Crystal Lake, IL Dentist
77 E. Crystal Lake Avenue
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Find answers and other helpful dental topics in our digital library.



According to Reuters Health:   Smoking just one cigarette a day carries half the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke as a pack-a-day habit, according to research that concludes there is no safe level of smoking.

The study team analyzed data from 141 smaller studies to assess the risk of heart disease and stroke for people who smoked one, five or 20 cigarettes a day. Men who smoked one cigarette a day were 74 percent more likely to have heart disease and 30 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked at all, they report in The BMJ.

Women who smoked one cigarette daily were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease and 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than women who didn’t smoke.

“People who have always been light smokers will have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than many of them expect,” said lead study author Allan Hackshaw of the Cancer Institute at University College London in the UK.

While their risk is still lower than for heavy smokers, the results should offer fresh motivation for light smokers to quit altogether, Hackshaw said by email. Heavy smokers, meanwhile, can benefit from cutting back even if they can’t quit.

“Cutting down is certainly better than smoking the same high amount,” Hackshaw advised. “And cutting down has significant reductions in the risk of cancer and other disorders; hence, it is absolutely important that people try this if they find it too difficult to stop completely.”

For example, men who smoked about a pack a day had more than twice the risk of heart disease as non-smokers, while the risk was 58 percent higher than nonsmokers’ for men who smoked five cigarettes a day and 48 percent higher for men who smoked just one.

Similarly, women who smoked five cigarettes daily had 43 percent of the excess of heart disease associated with a pack-a-day habit, while women who smoked one cigarette a day had 31 percent of the excess risk.

Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoked 20 cigarettes a day were 64 percent more likely to have a stroke and women had more than twice the risk for stroke.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how the number of cigarettes people smoke on a typical day might impact their risk of heart disease or stroke.

Another limitation of the analysis is that researchers lacked data on individual patient characteristics from many of the smaller studies, making it impossible to assess whether the study results might be explained by factors that can independently lead to stroke and heart disease and stroke such as obesity and diabetes.

Even so, the findings should serve as a reminder that no amount of smoking is safe, said Kenneth Johnson of the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa in Canada, who wasn’t involved in the study.

That’s because smoking can lead to an irregular heart beat, blood clots too well, thickening and stiffening of the artery walls and increased blood pressure, Johnson, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email.

“With regard to the number of cigarettes, it’s a little like with matches, you only need one - not the whole box - to start a fire,” Johnson said. “Even secondhand smoke appears to trigger these damaging processes, resulting in 80 to 90 percent of the effect associated with active smoking.”

With cold winter weather droning on and on your teeth may also be feeling the "zing" from the outdoor air.  Teeth are used to our normal body temperatures, so when they encounter something colder they can experience issues that may cause pain or irritation.

Cold air breathed in through an open mouth can cause teeth to contract and can allow the air to touch exposed sensitive areas, especially along the gum line. After teeth have contracted from exposure to cold air, they will expand again once your mouth is closed. Over time, these expansions and contractions can cause hairline cracks in your teeth that you may not even know are there, but they’ll rear their ugly heads once they hit cold temperatures.

Oftentimes, people tend to clench their jaw while tensing up trying to stay warm in the cold weather also causing jaw and teeth erosion issues that may emanate tooth pain as well.

A simple way to avoid tooth pain from cold air exposure is to breathe through your nose as much as possible when you are outside. Cold air will hurt your teeth if they are exposed for even small periods of time, however once you close your mouth and cover your teeth with your lips and get your saliva circulating within the mouth the pain should recede. If the cold sensation or ache remains for a while, typically defined as longer than three days, there is a good chance your teeth may be compromised in some other way.

If the cold weather seems much harder on your teeth than seems reasonable, there are some underlying problems the cold weather may be exposing. These could include things such as older fillings that don’t fit anymore, crowns or bridges that have eroded over time, cracked teeth, areas of gum recession from over-brushing or periodontal disease, cavities, infected teeth or gums, bite issues and tooth clenching or grinding.

Exposed roots can also be quite sensitive to cold air and liquids. Roots can be exposed when gums recede or are brushed too hard on a regular basis. The zings that exposed roots can cause are not usually long-lasting; however they can be surprising and painful.

Battling cold-sensitive teeth can be as simple as practicing good oral hygiene. Make sure you have regular dental check-ups.  Many over-the-counter toothpaste brands include sensitive options that are specially made to help reduce tooth sensitivity within a few weeks of regular usage.

Other things you can do to help reduce teeth sensitivities include rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash once or twice a day. This will help create a seal over sensitive areas of your teeth. When choosing a toothbrush, opt for the soft bristled version, and brush gently so you’re not eroding your precious enamel. Make sure you are flossing; this will stimulate your gums so they may not recede as much and will keep them generally healthy.

This year, why not make a New Year’s resolution that will actually change your life and give you back tenfold in health and happiness what you put into it?  One of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make for this year, and for the rest of your life, is taking care of your mouth.  Here are five resolutions that can help keep you on track. 

Schedule a Dental Appointment

About one third of people in the U.S. don't see a dentist yearly, but booking this appointment is one of the most important things you can do when looking after your teeth. Some conditions – such as sensitivity in the teeth or bleeding gums – are sure signs that it's time to see a dentist. To make the process of scheduling visits easier, book your next one before you leave the office. 

Commit to Flossing 

Brushing your teeth twice a day isn't enough to keep plaque from building up on your teeth, or to completely remove bits of food from your mouth. To take the best care of your teeth, you need to floss too. If you're not in the habit of flossing, the new year is a great time to start.  One way to make it easier to remember is putting a container of floss on top of your toothpaste.  

