Our Dental Blog

Posts for category: Dental Procedures

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
May 25, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

How dental implants from your dentists in Decatur, IL, can give you back your smile

Are you asking yourself if dental implants are right for you? It’s a common question, that has a great answer. Yes, dental implants are the perfect choice for you. Dental implants can help you regain the smile you lost.

Dr. Carol Cunningham, and Dr. Daniel Jurgens at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, offer a full range of dental services, including dental implant restorations, to give you back your smile.

First, let’s talk about why dental implants are the right choice for you when you have lost teeth. Dental implants provide you with:

  • Beautiful tooth replacement that looks completely natural; dental implant restorations are made of lifelike materials that look just like your natural tooth structure.
  • Rock-solid tooth replacement that will never move around; dental implants are placed in the bone, where they become embedded and anchored in place.
  • User-friendly tooth replacement that you clean with simple brushing and flossing; the easy maintenance of dental implants helps you enjoy a healthy smile for life.

Now, let’s talk about some of the issues that may impact the healing of your dental implants. To be the best candidate for dental implants you should:

  • Avoid using tobacco products and smoking
  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Let your dentist know if you have diabetes
  • Let your dentist know if you have had radiation to your jaws or face

You need to take good care of your oral health before, during, and after dental implant treatment. Make sure that you:

  • Brush after meals and before you go to bed
  • Floss at least once every day
  • Visit your dentist for a dental examination and x-rays every 6 to 12 months
  • Visit your dental hygienist for teeth cleaning every 6 to 12 months

You can have a beautiful smile you will be proud to show to the world. The answer is dental implants! To find out more about why dental implants are right for you, and how they can help you and your smile, call Dr. Carol Cunningham, and Dr. Daniel Jurgens of Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL. You can reach them at (217) 422-7448, so call today! They can help refer you to a specialist to have your implants placed, or they themselves can help restore your implants.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
April 08, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth replacement  

Replacing a lost tooth improves your appearance and your oral health. Dental implants, bridges and dentures, three tooth replacement options offered by your Decatur, IL, dentist, Dr. Carol Cunningham, can help you restore your smile.

Dental Implants

Dental implants provide the newest and longest-lasting way to replace missing teeth. The implant process pairs synthetic titanium posts with dental crowns to create brand new teeth. The titanium posts serve as artificial tooth roots and are placed in your jawbone during minor oral surgery in Decatur.

Titanium implants slowly bond to your jawbone, creating secure, stable new roots in just three to six months. A dental crown, an artificial tooth that looks just like the visible part of your tooth, is added to the top of each implant to complete the restoration process.

Dental implants don't reduce your biting power, help keep your jawbone strong and feel very much like natural teeth. Because the implants become part of your jawbone, they may never need to be replaced.


A bridge may be an option if you've lost one or two teeth. The restoration consists of several artificial teeth connected to dental crowns on either side. The hollow crowns slip over teeth on either side of the gap and anchor the bridge. Removable bridges are available, although most bridges are cemented on to the supporting teeth and become a permanent part of your smile.

Implanted-supported bridges offer an alternative to traditional bridges if you've lost several teeth in a row.


Full or immediate dentures replace all of your upper or lower teeth. The removable restorations consist of synthetic teeth attached to a pink base that looks like gum tissue. Dentures improve your appearance and make it easier to chew and speak clearly.

Implant-supported dentures offer another denture option. Each denture can be supported by as few as four dental implants. The dentures are connected directly to implants or to a metal framework. Benefits of implant-supported dentures include improved biting power and comfort.

Fill the gaps in your smile with dental implants or other restoration options! Call your dentist in Decatur, IL, Dr. Cunningham, at (217) 422-7448 to schedule an appointment.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
September 09, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: does implants  

Struggling with missing teeth? Change the direction of your smile and your life with ingenious dental implants. With the ability to replace dental implantsteeth from the root on up, implants recreate natural biting, chewing, speaking, and aesthetics for healthy teens and adults. Here at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, Dr. Carol Cunningham can restore your smile with the help of dental implants. Dental implants are a reliable and long term solution. Read on to learn more!

What is a dental implant?

It is a prosthetic tooth that is made of three parts: a titanium screw that functions as a tooth root, a metal extension placed on top of it, and custom-crafted porcelain crown at the summit. The titanium root actually bonds with the jaw bone, increasing bone volume and strength. This bonding process is known to research scientists and dentists as osseointegration.

How long do implants last?

Healthy dental implant sites support these artificial teeth for decades, according to the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness.

Is the procedure painful?

A specialist will place the dental implant. A dental implant procedure always begins with the numbing the insertion site, so rest assured that the treatment will be free of discomfort. 

Furthermore, you will be happy to know that dental implant placement succeeds 95 percent of the time.

How long does implant treatment take?

The surgery itself takes about an hour, with osseointegration taking another few months to complete. Once the fusion process has occurred, you will return to Gentle Art of Dentistry's office in Decatur for the restoration of the dental implant with a crown.

Find out more

Your smile can be beautiful and functional again. To start the dental implant process, call Dr. Carol Cunningham's office in Decatur, IL, by dialing (217) 422-7448.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
August 20, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Bonding  

Bonding from your dentist in Decatur, IL, can enhance your smile

Did you know there is an easy way to enhance your smile? It’s called dental bonding, and it’s a very popular dental treatment to give you bright smilethe smile you deserve. Dr. Carol A. Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, offers a wide variety of restorative, preventive, and cosmetic dental services, including dental bonding to help your smile.

Dental bonding is one of the most versatile cosmetic dental treatments available. In fact, dental bonding can help restore and repair teeth that are:

  • Chipped, cracked, or broken
  • Eroded, abraded, or worn down
  • Discolored, stained, or blotchy

Dental bonding can also help hide other issues including gaps between your teeth, and tooth overlap. The treatment uses composite, a unique liquid resin material that can be matched to the color of your teeth, so the bonding treatment looks natural. Composite can also be sculpted to match the natural contours of your teeth, so your smile looks uniform and harmonious.

There are many reasons why dental bonding has become popular. When you choose dental bonding, you will enjoy:

  • Fast results, because most bonding services can be completed in one appointment
  • Budget-friendly services, because dental bonding is much less expensive than other cosmetic treatments.

Your tooth is prepared for dental bonding by the application of an etching agent, which creates small pore-like openings in the tooth surface, to help retain the composite. Then a strong cement is applied, followed by the composite. The composite is hardened using a blue light. As a final step, the bonding is polished to perfection.

Dental bonding can help your smile more easily and quickly than you’ve ever thought possible. You and your smile deserve the magic of dental bonding. To find out more about dental bonding and other dental services, call Dr. Carol A. Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, today!