Dental health tips

We celebrated Dental Hygiene Month at Stephens Dentistry!

on November 3, 2022

In addition to Halloween, October was also designated as Dental Hygiene Month, a time when we celebrate the fantastic work done by dental hygienists. It’s a time to raise public awareness of the hygienic practices that are needed to maintain our oral health.

What Our Hygienists Do

At Stephens Dentistry our hygienists play a vital role in treating our patients and representing our dental office. Just some of the services they perform include:

  • Promoting overall oral health and oral hygiene education
  • Periodontal scaling and root planing
  • Detection of cavities and gum disease
  • Performing teeth whitening
  • Applying fluoride treatment

A recent national survey found that the overwhelming majority of dental hygienists were satisfied with their careers, and at Stephens Dentistry we’re more than satisfied with our team of outstanding hygienists. Thank you to Lauren, Grace, Florcy, Vanessa, and Teresa!

We want to express our gratitude for the fantastic dental services each of them provides at Stephens Dentistry. That’s ultimately why we are grateful for all the work our dental hygienists complete within our practice and caring for our patients most of all.

Welcome The Newest Additions To Our Team

Dental Hygiene Month is also an appropriate time to introduce and welcome the newest dentists added to our team at Stephens Dentistry: Dr. Marcos Montoya and Dr. Rares Raibulet.

Dr. Marcos Montoya

Dr. Montoya smiles at the camera.

A native of Glenview, Dr. Montoya grew up in a medical family: his mother is an internist and his aunt is a dentist. While pursuing his undergraduate studies in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Illinois at Champaign, he decided to shadow his aunt at her Chicago dental practice. While there he discovered a love for the “vibe” of dentistry and the excitement of working in a dental practice where you can get to know the patients you’re treating.

That new-found love of dentistry led him to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and as a member of our team at Stephens Dentistry Dr. Montoya enjoys providing total patient care, with an emphasis on nutrition, pain management, and sleep. He fervently believes that our bodies have tremendous healing capacity when healthy nutrition is coupled with a consistent sleep pattern.

Dr. Montoya and his wife Magali have two beautiful daughters, Sofia and Olivia, and in addition to his dental practice he has a passion for ice hockey which he has played since age five. Despite the demands of his professional life, he plays the game every week and also makes time to coach younger hockey players as well.

Dr. Rares Raibulet

Dr. Raibulet smiles at the camera.

Dr. Raibulet was born in Romania but grew up in Indianapolis and now loves his new home in the Chicagoland area. He did his undergraduate studies at Indiana University-Purdue University and received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine degree from Midwestern University in Downers Grove.

Dr. Raibulet’s attention to detail applies not only to his skills and technique but also to his “bedside manner.” His commitment to his dental practice is evident through the great amount of time he has devoted to continuing education to expand his knowledge and skills in cosmetic dentistry, implant placement, oral surgery, and root canal therapy.

Outside of dentistry, Dr. Raibulet and his wife Nedina and their daughter Liv enjoy traveling, trying new culinary experiences, sampling new coffee shops, and spending quality time with their families.

Along with Dr. Robert B. Stephens – or Dr. Bob as he is known to his patients – our dentists at Stephens Dentistry are dedicated to providing the very highest quality dental care to our patients, in a caring and nurturing atmosphere.

It’s an honor to welcome the new hires to be part of the team at Stephens Dentistry. Congratulations on joining our team and we look forward to working with you for years to come!

Discover The Best Dentists In Evanston and The North Shore

While October is Dental Hygiene Month, dental care is a year-round process. In addition to your twice-daily brushing and flossing routine, regular cleanings and dental checkups are essential to maintaining good oral health.

If it’s been some time since your last cleaning and checkup, contact us at Stephens Dentistry to schedule an appointment. To ease any anxiety you might have regarding a dental visit, we offer a tranquil and judgment-free approach so you can have the best dental experience possible.

We look forward to serving you and doing all we can to promote your dental health. Please contact our front desk to schedule your next appointment.

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Dental Veneers – Beware the Dangers of Turkey Teeth

on October 18, 2022

Dental veneers can hide your uneven or crooked teeth, and offer you the possibility of having that bright, beautiful “Hollywood smile.”

In case you’re not familiar with them, a veneer is a very thin layer of porcelain placed over the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance and/or protect them from further damage.

Because most cosmetic dental procedures like this can be quite expensive, some patients will seek veneers from a non-medical specialist. While this might initially cut the price of this cosmetic dental procedure, there are plenty of horrific and expensive stories that explain why this is a bad idea.

