My Blog

Posts for category: Dental Procedures


The straightening process for a crooked smile doesn't end when the braces come off. There's one more crucial phase to undergo to make sure we don't lose the progress you've achieved: wearing an orthodontic retainer.

Although often viewed as a nuisance, retainers are important because they prevent realigned teeth from reverting to their old positions. This is possible because the periodontal ligament, the gum attachment that allows us to move teeth in the first place, can contain “muscle memory” that naturally tries to draw teeth back to where they once were.

A retainer prevents this from happening: During wear the subtle pressure they exert keeps or “retains” the teeth in their new positions until they're firmly established, usually after several months. While most patients initially wear a retainer around the clock, this will gradually taper off until they're worn primarily during sleep hours.

While retainers come in many different styles and sizes, most fall into one of two categories: removable or non-removable (bonded). The first type, a custom-made appliance a patient can easily take in and out of the mouth, has its advantages. Removing it makes it easier to clean the teeth. They're also adaptable to reduced wear schedules for eating, brushing and flossing, or for special occasions.

But a removable retainer may be noticeable to others. Its removability can also lead to problems. Out of the mouth they're prone to be lost, resulting in additional replacement costs. And immature patients may be easily tempted to take them out too often—or not wear them at all.

A bonded retainer solves many of these potential problems. Because the retainer wire is securely bonded to the back of the teeth, it's not visible to others. And because it can't be removed except by an orthodontist, there's virtually no chance of losing it or haphazard wear.

On the other hand, bonded retainers can occasionally break, requiring repair or replacement. And flossing is more difficult than with a removable retainer, although a little training from a dental hygienist can make that easier.

The choice of retainer depends on the individual and their priorities. But whether removable or bonded, a retainer is absolutely essential for protecting your new, hard-earned smile.

If you would like more information on bonded retainers, 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 “Bonded Retainers.”

By Scott Szatkowski D.D.S.
May 08, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Crowns   Same Day Crowns  

Dental problems require fast action to ensure that they don’t escalate. When you are faced with weakened or damaged teeth, one of the most common solutions is to place a dental crown to protect and preserve the tooth. Installing dental crowns traditionally required numerous trips to the dentist. However, with same-day crowns, a single trip to your dentist, Dr. Scott Szatkowski, in our Elk Grove Village, IL, or Melrose Park, IL, location, is all you need.

Are Same-Day Dental Crowns The Same as Traditional Crowns?

In terms of protection for flawed or damaged teeth, they are similar in functionality. The difference lies in the manufacturing process, in which same-day dental crowns are prepared faster. You cannot distinguish between the two based on their look and feel. Durability-wise, both options are likewise equally strong.

How Could Same-Day Crowns Be Fabricated So Fast?

Unlike porcelain crowns that are made in dental labs, same-day crowns are manufactured with a milling machine on your initial visit. CAD/CAM software provides detailed instructions to create the crown from resin or ceramic block.

Is The Fitting Process of The Same-Day Crown Comfortable?

Surprisingly, the process can even be more comfortable than traditional crowns. Your dentist, here in our Melrose Park, IL, or Elk Grove Village, IL, office, will simply reshape your tooth to prepare it for the installation of the crown by removing any damaged and decayed portions. Usually, a local anesthetic is likewise applied.

After that, there’s almost nothing you should feel uncomfortable with. The oral impressions are taken digitally so there’s no sticky putty or trays that have to go into your mouth. The great thing about this is that it is just as accurate, but faster. There is no need to even have a temporary crown. Just wait for a few minutes as the milling machine finishes carving your crown and you are all set.

What Benefits Can Be Expected From Same-Day Crowns?

Convenience is the biggest benefit of same-day crowns because you don’t need multiple visits to the dentist. There will be instances where issues may occur, but these could be resolved with a new restoration that could be easily created during your follow-up visit. You restore the functionality of your teeth as soon as you leave the dentist.

Why Should I Consider a Same-Day Crown?

It delivers cosmetic and restorative solutions to those who have damaged teeth. If you do not have the time to wait to regain the full functionality of your mouth, then same-day crowns are worth considering. Cracked, broken, or fractured teeth will receive the same level of protection with a same-day crown. Plus, if you have undergone root canal treatment, want to improve the appearance of your teeth or correct misshapen tooth, same-day dental crowns can do the job.

These are just some of the FAQs about same-day crowns. If you have further questions, the most qualified person to ask is your dentist.

Schedule an appointment with our dentist, Dr. Scott Szatkowski, by calling our Elk Grove Village, IL, office at (847) 437-8366 or Melrose Park, IL, office at (708) 450-4533.


Straightening your smile doesn't happen overnight—it can involve months or even years of orthodontic treatment. And although the end result is well worth it, the long process can make it difficult to keep your gums healthy, especially while wearing braces.

Gum swelling in particular is a common problem for braces wearers with two potential sources. First, orthodontic hardware makes it difficult to keep teeth clean of dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that can cause gum disease. Plaque and its hardened counterpart tartar can trigger a gum infection, which in turn triggers inflammation. As a result, affected gums appear swollen and red, and can easily bleed.

Gum tissues may also react to braces pressing against them and develop hypertrophy (or hyperplasia), an increase in individual tissue cell growth. If this overgrowth occurs, it may not get resolved until after your braces have been removed.

