How to Protect Yourself Against Oral Cancer

on April 7, 2021

April is oral cancer awareness month, so it’s a great time to be extra vigilant about your mouth and tooth health. Oral cancer is a common occurrence with over 200,000 cases in the US each year, the main sign being a growing, red or white sore that develops anywhere in the mouth, lips, cheeks, or tongue. While treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy are effective for this type of cancer, there are active steps you can take to prevent it.

Avoid tobacco use

It’s no secret that tobacco is bad for your health, but did you know that it also directly affects your mouth and teeth? Tobacco can cause ulcers that then lead to cancer, and smokeless tobacco is known to kill off genes that protect against cancer. In fact, 85% of all head and neck cancer, including oral cancer, are caused by tobacco use.

Protect your lips from the sun

Oral cancer can occur in your lips as well. Protect against it by applying chapstick or lip balm with SPF in it. Avoid excessive sun exposure overall, as well as tanning beds. Your lips can get sunburned as well as the rest of your skin, so they are no exception to following the rules of staying safe and smart in the sun. In addition, peak hours of sunshine are typically 10am-2pm, so if you are outside during these hours, make sure to reapply lip balm with sunscreen and wear a hat to shield your face from the sun.

Get your HPV Vaccine

An individual can get oral cancer from HPV, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. About 70% of oral cancer cases in the US are caused by HPV, with about 11,600 Americans each year being diagnosed with HPV-related head and neck cancers. Men are three times as likely than women to get an HPV-related cancer. While of course not all HPV manifests into oral cancer, it’s smart to practice safe sexual encounters as well as get your HPV shot to lower your risk.

See your dentist regularly

Most importantly, practice healthy hygiene habits by not only brushing and flossing daily but also seeing your dentist twice a year. Dentists are often the ones who detect growths and other issues early on, and they may be the one to notice oral cancer on your mouth or lips. Stephens Dentistry is dedicated to providing high quality care to all patients and will happily screen you for oral cancer. If you are seeking a highly skilled dentist in Evanston that can submit claims to PPO, call us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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How to Take Control of Dental Anxiety

on March 9, 2021

If you avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety and fear, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent study conducted at Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine, as many as 40 million Americans avoid going to the dentist because of their anxiety and fear. And avoiding regular dental treatment, in turn, can lead to more dental problems and more anxiety in the future.

At Stephens Dentistry, we don’t want you to suffer any anxiety or dental pain in Evanston, and here are five tips for keeping your anxiety under control.

1. Speak Up and Communicate.

Don’t keep your anxiety bottled up. Tell the receptionist when you book your appointment about your anxiety, and then discuss this issue with the dentist and dental assistants at the beginning of your appointment. Share any bad dental experiences you may have had in the past, and ask questions about the procedure you’re about to have. A little knowledge can help alleviate a lot of fear. And agree on a hand signal to let the dentist know when you need a break.

2. Watch What You Eat and Drink.

Before your appointment, avoid sugary foods and caffeine, in favor of high-protein foods that can have a calming effect.

3. Try Distracting Yourself.

Take your mind off the procedure by bringing some headphones to listen to your favorite music or an audiobook. You might also occupy your hands with a stress ball or a fidget spinner.

4. Focus on your breathing.

As in meditating, focus on slow, regular breathing to help reduce your stress level.

Schedule an Appointment for More Information

We hope these tips will help you avoid anxiety and dental pain in Evanston, and we hope you’ll make Stephens Dentistry your dental practice of choice.

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5 Ways to Love Your Smile This Month

on February 12, 2021

Each and every day, your smile helps you eat, laugh, and articulate your thoughts and feelings. It should come as no surprise that your favorite dentist in Evanston, Illinois recommends showing your teeth some love this month and every other! Here’s a quick check-list of tooth-friendly activities to accomplish.

1. Book your next dental exam

Most people should visit the dentist every 6 months (or twice per year) for a regular checkup. These appointments allow us to give you a professional clean and thorough examination.