A woman smiles as she gets a porcelain veneer to match her discolored tooth.

Veneers gone wrong – Let the patient beware

Before we discuss veneers and how important the preparation process is, it’s essential to understand the difference between a veneer and a crown. Porcelain veneers are bonded to the front of your teeth for cosmetic effect, while a crown is thicker than a veneer, it goes over the entire tooth to restore or protect it, and crowns tend to be more permanent than veneers.

In addition to understanding the difference between veneers and crowns, it’s also extremely important to know that proper veneer preparation and application takes time and extensive medical training to do. Not every dentist is a “veneer specialist” with the training and experience necessary to place veneers successfully on your teeth, but they should be able to recommend you to one who can.

Please be cautious of the medical or dental background of someone who claims to be a Veneer Specialist outside of a clinical setting.

You should be particularly wary of the cut-rate treatment offered in foreign countries.

Many social media platforms are awash with pictures of people who have gone abroad – traveling to Turkey or other countries with inexpensive cosmetic dentistry procedures for inexpensive dental treatment that sometimes ends in disaster.

The usual dental procedure is to grind the front teeth down to peg-like points, producing what is referred to as “Turkey teeth”, and these are then covered with crowns, not veneers.

Those who have undergone this procedure often put their smiling pictures on social media platforms, proudly showing off their so-called “veneers” that are actually crowns that have been placed with little to no treatment of the teeth.

Unfortunately, these procedures are often done so hastily and sloppily performed, that the end result can be ill-fitting crowns, intense pain, serious infections, gum disease and potentially, the loss of your teeth.

You can go here to read the account of a woman in the UK who suffered unrelenting pain, an extremely serious infection, and the expense of three trips to Turkey. Eventually the woman’s bad veneer experience finally came to an end when she was fitted with a set of crowns that were more durable.

Unfortunately, it cost her the security of her original tooth structure and a huge financial burden.

Veneer Specialists at Stephens Dentistry in Evanston

Achieving the perfect smile can be done without damaging your oral health or wallet.

If you need veneers to improve the appearance of your smile, you can lay your concerns aside when you come to Stephens Dentistry. We’re proud to be one of the top practices for porcelain veneers in Evanston, IL. With us, you will receive the very finest care that modern dental science has to offer.

We create the very highest quality veneers using our CEREC® milling machine or the use of one of our top rated dental laboratories. Using our scanner, our dentists will take a digital impression of your teeth. This impression is used to design your custom-made veneers, milled from a single block of eMax, providing you with the strongest restorations available.

Don’t run the risk of developing ultra thin “Turkey teeth” by seeking a cheaper, non dental option.

For the very best and safest in dental veneers, schedule an appointment with the board certified and cosmetic dentists of Stephens Dentistry. If needed, we’ll be glad to provide payment options to fit your budget.

We want to give you that perfect “Hollywood smile” while also protecting the surface of your teeth and gums. Contact Stephens Dentistry to schedule a free consultation with our experienced dentists today!

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Are Probiotics Good For Your Teeth?

on September 15, 2022

Most of us know that probiotics – the bacteria and yeasts that are good for you – benefit our digestive tract, but what other beneficial effects do they have?

While the Food and Drug Administration has not officially placed its stamp of approval on the use of probiotics to promote oral health, several recent studies indicate that these good bacteria and yeasts can be good for our teeth and gums.

The Benefits of Probiotics For Your Oral Health

While probiotics work by being ingested in targeting your gut health, they can also affect your oral hygiene and health. Unlike harmful bacteria that can lead to illnesses, infection, and decay, probiotics help keep your gut balanced with healthy bacteria.

Listed below are a few ways in which probiotics might promote better oral hygiene and oral health.

Prevention of plaque and tooth decay

Our mouths are loaded with bacteria, both good and bad. Streptococcus mutans, a certain type of bad bacteria, turns sugar into lactic acid in the mouth and creates an acidic environment contributing to the development of plaque and tooth decay.

On the other hand, a common probiotic in the digestive system, Bifidobacterium, has been found to prevent tooth decay by reducing the number of Strep bacteria in the mouth. A good balance between these two types of bacteria could slow down or prevent decay that can lead to a filling, tooth repair, or root canal.

Managing the symptoms of gingivitis and gum inflammation

Gingivitis is a common gum (periodontal) disease known for symptoms such as sensitive teeth and sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. A recent study of individuals with gum disease found that those receiving a supplement containing Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic displayed few symptoms and had less plaque than those participants in the study who were given a placebo. A similar study found that participants taking supplements containing the bacteria Lactobacillus brevis had a marked decrease in oral inflammation.

