My Blog

Posts for: August, 2019

By Laura Elliff, DMD
August 26, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: x-rays  
BitewingX-raysYourQuestionsAnswered

Radiographic (x-ray) images are an indispensible diagnostic tool in dentistry. One of the most routine and useful types of x-rays dentists take is the so-called bitewing. Here are some things you may want to know about this common diagnostic procedure.

What are bitewing x-rays?
Bitewings reveal the presence and extent of decay in the back teeth, specifically in areas where adjacent teeth touch each other. Unlike other areas of the teeth, these contacting surfaces between adjacent teeth can’t be examined visually. Bitewings can also show areas of bone loss around teeth — a sign of periodontal disease; however, they are not taken for that purpose because bitewings will not show the complete root surface that is surrounded by bone.

Why are they called that?
The name “bitewing” refers to how the film — or sensor, in the case of a digital x-ray — is positioned in the mouth: The patient bites down on a little tab or wing that holds the apparatus in place.

How often do I need them?
This is determined on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of not exposing you to any more radiation than necessary — even the minimal amount found in a series of bitewing x-rays. Your individual susceptibility to caries (tooth decay) and personal dental history will play a major role in determining how frequently you need radiographic examination — and, for that matter, how often you need to come in for routine cleanings and exams.

Are they safe?
The safety of bitewing x-rays is best illustrated with a comparison to the regular daily radiation exposure we get every day from environmental sources, which is about 0.01 millisieverts — the unit of measure we use for radiation. A series of 4 bitewing x-rays exposes you to 0.004 millisieverts of radiation — less than half of the daily exposure. Undetected tooth decay, which can spread quickly through the softer inner layers of teeth, is considered much more dangerous!

If a bitewing x-ray shows that there is tooth decay, what happens next?
If the cavity is very small, we may be able to treat it during the same appointment. If not, we will make a separate appointment to make sure it is taken care of promptly. The sooner tooth decay is treated, the better!

What if I have more questions?
Contact our office, or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


PreventingDecayinPrimaryTeethPromisesBetterHealthNowandLater

True or false: there’s no cause for concern about tooth decay until your child’s permanent teeth erupt.

False—decayed primary teeth can lead to potentially serious consequences later in life.

Although “baby” teeth last only a few years, they’re essential to future dental health because they act as placeholders and guides for the incoming permanent teeth. If they’re lost prematurely due to decay, other teeth may drift into the empty space intended for the emerging permanent tooth. Because of this, inadequate space will crowd the out of proper alignment.

And because they have thinner enamel than permanent teeth, primary teeth are more susceptible to decay. Once decay sets in, it can spread rapidly in a matter of months.

Fortunately, we may be able to prevent this from happening to your child’s primary teeth with a few simple guidelines. It all begins with understanding the underlying causes of tooth decay.

Tooth decay begins with bacteria: As a result of their digestion, these microorganisms secrete acid that at high levels can erode tooth enamel. The higher the population of bacteria in the mouth, the higher the acidity and potential threat to the teeth.

The first objective then in preventing decay is to remove dental plaque, the thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces, through daily brushing and flossing. And because bacteria feed on sugar as a primary food source, you should reduce your child’s sugar consumption by restricting it to only meal times and not sending your child to bed with a bottle filled with a sugary liquid (including formula or breast milk).

To help boost your child’s protection, we can also apply sealants and fluoride to teeth to help protect and strengthen their enamel from acid attack. Because we’ll also monitor for signs of decay, it’s important to begin regular dental visits beginning around age one. If we do detect decay, we can then treat it and make every effort to preserve your child’s primary teeth until they’ve completed their normal life cycle.

By taking these steps, we can help make sure your child’s early teeth go the distance. Their current and future dental health will certainly benefit.

If you would like more information on prevention and treatment of tooth decay, 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 “Do Babies Get Tooth Decay?


