Posts for: July, 2011

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
July 24, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene   brushing  

It is important to brush your teeth every day to remove plaque (that sticky white film, composed of bacteria, on your teeth near your gums), but it is possible to overdo it — particularly if you find that your teeth are becoming sensitive to hot and cold or to variations in pressure.

Brushing your teeth too hard or too many times per day can aggravate tooth sensitivity, which can range from a mild twinge to a severe pain. You can accomplish the goal of tooth brushing — plaque removal — by using a soft brush with a very gentle action. Repeated aggressive brushing with a hard brush is not required and can even be harmful to your teeth and gums.

To understand how teeth become sensitive, you need to know about the internal structure of your teeth. Teeth are covered by enamel, a hard mineralized coating that protects them from changes in temperature and pressure. If the enamel is worn away, it exposes the next lower layer of the tooth, the dentin. The dentin is a living tissue containing nerve fibers that connect to the nerves in the tooth's root.

Excessive tooth brushing can irritate your gums and cause them to shrink away from your teeth, particularly if you have thin gum tissues. The thickness or thinness of your gum tissues is something you inherit from your parents, so you can't change it. Hard brushing can begin to wear away the enamel covering of your teeth. Exposure to acids or sugars in the foods you eat and drink can continue the damage.

Acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juices dissolve some of the minerals in your teeth by a process called “demineralization.” Fortunately, your saliva can interact with the enamel and bring back minerals that are leaving the tooth's surface. This process is called “remineralization.” It is important to let your healthy saliva wash your teeth's surfaces for a while before brushing so that dissolved minerals get a chance to be returned to your enamel. It takes between twelve and twenty-four hours for plaque to form on your teeth, so you don't need to brush more than twice a day.

The best way to make sure you are brushing your teeth properly is to have us evaluate your brushing technique at your next dental appointment. We will be able to tell you whether you need to change the angle of your brush or the pressure you are applying for the most effective removal of plaque with the least wear on your teeth and gums. Tooth brushing serves an important purpose, but remember that you can actually have too much of a good thing.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth brushing and oral hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”


Just as you would expect, we highly recommend the use of protective mouthguards to anyone participating in contact sports or rigorous physical exercise. The primary reasons we feel this way are substantiated by evidence-based research and experience within our practice. If you don't think mouthguards are helpful, here are some facts you should know:

  • Research conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that individuals are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard while engaged in contact sports or rigorous physical exercise. This shocking fact alone illustrates the importance of protective mouthguards.
  • A study reported by the American Academy of General Dentistry (AAGD) found that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and/or teeth each year.
  • Sports-related injuries often end-up in the emergency room; however, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 600,000 of these visits involve injury or damage to the teeth and mouth.
  • In addition to the trauma of having a tooth (or teeth) knocked out, individuals who have suffered from this type of injury may end up spending $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth over a lifetime for teeth that are not properly preserved and replanted. This staggering statistic is from the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.
  • While protective mouthguards were first used in the sport of boxing during the 1920s, the ADA now recommends their use in 29 (and growing) different high contact sports and activities. Some of these include acrobatics, baseball, basketball, bicycling, field hockey, football, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, skateboarding, skiing, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling.
  • It used to be that only males were considered when it came to needing mouthguards. However, recent studies have revealed that the growing interest and participation of females in these same sports and activities makes it just as important for them to protect their teeth.

To learn more about the importance of mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about protecting your mouth and teeth. And if you have already suffered from a dental injury, let us evaluate the damage and work with you to restore the health and beauty of your teeth.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
July 10, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Parenthood comes with no manual — if it did it would surely include many essential tips to make your job easier while improving your children's lives. One important fact that surprises many people, is the age you should take your children to the dentist for their first dental appointment, age one. The reason that the age one dental visit is so important is that it establishes the foundation of oral healthcare for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, some parents wrongly assume that because primary teeth “fall out anyway,” they do not need to worry about them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

One problem children may face is Early Childhood Caries (ECC) tooth decay. This is a type of tooth decay that occurs from sucking on a bottle filled with sugary liquids such as formula, juices and fruity drinks for extended periods of time and from a sleep-time bottle. ECC can affect all the primary (baby) teeth in infants soon after they come into the mouth.

Bringing your children into our office for their age one dental visit enables us to establish a friendly, trusting relationship with the whole family while we assess your children's oral health. During this consultation we will identify if the teeth and jaws are developing correctly, whether habits such as sucking on baby bottles are causing tooth decay or if there are other underlying issues that may indicate future problems. And this ounce of prevention often enables us to stop an anticipated problem before it even starts.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
July 03, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Considering that over 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath and everyone else has dealt with some form of it at one time or another, we want to address some common causes and cures so you are prepared if it happens to you.

What are the most common causes of bad breath?

Halitosis or bad breath most often occurs when you have poor oral hygiene and/or routinely consume odorous foods and drinks. In fact, 90% percent of mouth odors come from the food you eat or bacteria that’s already there, according to the American Dental Association. Other causes for halitosis include:

  • Excessive bacterial growth in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • Known and characteristically odor producing foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol products
  • Diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys
  • A poorly hydrated body (and mouth) from not drinking enough water everyday

What should I do if I feel (or people tell me) I have chronic bad breath?

Contact us to schedule an appointment for a proper diagnosis and plan of action for returning your mouth to optimal health.

What are some tips I can do to prevent occasional bad breath?

In most cases, bad breath is totally preventable when you follow the tips below:

  • Brush your teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a fluoride toothpaste and a proper (and gentle) brushing technique.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Clean your tongue after brushing your teeth with either a scraping tool you can purchase at a drug or discount store or by gently brushing it with your toothbrush.
  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day.
  • Be prepared by having some mouth cleaning tools (floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste or some sugar free gum) handy to freshen your mouth after consuming bad smelling foods, drinks or using tobacco or alcohol.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase saliva production in your mouth and help remove food particles that can lodge between teeth.
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about halitosis by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More than Just Embarrassing.”




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

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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