Posts for: August, 2016

By Dr. James M. Maragos, DDS, PC
August 19, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Recurring episodes of severe pain along your face could mean you have trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Although not always curable, TN can be managed effectively with the right strategy.

TN affects a specific pair of nerves called the trigeminal that signal pain in the face or jaws. They originate from the brain stem through the skull on either side of the face, with each nerve having upper, middle and lower branches. TN can affect one or more of these branches and cause anywhere from a mild twinge to excruciating pain.

Causes for TN differ in individual patients. Though it could be linked to a tumor, lesion or cold sore, it most often seems to arise from a blood vessel impinging on the nerve and damaging its outer coating. This causes it to be hypersensitive: chewing, speaking or even lightly touching the face can set it off. The damaged nerve may also fail to "shut off" when the triggering stimulation stops.

If you have these types of symptoms, your first step is to obtain an accurate diagnosis. You'll need a thorough examination to rule out other possibilities like jaw joint problems or a tooth abscess. Once we've determined it's definitely TN, we can then devise a treatment strategy.

We usually begin with conservative measures like medication to block pain transmission to the brain or anticonvulsants that stabilize the nerve and decrease abnormal firing. If medication isn't enough, we may then consider an invasive procedure to control symptoms.

Percutaneous treatment — often recommended for older patients or those in poor health — involves inserting a thin needle into the nerve to selectively damage certain fibers that will prevent the nerve from signaling pain. We might be able to move an impinging blood vessel aside from the nerve with a microsurgical procedure. As an alternative to surgery, high-dose radiation could also be aimed precisely at the pain site with a controlled beam to alter the nerve's ability to transmit pain.

TN can be a source of great discomfort that lowers your quality of life. But employing treatment techniques that best suit your situation, we can greatly reduce the misery it inflicts.

If you would like more information on facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia, 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 “Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Nerve Disorder that Causes Facial Pain.”

By Dr. James M. Maragos, D.D.S.
August 16, 2016
Category: Dental Health
Tags: Sports Drinks  

What your dentist in LaGrange wants you to know this football season

Football season is a great time of the year, but it’s also a time when you might start drinking more sports drinks to replenish your electrolytes and quench your thirst. You might not even be thinking about what those sports drinks are doing to your smile. Dr. James M. FootballMaragos, your dentist in LaGrange, Illinois wants you to know about sports drinks and your teeth.

Be sure to check the label on your sports drinks to find out the amount of sugar you are drinking. There is a wide range of sugar amounts in sports drinks, and it pays to purchase the drinks with the lowest sugar contents. Consider:

  • 20 ounces of Powerade contains over 7 teaspoons of sugar
  • 32 ounces of Gatorade contains 14 teaspoons of sugar
  • 20 ounces of Vitamin Water contains over 7 teaspoons of sugar

Compare these totals to:

  • 20 ounces of low sugar Powerade has one teaspoon of sugar
  • 16 ounces of Propel (Gatorade’s lower sugar brand) has one and a half teaspoons of sugar

Your dentist in LaGrange wants you to know the sugar in sports drinks mixes with the bacteria in your mouth and creates bacterial acid. This acid is strong enough to eat through your tooth enamel into the softer tooth layers underneath, resulting in tooth decay. Now, you have a cavity that needs to be filled.

You can decrease the damage of sugar on your teeth by taking a few simple steps. After drinking a sports drink, you should try and rinse your mouth with water, to get the sugar residue off of your teeth. You should even try to brush your teeth, however, that isn’t usually possible on the football field, so place a toothbrush in your gym locker for use after practice.

There are other steps you can take to decrease the effect of sugar on your teeth. Your dentist in LaGrange wants you to:

  • Try mixing your sports drink with water to decrease sugar content
  • Drink sports drinks with a straw to keep sugar off of your teeth
  • Drink quickly, don’t bathe your teeth in sugar by sipping your drink

Even diet, non-sugar sports drinks have acid, which softens the teeth. When combined with grinding, it can cause loss of tooth structure. So rinsing with water after drinking any sports drink is necessary.

So enjoy football season, but don’t let sports drinks take over your teeth and your smile. Take control of how much sugar you are drinking, and you will have a lifetime of beautiful smiles. For more information on how you can protect your smile, call Dr. James M. Maragos, your dentist in LaGrange, Illinois. Call today and get ready to enjoy football season!

By Dr. James M. Maragos, DDS, PC
August 04, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.

“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavi­ties. How did this happen?

Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.

While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.  Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.

This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”

Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:

  • Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
  • Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
  • Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.

Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.

“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”

If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

Call Today (708) 352-7358

4727 Willow Springs Road
LaGrange, IL 60525

James M. Maragos, D.D.S.

Dr. Maragos’ commitment to his community parallels his commitment to his profession. In 2007, he was elected to... 

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