703-528-3336
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1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22209

"I have high anxiety during dental visits. Not this time!" — Alexa H.

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

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.

Your Next Dental Appointment

GOING TO THE DENTIST is something we should all be doing twice a year every year. If you’re already in the habit of coming in for regular cleanings, that’s wonderful! If not, here’s what you can expect from a typical cleaning appointment.

Your Check-Up

When visiting the dentist for a check-up, there are a few things that will typically happen. If you don’t have any existing dental concerns or conditions, the first step is usually dental X-rays. Your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health will determine how often you need these. Dental X-rays help dentists to find and diagnose tooth decay hiding between the teeth and other places hard to see with the naked eye. They also identify dental and orthodontic issues beneath the gums.

Next, the hygienist will begin cleaning the teeth. They use a small metal tool called a scaler to scrape away any tartar in between the teeth and around the gumline. Then they’ll polish the teeth using a lightly abrasive paste and a polishing tool. This gives your teeth a nice, deep clean and removes any remaining tartar. They finish the cleaning off with flossing.

Once the hygienist is done, it’s the dentist’s turn. They’ll review your X-rays, check your teeth and gums for signs of decay and gum disease, measure the depth of your gingival pockets, check for swelling and redness, test how well your teeth come together when you bite down, and examine your neck, lymph glands, and mouth for signs of oral cancer. When they finish, they’ll discuss treatment for any dental work you need and give you tips on improving your daily dental care routine.

Why Visiting The Dentist Is Important

Even for people with great oral health habits like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily, visiting the dentist every six months is crucial to maintaining good oral health. The reason for this is that dental problems don’t go away on their own and tend to get worse, which also makes them more difficult (and expensive) to fix. Regular dental checkups catch problems early so that more intense treatment doesn’t become necessary.

We Can’t Wait To See You!

Whether it’s been six months or longer since the last time we saw you, we’re looking forward to seeing you again! Schedule your next appointment right away, and we can make sure everything in your mouth is healthy and clean!

We have the world’s best patients!

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.

Grinding Bruxism To A Halt

GRINDING OR CLENCHING YOUR teeth is a pretty normal thing to do when you’re annoyed or stressed, and that’s nothing to worry about. However, if you grind your teeth on a more regular basis, whether asleep or awake, it can become a serious problem. This kind of chronic teeth-grinding is known as bruxism.

Why Does Bruxism Happen?

Sleep bruxism, also called nocturnal bruxism, is sometimes the side-effect of sleep apnea or snoring, while awake bruxism (diurnal bruxism) can be a side-effect of stress. However, not everyone with bruxism is dealing with a sleep disorder or stress, and everyone with a sleep disorder or a lot of stress in their lives will have bruxism. Improperly aligned teeth can also cause bruxism.

Bruxism Symptoms

Treatment for bruxism can sometimes be tricky because there isn’t a single clear cause, so the focus tends to be on reducing symptoms and minimizing the damage. You might not be consciously aware of a teeth-grinding habit, but if you experience at least some of the following symptoms, it could be because of bruxism:

  • Sore jaw (with sleep bruxism, your jaw will be most sore in the morning, whereas with awake bruxism, it’ll be most sore in the evening)
  • Frequent headaches from the constant strain
  • Overdeveloped jaw muscles (because you’re giving them a major workout!)
  • Shifting teeth
  • Flattened chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed dentin and increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, cracked, or split teeth
  • Tooth loss

Bruxism Treatment

There are a variety of treatments or approaches to either reduce the grinding or the damage it causes, depending on the type of bruxism you have.

Behavioral Therapy

You can become more aware of your clenching/grinding habits with behavioral therapy or habit-reversal techniques and consciously work to stop. Because it’s much harder to control what your jaw muscles do in your sleep, this option tends to work better for awake bruxism.

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, massages, warm baths, calming music, and a full night’s sleep can help you de-stress and stop grinding if your bruxism is stress-related.

Prescribed Medication

Medicine is rarely used to treat bruxism, especially if other treatments are helping, but muscle relaxant medication prescribed by your doctor might help you unclench while you sleep.

We Can Help You Stop The Grind!

Schedule an appointment with us if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. It may be due to bruxism, and we can make a plan for how to address it. You don’t want to leave it untreated until it gets to the point where it’s damaging your teeth.

Help us help you keep your teeth healthy!

Top image by Flickr user Chad Miller 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.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

SPORTS INJURIES, ACCIDENTS, and tooth decay are just a few of the reasons we might lose a tooth. Thanks to modern dentistry, however, we don’t need to settle for having a gap in our smiles for the rest of our lives. There are a few ways to fill that gap, and one of them is with dental implants.

Implants Or False Teeth?

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. The only advantage dentures have over implants is that they are cheaper. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.

Types Of Implants

The health of the underlying jaw bone will determine a patient’s eligibility for implants and which type they will receive. In a patient with healthy bone, an endosteal implant will be used. This is simply a titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone. After a healing period, the patient will have a second surgery in which a crown is placed on top of the post.

For patients with bone that can’t support an endosteal implant (or patients who don’t want the surgery involved with them), there are subperiosteal implants. Instead of a titanium post, a metal frame is placed under the gums but on top of the jawbone. Posts are then added to this framework, and they protrude from the gum line like endosteal implants so that crowns can be attached.

Check out this video to see how implants are made:

Implants And Braces?

In most cases where a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as implants, the braces come first, because once an implant is in the jaw, it won’t move. On rare occasions, if the braces only need to shift the front teeth and the missing teeth are located in the back, the implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment!

Come Talk To Us About Implants!

Getting dental implants is nothing to be worried about! 3,000,000 people in the United States alone have at least one dental implant and that number continues to grow. If you need a dental implant, just talk to us! We’ll evaluate your situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.

Keep taking care of those teeth!

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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