Cut Back on Sugar

Studies confirm a direct link between the amount of sugar a person eats and the amount of tooth decay he has. Cutting back on sugar can cut your risk for tooth decay considerably. The most convenient way to cut back on sugar is to reduce the number of sugary treats you buy. Simple swaps will help you cut back as well: Drink sugar-free seltzer water instead of soda, or chew a piece of sugar-free gum when you have a craving for something sweet.

Kick the Habit 

Smoking doubles your risk for gum disease and is linked to a host of other health issues. Pick a date to give up the habit, get rid of all the tobacco products from your home and solicit the support of your friends and family to help you quit. There will be cravings along the way, so it's important to find a healthy activity to engage in when a craving kicks in. 

Eat More Mouth-Healthy Foods

When you cut back on sugar, resolve to add more healthy foods to your diet to solidify your diet's benefit to your teeth. Dairy products, which are high in calcium, are great for your teeth, as are fibrous foods that call up saliva and scrub away plaque and other food bits.  



Just like with all of your meals, there are lots of Thanksgiving foods for healthy teeth that you can choose from. The sheer amount of options that you have during a holiday dinner can be overwhelming, but you can prepare yourself to make some teeth-healthy options this year.  Luckily, there are plenty of foods for healthy teeth that are already a part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. While you load up your dinner plate, be sure to pick some of these good-for-your-teeth options so you’re teeth are in tip-top shape when you go for your next dental check-up.  

Hit the Cheese Plate

Among the many appetizers that may be served at your Thanksgiving feast, the cheese plate is the food for healthy teeth. Eating cheese lowers the pH in your mouth, which can in turn neutralize plaque acid and reduce the risk for tooth decay. Additionally, the amount of chewing it takes to consume cheese can help stimulate saliva production. Since saliva rinses the mouth of bacteria, this may also help prevent tooth decay.

Cheese contains tooth-healthy nutrients like calcium and protein, which strengthen tooth enamel.

Load Up on Greens

A colorful plate is a healthy plate, and one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting enough foods for healthy teeth is to load your plate with greens. Vegetables like green beans, brussel sprouts, and spinach are all commonly found on the Thanksgiving table. These vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Leafy greens like spinach are high in calcium, which helps strengthen your teeth’s enamel. Vegetables also contain high levels of folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has been shown to help prevent gum disease.

Pass the Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are a staple at most Thanksgiving dinners, and luckily, cranberries are one of the best foods for healthy teeth. Cranberries contain compounds called polyphenols, which can help prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth and causing cavities. However, make sure your cranberry sauce doesn’t have too much added sugar, since sugar can negate the benefits of the polyphenols.

Skip the Starches

Starches like white bread and mashed potatoes may not seem like they're bad for your teeth. However, foods like these break down in your mouth to form simple sugars. These sugars form a gummy paste that can stick onto teeth and provide food for decay-causing bacterias.

Instead, look for whole grain bread or sweet potatoes. Whole grain bread doesn’t break down into sugars as easily as white bread, which means less food for the bacteria in your mouth. The same goes for sweet potatoes, and they have the added benefit of being high in tooth-healthy vitamin A.

Eat Orange Vegetables

Thanksgiving is the season for all sorts of lovely orange vegetables. These vegetables, including pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots are great foods for healthy teeth since they’re all high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is another essential nutrient that your body uses to form strong tooth enamel.

Drink Tea with Dessert Instead of Coffee

After the turkey is carved and all the dinner plates are cleared, it’s time for dessert. With dessert usually comes coffee. However, coffee isn't the best option for your teeth. Drinking too much coffee can stain your teeth, so instead, opt for some tea.

Like cranberries, tea contains polyphenols that slow the growth of the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Tea also makes it more difficult for certain bacteria to clump with other bacteria.

Since caffeine can dry out your mouth, it’s best to opt for a tea with no or low caffeine. Herbal teas are decaffeinated, and green tea has less caffeine than black tea. Most teas have less caffeine than coffee, which still makes them the better option for your mouth.

Make sure you don’t add any sugar to your tea, or else you’ll negate all of the benefits. Sugar just provides more food for the plaque-causing bacteria on your teeth. If you don’t like your tea plain, try adding a bit of milk instead.

Wash Dessert Down with Milk

If you can muster the willpower, skipping dessert altogether is the best option for your teeth. Common Thanksgiving desserts like apple crisp and pumpkin pie have lots of sugar, which will wreak havoc on your teeth.

If you just have to have a piece of pie, take care of your teeth afterward. Drinking a glass of milk after having a sugary dessert can help protect your teeth from all that sugar. Milk can neutralize some of the acidic plaque in your mouth, slowing the growth of bacteria. If there’s no milk around, grab some of the cheese from that cheese plate!

Beware of Lurking Sugars

Unfortunately, a lot of Thanksgiving foods can have added sugars that may negate the health benefits. The bacteria in your mouth feeds on sugars, which can speed up the process of tooth decay.

Try making modified versions of dishes that use less added sugar, or skip the sweetened bits. For example, if you want to have some sweet potato casserole, try making a version without sugary marshmallows on top.

After you’ve taken some time to digest, be sure to brush your teeth after your big Thanksgiving meal. Brushing your teeth is the best way to make sure that any lingering sugar and bacteria is removed from your teeth so you can help prevent tooth decay.



This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.