How to Treat Sensitivity in Teeth

on August 4, 2021

If you experience pain in your teeth and mouth from things such as hot or cold food and drinks or certain toothpastes and mouthwashes, you may be dealing with tooth sensitivity. Having sensitive teeth stems from having thin enamel, as without enough enamel, your tooth isn’t as protected against whatever touches it. Fortunately, there are many ways to fight against tooth sensitivity.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

It’s important to pick a toothpaste that specifically targets sensitive teeth. The ingredients in them can help stop sensitivity pain from traveling up the nerve into the tooth. If you use mouthwash, make sure to use an alcohol-free one, as the alcohol can further irritate your sensitive teeth.

Make sure to also use soft toothbrushes specifically meant for sensitive teeth. If you brush too hard or use a brush with hard bristles, you may be doing more harm than good by breaking down your enamel.

Fluoride Treatment

A special fluoride treatment applied at the dentist’s office can help strengthen your enamel, therefore decreasing your sensitivity. You may benefit from prescription fluoride in-office or even at home, depending on what your dentist recommends.

Take Care of Your Enamel

Since enamel breaking down is usually the root of tooth sensitivity, taking steps to keep your enamel strong will prevent your tooth sensitivity from getting worse, or from happening in the first place. Acidic food and drinks such as sodas and carbonated beverages, candies, alcohol, and dairy break down your tooth enamel. Instead, try eating a fiber-rich diet that isn’t full of unhealthy acids. If you do eat something extremely acidic, it’s best to brush your teeth right after.

Avoid Excessive Teeth Whitening

If you have sensitive teeth, whitening your teeth can cause even more pain in the nerves, causing more discomfort when you eat, drink, or even breathe in very cold air. If you know teeth whitening is a trigger for you, talk to your dentist about if you should continue, and if there are better teeth whitening alternatives that won’t worsen your symptoms.

Wear a Nightguard

It’s possible that your sensitive teeth are due to teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. If you grind your teeth at night, your enamel will wear down, therefore leading your teeth to be sensitive to hot and cold food and other triggers. If this is the cause, then getting fitted for the correct size and type of nightguard can keep you from grinding, therefore keeping your tooth enamel from breaking down.

Consult with Your Dentist

There are many different causes of tooth sensitivity, from loose fillings, a receding gum line, gum disease, a cracked tooth, jaw clenching, and more. Perhaps it’s your whole mouth, or one tooth is suddenly sensitive.

Your dentist at Stephens Dentistry will be able to assess your symptoms to figure out the best course of action for you. If the steps you’re taking at home aren’t effective, consulting with an expert can give you answers and help you find the root of the problem.

For a dentist near Evanston who will help treat your tooth pain and sensitivity concerns, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Stephens Dentistry today.

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What Are Some Good Questions to Ask a Dentist?

on July 19, 2021

Given that you typically visit the dentist at least twice a year, you want to make the most of it. While we’re only a phone call away, it’s best to have all your questions and concerns prepared before your appointment so that you can discuss them in-person. You may think of questions every so often, but come time for your appointment, forget what they were.

The following are some basic questions for your dentist at your next appointment so you can feel confident in your oral hygiene habits all year round.

Is Constant Mouth Pain Normal?

If you’re feeling pain in your mouth, it’s most likely a sign something is wrong and you should discuss it with your dentist. There are many reasons you may be feeling discomfort, from a cavity to a chipped tooth to gum sensitivity to your wisdom teeth growing in. Regardless of the culprit, don’t assume that the pain should simply be dismissed. Explaining it fully to your dentist will allow them to locate where the pain is coming from and how to get to the root of the problem.

Is Teeth Whitening Right For Me?

If you have a special occasion coming up or simply just want a boost for your smile, teeth whitening could be a great option. With three different whitening treatments, it’s best to discuss with your doctor which one would be right for you. Depending on your specific needs and dental situation, they will be able to recommend one that will be most effective for your teeth.

Why Do I Have Sensitive Teeth?

Tooth sensitivity can be rather debilitating as it can prevent you from eating or drinking your favorite foods and drinks, from whitening your teeth, and from using certain toothpaste products. There are a variety of causes that can lead to tooth sensitivity, and the causes may need to be further assessed by your dentist to prevent future problems. They should also be able to recommend possible solutions to curb the sensitivity.

Do My Gums Look Healthy?

Taking care of your gums is just as vital as taking care of your teeth. If not given enough care and attention, you may get gingivitis, which is a potentially serious gum disease. After receiving a thorough check-up, ask your dentist how your gums look and if they think you need to take any additional step to take care of your gums, such as flossing more or using a special mouthwash.

You may also discuss what the warning signs of gum disease look like so you can be on the lookout for any changes in your mouth.

Will You Screen For Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a potentially devastating disease, which is why screenings at your check-ups are recommended. It’s best to find a dentist who commits to well-rounded care of your oral health and will do a full examination. We offer oral cancer screenings at every check-up, and encourage you to also discuss with your doctor if it runs in your family or if you have any questions or concerns about the disease.

