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Are You Supposed to Brush Your Tongue? | Evanston Dentist

on June 19, 2022

When we go to brush our teeth, we typically think of exactly that… brushing our teeth and our gums. However, did you know that it’s also important to brush your tongue? Our tongues typically are forgotten during our oral care routine, however it’s important to take care of it so your overall oral health is as pristine as possible.

Following are some of the reasons why you should be brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

Gets Rid of Bad Breath

The tongue is a host for tons of bacteria. Eating, drinking, smoking, dry mouth, certain medications, and poor oral health can all contribute to bacteria growth, which then leads to bad breath. Brushing your tongue will get rid of all that bacteria, hence making your breath smell much better.

Makes Food Taste Better

Your tastebuds lay on your tongue, and they allow you to taste food. If your tongue is covered in bacteria your tastebuds won’t be able to fully work, making food not taste as good and stunting saliva production. Having a clean tongue means better working tastebuds, which also aid in digestion and ensure that you can taste the full range of flavors in your food.

Helps Prevent Cavities

Although cavities can’t grow on your tongue, brushing it will still aid in preventing them on your teeth. The bacteria we discussed that lives on your tongue is detrimental to your mouth, and by brushing it off, there will be less plaque forming in your mouth, and that plaque is what leads to cavities, gum disease, and other oral issues.

Boosts Immune System

The first point of anything that enters your mouth is, you guessed it – your tongue. That’s why there’s such a strong correlation between what touches your tongue and your immune system. If there’s a lot of built up bacteria on your tongue, then that bacteria will be absorbed and quickly make its way into other parts of your body, causing sickness.

However, if you brush your tongue and regularly remove all that bacteria, then you’re killing it off before it has the chance to spread to other parts of your body. If you’re sick, it’s extra important that you brush your tongue more because coughing and sneezing causes bacteria to build up even more.

Contact Our Evanston Dental Center Today

The best way to ensure your oral health is up to par with where it should be is to schedule an appointment with our dental professionals. Our team has years of experience caring for patients just like you. We aim to give you the most positive dental experience possible so you can have a lifetime of beautiful and healthy smiles.

To receive comprehensive dental services from one of our dental professionals, give our friendly staff a call today!

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How to Clean and Maintain Your Night Guard?

on May 12, 2022

Night guards have ample benefits. If your dentist recommends you receive one, it’s most likely for good reason – it can help you prevent grinding and preserve the functionality of your teeth. However, for it to be effective, it’s important to take good care of it. Following are some ways you can ensure your night guard stays clean and well-kept for as long as you have it.

Brush it Every Day

After taking your night guard out, lightly rinse it to get any plaque off and brush it with a toothbrush. You may use the same brush that you brush your teeth with or use a separate one. This will get rid of any additional plaque, bacteria, or little particles stuck on it.

However, it’s important to note that you should not use toothpaste when brushing it. Toothpaste can be abrasive so it could scratch or bend the night guard. The pressure from the bristles should be enough to clean it.

Store it in a Case

Whenever you’re not wearing it, it’s important to keep your night guard in a case. After rinsing and brushing it, before putting it in the case, let it completely dry by laying it out for about 30 minutes on a clean cloth. This will prevent rapid bacteria growth.

Keeping your night guard in a case protects it from many different things. If you leave it out on the counter in the bathroom, it’s exposed to humidity, which can cause it to warp and become misshapen. If you have pets or young children, they may get their hands (or paws) on it and chew or break them. If they’re not covered, they are also exposed to dirt, dust, and debris from the air.

Deep Clean it

About every week or so, you should give your night guard a deep clean. There are a few different options for doing this, one of which is buying a denture cleaner. You’ll place your night guard in a bowl of water and drop the cleaner tablet in, which will dissolve and clean your night guard. You can also do an at-home version of this, which is by mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together and letting it soak for about 30 minutes.

Make sure to read all instructions on the denture cleaning and for any homemade solutions, as soaking it too long can bend and warp your night guard. Also never soak your it in any liquid that has alcohol, because that’s sure to ruin the material.

Contact Us Today

Custom fit night guards are a great solution to bruxism, which is excessive teeth grinding. If you suffer from teeth grinding and clenching and haven’t found a solution, we encourage you to come into our office for an evaluation.

We offer a full range of general dental services, including preventative, restorative, and cosmetic services. Give our friendly staff a call today for superior dental care and a lifetime of healthy smiles!

