Our Blog

Dental Emergencies while Traveling

May 11th, 2022

You’ve planned your dream vacation. Your reservations are made. You’re packed and ready. You’ve even scheduled a dental checkup at our Chicago office to make sure you catch any potential problems, have finished any major work, and have an up-to-date chart.

But things don’t always go according to even the best of plans. So, what to do if you find you have a dental emergency while traveling? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team have some recommendations for problems that might arise.

  • Toothache—Rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food particles. Never put aspirin directly on a tooth or gum tissue. If the pain persists, call a dentist.
  • Cracked or broken tooth—Immediately rinse with warm water to clean the area and apply cold compresses to the face to minimize swelling. Get in touch with a dentist.
  • If you lose a tooth—Keep the tooth moist at all times. Put the tooth back in the socket without touching the root if possible. If that is not an option, place the tooth between the cheek and gums or in milk. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Know where to get help if you need it! If you are traveling in the United States, the American Dental Association offers Find-a-Dentist, a website that can locate a member dentist closest to you. If you are traveling to another country, there are steps you can take to prepare for an emergency.

  • If you are out of the country and need to locate a dentist, your local embassy or consulate, your hotel concierge, or friends abroad can be a useful resource.
  • Before you go, check your insurance to see if you are covered while traveling.
  • If you have travel insurance, find out if it covers dental treatment and can provide information on qualified local dentists and translation help, if necessary.
  • Good dental care is available in many areas internationally, but it is important to know what standards are present in the countries you plan to visit. The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures offers a checklist for safe treatment in their “Traveler’s Guide to Safe Dental Care.”

If you have any questions, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team are happy to do all we can to answer them. While it’s unlikely that problems will arise, we are always available if you need to contact our Chicago office. Bon voyage, and we look forward to hearing about your trip!

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 5th, 2022

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

April 28th, 2022

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Chicago office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

What Are Dental Sealants?

April 27th, 2022

You’re constantly playing defense. Your child spends two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night carefully brushing and flossing with a fluoride toothpaste. You make sure sugary and acidic foods are not a major part of your diets. Your child visits our Chicago office for regular exams and cleanings. Really, how can a cavity get past all that?

But even with the best defensive practices, you don’t have a level playing field—literally. The tops of our molars and premolars don’t have the smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that our other teeth have. If you look at the chewing surfaces, you will notice deep grooves which toothbrush bristles have a much harder time reaching.  

Plaque and food particles can become trapped in these grooves (known as pits and fissures), providing perfect conditions for a cavity to develop. That is why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars. Dental sealants protect these teeth from cavities by providing a barrier which smooths out the surface of the tooth and prevents food and bacteria from reaching the molar’s crevices.

Most sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings which we apply in our Chicago office. Usually the procedure is so quick and easy that no dental anesthetic is required. Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of early decay, we will gently treat that area before beginning.

When the tooth is ready, it will be cleaned and dried. An etching solution will be brushed on to the dry surface to roughen the area a bit so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light. And that’s it!

Once teeth are sealed, they should be cleaned and flossed just as carefully as before. Regular exams and cleanings are still very important, and we can monitor the condition of the sealant and the sealed teeth. Properly applied, sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer.

Who should consider sealants? Sealants are typically recommended when the permanent molars first erupt. Children’s enamel takes a while to become its strongest, and so these just-erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. Sometimes Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will recommend sealants for primary (baby) teeth if needed. But even adults can benefit—talk to us if you are interested and we will let you know if sealants might be right for you.

Sealants are a simple, safe, and minimally invasive way to prevent cavities. Studies of sealed molars and premolars show a dramatic reduction in cavities compared to untreated teeth. Sealants are one of the most effective ways to defend your teeth or your children’s teeth from tooth decay. And as we’ve all heard—defense wins championships!