By Laura Elliff, DMD
August 09, 2019
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: invisalign  

Invisalign is the exciting way to straighten your smile discreetly. Invisalign works like braces to straighten teeth and close gaps between them, but is much more discreet. Instead of brackets and wires to straighten teeth, Invisalign relies on removable clear aligner trays that are barely noticeable. At Elliff Dental, Dr. Andrew Elliff and Dr. Laura Elliff are your dentists for Invisalign in Batavia.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign straightens the teeth with custom aligner trays that fit over the top and bottom rows of teeth. Each set of trays is worn for a few weeks and is then replaced with a new set of trays. Each new set of trays moves the teeth closer to the desired position. The trays help the teeth move into the proper position by gently exerting pressure on the teeth, which is similar to how the brackets and wires of braces help move teeth. Your Batavia Invisalign dentist can help you decide if Invisalign is the right teeth-straightening option for you.

Advantages of Invisalign

There are numerous advantages to choosing Invisalign for straightening your smile. One of the most exciting advantages is that Invisalign is extremely discreet. The aligner trays are significantly less noticeable than traditional metal braces since the trays are clear. Additionally, the aligner trays are removable so they can be taken out temporarily, such as when posing for photos.

The ability to remove Invisalign’s aligner trays is another major advantage. Maintaining optimal oral hygiene can be more challenging with traditional braces since food particles can get stuck between the brackets and wires easily. The brackets and wires also make it difficult to brush and floss away trapped food particles. With Invisalign, removing the trays when eating can help prevent trapped particles. Additionally, being able to remove the trays when brushing and flossing makes it easier to maintain better oral hygiene.

Another advantage of Invisalign is that the aligner trays are comfortable to wear. With traditional braces, the hard metal brackets and wires can sometimes poke and irritate the mouth and gums. Invisalign’s custom aligner trays are made from a soft, flexible plastic material. The trays fit comfortably in place over the teeth with nothing to poke or irritate the mouth. An additional advantage of Invisalign is that, for most patients, it is possible to achieve the smile you desire in just 12 to 18 months.

Speak with your dentist right away if you are ready to straighten your side discreetly with Invisalign. For Invisalign in Batavia, IL, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Elliff or Dr. Laura Elliff by contacting Elliff Dental at (630) 482-7200.


By Laura Elliff, DMD
August 06, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   sugar  
IncludeLimitationsonSugarinYourToothDecayPreventionStrategy

We’ve waged war for decades against tooth decay through oral hygiene and the increasing use of fluoride, nature’s “super weapon” against this disease. And yet, tooth decay remains a significant health problem.

One major reason is refined sugar found in many processed foods. In the 1970s researchers raised concerns about the fat content of many processed foods, so manufacturers began removing fat from their products — along with much of the flavor. To compensate, they added sugar. Today, three-quarters of approximately 600,000 food products contain sugar.

This has increased average individual consumption to 90 pounds of sugar annually. The World Health Organization says we should consume no more than 20 pounds annually, or about 6 teaspoons a day. A single can of soda contains 4 teaspoons, two-thirds of the daily allowance.

High sugar consumption is an obvious threat to dental health: decay-causing bacteria thrive on it. But the trend has also been linked to serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Hopefully, changes in public policy will one day modify the addition of sugar in processed foods. In the meantime, you can take action for yourself and your family to create a more healthy relationship with this popular carbohydrate.

Shop wisely. Learn to read and understand food labels: steer clear of those containing sugar or large numbers of ingredients. Become acquainted with sugar’s many other “names” like corn syrup or evaporated cane juice. And maximize your shopping on a store’s outer perimeters where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products, rather than the middle aisles with “boxed” processed items.

Avoid sugar-added drinks. Limit consumption of sodas, sports drinks, sweet teas or even juice to avoid added sugar. Make water or sugar-free beverages your go-to drinks. It’s much better to eat sugar naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables, where fiber helps slow it’s absorption in the body, than to drink it.

Exercise. Depending on your condition, physical exertion is good for your overall health. It’s especially beneficial for your body’s ability to metabolize sugar. So with your doctor’s advice, exert your body every day.

It’s important to engender a proper relationship with sugar — a little can go a long way. Putting sugar in its rightful place can help you avoid tooth decay and increase your chances of greater overall health.

If you would like more information on sugar’s impact on dental and general health, 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 “The Bitter Truth About Sugar.”