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1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22209

"Excellent, as always. Thank you." — Elizabeth L.

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Impress Your Friends With Dental Trivia

MOST PEOPLE OUTSIDE of teeth-related professions probably only think about their teeth when something’s wrong, like when there’s something stuck between them in the middle of a date, they’re sore from a toothache, or they’re stained after drinking coffee or juice. That’s why we thought our patients would appreciate an opportunity to think about teeth in a more fun and interesting context. So get ready, because it’s time for some dental trivia!

You Probably Didn’t Know…

These are seven of our favorite pieces of dental trivia! How many of them did you already know? If you know any cool dental facts we didn’t include in our list, feel free to share them in the comments!

  1. A Lifetime Of Brushing: If you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, that means you’re spending a whole day brushing your teeth for every year of your life! Keep up the great work!
  2. First Impressions: After your eyes, your smile is what people notice most about you, so make sure you’re taking care of it!
  3. Teeth Tattoos: It is possible to tattoo your teeth, though technically the tattoo is on a cap or crown that covers the tooth, not the tooth itself. (We probably wouldn’t recommend this one!)
  4. Super-healing: The mouth heals faster from injuries (like a bitten cheek or burned tongue) than any other part of the body. This is because of the ample blood supply, the simplicity of the tissues in the cheeks, tongue, and gums, and the healing properties of saliva.
  5. Congenitally Missing Teeth: Most of us will have 20 baby teeth and between 28 and 32 adult teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth we have) in our lifetime, but for 3-8 percent of the population, some of those teeth might never develop at all!
  6. Baby Teeth: One in about 2,000 babies are born with at least one tooth already erupted! These are called natal teeth (or neonatal if they erupt within the first month).
  7. Ice Age Dental Fillings: Archaeologists have discovered evidence of crude dental fillings in teeth from 13,000 years ago in northern Italy!

For a few more weird dental facts, check out this video:

Let’s Take Care Of Those Teeth!

There are plenty of weird and fascinating things we can learn about teeth, but if you ever notice anything about your own teeth that strikes you as unusual, come see us. It’s always better to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and your teeth will thank you for doing so earlier rather than later.

Remember to keep brushing and flossing!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Big Scoop On Tooth Sensitivity

DO YOU GET a painful jolt through your teeth every time you try to enjoy a bite of ice cream or a sip of fresh coffee? If you do, then you’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and you’re not alone. More than half of adults between the ages of 20 and 50 experience some degree of sensitivity in their teeth, and children can have sensitive teeth too.

So why does this happen? Well, to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to know about the structure of a tooth and how the different layers function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

The crown of each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules running through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth can detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity

Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel wears away, which could be the result of teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. Without enamel, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.

Another major cause of sensitivity is root exposure. Teeth roots don’t have that layer of enamel; their main defense is the gums. Gum recession, which can also be caused by teeth grinding or improper brushing, leaves the roots vulnerable. Other causes of sensitivity include cavities and having a chipped or fractured tooth.

How You Can Protect Your Teeth

If you do have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, start using a soft-bristled brush if you aren’t already, because hard bristles may further damage the enamel and gum tissue. You can also switch to a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Finally, avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks.

What Our Practice Can Do

Make sure to come to us if you begin experiencing tooth sensitivity, even if your next regular appointment is months away. We can strengthen your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform dental restoration work on areas with enamel loss, recommend a gum graft to cover exposed roots, or prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste. We’ll also make sure there aren’t any other problems with your teeth!

We’re here to make sure your smile stays healthy and strong!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Story Of Your Toothbrush

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED how your toothbrush was made or how it’s different from toothbrushes of the past? Teeth-cleaning tools have certainly come a long way from the frayed sticks Ancient Egyptians used around 3500 BC!

A Brief History Of The Toothbrush

The first toothbrushes that resemble modern ones were invented in China in the late 1500s, and they consisted of pig bristles attached to a bone or bamboo handle. Before long, the design caught on in Europe, with horse hair sometimes replacing pig. Can you imagine cleaning your teeth with animal hair? It doesn’t sound very fun to us, but there weren’t any other options back then, and it beats chewing on frayed sticks.

Over the centuries, the design gradually became more like the toothbrushes we’re familiar with. Toothbrushes were first mass-produced in 1780, in England. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was made in 1938. Sixteen years later, Philippe Guy-Wood developed the first electric toothbrush in Switzerland.

Even with the long history of toothbrushes and all the advances in the design, oral hygiene didn’t become a priority in the culture until soldiers brought their strict hygiene regimens home with them from World War II. Just one more reason to be grateful for our troops!

How Your Toothbrush Is Made

Nylon bristles and plastic handles were the last major change in what toothbrushes are made of, but how are they actually made? There are a few different steps. First, the handles are molded from plastic pellets. Then a machine positions and attaches the bristles. Next, another machine trims the bristles to the right length. Finally, the finished toothbrushes are packaged and shipped.

To see the manufacturing process in action, check out this video:

The most important step before a toothbrush makes it to the cup beside your sink is quality control. The American Dental Association tests new toothbrush designs on comfort and efficiency. Toothbrushes that meet their standards are given the ADA Seal of Acceptance, so make sure any toothbrush you purchase has it!

You And Your Toothbrush

A toothbrush earning the ADA Seal of Acceptance isn’t the end of the story. From there, it’s up to you. Remember to brush your teeth for two full minutes twice a day, store your toothbrush upright in a dry place preferably far from the toilet after you use it, and don’t forget to replace it every few months! A frayed, worn out toothbrush can’t do the job of preventing tooth decay and gum disease as effectively as a toothbrush in good condition.