Make an Appointment Today

Your bi-annual appointments are more for just getting your teeth cleaned; they’re about asking your dentist all the necessary questions so you feel fully informed and confident about keeping a healthy, beautiful smile. As the best dentist in Evanston, our team cares greatly about the health of our clients. We will gladly answer any questions and go the extra mile to make sure you have the tools to take care of your dental health.

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What Is Sealant For Teeth?

on June 30, 2021

If your dentist recently recommended for you to receive sealants, you likely have some questions about what they are and why they are being recommended. Simply put, dental sealants are specialized resin coatings placed on back teeth to help prevent cavities. The back chewing teeth are not as smooth as other teeth due to grooves and pits, making the surfaces harder to keep clean.

Do Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities?

With pits and fissures in the teeth, it’s very easy for food, bacteria, and other particles to become stuck inside. This, in turn, provides the perfect breeding ground for cavities to form and for teeth to decay. Sealants act as a hardened blanket on top of the tooth to keep out particles and bacteria that could turn into cavities. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, sealants reduce the risk of cavities by 80%.

Who Can Benefit From Sealants

It’s entirely safe and effective for individuals of all ages to receive sealants. Sealants are effective for adults because if they are cavity-free yet display deep pits and fissures, a sealant might be recommended to prevent future cavities.

When a child grows a new adult tooth, they are not as resistant to bacteria and decay as an adult’s tooth is because the enamel coating that protects teeth has not fully developed and hardened yet. That, coupled with less vigilant hygiene habits, lead to an increased chance of getting cavities. Fortunately, this is where dental sealants can be extra effective.

How Are They Placed?

The process for receiving sealants is painless and relatively fast. The tooth is first cleaned and dried, and any existing decay is removed. A solution is then applied into the pits and grooves of the teeth, which makes the sealant stick better to the exact shape of the tooth.

Next, the liquid sealant is painted on the tooth and very quickly hardens, and a blue light is sometimes used to ensure it is completely cured. After the appointment is over, you are able to eat and drink right away.

How Long Do They Last?

Sealants typically last around nine years before having to be replaced. However, they have the potential to fall off of the tooth sooner. During check-ups, your dentist will check to make sure your sealants are still in place, and replace them if they are missing. They will last longer by avoiding foods or candies that are very sticky or hard.

Virtually Unnoticeable

Right after the sealant is applied, you may be able to feel a smooth texture when running your tongue over your teeth. You may also feel as if your back teeth don’t fully touch when you bite down. However, these feelings are temporary and will usually go away after the first day. After that, you should not be able to tell at all that you have sealants.

How To Know When Sealants Are Necessary

While looking at your teeth during your routine 6-month check-up, your dentist will be able to tell if dental sealants would be beneficial for you. If you have any sort of oral issue, are prone to cavities, or simply haven’t booked a check-up in a while, the staff at our dental clinic near Evanston is here for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to find out if sealants are right for you. We look forward to seeing you in our office.

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How to Protect Yourself Against Gum Disease

on May 7, 2021

Your oral health isn’t only about your teeth! Your gums play a large role in your health as well. Keeping them clean, healthy, and well-taken care of can prevent various diseases and support your overall tooth and oral health. Gum disease begins when plaque begins to build up on the gum line, which can then lead to tooth decay and gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease. This can lead to periodontitis, which is a more advanced form of gum disease. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures you can take.


The easiest and most effective way to prevent plaque buildup on the gum line is to floss, floss, floss! Don’t underestimate the power flossing has on your oral health – according to the American Dental Association, flossing can reach food and plaque that cannot be reached from your toothbrush. Try to incorporate it into your daily routine, whether it be in the morning, night, or while watching tv.

Brush Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth often and effectively is also extremely beneficial in preventing plaque buildup on the gum line as well as removing food, plaque, or other gunk in between or on the surface of teeth. Brush the front and back of your teeth, and make sure to angle the toothbrush onto your gum line too, without brushing hard enough to cause irritation. Consider switching to an electric toothbrush if you haven’t already, as they can be even more effective at removing plaque.

Pick the Right Toothpaste

With so many different claims and options available, it can be hard to pick out which toothpastes are better. We suggest picking a toothpaste with fluoride as well as one that is approved by the ADA logo on it so you know that it’s approved by dentists. While the type of toothbrush you use as well as your brushing habits have an impact on preventing gum disease, picking the right toothpaste is important as well.

Use Mouthwash

The right mouthwash is a great supplement to complete your daily oral cleaning routine. Mouthwash can help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis according to the ADA. It can also remove debris from your mouth after eating or get any pieces that you missed while brushing or flossing. Like toothpaste, make sure you pick a mouthwash that has the ADA stamp of approval. Remember that while using mouthwash is effective, it should not be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing.

Attend Regular Dental Check-Ups

Aside from having a strong oral cleaning routine at home, the best thing you can do for your gum health is to schedule check-ups every six months. Our dentists are dedicated to keeping your whole family’s smile healthy and can detect early signs of gum disease. The earlier it’s caught, the less work it will be to reverse. If you are due for a dental cleaning or have concerns about your gum or mouth health, don’t wait to reach out to our dental office in Evanston. We look forward to hearing from you!

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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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