My Blog

Posts for: October, 2016

By Douglas Pennino, DDS
October 30, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: x-rays  

One of the most widely used forms of dental imaging is the bitewing x-ray. So called because of the shape of the device that holds the exposable film a patient clenches between their back teeth, the bitewing x-ray is an effective means for detecting the earliest stages of tooth decay.

These early signs are small lesions on a tooth surface caused by mineral loss in the enamel. While we can identify them on front teeth through visual examination or bright lighting, they’re nearly impossible to see on the biting surfaces of back teeth. The bitewing x-ray solves this problem.

During the procedure, a narrow beam of x-rays is directed at the back teeth area. Since X-rays can transmit through solid matter, they pass through the teeth and gums to expose the film attached to the bitewing assembly.

X-rays pass through matter at different rates depending on the density of the tissue — a slower rate for harder tissues like teeth and bone and a faster rate for soft tissues like the gums. As a result, x-rays through teeth expose less of the film and appear as a lighter image than the gums. This difference is so precise even a tooth’s softer dentin appears slighter darker than its harder outer enamel.

This precision helps us identify decay lesions. Because the lesions on the enamel are less dense than the normal enamel, they’ll appear as dark spots. By detecting them at this stage we have a better chance for reversing the effects of decay or at least minimizing damage that’s already occurred.

Because x-rays emit radiation, there’s a natural concern about over-exposure and we go to great lengths to reduce it. Children may undergo a bitewing x-ray twice a year for developing teeth, while adults with healthy teeth are typically x-rayed just once a year. Advances in digital film and other technology have also helped lower the exposure rate.

Today’s standard 4-film bitewing x-ray produces about four days worth of what we receive on average from normal background radiation, so the health risk is quite negligible. The benefit, on the other hand, is much greater — the early detection of tooth decay could ultimately save a tooth.

If you would like more information on the use of bitewing x-rays in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Douglas Pennino, DDS
October 15, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   braces  

Have you started orthodontic treatment recently? Are you having a little trouble getting used to your braces? If so, you are not alone: Everybody goes through an adjustment period during which they momentarily wonder if they’ll really ever get used to this. Don’t worry — you will! And we’ve never heard anyone say, on the day their braces come off and their new smile is revealed, that they aren’t glad they went the distance. Just ask Houston Rockets all-star center Dwight Howard, who discussed his own orthodontic treatment in a recent interview.

“I’m sure I was no different than anyone else who has ever had braces,” he told Mediaplanet. “At first I hated them so much… That changed once I got used to them and I actually grew to love them.” What’s Howard’s advice? “Do exactly what your orthodontist says and know that the outcome is well worth it in the end.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are some tips for wearing braces comfortably:

  • Hard & Chewy Foods: If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s great; there’s no reason to give them up, just the really hard ones. You don’t want to bite into an apple or carrot or any other hard foods like bagels and pizza that have any “size” to them. Small pieces may be ok as long as they can’t bend your wires. Chewy, sticky candy should really be avoided completely. Same with soda, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks because they contain acids that promote tooth decay and can cause a lot of damage around the braces.
  • Effective Oral Hygiene: Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever, but also more challenging than ever. It’s easy for food to get stuck under wires and around brackets, but failing to remove it can cause tooth decay, gum irritation and soreness. Therefore, the cleaner your teeth and your braces are, the healthier you will be. Use interdental cleaning brushes and/or a floss-threader to get behind your wires. A mouthrinse can also help strengthen teeth and keep bacteria in check. If you have any questions about how to clean between your teeth, please ask for a demonstration at your next visit.
  • Pain Relief: Some soreness at the beginning of orthodontic treatment is normal. To relieve it, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever and/or a warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw. If brackets or wires are rubbing against the inside of your cheeks or lips, try applying wax to these areas of your braces. If this does not offer enough relief, we may be able to trim the end of a poking wire. Call us if you need help with this.

Our goal is to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible on the way to achieving your all-star smile. If you have questions about adjusting to braces, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”

By Douglas Pennino, DDS
October 04, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: veneers  

What your dentist in Barrington, Illinois wants you to know about veneers


If you have porcelain veneers or are thinking about porcelain veneer treatment, you may be wondering how strong they are. The answer veneersis porcelain veneers are made from high-tech materials which are both strong and beautiful, but there are still some habits you should avoid to get the most out of your porcelain veneers. Your dentists Dr. Douglas Pennino and Dr. Chase Pennino at Pennino Family Dentistry in Barrington, Illinois want to help you preserve your porcelain veneers and protect your investment.

Because of the materials used, porcelain veneers are resilient and resist stains. However, your dentists in Barrington, Illinois want you to avoid:

  • Using your teeth as tools; don’t tear open bags with your teeth.
  • Biting into hard foods like candy; don’t chew ice cubes or bite your fingernails.
  • Playing contact sports without protection; always wear a mouthguard.
  • Grinding your teeth at night; if you do grind your teeth, visit your dentists in Barrington, Illinois to be fitted with a nightguard as soon as possible.

Your dentists in Barrington, Illinois want you to know you can care for your veneers just like your natural teeth. Remember to brush after meals and before bed, and floss daily to protect your gums, teeth, and your veneers.

You should also visit your dentists in Barrington, Illinois regularly so they can check your veneers and take care of any issues. When you visit your dentist in Barrington, Illinois they will examine your gums around the veneers to make sure they are healthy.

Porcelain veneers are a strong, excellent choice to mask cosmetic issues like cracks and chips. They are also a versatile choice that can change the entire look of your smile. Porcelain veneers are an investment you’ve made in yourself, and you want to get the best return on your investment, so get some help from the experts. It’s time to call your dentists at Pennino Family Dentistry in Barrington, Illinois. Call today and take care of your smile!