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Arlington, VA 22209

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

Monthly Archives: August 2018

How A Nail Biting Habit Affects Teeth

NAIL BITING IS A HABIT shared by between a quarter and a third of children and nearly half of teenagers. Compulsive behaviors don’t always have negative effects on a person’s physical health, but this one definitely does. In addition to leaving the nails torn and uneven and doing damage to the nail beds, nail biting can lead to a variety of oral health complications.

Nail Biting Versus Teeth And Gums

You might think that your teeth are much tougher than your fingernails, but over time, nail biting can cause significant damage to both teeth and gums. Here are some of the biggest ways this happens:

  • Erosion, chipping, and cracking: the grinding friction of teeth against nails can gradually wear the enamel away, or even cause teeth to chip or crack.
  • Malocclusion and gaps: biting nails doesn’t just damage the teeth, it can also cause them to move, leading to malocclusions (problems with the bite) and gaps.
  • Root resorption: possibly the scariest thing nail biting can do to teeth is cause the jaw bone to reabsorb the roots, weakening them and leaving them more vulnerable to falling out. This is an even greater risk for people with wire braces.
  • Gingivitis: a lot of dirt and germs get trapped under our fingernails, and when we chew on them, that all gets transferred to our mouths, which can result in gum disease.
  • Bruxism: a nail biting habit can increase a person’s risk of developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which comes with even more oral health problems, along with headaches and soreness.

Why Does Nail Biting Happen?

If nail biting has such unpleasant consequences, then why do so many people do it? It isn’t fully understood yet, but studies have indicated that it can be an effect of anxiety, boredom, or perfectionism. Similar repetitive behaviors include skin picking and hair pulling. Often, people may not even notice themselves doing it, and this can make it much harder to stop.

Tips To Help Break The Habit

Until more is known about nail biting and what causes it, it can be difficult to know the best things to do to break the habit, but here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Trim your nails regularly so you don’t have anything to bite.
  • Paint your nails with bitter-tasting polish so biting becomes associated with a nasty taste.
  • Get a manicure! If your nails are pretty, you’ll be more motivated to keep them that way.
  • Swap the nail biting habit with a more harmless way to fidget, like silly putty or a stress ball.
  • Figure out your triggers. When you know what sets off the nail biting, you can plan ahead and do something different.
  • Make stopping a gradual process. Choose one nail at a time to stop biting, and maybe cover it so you physically can’t bite it. Add more fingernails to the bite ban until there aren’t any left!

We’re Rooting For You!

The oral health of our patients is of course our highest priority, and that means we’re here to help you overcome habits that threaten your teeth and gums! If you need help kicking your habit, don’t hesitate to enlist ours!

We’re here to help you keep your oral health on track!

Top image by Flickr user Photo by Thomas 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.

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

WE ALL USE TOOTHBRUSHES to take care of our teeth, but what are we doing to take care of our toothbrushes? It’s critical that our toothbrushes remain in good condition so they can do their jobs of keeping our teeth healthy, which is why we’re dedicating a blog post to giving our patients tips on toothbrush care!

Cleaning Your Toothbrush

Running your toothbrush under water and giving it a good shake won’t do much to get rid of all the germs you just brushed off your teeth, especially if you’ve recently battled the flu or a cold. Luckily, there are a few ways to deep-clean your toothbrush. Boiling the bristles for a few minutes will kill any germs on them, as will soaking the toothbrush in mouthwash. You can also sanitize it by placing it in the silverware rack of the dishwasher and running it without detergent.

Toothbrush Storage Dos and Don’ts

Do you store your toothbrush with the bristles on the counter or shelf, in a toothbrush cover, or near your toilet? Don’t! Bacteria needs warmth and moisture to multiply and spread, and flushing your toilet can send microscopic contaminants all over your bathroom. The best way to keep bacteria from growing on your toothbrush is to store it upright somewhere it can air out. It’s also a good idea to keep it well away from your toilet, and always put the lid down before flushing.

