Our Dental Blog

Posts for category: Oral Health

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
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
November 08, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   TMD  

Jaw muscle pain and tightness can be very uncomfortable. If you experience such issues near your ear or jaw, you should seek treatment for TMD/TMJ in Decatur, IL. At Gentle Art of Dentistry, Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens can help diagnose and treat this uncomfortable jaw muscle issue.

What is TMD/TMJ?

TMD/TMJ refers to ongoing pain in the area near the ear, jaw, or muscles on the side of your face. TMD is short for Temporomandibular disorders, but sometimes people incorrectly use the abbreviation TMJ. TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint, which is the name of the jaw joint.

What Are Common Signs of TMD and TMJ?

You probably have TMD if you experience the following symptoms such as muscle pain in the cheeks or temples, clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth, and jaw joint pain. The clicking sound is not automatically a sign of TMD. If it is accompanied by pain or limited function, then you most likely have TMD.

Muscle pain in your jaw when closing your mouth may be a result of jaw clenching and teeth grinding at night. Sleeping with a nightguard is very helpful in this situation. Based on X-rays, it is possible to have signs of arthritis in the jaw without the pain associated with TMD.

If you have signs of TMD/TMJ in Decatur, IL, your dentists can help develop a plan to manage the pain and possibly treat it. Home remedies include reducing jaw stress by eating softer foods or using ice or heat compression on the painful area. We may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication in some cases. In severe cases, we may have to recommend orthodontic treatment.
Instead of suffering through jaw pain, contact your dentists for help. Visit us at Gentle Art of Dentistry for TMD/TMJ treatment in Decatur, IL. Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Jurgens will use their professional expertise to help you manage this often painful jaw joint condition. Call us at (217) 422-7448 for an appointment today.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
February 05, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental implants  

Losing a tooth, or more, is never easy, but thanks to modern dentistry you don't have to endure a gap in your smile for very long. Not only can a gap be unsightly, but untreated, it can lend itself to other dental complications over time. Your dentist has at their disposal a number of procedures to restore your smile, they each have their benefits, but in many ways, dental implants often excel above the rest. Certain habits and conditions may preclude you as a candidate but they are overall a highly sought after and highly successful treatment for missing teeth. To learn more get in contact with Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens of Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL.

Fixing Gaps

Correcting a gap in your smile isn't merely an aesthetic choice. The absence of a tooth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift into the empty space and create a sort of domino effect for the teeth that follow. Leading to possible crowding which in turn can make it difficult for you to thoroughly clean your teeth, and the gap itself serves as a trap for food. It can also alter your bite and can lead ultimately to headaches and an aching jaw. Dental implants can replace your missing tooth and keep complications from happening.

Alternative to Dental Bridges

The traditional treatment for correcting gaps has been dental bridges. They are an excellent choice for many, but a downside is that they depend on the healthy teeth neighboring the gap to support the new tooth. A dental implant, on the other hand, is a titanium post that is permanently bonded directly to the bone and serves as a root for the replacement tooth, or teeth. All of this without impacting other teeth.

Alternative to Dentures

If you are missing many teeth, employing a similar procedure to that described above, your dentist can apply an implant-supported denture. No longer would you have to worry about your dentures coming loose in your mouth and making it difficult to eat or speak comfortably. Dentures remain a viable treatment for many, but for some, getting used to wearing them can be challenging, that's where dental implants come in.

Natural Form and Function

Whether it's a single tooth or more, replacing them with dental implants returns to you a smile that looks and feels, and acts like your natural teeth. A lot of this has to do with the way dental implants work.


Dental implants permanently fuse with the bone, this is through a process called osseointegration. Then it's onto this very secure bond that a crown is attached, making for a smile that will last for decades to come.

Dental Implants in Decatur, IL

If you still need convincing, or if you just want to know if you're a candidate for the procedure, then it's time to make an appointment with Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens of Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL, by dialing (217) 422-7448.

By Carol A. Cunningham, DDS
December 23, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Dental Checkups   Dentist  

Visiting the dentist regularly can play a significant role in helping you enjoy healthier teeth and gums. Unfortunately, many people do not see the dentist as often as is recommended. Even if you have not had a dental checkup recently, it is important to know when it is time to visit the dentist. Certain symptoms can be warning signs of a particular oral health problem. Dr. Carol Cunningham and Dr. Daniel Jurgens, the skilled dentists at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, can help you achieve better oral health.

Importance of Dental Checkups

Regular dental checkups are one of the best ways to promote a healthier mouth. They include an oral exam and screening, as well as professional teeth cleaning. The oral exam gives the dentist an opportunity to identify potential areas of concern, such as inflamed gums, so the problem can be remedied before it becomes more serious. The exam also allows the dentist to screen for oral cancer and other diseases so treatment can begin promptly.

Oral cleanings help you achieve and maintain optimal oral health as well. Dental professionals have the training, skills, and tools for achieving a deeper clean than is usually possible at home. Plus, certain oral health threats, such as tartar buildup, can only be cleared away during a professional cleaning. Tartar adheres so strongly to the teeth that it cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing at home.

Periodic dental checkups with cleanings contribute to better oral health and help prevent a host of problems from developing, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Signs You Need to See a Dentist

Certain symptoms can be an indication of an oral health issue. Five warning signs that you need to see a dentist include:

  • Toothache — Tooth pain can be a sign of several possible issues, such as a cavity, an abscess, a damaged filling, or the need for a root canal.
  • Gum issues — Gums that are receding, inflamed, or bleed after brushing or flossing could be infected and might be in the early stages of gum disease.
  • Loose or shifting teeth — If your teeth have moved slightly or gaps have developed, that could be a sign of bone loss.
  • Oral lesions — Bumps or sores in the mouth, such as white sores on the tongue or inner cheek, are often due to a condition known as thrush.
  • Dry mouth or persistent bad breath — Saliva helps clear away food debris, as well as neutralize acids that can erode tooth enamel. A dry mouth could be a sign of illness. Chronic bad breath could also be a sign of an oral health condition, such as gum disease or a cavity.

See one of the experienced dentists at our office in Decatur if you have any of these symptoms. The dentist can identify the problem and advise you on what steps should be taken next to treat the condition and restore your oral health.

You should definitely see the dentist if you are experiencing any symptoms, but it is best to schedule regular dental checkups to help prevent problems from developing in the first place. Dr. Cunningham or Dr. Jurgens treat a wide range of dental issues and can help restore your oral health.

To schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, call Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur IL at (217) 422-7448.