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Posts for: March, 2018


The various structures in your mouth — your teeth and gums, of course, as well as periodontal tissues that hold teeth in place within the jaw — all function together to create your smile. This includes muscles like the frenum, a fold of muscle tissue that connects the gums to the upper lip, which helps pull the lip upward when you smile.

Unfortunately, an overly large frenum could contribute to an unattractive space between your two upper front teeth. The problem occurs when the frenum grows beyond its normal range and runs between the front teeth to connect with the gums behind them at the forefront of the roof of your mouth. The resulting space that may develop can be closed with orthodontics, but unless the excess frenum tissue is addressed the space may eventually reopen.

The frenum is just one cause among many for a noticeably wide space, including bite problems (malocclusions), finger-sucking habits or missing teeth. We would, therefore, need to examine your mouth to determine the exact cause before beginning any treatment. If indeed the frenum is the source of the problem, it will be necessary to ultimately remove the excess portion through a procedure known as a frenectomy.

A frenectomy is a minor surgical procedure performed by a periodontist, oral surgeon or a general dentist with surgical training. After numbing the area with local anesthesia, the tissue behind the teeth is dissected or reduced in size with a small scalpel or a surgical laser. The wound is then closed with a few stitches; any post-surgical discomfort is usually minimal and managed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication. The wound will completely heal within a few weeks.

Most frenectomies are performed after orthodontics to close the space. Removing it prior to tooth movement may result in scar tissue that prevents the space from closing. It’s also easier for the surgeon to gauge how much tissue to remove after space closure to avoid removing too much, which can leave a “black” triangular hole where gum tissue should normally be.

Treating an abnormally large frenum isn’t difficult, but it needs to be coordinated with orthodontic treatment for the best outcome. The end result is a smile that’s both healthy and attractive.

If you would like more information on teeth spacing problems, 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 “Space between Front Teeth.”

By Laura Elliff, DMD
March 14, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  

Fluoride is an important weapon in the fight against tooth decay. Fluoride consumption and other applications are especially beneficial during children's dental development for building strong teeth long-term.

But the truism "too much of a good thing" could aptly apply to fluoride. If a child consumes too much fluoride over an extended period of time, it could cause a condition called enamel fluorosis in which the enamel surface develops mottled or streaked staining. It's not harmful to the tooth's health, but it can greatly diminish a person's smile appearance.

To avoid fluorosis, it's important with the help of your dentist to know and regulate as much as possible the amount of fluoride your child receives. Here are 3 fluoride sources you should manage.

Toothpaste. Many manufacturers add fluoride to their toothpaste formula, usually an important way to receive this tooth-strengthening chemical. But younger children tend to swallow more toothpaste than older children or adults. Because the chemical builds up in the body over time, swallowing toothpaste every day could potentially elevate your child's fluoride levels. To avoid this, just use a "smear" of toothpaste on the brush for children under age 2, and a pea-sized amount for older children.

Your water system. About three-quarters of all public water utilities add fluoride to their water as an added measure for tooth decay prevention. The amount can vary from system to system, although the maximum amount recommended by the U.S. Government is 0.70 parts per million (PPM). You can ask your local water system how much fluoride, if any, is present or they add to your drinking water.

Bottled water. Any type of bottled beverage (water, juices, sodas, etc.) could contain various levels of fluoride. Unfortunately there are no labeling requirements regarding its presence, so the most prudent course is to carefully manage the beverages your child drinks, or stay with bottled water marked "de-ionized," "purified," "demineralized" or "distilled," which typically have lower fluoride levels. For babies feeding on milk, you can use the aforementioned bottled waters to mix powder, use ready-to-feed formula (also low in fluoride) or breast-feed.

If you would like more information on fluoride and your baby, 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 “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”

By Laura Elliff, DMD
March 06, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

When you lose a tooth, not only does the tooth exit your mouth, but so does the generous amount of bone and gum tissue Nature gave dental implantsyou. The result is an unattractive gap and compromised speech, chewing, and biting. Can you avoid these problems? The answer is yes if you close that gap with a dental implant from Elliff Dental in Batavia, IL. Dr. Andrew Elliff, Dr. Laura Elliff, and Dr. Alexander Stokowski use dental implants to replace missing teeth from the roots on up. Read more here, and learn if dental implants are your best option.

Different from conventional tooth replacements

Bridgework and dentures made the traditional way rest on top of gums and bone. While they fill gaps and give a good measure of normal oral function, they don't preserve the jaw bone and gum tissue. Both the gums and bone around an empty tooth socket shrink in size after extraction.

However, a dental implant resides right in the jaw bone. So as a patient bites and chews, the implant exercises that hard and soft tissue, preserving it and keeping it healthy.

Also, because a dental implant is a stand-alone replacement, it requires no support from neighboring teeth. There are no clasps, no denture adhesives, and no need to shave down adjacent teeth. In fact, when a patient receives a dental implant, he or she has an artificial tooth that looks, feels and acts like the real thing. Furthermore, multiple implants firmly anchor fixed bridgework and partial/full dentures.

Implant placement

To see if an implant is right for you, your dentist at Elliff Dental in Batavia will examine your teeth and gums and take X-rays and other kinds of imaging. Adequate bone in the jaw is essential to dental implant success. If you have enough bone, the treatment starts with a simple oral surgery in which the doctor numbs the jaw, incises the gums and drills a small access hole. Then, the titanium implant is inserted, and the area closed with sutures.

Over the subsequent weeks, the implant site heals, and the device itself bonds with the bone through osseointegration. This incredible natural process makes the implant just as strong as a natural tooth. After healing is complete, the site is re-opened, and your dentist attaches a metal post (abutment) and custom-crafted porcelain crown. And yes, that smile gap is gone for good.

Caring for your new tooth

The American Academy of Implant Dentistry says that your implant can last for the rest of your life if you take proper care of it. Brush twice a day, and floss around it. Get six-month cleanings and check-ups at Elliff Dental, and stop smoking to avoid peri-implantitis, a destructive gum, and bone infection.

Enjoy a complete smile

The team at Elliff Dental in Batavia, IL would love to tell you more about dental implants. Bring your questions to a personal consultation with one of our dentists. Call today for an appointment: (630) 482-7200.