2. Get a new toothbrush

Do you remember when you last replaced your toothbrush? Toothbrushes should be swapped out every 3-4 months, or sooner if you notice that the bristles are fraying.

3. Assess your oral health routine

Have you let things slide a bit recently? Nobody’s perfect. If the rigors of daily life have had you skipping steps, now’s a great time to get back on track!

4. Eat a tooth-healthy diet

You probably already know that sugary drinks and snacks can negatively impact your dental health. What you may not know is that certain foods are essential to strong teeth and gums! Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can help keep your mouth healthy.

5. Quit smoking

Working to let go of harmful habits like smoking could be the best gift you ever give your smile. Quitting is challenging for most people who have formed a nicotine habit, but your teeth and gums will thank you in the long run.

Are you looking for a friendly dentist in Evanston, Illinois? Allow us to be your new general dentist! We can help you take care of your smile and keep it looking great for years to come. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Eating Right for a Healthy Smile

on November 16, 2020

When it comes to taking care of your smile, you probably already know the basics about brushing and flossing. You may even know what foods are harmful to your teeth—sugary drinks and foods being at the top of the list. But, do you know what foods can actually help strengthen and improve the health of your teeth? Today, we’ll look at tooth-friendly foods and nutrients which can support healthy teeth and gums.

The Nutrients Your Teeth and Gums Crave

A balanced, healthy diet is one of the most important factors in securing a long and healthy life. In fact, the beauty and long-term functionality of your teeth depends on it! When combined with a carefully followed daily care regimen and visits to a professional dentist, the foods below can help keep your teeth and gums looking great.


People of a certain age may recall the 90s ad campaign that taught us that milk supports strong and healthy bones. Indeed, a diet that includes good sources of calcium can help keep your teeth strong. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, can provide good sources of this mineral. Dark green leafy vegetables, fortified soy drinks, tofu, and canned salmon are other examples of calcium-rich foods.


Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral found in the human body, responsible for approximately 1% of a person’s weight. Much of it can be found in bones and teeth. To keep both in good shape, it’s important to incorporate foods like lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans into your diet. Certain whole grains, fruits, and oils also provide this essential mineral.

Vitamin C

It’s not all about your teeth; especially as people age, their risk for gum disease increases. Enjoying foods that provide good sources of Vitamin C can help strengthen and defend your gums. Most people associate this vitamin with citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes—but there are many other ways to add Vitamin C to your diet! Potatoes, leafy greens, peppers, and certain berries also provide this vitamin.

Looking for a Dental Clinic Near Evanston?

Taking great care of your teeth at home and eating a healthy, balanced diet are two things that you alone can control when it comes to your overall dental wellness. In addition to these, it’s really important that you visit a dentist regularly for exams and professional cleanings. If it’s been five months or longer since your last visit, it may be time to book an appointment. Our dental clinic near Evanston is currently accepting new patients. Schedule your visit today!

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What’s Causing the Rise in Cracked Teeth?

on October 26, 2020

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, dentists across the country are continuing to report a steady stream of patients visiting for care. In the initial stages of the Illinois lockdown, dentists and other medical professionals were only able to see patients for ongoing treatments and emergency procedures. Since then, the State has allowed healthcare providers to see all cases with the addition of heightened precautionary measures, and as your dentist in Evanston, we are here to care for your oral health.

Many dental practices have reported an increased rate of emergency calls during this time—with a significant portion involving cracked teeth. What could be causing this spike? The answer seems clear: most people are experiencing heightened levels of stress, and this is affecting their dental health.

Contributing Factors

While tooth grinding (or ‘bruxism’) is a problem that predates the pandemic, an uptick in cases may be connected to heightened stress caused by current events. Some potential factors include:

Daily Anxiety

Understandably, many people are spending time ‘doomscrolling,’ looking for a new job, and worrying about the health and wellbeing of their friends and family. Without realizing it, these stress-inducing activities may be causing unconscious grinding of the teeth or jaw clenching.

Poor Ergonomics

With more people working and learning remotely than ever before, lots of DIY workstations have had to come together. Using furniture from around the house and random objects can lead to a lot of less-than-ideal body positions, causing poor posture. Poor posture doesn’t just affect your back; it can also contribute to tooth grinding.