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What Happens During a General Dentist Appointment?

on April 13, 2022

You know that you’re supposed to go to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and check-up, but what actually happens at those appointments? Why are they so important? They serve a greater purpose than you may think, which is why we are so adamant about you making your appointments! Read on to find out all the things that will happen during a general cleaning and why they’re so important.

Thorough Cleaning

While having a thorough dental cleaning routine at home is important, your Evanston dentist will be able to clean your teeth to a more effective level because of their special tools. Using a medical-grade pic, they scrape off any plaque and tartar that’s built up on the teeth, above and below the gum line, between the teeth, and on the back of the teeth.

They will also floss and show you how to floss correctly if it looks like your gums could use a little extra. They will finish off by using a tooth polisher with an abrasive paste to make sure there’s no residue leftover and to smooth your teeth so it’s harder for plaque to collect on them. After the polish, your mouth will feel fresh and clean with smooth, bright teeth!

Examination for Any Issues

Either before or after the cleaning, the hygienist will do a thorough inspection to ensure there are no outstanding issues with your mouth and gum health. Even if you’re not in pain and don’t think anything is wrong, it’s possible for them to find issues that can be prevented and treated. Some dental issues they will be on the lookout for include signs of gum disease, oral cancer, cavities, wisdom teeth, and even diabetes.

These checks must be done by a professional who knows what to look out for. After the hygienist examines you, the dentist will come in for a second look.

X-Rays

X-rays are usually taken once a year; they show any issues below the mouth’s surface that aren’t visible to the naked eye. An x-ray will show your teeth, their roots below the gum line, and your jawbones. X-rays can show issues such as dental decay, jaw bone loss, changes in overall bone structure, abscesses, tooth shifting, and nerve damage. They are able to provide this important insight to the dentists that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Fluoride Application

While you may not get a fluoride treatment at every appointment, the dentist will recommend you receive them as they see fit based on your tooth health. Fluoride is a natural mineral, and it helps build strong teeth and bones. It’s an extremely effective method for preventing cavities, as it strengthens enamel and helps keep plaque and decay from forming.

While you can receive fluoride from at-home methods such as from toothpaste and mouthwash, the fluoride received in-office is much stronger. Fluoride is a clear paste that’s painted on your teeth quickly and easily.

Contact Us Today For Teeth Cleaning in Evanston, IL

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental check-up, we highly encourage you to call us and make an appointment today! Our staff is extremely thorough and will take the time to complete every necessary step for you to achieve optimum oral health. Stephens Dentistry is different because we are truly dedicated to each and every patient’s health, and will always go the extra mile so you have a positive dental experience.

Our state-of-the-art facility treats patients of all ages, and our general dentistry dental procedures will allow you to have a lifetime of healthy smiles. We look forward to seeing you in the office!

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Foods That are Good For Your Teeth

on March 3, 2022

We all know that there are many foods that aren’t great for your teeth; some of these include sugary treats, sodas, wine, acidic foods, and chewy candies. However, did you know there are certain foods that actually strengthen your teeth and are good for your overall oral health? Keep reading to find out what some of these are so you can have a tooth-friendly diet.

Cheese

It’s a little-known fact that cheese is actually one of the best choices for healthy teeth! It has many benefits, the first of which is that it’s rather low in sugar but high in calcium. Calcium helps keep your bones strong, including your teeth. It also has casein- a protein that fortifies your bone density. Cheese also has a high phosphate content, which helps preserve your tooth enamel.

Chewing cheese also increases saliva production, and that’s beneficial because saliva washes away bacteria in the mouth and decreases acidity levels.

Nuts

Not only are nuts healthy for your overall health, but for your oral health as well. They’re full of beneficial components such as phosphorus and calcium. Other nuts that have tooth-healthy nutrients include:

  • Peanuts: calcium and vitamin D
  • Almonds: calcium
  • Cashews: stimulate saliva production
  • Walnuts: fiber, iron, thiamine, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B6, zinc, potassium, and more

Almonds and cashews are even better because they can help fight bacteria.

Leafy Vegetables

You now have a whole new reason to eat your greens! Spinach, kale, cabbage, microgreens, and watercress are a few popular ones. They have a multitude of vitamins and minerals, which are also known to produce saliva and strengthen your enamel. They’re also high in other nutrients such as B vitamins, folic acid, and calcium for ultimately healthy teeth. Yet green vegetables aren’t the only ones you should have in your diet- carrots are known to be a cavity-fighting vegetable, because chewing on them mimics the benefits of a toothbrush cleaning your teeth. Not only does the crunching and munching massage your gums, but carrots have keratin, which kills plaque, and Vitamin A, which strengthens enamel.