Prevention of halitosis

Bad breath is often caused by an imbalance of harmful bacteria in the mouth and gut. Several studies seem to indicate that daily doses of Lactobacillus brevis substantially reduced the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Possible prevention of oral cancer

A study conducted in 2013 found that a bacteria known as Lactobacillus salivarius reduced oral cancer in rats, but additional research needs to be done to see if it would be equally effective in humans. It’s important to note that while ingestive probiotics is beneficial, it shouldn’t be your only source of protection and prevention against disease. You should also maintain a balanced diet, brush your teeth at least twice daily and visit a dental professional for routine checkups.

Sources of Probiotics

Probiotics occur naturally in a number of foods, including yogurt, cultured cottage cheese, buttermilk, kefir, and tempeh. They’re also found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi. You can also consume prebiotics that enhance the absorption of probiotics in your gut. Common prebiotics include onions, artichokes, garlic, and raw asparagus and leeks.

If you think you’re not getting enough probiotics through your diet, numerous supplements are available in the form of pills, capsules, and powders. Before taking any supplements, however, be sure to consult with your primary care physician.

Stephens Dentistry – Your Evanston Dental Clinic

To sum up, probiotics can play a role in your dental health, but you also need daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleanings and checkups. At Stephens Dentistry we are dedicated to helping you maintain your oral health with our variety of services that include preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental care.

Don’t neglect your dental health. Contact Stephens Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.

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How to Make Flossing Easier

on July 21, 2022

We all know how important flossing is for preventing gum disease, but we don’t always do it as much as we should. It can be seen as a mundane, boring, or even painful task. However, if you floss the right way with the right methods, it can actually be enjoyable as opposed to a chore! Follow these tips and tricks for having a more enjoyable flossing experience each night and morning.

Choose the Right Type of Floss

Did you know that there are many different types of floss? Picking the right one for you can make flossing much more enjoyable. Waxed floss is most commonly used, and it’s made of nylon material. The wax allows the floss to be stronger, which means it most likely won’t break or shred apart. It also helps the floss glide between the teeth more smoothly. However, since the wax makes the floss thicker, it’s not ideal for those with little to no gaps in their teeth.

Unwaxed floss has no wax or chemicals, which also means it has no artificial flavoring. It’s better for those who have smaller gaps in their teeth, since unwaxed floss is much thinner. However, since it is thinner, it’s more prone to shredding apart while flossing.

PTFE floss is made of a material known as polytetrafluorethylene, which is a strong material that won’t shred or break while you use it. Since it’s smooth, it’s easy to use in between tight gaps or crowded teeth.

Super floss is a special type of floss that is best for individuals with bridges, braces, or wide gaps in their teeth. Super floss comes in different types: regular, spongy floss, and with a stiff end threader. The threader allows you to use the floss under and over bridges, brackets, and other dental fixtures.

Use Enough Floss

Don’t skimp out on the amount of floss you use. If you use a piece that’s too short, not only will flossing not be as effective, but it will keep slipping out of your fingers, which will make for a much more frustrating process. You should use about 12-18 inches of floss. Wrap the dental floss around the middle finger of each hand with a couple of inches in between your hands.

This method will allow you to use a clean section of floss between every tooth so you’re not reusing the same piece. Having it tightly wound around your fingers (but not too tight!) will give you more control and precision. This will allow you to target visual food particles and remove more plaque along the gum line.

Be Gentle

Flossing harder doesn’t mean you’re flossing more effectively – in fact, if you floss too aggressively, you can damage your gums. Your gums are extremely sensitive, so if you floss too hard and hurt them, you may associate flossing with pain. However, it should never be painful and you should be as gentle as you can be while still targeting plaque.

Try a Water Flosser

If you can’t seem to stick to a consistent flossing routine, try using a waterpik (also known as a water flosser) to switch it up. This is an appliance that shoots out a highly pressurized stream of water to clean the gums and teeth of plaque and buildup. It also gets rid of any food stuck in between the teeth. Waterpiks tend to not remove as much plaque as regular floss, so try a combination of both.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

To make sure you’re flossing effectively and your gums are healthy, schedule your appointment with Stephens Dentistry today. If you’re wondering, “are dentists supposed to floss your teeth?” The answer is yes they are! They will thoroughly floss your teeth while showing you the appropriate method.

The team at Stephens Dentistry is dedicated to ensuring you have all the tools you need for a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime! Give us a call today to schedule your next appointment.