When To Replace Your Toothbrush

Getting used to a new toothbrush can feel weird. The bristles don’t feel the same, the shape is different, and the handle isn’t the same in your hand. But if we want our teeth to get the proper cleaning they deserve, this brief transition period is more than worth it.

If the bristles on your brush are getting bent, worn, or frayed, it’s definitely time for a new one — particularly if they’re sticking out the wrong way, because that won’t do your teeth any good! Bristles need to be straight in order to reach all the places they should. Just as important: have they become discolored? You don’t want to brush your teeth with stained, dirty bristles!

Get Creative With Your Old Toothbrush

Old toothbrushes are excellent tools for cleaning hard-to-reach areas in your house, like tile grout and backsplashes. You could boil it to make it soft, then bend it into a colorful bracelet! Toothbrushes also make great paintbrushes.

To make your toothbrush art minty fresh, use toothpaste as your paint!

Need Toothbrush Recommendations?

Looking for a new toothbrush but not sure which one is right for you? Just ask us and we’ll give you a recommendation! Keep up those great brushing habits, and don’t forget to schedule your regular dental appointments!

Thank you for your trust and friendship!

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.

Choosing The Right Dentist For You

MOVING TO A NEW AREA comes with a long to-do list, and one important item on it is finding the right dentist. There are a few factors to take into account when choosing a dentist in order to make sure they’re a good fit for you and your family.

Why Decide Now?

Dental care should be about preventing problems before they have a chance to get worse, not waiting until they’ve become an emergency. That means it’s important to find a dentist ahead of time so that you can start making regular checkup appointments to keep your teeth healthy.

Another benefit to choosing your dentist ahead of time is that the pressure is off! You don’t have to rush and take a risk with a practice nobody can vouch for. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to make sure you have only the best dentist for your needs.

Our Top 5 Tips For Choosing A Dentist

You might have other items you’d include on your own list, but these are five we feel are particularly important for any patient. Still, it’s up to you to decide which items on the list are a higher priority for you!

  1. Location. A crucial thing you should be looking at is if the office is within a reasonable distance from your home. How far are you willing to drive twice a year for your checkups? Answer that question for yourself, then choose from dentists within that range.
  2. Reputation. Once you’ve decided how far you’re willing to travel for your appointments, research your local dentists to find the ones with great reputations. You can check their Google reviews and Yelp pages for quick information, but you can also ask your friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations.
  3. Cost. While the quality of the dental care should always be high on the priority list, cost is an important consideration as well. Determine your household’s dental care budget, research dental insurance options, and remember that good preventative dental care now will always be cheaper than dental repair work down the road!
  4. Specialization. Are you looking for a family dental practice, or do you need a pediatric dentist for your kids? This will make a difference in your final choice. If you know you need more complicated work than a regular cleaning or filling, you might want to learn about nearby periodontists or endodontists as well.
  5. Comfort. Even if a dentist meets all four of the other requirements, it may not mean so much to you if you can’t relax while you’re in their office. This is why it’s a good idea to go in beforehand to get a feel for the team and the overall environment of the practice. A good dentist will always look after your comfort!

We Look Forward To Meeting You!

If you still aren’t sure how to find the best dentist for you, we can help! Come visit our practice and we’ll answer any questions you may have. We want to make sure every new member of our community has their dental health needs looked after. In the meantime, keep up your daily brushing and flossing habits!

Help us help you keep your smile healthy for life!

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 Negative Effects Of Mouth-Breathing

WE ALL KNOW WHAT it’s like to have a cold, with a nose so stuffy that you can’t breathe through it. At times like that, we breathe through our mouths instead, and that’s pretty much how it should work. Mouth-breathing is an emergency backup, not the default. There are many negative effects of mouth-breathing full-time, particularly if the habit begins in childhood.

Why Does Mouth-Breathing Become A Habit?

Many things can lead to a mouth-breathing habit. A small child might get a cold and then simply continue breathing through his mouth when his nose clears. A problem with bite alignment can make it difficult to keep the mouth closed. Persistent allergies, overlarge tonsils, or a deviated septum could make nose-breathing difficult or impossible most of the time. Fortunately, these problems can often be solved by orthodontic treatment or surgery.