Inadequate Restorative Sleep

When so much is on your mind, it may be difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or rest deeply. Restorative sleep helps us perform our best and feel well during the day. Restlessness can also contribute to tooth grinding or jaw clenching while asleep.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Because many people engage in tooth grinding or jaw clenching unconsciously (either during sleep or while focusing on something else), it can be challenging to identify. Common symptoms which may signify this condition can include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Cracked teeth or fillings
  • Worn-down teeth
  • Sleep disruptions

Treatment for Tooth Grinding at Your Dentist in Evanston

Through the difficulties of this year, it’s important to remember the importance of self-care. Visiting with a mental health professional may be able to help you cope with extra stress. When it comes to your teeth, the professionals at Stephens Dentistry can provide you with effective bruxism treatments. Contact your dentist in Evanston at Stephens Dentistry today to schedule an appointment!

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How Long Does Invisalign® Take?

on September 22, 2020

As of this month, our own Dr. Angera Ma is now Invisalign® certified! We’re very proud of her achievement and excited to take on more patients looking to straighten their smile at our Evanston dental clinic. Invisalign® continues to be a preferred orthodontic choice for people of all ages, largely because it’s virtually invisible and easy to use. Today, we’ll be answering one of the questions we hear most often from curious patients: how long does Invisalign take?

The Length of Treatment Can Vary

Most patients who undergo treatment with Invisalign® will complete their treatment within 12-18 months. Upon examining your smile in person, Dr. Angera Ma will be able to give you a timeline more specific to your own potential treatment. Some of the factors that can influence your treatment may include:

  • Dental Crowding. Patients with smaller jaws may owe their misalignment to overcrowding. On the low end, minor crowding may be reversible in as little as 6 months. Those with very extreme crowding may even need additional orthodontic treatment before starting Invisalign®.
  • Gaps in Teeth. Also known as diastema, dental gaps may be caused by tissue overgrowth. Gaps may also appear when the teeth are small compared to the patient’s jawbone. Those with moderate to severe gaps in their teeth can expect to spend at least 12 months wearing Invisalign®, with treatment extending further depending on their body’s responsiveness to the aligners.
  • Your Age. Teens and adults alike can wear Invisalign®. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common for adults to straighten their teeth, whether they once had braces or never underwent orthodontic treatment. Teens will usually experience shorter treatment periods as adult teeth tend to be more solidified in place.
  • Compliance with instructions. Most patients find it relatively easy to adjust to life wearing aligners, but for others it can be a challenge. An individual’s ability to follow instructions and keep track of their aligners can be major factors in terms of the timeline. Some patients who fail to wear their aligners the designated amount of time may even see their teeth begin to shift back into their original place—not ideal!

Book a Consultation at Our Evanston Dental Clinic

Are you ready to improve your smile with Invisalign® clear aligners? We’re now booking appointments with the newly certified Dr. Angera Ma. Contact us today to get started with a consultation. We hope to hear from you soon!

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Is Water Flossing Right For Me?

on August 24, 2020

If visiting a dentist twice per year is already part of your dental care regimen, you probably already know that you should be flossing daily. Flossing is widely regarded as an essential complement to brushing, as even the most diligent tooth-brusher will miss areas between their teeth.

Traditional string floss isn’t a perfect solution for everyone; fortunately, water flossing is a highly effective alternative. Water flossing devices (such as the WaterPik) are also referred to as oral irrigators or pulsing oral irrigators. Today, we’ll discuss the practical uses of this kind of machine and who it may benefit.

Using a Water Flosser

Water flossers are intended to be used to clean between your teeth, along your gum line, and below dental restorations such as bridges and implants. Water flossers include three main components: the reservoir, the handle, and the tip. Depending on your model, several tips and system settings will be provided; follow instructions provided by the manufacturer and your dentist to determine which will work best for you.

