sometimes counseling or finding outlets to alleviate your stress can also reduce your symptoms.

If you are dealing with severe or chronic jaw pain, it’s important that you turn to Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, for an immediate evaluation. The sooner you seek care the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery. Call our office today to find out how we can help get rid of your TMJ disorder pain, at 217-422-7448.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
February 17, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: flossing   Floss  

Dental flossing is the act of removing food debris and deposits stuck between the teeth with a thin cord known as floss. Flossing can help to prevent gum disease. Your family dentists, Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, can advise you on how to incorporate flossing into your oral hygiene routine. We also provide all advanced family dentistry services.

Why should I floss?

Brushing alone can't remove food debris and deposits from all the teeth. Flossing cleans those surfaces which your toothbrush can't reach. It is vital to clean the food debris to prevent plaque from accumulating because it will harden and become tartar with time. Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. At Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, your family dentists recommend flossing at least once a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean. You may experience some bleeding from the gums initially, but with daily use, it will stop. If there is severe bleeding, it could be a sign of gum disease for which you have to visit your dentist. Floss is available in different flavors and varieties, you can choose the one that suits your needs. Even if you have braces, it should not stop you from flossing your teeth regularly.

Method of flossing

Take about 18 inches of floss and wound it around the middle finger of each hand. Keep the floss between the thumb and forefingers, and gently move it up and down between the teeth. Don't insert the floss below the gumline. You need to floss between all the teeth including those in the back.

For more information, book an appointment with our family dentists, Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Jurgens at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, by calling (217) 422-7448 today.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
January 20, 2022
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: dental crowns  

Your smile is a fantastic part of who you are as a person. A damaged smile can cause you to lack self-confidence and even shy away from social interaction. Dr. Daniel Jurgens and Dr. Carol Cunningham with The Gentle Art of Dentistry want to help improve your smile. One of the best ways is to have dental crowns in Decatur, IL, placed on teeth that need protection or work. If you are thinking of having a dental crown put in your mouth, here are some benefits that you can look forward to after the procedure.

The Advantages of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns in Decatur, IL at an easy method of bringing a tooth back to health. Teeth that are cracked, chipped, or are heavy in decay are prime candidates for dental crowns.

  • A dental crown helps strengthen a tooth that has been weakened by trauma or decay from poor dental hygiene.
  • A crown can also protect a tooth from further damage since the material is resistant to stains and decay.
  • Dental crowns are used after a root canal as part of the protection of the area.
  • A crown is a great way to hold a cracked tooth together. The crown fits over the top of a prepared area and serves to hold things together.
  • Crowns are uniquely made to match the rest of your teeth. Each crown is fashioned to match the size and color of the surrounding teeth.
  • They are used when dental implant anchors are placed in your mouth.
  • They last up to 15 years if taken care of properly.

A dental crown procedure is one of the best ways to protect your existing teeth and give you an excellent smile for years to come. Dr. Jurgens and Dr. Cunningham with The Gentle Art of Dentistry know all about dental crowns in Decatur, IL. He is available to answer all of your questions. If you are looking to set your next appointment, please call us today at (217) 422-7448 and let us get to work for you.

Dr. Carol Cunningham, an established Decatur dentist, is one of thousands of AADSM dentists practicing in the growing field of dental sleep medicine to help treat snoring and sleep apnea. Once a patient is diagnosed with primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnea by a board-certified sleep physician, Dr. Cunningham can provide an effective, custom-fitted oral appliance to help maintain an open, unobstructed airway during sleep. 

Oral appliance therapy is a comfortable alternative to the traditionally-prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which includes a face mask, tubing and a constantly running motor. CPAP has maximum benefit for patients only when they are willing and able to use it continuously. However, up to half of sleep apnea patients don’t comply with or can’t tolerate CPAP. Patients often prefer oral appliance therapy because it is more comfortable than CPAP, easy to wear, quiet, portable and easy to care for.

“For the millions of people suffering from sleep apnea, the consequences of a poor night's sleep – higher stress, increased mistakes, difficulty concentrating – are everyday occurrences. But it doesn't have to be this way,” said Dr. Cunningham. “Many of my patients have found more restful sleep and an improved quality of life since starting oral appliance therapy.”

To learn more about oral appliance therapy and schedule a consultation, visit the Gentle Art of Dentistry, or call 217.422.7448.

More about Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat, blocking the upper airway. Loud, frequent snoring and daytime sleepiness are common symptoms of this sleep disorder. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life threatening condition that can increase the risk for serious health problems from congestive heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease to diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence.

About Dr. Carol A. Cunningham
Dr. Cunningham is a diplomate of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. She received her dental degree from Loyola University Dental School.  She is a member of the American Dental Association, the Illinois State Dental Society, the Chicago Dental Society and the Decatur District Dental Society.  She is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry and has her fellowship degree. 

She is also a member of the American Equilibration Society, the American Society of Osseointegration, the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and the American College of Oral Implantology.  She has received further advanced education at the Pankey Institute, where she has studied myofascial pain, the temporomandibular joint, and occlusion.  

Gentle Art of Dentistry is located at 2 N Country Club Road, Suite 2 in Decatur, IL. Patients with loud snoring and diagnosed sleep apnea sufferers with difficulty tolerating CPAP should contact Dr. Cunningham at 217-422-7448 to schedule a consultation appointment. Dr. Cunningham works closely with sleep physicians to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. 

About The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is the only non-profit national professional society dedicated exclusively to the practice of dental sleep medicine. The AADSM provides educational resources for dentists and promotes the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing. Established in 1991, the AADSM has nearly 3,000 member dentists worldwide. There are approximately 800 dentists who are diplomates with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine in the United States.  Visit www.aadsm.org or call the national office at (630) 737-9705 for more information.

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