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The Relationship Between Exercise and Oral Health

on January 2, 2021

Happy New Year! At Stephens Dentistry, we’ve been hearing about our patients’ New Year’s Resolutions for some time now. As you might expect, many people are including better exercise routines as part of their goals for 2021. While getting in better shape can have a profoundly positive impact on a person’s physical health, there are some details to consider when it comes to the effect on your teeth.

Teeth Clenching and Grinding

Those engaging in intense physical activity may have a tendency to clench or grind their teeth through the exercise. This is especially common in weightlifters, who may be unconsciously clenching as they exert energy. Clenching and grinding can lead to moderate to severe dental damage over time, including chips and fractures. Depending on your sport, you may benefit from a specialized oral appliance which separates the upper and lower teeth.

One of the first signs of damage is dental pain. If you are experiencing dental pain in Evanston, make an appointment with our dentist for a thorough examination.

Accidents on the Field or Court

Mouthguards are especially important for athletes who engage in team sports. Rough play on the field or court can result in teeth being fractured, knocked out, or otherwise damaged. There are many different types of mouthguards, from custom-made mouthguards to ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguards which can be purchased at a sporting goods store. Make sure that your mouthguard fits comfortably so that it won’t become a distraction during play.

Cavity Formation

Research has shown a correlation between excessive exercise and the development of cavities. One possible reason for this is that your saliva’s chemical composition changes while you exercise. While you can’t control this, drinking water may help rinse your teeth clear of harmful chemicals. Excessive mouth breathing while working out can also lead to dry mouth, which may increase your risk of cavities.

Many athletes turn to sugary sports drinks, protein shakes, and power bars to replenish their energy reserves during or after exercise. Be careful to check the nutrition labels on these items and rinse with water or brush your teeth after enjoying them. Leaving food debris or sugar behind in your mouth can also contribute to tooth decay.

The Bottom Line

While exercising more might have some potential drawbacks when it comes to your oral health, it’s possible to take precautions to protect your smile. Our dental team is here to help make sure your teeth are looking and feeling their best. If you are due for a checkup or are experiencing any kind of dental pain in Evanston, please reach out today to make an appointment.

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Tooth-Friendly Tips for the Holidays

on December 14, 2020

With the holiday season in full swing, most people are looking forward to celebrating with their favorite sweets, traditions, and people—even if things look a little different this year! Our family dentists in Evanston have tips to help keep your teeth in good shape over the holidays.

Tip #1: Don’t use your teeth to open packages

No matter how excited you are about opening presents, it’s never a good idea to use your teeth as a tool. Many people experience chips, fractures, or more significant dental damage as a result of trying to open packages or bottles with their teeth. We recommend grabbing gift-opening supplies before getting started—it could save you a trip to the dentist over the holidays!

Tip #2: Avoid chewy, sticky snacks

As experienced dentists, we know that it’s not realistic to ask our patients to avoid candy altogether, especially around the holidays. Instead, we suggest avoiding snacks with certain textures that are particularly rough on teeth, such as taffy, caramel, hard candy, and peanut brittle. Snacks that are very sticky or tough to chew can loosen or dislodge dental work like fillings and crowns. Sticky candies can also linger on your teeth beyond a thorough brush, encouraging cavities.

Tip #3: Don’t bite your nails

Nail biting is a habit many people indulge in year-round, but for some increases around the holidays with anticipation and anxiety. Cutting back on this habit can help you avoid developing (or worsening) wear-and-tear on your teeth, jaw problems, or facial pain related to tooth grinding. When you feel the urge to chew on your nails, try to distract yourself! Some companies make bitter-tasting nail products to help curb this bad habit.

Tip #4: Keep up with brushing and flossing

Time flies when you’re having a good time. When you’re snuggled up on the couch with friends or family around the holidays, it may be tempting to let yourself drift off without taking care of your teeth. This is never a good idea—even for one night! We recommend taking care of your smile before settling in for a long movie to help avoid this problem.

Tip #5: Choose light-colored beverages

Red wine and pomegranate juice are two drinks that are often seen at holiday celebrations. Tasty as they may be, drinking them can contribute to stains on your teeth. If keeping your smile bright is important to you, opt for white wine, water, or another light-colored or clear beverage instead!

Visit Us for Restorative and Preventive Services

Stephens Dentistry is a family dentistry practice located in Evanston, IL. Our dentists provide a wide range of dental services, including cosmetic, restorative, and preventive services. We want to help you achieve your greatest dental health! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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