To use the device, you will fill the reservoir with warm or lukewarm water, select a pressure setting, and then hold the handle while angling the tip along your gum line. You will want to lean over the sink with your mouth open slightly to allow water to drain as you work along your teeth. The pressure from the device blasts plaque and debris away, providing a deep-clean feeling similar to traditional flossing.

Who is a Good Candidate for Water Flossing?

If you have difficulty using string floss or floss picks, you may be a good candidate for this modern alternative. Our Evanston dentists sometimes recommend this as an alternative to patients who visit our office. Good candidates may include:

  • People with arthritis who have trouble maneuvering string floss
  • People with braces that are unable to work dental floss through their teeth
  • People who currently have or have a history of gum disease
  • People who have characteristically dry mouths
  • People with dental implants or bridges

Are Water Flossers Better than String Floss?

If you are able to use traditional floss, our Evanston dentists may not recommend water flossing exclusively. Traditional string floss is still considered the most effective solution for cleaning between the average person’s teeth. String floss can scrape up and down each of your teeth and more effectively break down hardened buildups of plaque. Water flossing does provide more below-the-gumline cleaning power, which can make it a preferable option for certain patients with relevant conditions.

Contact Our Evanston Dentists

Taking great care of your teeth will help them look their best for years to come. If you are seeking to improve your dental hygiene regimen, we would love to help! During your next teeth cleaning, our Evanston dentists can answer your questions and provide you with personalized solutions for your unique smile. Our team is experienced and knowledgeable in many practice areas including restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Contact us today.

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What Causes Tooth Staining and Discoloration?

on July 28, 2020

Everyone wants to be able to flash a healthy, white smile. However, if you look in the mirror only to see stained or discolored teeth, you may be tempted to hide your smile. That can have a negative effect on every aspect of your life, from social to professional. There are many reasons why your teeth may be darker than you’d like – some that are within your control, while others are not.

Stains Caused by Lifestyle Habits

Eating certain foods like pasta, potatoes, and other starchy foods can create conditions that cause staining. Additionally, drinking colas, coffee, tea, and wines are also notorious for turning our pearly whites various shades of beige and gray. Smoking and chewing tobacco also stains our teeth.

Dental Health Issues

Stains can easily build up if we forget to brush and floss our teeth regularly. Skipping regular, professional dental cleanings also allows stains to form and darken. Some diseases can prevent the normal development of dentin (the core beneath the enamel), as well as the tooth enamel itself (the white exterior), leading to tooth discoloration.

Medical treatments and certain medications can also be problematic. Neck and head radiation, chemotherapy, and certain drugs like antihistamines, antihypertensive medications, and antipsychotic drugs cause tooth discoloration. It is also well documented that certain antibiotics can interfere with enamel formation in children under the age of eight. Additionally, when a pregnant mother suffers from certain infections, it can affect their baby’s enamel development and cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth.

Dental fillings may also be the cause of discolored teeth. Silver sulfide materials, which are present in some amalgam restorations, can stain and lend a grayish cast to the restored teeth, as well as the surrounding gum tissue.

Culprits Beyond Our Control

As we age, the outer layer of enamel wears thinner, exposing the yellow dentin (which also happens to grow thicker as we get older). This reduced translucency makes teeth appear darker. Environmental factors including being exposed to too much fluoride while our teeth are forming, and genetics that lead to thicker enamel running in some families, can affect how white our teeth remain as we get older.

Children younger than eight can suffer disruption to enamel formation if they experience trauma to their mouth, like being hit in the face during sports participation. Trauma caused by a sports injury or other impact can also cause adult teeth to become discolored due to reduced blood flow or nerve death.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Evanston

We all care about having healthy, white teeth. In fact, according to the American Academy for Cosmetic Dentistry, 99% of us consider our smile to be our most important social feature. If you are looking to improve the whiteness and brightness of your smile, reach out to the experts at Stephens Dentistry, where we specialize in cosmetic dentistry in Evanston.

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The Role of Dental Hygiene in Disease Prevention

on June 15, 2020

It’s undeniable that COVID-19 has changed the way we think about our health as individuals and as a collective. At Stephens Dentistry, we know that maintaining excellent oral health is an important piece of the puzzle. Today, we’ll explain the relationship between your teeth and your immune system, and provide suggestions on how to improve your practice.