Salmon and Fatty Meats

Salmon is a fatty fish that’s high in omega-3s and vitamin D, which both help your body absorb calcium for your teeth. It also has a good amount of phosphorus, which helps protect tooth enamel.

Black and Green Tea

While teas have the potential of staining your teeth if you consume an abundance of them, black and green tea are actually good for them because they contain polyphenols, which kill off bacteria that cause plaque. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and then leave behind acids that destroy tooth enamel. Since tea minimizes those dangerous acids, it’s a great drink to have after a meal.

Contact Our Family Dentist in Evanston

Eating tooth-healthy foods and having a healthy oral routine at home is a large part of keeping your mouth healthy. However, you can’t achieve optimal oral health without visiting a dentist twice a year. Stephens Dentistry upholds the highest standards of care in dentistry and we can guarantee you’ll be satisfied with our level of detail. Give our practice a call today to schedule your appointment!

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Benefits of Fluoride Treatment | Family Dentist in Evanston

on March 3, 2022

What is Fluoride Treatment?

At your routine dental cleaning appointment, you’ll most likely receive a brush-on fluoride treatment. While you know this is a routine part of your check-up, you may not know the purpose of the treatment. Fluoride can be put on in many ways, including through brushing on varnish, as a foam painted on, or on a tray. It’s a mineral that makes teeth stronger and helps prevent cavities.

So what are the benefits of receiving a fluoride treatment at your next dental appointment?

Higher Strength Than At-Home Treatments

While it’s beneficial to use products with fluoride such as mouthwashes or toothpastes, fluoride treatments done in a dental office have a much higher concentration of fluoride. This allows for maximum benefits in a faster amount of time. This type of treatment is only available at a medical office and cannot usually be done at home, unless under the direct supervision of a dentist.

Strengthens Teeth

Fluoride helps strengthen your teeth in many ways. It helps your body use minerals such as phosphate and calcium more efficiently. Your teeth will reabsorb minerals in the fluoride to repair any weak tooth enamel. The fluoride will join the tooth structure while the teeth are developing to strengthen the enamel, and this essentially helps protect the teeth against bacteria and cavities for life.

Fluoride can also:

  • Reduce risks of cavities
  • Slow cavity growth
  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Delay expensive dental work
  • Prolong life of baby teeth

Protects Against High-Risk Patients

Because of the many benefits of fluoride, it’s a great treatment for those who are at a higher risk of tooth decay or erosion. Suffering from dry mouth, weak enamel, having crowns, or having poor overall health puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay. These types of patients would certainly benefit from receiving fluoride treatment.

Contact Us Today

Take control of your dental health by scheduling a dental check-up and asking about a fluoride treatment. Even if you are not a high-risk patient and have not had any dental issues, fluoride can be beneficial because it can keep your teeth strong so you can continue to avoid dental problems. We are able to do fluoride treatment for adults as well as children. Contact our dental office in Evanston, Illinois to receive your next fluoride treatment!

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NightGuard Benefits: How a Custom Dental Night Guard Helps

on February 2, 2022

Nightguards are custom-made, clear acrylic devices worn at night that can help with a wide variety of tooth and jaw problems. They are fitted perfectly to your mouth, and no two are shaped exactly alike. If the dentist recommends for you to receive a nightguard at your appointment, you may be wondering what they’re used for and why you might need them. They have countless benefits that you will experience after receiving one!

Helps With Jaw Pain

The main reason patients are recommended nightguards is for chronic teeth grinding, which is also known as bruxism. While it may seem harmless, teeth grinding can produce a slew of problems over time, including tooth and jaw pain, shifting teeth, headaches, tension, and neck pain.

A nightguard helps you stop grinding your teeth so you may notice an improvement in your jaw pain. Without one, you could develop a jaw disorder such as TMJ.

Provides Better Sleep

Wearing a nightguard can drastically improve your quality of sleep, even when you didn’t realize you were getting mediocre sleep before. Teeth grinding decreases your quality of sleep and can cause pain, therefore interrupting your sleep patterns. If your mouth muscles are tense, your body will most likely be tense, not allowing you to fully relax and fall into a deep sleep. Wearing a nightguard will keep that from happening and you may notice yourself falling into a deeper sleep more easily.

