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Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Different Types Of Teeth

YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED that your teeth aren’t all the same shape, but do you know the reason? Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles!

Types Of Teeth And What They Do

The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors. The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors. Incisors are built for slicing. When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they aren’t the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths. This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat. Unlike incisors, we only have four canines. Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the shape. Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth. That might seem weird, but it’s because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars. You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars. They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up. We don’t have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars. Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces. We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth. Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing, because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it’s ready to be swallowed.

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we’re omnivores. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth. Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small, if they have them at all. Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common? They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep bringing those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to see us every six months so that we can make sure they’re all staying healthy. In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

We look forward to seeing you again!

Top image by Flickr user _zhang 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.

Seasonal Allergies And Your Oral Health

SPRING IS IN THE AIR…and that means so are allergies. Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?

Why Do We Get Seasonal Allergies?

While there are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. This can mean long months of congestion, an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrive in response to these allergens.

Allergies Versus Oral Health

While allergies can result in tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay.

Prevention And Treatment

Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house.

If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.

Fighting Back Against Allergies Together!

If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to come see us! Your oral health is our top priority, and together we can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!

Thank you for putting your trust 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.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Let’s Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your teeth healthy!

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.

An Eating Disorder’s Impact On Oral Health

THE FOOD WE EAT provides our bodies with the building blocks to maintain healthy cells, tissues, and organs and the energy to work, learn, and do the activities we love. It is crucial that we eat enough food (and preferably the right kinds) in order to keep everything working properly, which is why eating disorders are such a serious threat.

Malnutrition And Overall Health

Eating disorders are a group of psychological disorders that can have a devastating impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of those who suffer from them. No system in the body is spared, and that includes oral health. That’s why we want to educate our patients on the dangers of eating disorders and encourage anyone suffering from one to seek help returning to healthy eating habits.

Anorexia: Starving The Oral Tissues

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely restricted food intake, and may also involve purging and compulsive exercising. The main risk to oral health with anorexia is malnutrition. Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis, which weakens the jaw bones, leading to tooth loss. The gums may also bleed easily, and the salivary glands may swell up and produce insufficient saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Bulimia: Stomach Acid Versus Teeth

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of overeating (binging) followed by forced elimination of food through vomiting or laxatives (purging). Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid on a regular basis, which erodes the protective layer of enamel and can lead to discoloration, decay, and even tooth loss.

Watch this video to see bulimia’s effects on teeth, as well as how dentist’s can help:

Preventing Additional Damage

Maintaining a good dental hygiene regimen is an important part of keeping teeth and oral tissues healthy in any circumstance, but particularly while recovering from an eating disorder. One important caution to take if your teeth have been exposed to acid (whether from acidic food and drink or from regurgitated stomach acid) is to wait thirty minutes to brush. Immediately after acid exposure, tooth enamel is weaker and can be scrubbed away by brushing, so it’s better to rinse with water and wait to brush.

The Road To Recovery

Eating disorders are very serious, and recovery is about getting the right help — from supportive friends and family as well as licensed psychologists. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, a good first step on the road to recovery would be contacting the National Eating Disorders Helpline. The dentist also plays a role in minimizing and repairing the damage from malnutrition and acid erosion, so make sure to schedule an appointment.

Your overall health and wellness are important to us!

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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