As long as the hypertrophy doesn't appear to have weakened gum attachment with the teeth, it's usually not a big concern. But what is a concern is that hypertrophy could increase a braces wearer's difficulties with oral hygiene and give rise to a true gum infection that could endanger dental attachment. Advanced cases could require surgical correction or removal of the braces altogether to adequately treat the infection.

The best way to avoid a worst case scenario is to be as diligent as possible with daily brushing and flossing. Fortunately, there are several tools that can make it easier with braces. Interproximal brushes, tiny brushes that can fit into the narrow spaces between the teeth and the braces, can be used in conjunction with your regular toothbrush.

Flossing is also easier if you use a floss threader or a water flosser. The latter utilizes a pump to emit a pulsating jet of water to break loose plaque between teeth and flush it away. Clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of water flossers for removing plaque in braces wearers as opposed to not flossing at all.

A faithful daily hygiene practice and twice-a-year cleanings and checkups with your regular dentist can help minimize your chances of gum swelling. Doing so will help ensure you'll complete your orthodontic treatment on the way to healthier and more attractive smile.

If you would like more information on teeth and gum care while wearing braces, 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 “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”

By Scott Szatkowski D.D.S.
April 13, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: jaw pain   tmj disorders  

Chronic jaw pain can be an unnerving experience that drains the joy out of life. And because of the difficulty in controlling it patients desperate for relief may tread into less-tested treatment waters.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of conditions affecting the joints connecting the lower jaw to the skull and their associated muscles and tendons. The exact causes are difficult to pinpoint, but stress, hormones or teeth grinding habits all seem to be critical factors for TMD.

The most common way to treat TMD is with therapies used for other joint-related problems, like exercise, thermal (hot and cold) applications, physical therapy or medication. Patients can also make diet changes to ease jaw function or, if appropriate, wear a night guard to reduce teeth grinding.

These conservative, non-invasive therapies seem to provide the widest relief for the most people. But this approach may have limited success with some patients, causing them to consider a more radical treatment path like jaw surgery. Unfortunately, surgical results haven't been as impressive as the traditional approach.

In recent years, another treatment candidate has emerged outside of traditional physical therapy, but also not as invasive as surgery: Botox injections. Botox is a drug containing botulinum toxin type A, which can cause muscle paralysis. Mostly used in tiny doses to cosmetically soften wrinkles, Botox injections have been proposed to paralyze certain jaw muscles to ease TMD symptoms.

Although this sounds like a plausible approach, Botox injections have some issues that should give prospective patients pause. First, Botox can only relieve symptoms temporarily, requiring repeated injections with increasingly stronger doses. Injection sites can become painful, bruised or swollen, and patients can suffer headaches. At worst, muscles that are repeatedly paralyzed may atrophy, causing among other things facial deformity.

The most troubling issue, though, is a lack of strong evidence (outside of a few anecdotal accounts) that Botox injections can effectively relieve TMD symptoms. As such, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve its use for TMD treatment.

The treatment route most promising for managing TMD remains traditional physical and drug therapies, coupled with diet and lifestyle changes. It can be a long process of trial and error, but your chances for true jaw pain relief are most likely down this well-attested road.

If you would like more information on treating jaw disorders, 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 “Botox Treatment for TMJ Pain.”

By Scott Szatkowski D.D.S.
April 08, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Tooth Replacement  

Tooth decay, gum disease, and other factors contribute to tooth loss. As these conditions begin to develop, they are often accompanied by a number of other health issues, as well. This is why it is important that the moment you experience tooth loss, you begin to look at the different options available to you.

Here at Dr. Scott Szatkowski's offices in Melrose Park and Elk Grove Village, IL, we offer a number of tooth replacement options, including:

Fixed Dental Bridge

This is an effective replacement option if you are missing a tooth or two that are located in the same area of your mouth. A fixed bridge is a solution for closing gaps of missing teeth through a dental prosthetic or the use of artificial teeth. The artificial tooth will be attached to adjacent teeth by bonding it in place with dental cement. A fixed dental bridge provides the benefit of having a tooth replacement that has a natural look and feel.

Dental Implants

Just like the fixed dental bridge, this is a solution that allows you to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. The difference is that dental implants allow you to replace missing teeth in different areas, and due to being surgically placed into the jawbone, they are permanent additions to your smile that stimulate bone growth.

With implants, the replacement tooth is almost undetectable as it has a natural look. They can likewise last for a long time and do not require adjacent teeth to attach to. To determine whether you’re eligible for dental implants, you can consult with a dentist in either our Melrose Park or Elk Grove Village, IL, office.

Removable Partial Dentures

If you have only a couple of missing teeth, another available replacement option is removable partial dentures. With this solution, a dental appliance that has the replacement teeth will be connected to a pinkish base to give it a natural look.

The plastic denture base will be held and stabilized through the support of your natural teeth. Likewise, some removable partial dentures may have a clasp to adjoin it to the natural teeth. To achieve that natural look, the color of the base is matched to that of your gums. The same is done with the color of the replacement teeth. Just like other options for replacing missing teeth, it can deliver a natural look and feel in your mouth.

Ready to Rebuild Your Smile? We Can Help

Whether you need dentures, bridges, or dental implants, Dr. Scott Szatkowski can evaluate your specific circumstances and recommend the best treatment for you. Call our Elk Grove Village, IL, office at (847) 437-8366 or our Melrose Park, IL, office at (708) 450-4533 for more details.