No More Snoring

If you have a snoring problem, nightguards can actually help eliminate it. They make a passage between your jaws, which increases airflow and therefore helps you breathe better. This eliminates snoring as you’ll have a larger passageway for air through your mouth. If you suffer from sleep apnea, the nightguard can help relieve that as well.

Prevents Tooth Damage

Over time, grinding your teeth can greatly impact them. When the top and bottom teeth are clenched together, they wear each other down, and can easily lead to enamel loss. This can lead to dentin loss and the exposure of nerves and blood vessels if it goes on for long enough. When you’re asleep, you don’t have control over your grinding or even know that you’re doing it, so there’s no way for you to prevent it aside from wearing a nightguard.

Prevents Headaches

Teeth grinding doesn’t only cause jaw pain – grinding also very commonly leads to tension headaches. The grinding leads to tension in the jaw, ears, and head, so you may wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning with a dull headache. The only way to reduce that tension and pain is by ceasing to grind your teeth, which can be done with a nightguard.

Contact Us Today

If you suffer from teeth grinding or wake up with jaw pain, headaches, and facial tension, you would most likely benefit from a nightguard. The custom-fit night guards fit perfectly in your mouth and around your teeth.

If you already have a nightguard, you can bring it in when you come in for your next appointment so we can clean it and adjust it as needed. If you believe you may need a nightguard or want to learn more about them, contact our Evanston Dentist today.

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How Oral Health Affects Overall Health

on November 23, 2021

You may be surprised to find out that taking care of your teeth doesn’t only affect your mouth! Your oral health affects many different aspects of your health, which is another reason why taking care of your smile is extremely important. Following are some health problems you may be more at risk of if you don’t take care of your dental health.

Heart Disease

Even though the connection between gum disease and heart health is still being researched, statistics have shown that if an individual has gum disease, they are more likely to also suffer from heart disease. An array of infections, bacteria, and other dangerous particles can enter through your mouth and into your bloodstream, therefore causing potential infection and inflammation in other parts of your body.

Some studies have even shown that those with gum disease are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes

Some studies have shown that there is a link between diabetes and gum disease as well. When diabetes is treated, the gum disease tends to improve, and when gum disease is treated, there isn’t as high of a need for insulin. If you suffer from diabetes, treating your gum disease will be much harder, and vice-versa.

If diabetes isn’t controlled, it can lead to higher blood sugar in the mouth, which then leads to a growth in bacteria and a higher risk of gum disease. People with diabetes are therefore extra susceptible to gum disease.

Pregnancy and Infertility

Having good oral hygiene is important for all individuals, but especially expectant mothers. A pregnant woman experiences a lot of hormonal changes, which can leave her at a higher risk of infection, including gingivitis and periodontitis. These oral infections can increase the chances of pregnancy complications, with low birth weight and premature birth being two commonly seen conditions.

Respiratory Issues

Since the mouth is an easy avenue for bacteria to enter through, if bacteria is inhaled from infected gums or teeth over a long period of time, it’s possible that it could lead to an infection in the lungs. This can lead to a slew of respiratory issues such as pneumonia. Gum disease has also been known to worsen existing lung diseases such as COPD and asthma.

This is likely due to the fact that inflammation in the gums can lead to inflammation in the airways, therefore leading to worse respiratory symptoms and damage.

Make Your Dental Appointment Today

Keeping your teeth, gums, and mouth as healthy as possible is easiest when you make bi-annual appointments with Stephens Dentistry. Our dentists are expertly educated and trained not only to clean your teeth to be in tip-top shape, but to notice the warning signs of gum disease and other oral diseases.

Together, we can work to improve your oral health, therefore improving your overall health. For an Evanston dental clinic that will help you achieve ultimate oral health, contact us today.

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What Are the Signs of a Cavity Forming?

on October 7, 2021

No one wants to go to their bi-annual dentist appointment to find out they have a cavity. If you keep up great dental habits and visit the dentist often enough, you’ll most likely be able to prevent cavities. However, even with great habits, they can sometimes still occur. How do you know if you have one starting to form at home that should be checked out? Below are some common signs you may have one beginning to form.

Extra Tooth Sensitivity

While sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures may be something you deal with on a daily basis, it could also be a sign of a cavity if you don’t normally experience it. As your tooth decays from a cavity, the dentin in your tooth becomes exposed, which is ultra-sensitive material. You may notice that they feel more sensitive than usual, especially if just one or two specific teeth are affected or experience a surge of pain.

