Posts for: May, 2011

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
May 29, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  

For generations, root canal treatment has received a bad rap. Thought to cause pain, it is actually just the reverse. The truth is that root canal treatment does not cause pain but actually relieves it. Not only does root canal treatment relieve pain, it literally saves the affected tooth or teeth from further damage and/or loss.

To get started, let's define this procedure. A root canal treatment is a procedure in which the diseased pulpal tissue in the root canals are removed, disinfected, cleaned, and sealed. This is usually necessary following inflammation and infection of the pulp — which is the cause of your pain — as a result of severe decay or in a very heavily filled or damaged tooth.

However, if left untreated, an infected tooth can spread into the bone and even cause an abscess — and that can be more painful and impact your overall general health. The good news is that once a tooth has had the appropriate endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) followed by a proper restoration, it can last as long as your other teeth. The key is to take proper care of your teeth, have routine cleanings, and visit our offices as soon as you feel you have a problem with a tooth.

If you are having pain from a tooth or several teeth, you may need a root canal treatment. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment before it gets worse. To learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


Are you are considering a cosmetic procedure such as porcelain veneers? To assist you in making this decision, we developed the following list of questions you should consider asking before getting porcelain veneers.

  • Am I a good candidate for porcelain veneers?
  • Can you show me examples of your work?
  • How much will my veneers cost?
  • Will my insurance cover any portion of my procedure?
  • Do you offer any financing for my procedure or can you make any recommendations for financing?
  • How will you chose what color to make my veneers?
  • How long will it take from my initial consultation until I receive my final, permanent veneers?
  • How much tooth reduction (drilling) will you need to do before placing my veneers?
  • How do veneers attach to my teeth?
  • Can you create a prototype or temporary veneers so that I can “test drive” my new smile before my permanent ones are made?
  • What do I need to do to clean and protect my veneers?
  • How long can I expect my veneers to last?
  • If at some point in the future I decide I want my veneers removed, what can I expect?

We hope that the above questions help you obtain all the answers you need as you consider getting porcelain veneers. If you have other questions, concerns, or if you are ready to take the next step and schedule a consultation, please contact our office.


What causes stains on teeth?

Staining can occur on the outside surfaces of teeth and is caused by foods such as red wine, coffee, and tea, as well as by tobacco use. They can also be developmental, affecting the structure of the teeth due to excessive fluoride levels or from tetracycline antibiotics given during childhood to name a few. Changes in a tooth's enamel or dentin during tooth formation, or as teeth age, can also cause discoloration.

What is going on inside a tooth's structure that makes it look stained?

Most of a tooth's covering (95 percent) is composed of highly mineralized enamel. The crystals of enamel are contained in a framework, or matrix, of organic matter. Dentists believe that various organic compounds that get into this matrix can cause staining.

How do whiteners work?

Tooth whiteners or bleaches expose the teeth to a peroxide compound. This creates reactive oxygen that breaks down highly colored organic compounds within the tooth's sub-surface matrix, making the tooth look whiter, but without changing its internal structure.

What professional in-office whitening techniques are available?

During treatment, a high concentration of peroxide solution in the form of a gel is applied directly on the teeth, often with activation by a heat or light source. These systems use custom tailored trays fitted to an individual's mouth. Silicone barriers or protective gels are used to keep the peroxide gel away from the gums or sensitive membranes in the mouth.

How are professional home whiteners different?

Home whiteners involve a less concentrated solution of peroxide in a gel form. It is delivered to the tooth surface by a bleaching tray that is custom-made in your dentist's office. Over-the-counter whiteners such as whitening strips or paint-on formulas can also be used, but they take longer and they're not as effective — the more diluted solutions are used for safety.

Can toothpastes really whiten teeth?

Mild abrasives in toothpastes clean surface stains but cannot change the underlying tooth color or remove significant staining.

How long do the results last?

Usually, the results last from six months to two years, but effects will diminish over time. You can make them last longer by avoiding the foods and habits that cause staining.

Are teeth whiteners safe to use?

Teeth whitening products are safe if used according to our recommendations or the product manufacturer's directions. Peroxide products may be toxic if used in excess of recommended intervals and amounts.

