My Blog

Posts for: January, 2017

By Douglas Pennino, DDS
January 30, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

Are you considering making the switch to charcoal toothpaste after reading about it on a website or in a magazine? Dr. Douglas Pennino oral hygieneand Dr. Chase Pennino, your Barrington, IL dentists, discuss the benefits and potential drawbacks of this new type of toothpaste.

Why charcoal?

Activated charcoal has been used for years to treat a variety of medical problems. It can help absorb toxins if you accidentally ingest chemicals, relieve the itching of mosquito bites and reduce bloating. Lately, it's become a popular ingredient in some kinds of toothpaste. Although activated charcoal may reduce cavities by altering the mouth's pH level, most people like its whitening capabilities.

When the charcoal comes in contact with your teeth, surface stains caused by brightly colored substances, such as cola, soy sauce, coffee or wine, bind to the charcoal. Once you spit out the toothpaste your stains are gone, and your teeth are slightly whiter.

Is is a good idea to use activated charcoal toothpaste?

Barrington dentists have a few concerns about activated charcoal toothpaste. Because it's abrasive, it may damage your tooth enamel. It's possible that using the toothpaste every day might cause your tooth enamel to wear away. Unfortunately, if that happens, instead of appearing whiter, your teeth will actually begin to look yellow. The problem occurs when the darker dentin layer under the enamel is exposed.

Charcoal toothpaste may also be too irritating for some people. The problem is more likely to occur if you use activated charcoal powder rather than the paste, but tooth and gum sensitivity may still be possible if you brush with charcoal toothpaste.

You'll want to be particularly cautious if you have crowns, bridges, veneers, composite resin fillings or bonded areas on your teeth. In some cases, the charcoal in the paste or powder can discolor these restorations.

How often can I use charcoal toothpaste?

If you would like to try charcoal toothpaste, don't use it more than once every week or two to avoid enamel damage. As of yet, the toothpaste hasn't undergone long-term studies to determine its effectiveness and safety. Until it does, it's best to exercise caution when you use it.

If you're not sure that charcoal toothpaste is right for you, your Barrington, IL, dentists can offer other whitening options. Call them at (224) 655-6384 to schedule your appointment.


By Douglas Pennino, DDS
January 21, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dry mouth  
GetControlofDryMouthtoProtectYourDentalHealth

As your mother used to say, “A moist mouth is a healthy mouth.” Well, maybe she didn't — but it's still true. Without the constant flow of saliva, your teeth and gums would be less healthy.

That's because among its many functions, saliva helps keep the mouth from becoming too acidic. Just after eating, your mouth's neutral pH level tips to the acidic side of the scale. Acid is enamel's number one enemy, and it takes little time for it to begin dissolving mineral content. But in thirty minutes to an hour, saliva neutralizes the acid; it also helps restore some of the enamel's minerals.

Without adequate saliva flow, acid quickly gets the upper hand. In time, this can greatly increase your risk for dental disease. And for many people, inadequate saliva — dry mouth — is a chronic problem.

There are a number of reasons why. Salivary glands may not produce as much in our later years. In addition, as we age, we may begin taking more medications, some of which can cause dry mouth. Treatments for certain kinds of systemic diseases, particularly cancer, can also inhibit saliva or even damage salivary glands.

If you feel your mouth is continuously dry, make an appointment to find out the cause, which will determine the best course of action to alleviate it. If it's related to your medication, we'll see if there's an alternative. If not, you may need to drink more water when you take your medication and more throughout the day.

There are other things you can do as well. Reduce your intake of acidic foods or caffeinated beverages. Run a cool-air humidifier at night to keep your mouth and nose membranes moist. And you can also try saliva stimulants available by prescription or even over the counter. Chewing gum with xylitol (an alcohol-based sugar) has also been shown to stimulate saliva flow.

Above all, be diligent about daily brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings and checkups. Keeping a watchful eye will help ensure dental disease doesn't take advantage of your dry mouth.

If you would like more information on managing dry mouth, 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 “Dry Mouth.”


By Douglas Pennino, DDS
January 06, 2017
Category: Oral Health
NoahGallowaysDentallyDangerousDancing

For anyone else, having a tooth accidentally knocked out while practicing a dance routine would be a very big deal. But not for Dancing With The Stars contestant Noah Galloway. Galloway, an Iraq War veteran and a double amputee, took a kick to the face from his partner during a recent practice session, which knocked out a front tooth. As his horrified partner looked on, Galloway picked the missing tooth up from the floor, rinsed out his mouth, and quickly assessed his injury. “No big deal,” he told a cameraman capturing the scene.

Of course, not everyone would have the training — or the presence of mind — to do what Galloway did in that situation. But if you’re facing a serious dental trauma, such as a knocked out tooth, minutes count. Would you know what to do under those circumstances? Here’s a basic guide.

If a permanent tooth is completely knocked out of its socket, you need to act quickly. Once the injured person is stable, recover the tooth and gently clean it with water — but avoid grasping it by its roots! Next, if possible, place the tooth back in its socket in the jaw, making sure it is facing the correct way. Hold it in place with a damp cloth or gauze, and rush to the dental office, or to the emergency room if it’s after hours or if there appear to be other injuries.

If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back, you can place it between the cheek and gum, or in a plastic bag with the patient’s saliva, or in the special tooth-preserving liquid found in some first-aid kits. Either way, the sooner medical attention is received, the better the chances that the tooth can be saved.

When a tooth is loosened or displaced but not knocked out, you should receive dental attention within six hours of the accident. In the meantime, you can rinse the mouth with water and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) to ease pain. A cold pack temporarily applied to the outside of the face can also help relieve discomfort.

When teeth are broken or chipped, you have up to 12 hours to get dental treatment. Follow the guidelines above for pain relief, but don’t forget to come in to the office even if the pain isn’t severe. Of course, if you experience bleeding that can’t be controlled after five minutes, dizziness, loss of consciousness or intense pain, seek emergency medical help right away.

And as for Noah Galloway:  In an interview a few days later, he showed off his new smile, with the temporary bridge his dentist provided… and he even continued to dance with the same partner!

If you would like more information about dental trauma, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”