Pain

One of the most common signs of a cavity is pain in a tooth. It may be harder to do certain tasks such as brushing, flossing, biting down, or even breathing in cold air. This pain is due to the dentin and inner nerve of the tooth being exposed when it shouldn’t be. You should never be experiencing daily pain in your teeth or mouth, so even if it’s not a cavity, it might be a sign of something else.

Bleeding or Swollen Gums

It’s possible for a cavity to be near the gumline, in which case the gums will be impacted. The decay and infection around the tooth can affect the soft tissue, which then causes swollen gums. They may not be impacted until you brush, in which case you may notice bleeding that usually doesn’t occur.

Even if the swollen and/or bleeding gums aren’t due to a cavity, there may be another issue occurring such as gingivitis, so it’s best to consult with a dentist either way.

Small Pit or Hole in Tooth

If your cavity has progressed enough without getting it filled, it’s possible that you could see a small hole in the affected tooth. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity, or any other symptom accompanied with a small visible dent, there’s a good chance you may have a cavity. A dentist will easily be able to tell you if it’s a cavity or not, and fill the hole if it is.

Persistent Bad Breath

Dealing with bad breath isn’t enjoyable for anyone, and it can be frustrating when it won’t go away. If you have bad breath that doesn’t get better with flossing, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or your other usual methods, this could be due to a cavity. Cavities are breeding grounds for bacteria, which can usually have a foul odor to them. You may also be experiencing a consistent bad taste in your mouth that you can’t get to go away.

Contact Us Today

Just like any dental issue, the sooner you get it checked out, the better. If you do have a cavity, catching it before it becomes deeper or more serious will require a less invasive and time-consuming filling. Dental decay can lead to much more serious problems, so if you think you may have a cavity, we encourage you to visit our family dentist in Evanston to get it examined. We’re just a call, click or drive away, so don’t delay your appointment!

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Why is it Bad to Grind Your Teeth?

on September 16, 2021

If you’re grinding your teeth nightly, you’re not alone. Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is a condition that affects about 10% of individuals. It may be due to stress, bite issues, missing teeth, or even sleep apnea. Whatever the reason, it can be a very harmful condition. While occasional grinding isn’t usually an issue, doing it every single night can lead to many different issues down the road.

Damaged Teeth

While teeth are relatively strong, they can still be worn down, especially by grinding them. Enamel is what protects your teeth, so shaving it off by grinding can become very problematic. It can also make your teeth loose and weak, and makes it easier for them to decay. Over time, if the grinding becomes consistent or severe enough, it can wear teeth down to become virtually stubs.

Pain

Teeth grinding may cause you to experience headaches, earaches, small bites or lesions on your cheek or tongue, and tooth and jaw pain. Grinding down on your teeth makes your jaw muscles work all night and can cause your jaw to lock up, experience strange clicking noises or feelings, or even restrict the range of motion your jaw has. If you wake up with a sore jaw, it’s most likely a sign you’ve been grinding your teeth.

If you’re experiencing severe pain, you may have TMJ, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction. When you grind your teeth, your joints become misaligned, which causes overstimulation and pain in the joints. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for bruxism and TMJ to go hand in hand.

Causes Need for Dental Treatments

If your teeth grinding becomes serious enough and has caused significant damage, you may need to receive crowns, bridges, implants, or veneers. Bad teeth grinding can cause tooth damage bad enough that can’t be fixed on its own or reversed, therefore causing the need for treatment.

Can Change Your Bite

Since grinding your teeth involves consistent and pressureful movement from your jaw, it’s possible for grinding to change your bite, leading to the possibility of an over or underbite. This could even change the shape of your mouth and face overall, if the grinding is severe and consistent enough.

Schedule an Appointment Today

There are many treatments for bruxism in order to prevent any severe issues with your teeth or overall health, such as using a mouth guard or taking muscle relaxants. Taking the right steps can help stop the grinding so none of the deteriorating effects take place. While it’s possible that you grind your teeth without any harmful side effects from occurring, there’s always a chance that it can cause damage.

Stop problems from happening by preventing them in the first place with an appointment at our family dentist in Evanston. With many different treatment options to choose from, our dentist will help pick the right one for you. Make an appointment today to discuss your teeth grinding!

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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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