Need A Recommendation?

We know there are many toothbrushes out there to choose from, and there is no one toothbrush that’s perfect for everyone. Children need different brushes than adults, people with braces need different toothbrushes than people without, people with sensitive teeth need toothbrushes with extra soft bristles, etc. So if you’re having trouble finding the best one for you, just ask us at your next dental appointment!

We can help you find the brush that’s right for you!

Top image by Flickr user Pascal used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Women’s Oral Health Concerns


ALTHOUGH MEN AND WOMEN have a lot in common, there are quite a few differences when it comes to oral health. Women have some advantages men lack, but also some disadvantages men don’t have to worry about. Let’s take a look at the main ones.

TMJ And Sjögren’s Syndrome

Women account for 90 percent of people suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome, or chronic pain or soreness in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. The most obvious cause is bruxism (teeth grinding), but it can also be the result of stress, joint structure, vitamin deficiency, medical conditions like arthritis, and even hormones.

Another condition women are far more prone to than men is Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks salivary glands and tear ducts (resulting in dry mouth and dry eye) before moving on to other tissues and organs. Dry mouth, aside from making chewing and swallowing difficult, is very dangerous to oral health, because saliva washes away food particles, fights bacteria, and neutralizes the mouth’s pH.

With both syndromes, regular dental visits are crucial so that you can get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that will keep your mouth healthy.

Puberty, Pregnancy, And Menopause

Hormones play a large role in women’s dental health, particularly when they are going through significant changes, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Gingivitis and inflamed gums are common during puberty and pregnancy, which is why it’s especially important to maintain good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing under these conditions.


Dry mouth is a common problem for women going through menopause, and bone loss is another. When bone loss occurs in the jaw, it can compromise the gums and the roots of the teeth. It’s very important for menopausal women to discuss these potential effects with their dentists, ideally before any negative symptoms appear!

Eating Disorders And Teeth

More than twice as many teenage girls suffer from eating disorders than teenage boys, and that ratio persists in different age groups. Eating disorders are life-threatening. They have negative effects on every system in the body, and the mouth is no exception.

Malnutrition, particularly a deficiency in vitamins and minerals essential to keeping teeth and gums healthy, can lead to a variety of oral health problems, but eating disorders can do more direct harm as well. Bulimia in particular can lead to tooth erosion from frequent exposure to stomach acid during purges.

Anyone suffering from an eating disorder should seek psychiatric help to recover mentally, but it will take rigorous dental hygiene and help from dental professionals to maintain or restore good oral health.

You And Your Dentist Make A Great Team!

By this point, you might think women got the short end of the stick all around when it comes to oral health, but one major advantage women have is their tendency to take better care of their teeth. Women are more likely to brush twice a day, floss daily, and keep up with their regular dental appointments than men. They’re also much less likely to try toughing it out whenever they experience tooth pain or other symptoms. These healthy habits combine to greatly reduce the impact of all the above conditions, so keep up the good work!

Let’s keep those mouths healthy, ladies!

Top image by Flickr user Timothy Krause used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Saliva: Oral Health’s MVP

SALIVA IS SUCH an ordinary thing that you probably haven’t given it much thought, but it’s actually as important to the healthy function of our mouths as oil is to a working car engine. Saliva is an essential component of our ability to eat, taste our favorite foods, and speak, it’s crucial to a healthy immune system, and it’s our first line of defense against many oral health problems.

Saliva Production And Stages

In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced continuously by the salivary glands, which are located under our tongues and in our cheeks. These glands produce between two and six cups of saliva every day! Saliva is 98-99 percent water, and the rest consists of proteins, digestive enzymes, antimicrobial factors, and electrolytes.

Depending on where food is in the digestive process, saliva goes through a few different stages: cephalic, buccal, oesophageal, gastric, and intestinal. When you smell something delicious and your mouth waters, that’s the cephalic stage! Actually eating moves it to the buccal stage, which helps us swallow food. The oesophageal stage helps move swallowed food down the esophagus.

The last two stages are less pleasant, but still important. If you’re about to throw up, your salivary glands work overtime in the gastric stage so that the stomach acid won’t do as much damage when it comes up and out with the partially digested food. The intestinal stage is similar, activating when the body doesn’t agree with food that reaches the upper intestine.

Saliva And Oral Health

There are many reasons we have saliva, but the most important role it plays for your teeth is keeping your mouth’s pH balanced and flushing away remnants of food to keep everything clean. Eating food tends to make our mouths more acidic, and even though the enamel on our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies, it only takes a pH of 5.5 to start dissolving it. Many of the foods we eat are far more acidic than that, which makes saliva critical in protecting our teeth.

The antimicrobial factors in saliva also fight bacteria, protecting us against gum disease and bad breath. Growth factors in saliva are why injuries in your mouth (like a burned tongue or a bitten cheek) heal faster than injuries elsewhere on the body. And those are just the benefits to oral health, but saliva does much more.

When The Spit Runs Dry…

All of these benefits are why dry mouth is such a serious problem. It can happen for a number of reasons. Our mouths tend to go dry in stressful situations. We also tend to produce less saliva in old age. Drug use, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all cause dry mouth as well. Unfortunately, many prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Let’s Get That Mouth Watering!

If you’ve been experiencing dry mouth for any reason, schedule an appointment with us. We can discover the cause and get that saliva flowing again so that you won’t miss out on any of its great health benefits!

Thank you for trusting in our practice!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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