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Posts for: July, 2019

Have you been considering orthodontic treatment? More than just a way of achieving a better-looking smile, braces offer several important bracesbenefits for both your oral and general health. Read on to learn how your Lakeview, IL, dentist, Dr. Scott Emalfarb, can help boost your dental health through the use of orthodontic treatment.


Orthodontic treatment advantages

An improved smile is the most visible benefit of orthodontics, but it's not the only one. Orthodontic treatment can also:

  • Reduce Wear and Damage: If you have a bite problem, your upper and lower teeth don't fit together properly. Bite problems can erode your tooth enamel, crack your teeth, and increase your risk of future dental issues.
  • Help You Avoid Cavities and Gum Disease: It's hard to remove every speck of plaque when your teeth are crooked or overlap. Cavity-causing plaque soon turns into tartar, a hard deposit that plays a role in gum disease. Straightening your teeth with orthodontic treatment makes cleaning plaque from your teeth much easier.
  • Prevent Infections: The bacteria that causes gum disease can spread to other parts in your body, and may even cause heart disease or strokes. Infections are also possible if misaligned teeth cut your cheeks, lips, and tongues when you chew.
  • Ease Headache Pain: A misaligned bite stresses your jaw and causes headaches. Once your teeth are straightened, you may notice that you have fewer headaches.
  • Better Nutrition: You may not be able to chew certain foods easily if your teeth are aligned. Although avoiding these foods can be a solution in of itself, eliminating food groups from your diet can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that may raise your risk of illness. Correcting your bite problem helps you enjoy a variety of foods from all of the food groups.
  • Decrease Upset Stomachs: You may not be able to chew foods thoroughly if you have a bite problem. Swallowing large pieces of food can delay digestion and cause an upset stomach. Once you begin orthodontic treatment at our Lakeview office, you may find that your gastrointestinal problems aren't an issue anymore.
  • Improve TMJ Symptoms: A bite problem can cause temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), a disorder that affects the hinge joints on both sides of the jaw. TMJ can cause jaw stiffness and pain, difficulty chewing, a popping or cracking sound when you open and close your mouth and temporary locking of your jaw. Realigning your teeth can ease your painful symptoms.


Interested? Give us a call

Transform your smile with orthodontics! Call your Lakeview, IL, dentist, Dr. Scott Emalfarb, at (773) 472-6322, to schedule your appointment.


There are a few mouth conditions so rare most of us have never heard of them. Geographic tongue would fall into this category, affecting only one to three percent of the population. Even so, these irregular reddish patches resembling land masses on a map (hence the name) might be alarming at first glance—but they pose no danger and usually cause very little discomfort.

Geographic tongue is also known as benign migratory glossitis. As its clinical name implies, the unusual red patchy areas (often surrounded by a grayish white border) aren't cancerous nor contagious. The patches also appear to change shape and move around ("migrate") the tongue.

The reddish appearance comes from the temporary disappearance of tiny bumps on the tongue surface called papillae, which can leave the tongue smooth to the touch in affected areas. The lost papillae may reappear again a few hours or days later, and may occasionally disappear again. While it's not painful, you can experience a stinging or burning sensation emitting from these patchy areas.

We're not sure how and why geographic tongue erupts, but it's believed high emotional or psychological stress, hormonal imbalance or certain vitamin deficiencies might be factors in its cause. There may also be a link between it and psoriasis, a condition that can cause dry, itchy patches on the skin.

If you're one of the rare individuals who has episodes of geographic tongue, the good news is it's harmless, only mildly uncomfortable and usually temporary. The bad news, though, is that there's no known cure for the condition—but it can be managed to ease discomfort during outbreaks.

It's been found that highly acidic and spicy foods, as well as astringents like alcohol or some mouthrinses, can increase the level of discomfort. By avoiding these or similar foods or substances, you can reduce the irritation. Your dentist may also be able to help by prescribing anesthetic mouthrinses, antihistamines or steroid ointments.

For the most part, you'll simply have to wait it out. Other than the mild, physical discomfort, the worst part is often simply the appearance of the tongue. But by watching your diet and other habits, and with a little help from us, you can cope with these irritations when it occurs.

If you would like more information on geographic tongue and similar oral issues, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Geographic Tongue: No Cause for Alarm.”


Regular dental visits are an important part of teeth and gum health at any age, including young children. But the clinical nature of a dental office can be intimidating to children and create in them an anxiety that could carry over into adulthood and disrupt future care.

You can, though, take steps to "de-stress" your child's dental visits. Here are 3 ways to reduce your child's dental anxiety.

Start visits early. Most dentists and pediatricians recommend your child's first visit around age one. By then, many of their primary teeth have already erupted and in need of monitoring and decay prevention measures. Beginning visits early rather than later in childhood also seems to dampen the development of dental visit anxiety.

Take advantage of sedation therapy. Even with the best calming efforts, some children still experience nervousness during dental visits. Your dentist may be able to help by administering a mild sedative before and during a visit to help your child relax. These medications aren't the same as anesthesia, which numbs the body from pain—they simply take the edge off your child's anxiety while leaving them awake and alert. Coupled with positive reinforcement, sedation could help your child have a more pleasant dental visit experience.

Set the example. Children naturally follow the behavior and attitudes of their parents or caregivers. If they see you taking your own hygiene practices seriously, they're more likely to do the same. Similarly, if they notice you're uncomfortable during a dental visit, they'll interpret that as sufficient reason to feel the same way. So, treat going to the dentist as an "adventure," with a reward at the end. And stay calm—if you're calm and unafraid, they can be too.

If you would like more information on effective dental care for kids, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Taking the Stress out of Dentistry for Kids.”


Pediatricians and dentists alike recommend beginning your child's regular dental visits at an earlier age rather than later. Most say children's first visits should happen around their first birthday.

Some may question whether that's necessary given the state of a child's dental development at that age. At that stage they normally have only a few primary teeth, which will eventually give way to their permanent set soon enough.

But regular dental visits can make a positive difference even at that early age. Here are 3 oral health areas that could benefit from seeing the dentist by Age One.

Protecting primary teeth from decay. It's true that primary teeth don't last long when compared to a normal lifespan. But during their short tenure, they do play a critical role in a child's health and development. Not only do they provide a child dental function for eating, speaking and smiling, they also preserve the space for the permanent teeth that will succeed them. Without them, permanent teeth can erupt out of position to form a poor bite (or malocclusion). That's why early dental care to prevent and treat decay in primary teeth helps them remain for as long as they should.

Detecting developing malocclusions. A malocclusion doesn't form overnight—there can be subtle signs of its development during early childhood. A dentist, especially a pediatric dentist or orthodontist, can often detect those signs before the malocclusion fully develops (one reason why every child should have an orthodontic evaluation around age 6). With early detection, an orthodontist can use interventional techniques that will lessen or even stop a malocclusion from forming. As a result, later orthodontic treatment may not be as extensive—or expensive—as it could have been.

Developing a healthy dentist-patient relationship. Dental anxiety is a real problem for many adults—in some cases it can be so severe they avoid professional dental care altogether. The roots of that dental fear often go back to unpleasant experiences during childhood. Starting dental visits when a child is very young appears to minimize the development of dental anxiety. A young child, especially visiting a "kid-friendly" dental clinic, will more likely view dental care as a routine part of life and will less likely be afraid.

If you would like more information on dental care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit: Why It's Important for Your Baby.”