Neglecting to care for one’s dental health affects much more than just your teeth. Your mouth is an entry point to the outside world; anything that passes through it has direct access to your lungs and stomach. In addition to washing your hands and maintaining a safe distance from others, special care for your teeth can help you avoid contracting the Coronavirus.

What You Can Do

1. Continue to Brush and Floss

With so much going on, sticking with your dental care regimen may more easily fall by the wayside. The most important aspect of maintaining dental health is to prioritize your care routines, including brushing twice and flossing once per day.

2. Limit Sugary Snacks and Drink Water

Limiting the amount of sugary snacks and beverages you have can drastically reduce the amount of plaque buildup in your mouth. Try to meet your daily water intake each day. Drinking water is not only essential for your dental health, it will also benefit your overall health and mood. If you do decide to have a sweet treat, be sure to rinse with water.

3. Stop Sharing Dental Products

If you typically share toothpaste, floss, or any other dental product with roommates or family members, now is the time to stop. Avoiding sharing these essentials eliminates the possibility of transmitting the Coronavirus (and any other germs and bacteria) through these forms.

4. Clean Your Dental Appliances Thoroughly

Those who have dentures, Invisalign trays, retainers, or mouthguards should be extra careful to clean their dental appliances during this time.

5. Keep Up With Your Checkups

It’s recommended that everyone visit the dentist at least twice per year. Skipping these appointments could mean missing an opportunity to diagnose a worsening condition. As a premier Evanston dentists, we are following strict protocols so that you can visit our office safely.

Contact Our Evanston DDS

Because of closures during the pandemic, many people have fallen behind on their regimen of care. Please feel encouraged to reach out to us and make an appointment with our Evanston dentists. Our trained dental experts will help you get back on track! Contact us today.

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Answering Your Dental Inlay Questions

on May 20, 2020

If you’ve had a dental cavity as an adult, you’re far from alone. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92% of adults between 20 and 64 have had dental cavities in their permanent teeth. Dentists have several options to choose from when deciding how to restore a patient’s tooth after removing a cavity, including fillings, inlays, and onlays. Today we will answer some of the most common questions we receive regarding the dental inlays at our office.

What’s the Difference Between a Dental Inlay and Filling?

Though both can restore a tooth after a cavity has been removed, fillings are better for more minor cases of tooth decay compared to a dental inlay. FIllings are made on-the-spot in the dentist’s office in a single visit. In cases where dental decay is more advanced, an inlay may be recommended. Dental inlays can also be used to repair a broken or fractured tooth in instances where the cusp of the tooth is unaffected.

How Are Dental Inlays Created?

In order to create a dental inlay, many offices take a mold of the affected tooth and have an outside lab fabricate a one-piece inlay. This process is called ‘indirect fabrication.’ At Stephens Dentistry, we use our CEREC machine to fabricate inlays so that they can be placed the same day. The application process is also a bit different from traditional fillings, with the inlay requiring a special dental cement to be applied.

What Are Dental Fillings Made Out Of?

Dental inlays are most commonly made from tooth-colored ceramic, porcelain, or a specialized dental composite. Though all restorative dental procedures carry some degree of risk, dental inlays are generally considered to be safe.

How Can I Help My Dental Inlay Last?

Though many people will eventually need to replace their dental inlays, excellent daily care and regular visits to your dentist can help keep it looking and feeling its best. Here are some additional tips to keep your dental inlay in good shape:

  • Don’t use tobacco products
  • Choose water over sugary or acidic beverages
  • Avoid sugary, sticky, or hard foods (including chewing on ice)
  • Limit the amount of staining beverages you drink (tea, coffee, red wine)

We Provide Inlays in Evanston

Stephens Dentistry has been serving patients from Evanston, IL and the surrounding areas for over 60 years. Our team is highly trained to provide a number of restorative dental services, including bonding, filling, bridges, dentures, and inlays in Evanston. Contact us today.

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