Read more about teeth whitening in the article “Teeth Whitening, Brighter, Lighter, Whiter...” Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether tooth whitening is right for you.


FAQs About This New and Miraculous Procedure

How can sinus surgery contribute to the replacement of missing back teeth with dental implants?
Dental implants must be anchored the in bone to be successful. Maxillary sinus surgery can help regenerate bone that has been lost and is critically needed to anchor dental implants.

What are the maxillary air sinuses?
Inside the upper jaw, or “maxilla,” are structures known as the maxillary air sinuses, one on either side of the upper jaw. Each sinus is an air-filled space lined by a membrane. Upper back teeth are normally encased in the bone of the maxilla, below the sinuses.

Why is it important to replace missing back teeth?
Replacing back teeth restores the ability to eat, chew, and talk properly. The back teeth also provide facial and cheek support.

Why use dental implants?
Dental implants are the state-of-the-art method for replacing missing teeth.

Why does bone loss occur?
Unless special precautions are taken to prevent it, when teeth are lost, the bone supporting them is also lost.

If there is insufficient bone to anchor dental implants, what are the alternatives?
If all the back teeth are lost and dental implants cannot be placed, removable upper dentures may be the only alternative.

How do you determine whether a sinus surgical procedure is necessary?
The size, shape, and remaining bone of the maxillary sinuses influence whether you can have dental implants with or without a sinus surgical procedure.

How does surgery grow bone?
A small window is created in the sinus wall above where implants need to be placed. The sinus membrane is lifted and the space thus created filled with bone grafting and biologically active bone generating materials. The window is then closed and simply heals.

How is the surgery done?
The surgical procedures are performed from inside the mouth in the area just above the missing back teeth. They are generally carried out under local anesthesia (small shots, just like for a filling), sometimes with the addition of sedation or anti-anxiety medication.

How do bone grafts work?
Bone grafts act as scaffolds that the body replaces with its own bone. The most well researched bone substitute grafting material is currently bovine (cow) bone. All grafting materials are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are specially treated to render them completely sterile, non-contagious, and free of rejection factors.

What can I expect after surgery?
Moderate swelling and discomfort after surgery generally lasts for a few days to a week, about the same as having an upper impacted wisdom tooth removed. Supportive treatment usually includes a course of antibiotics to prevent infection and prescription strength medication of the aspirin or ibuprofen type. A decongestant may also be prescribed, if necessary. Healing is generally uneventful.

Who performs this surgery?
Maxillary sinus augmentations are usually carried out by oral surgeons, periodontists, or appropriately trained general dentists. Proper assessment of your situation and diagnosis are critical pre-requisites to the right procedure.

If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment and discuss maxillary sinus augmentation. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery: Creating Bone for Dental Implants out of Thin Air.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
May 01, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Sucking their fingers or thumbs makes young babies feel secure and is completely normal behavior. Babies have been observed to suck their fingers or thumbs even before they are born. But like many comforting habits, over-doing pacifier, thumb, or finger sucking habits may be harmful.

Stop Pacifier Use by 18 Months

Studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in a child's mouth. We recommend that pacifier use should stop by about 18 months. A pacifier habit is often easier to break than finger or thumb sucking.

Stop Thumb and Finger Sucking by Age Three

Most children naturally stop thumb and finger sucking between two and four years of age, but some children continue this habit much longer. This may cause their upper front teeth to tip towards their lips or to come into position improperly. It can also cause their upper jaw to develop incorrectly. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop these habits by age three.

Use of Behavior Management to Encourage Quitting

We offer creative strategies for gentle ways to cut back and stop pacifier use, including behavior management techniques that use appropriate rewards given at predetermined intervals. Meanwhile, make periodic appointments with us to carefully watch the way your child's teeth and jaws develop.

When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, just talking about what may happen to teeth as a result can often encourage him/her to quit. As a last resort, a mouth appliance that blocks sucking may be needed.

If you are worried about your child sucking a pacifier, thumb, or fingers, please visit us to put your mind at rest. For more information read “Thumb Sucking in Children” in Dear Doctor magazine. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about children's thumb sucking.




Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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