Why Mouth-Breathing Is A Problem

In the short term, mouth-breathing leads to a variety of issues, including:

  • Dry mouth: mouth-breathing dries out the mouth, removing the first defense against oral bacteria. This can lead to consequences such as chronic bad breath and tooth decay.
  • Lack of energy: getting less oxygen by breathing through the mouth will result in poor sleep quality and lowered energy levels overall. For kids, this means difficulty paying attention in school, and for adults, work productivity can suffer.

The negative effects of mouth-breathing don’t stop in the short-term. They can actually be life-altering, particularly when the habit begins in childhood and goes unchecked.

  • Facial structure: mouth-breathing can actually lead the bones of the face to develop differently, yielding flat features, drooping eyes, a narrow jaw and dental arch, and a small chin.
  • Sleep apnea: the risk of sleep apnea goes up with mouth-breathing, and this can make it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
  • Orthodontic treatment: the narrowed dental arch of a chronic mouth-breather rarely has enough room for the full set of adult teeth, and this will require orthodontic treatment to correct.

The Benefits Of Nose-Breathing

Breathing through the nose doesn’t just help you avoid the effects of mouth-breathing; it comes with additional benefits too! Here are just a few of them:

  • The nose acts as an air filter, delivering clean air to the lungs and reducing the amount of allergens that get in.
  • Nose-breathing produces nitric oxide, which helps with oxygen absorption and sterilizes the air.
  • Nose-breathing strengthens the immune system by activating immunoglobulin production.

Need Help Building Healthier Breathing Habits?

If you or your child has a mouth-breathing habit, it can be tricky to break, especially if the cause is a physical obstruction that requires treatment. Schedule a dental exam right away so the cause can be detected and you can get on the road to healthier breathing and all the benefits that come with it!

We love our wonderful 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.

Good Tooth Brushing Technique

BRUSHING OUR TEETH is something we can get so used to doing that we don’t really think about it, but are we doing it the right way? It can be easy to get into some bad tooth-brushing habits, and the result can be that your teeth aren’t getting cleaned properly and you could be doing damage to your gums. So let’s take a moment to go over good brushing technique.

What To Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

A few of the things we should avoid when we brush our teeth are brushing too hard, only brushing up and down or side-to-side, and always starting in the same place. Brushing too hard can damage our enamel and our gum tissue, which is why we should also avoid hard-bristled brushes.

When we only brush up and down or side-to-side, we tend to miss the spaces between teeth, which allows plaque to build up and leads to tooth decay. Because brushing our teeth is such a routine thing to do, it can be very easy to do it the same way every time, but when we always start brushing in the same place, we tend to pay unequal attention to the first teeth we brush compared to the last. Try mixing things up so that your whole mouth can get the same level of attention!

Brushing Your Teeth The Right Way

The first rule of good brushing is one you’ve likely heard all your life: brush twice a day every day for at least two minutes. Do whatever you need to do to make brushing your teeth an unskippable part of your morning and evening routines. You could even play music so you know how long to keep brushing!

However, brushing isn’t just about quantity; it’s also about quality. For the best cleaning action, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and focus on the gum line. Use gentle circular motions to brush the outsides, insides, and chewing surfaces of every tooth. And don’t forget to brush or scrape your tongue before you’re done! Like daily flossing, tongue-scraping is another crucial step for getting rid of harmful bacteria (and it will help keep your breath fresh!).

Timing is also important. Our teeth often feel unpleasant after a meal, but as much as you want to clean them, make sure you wait at least half an hour after eating before you brush. The acids in our food and produced by oral bacteria soften our enamel right after we eat, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to restore a neutral pH. If we brush too soon, we can actually brush away some of our enamel!

Your Dentist Is Your Greatest Resource

If you’d like more tips on tooth brushing techniques, just ask us! We can make sure your oral health routine is on track for keeping your teeth healthy for life. And don’t forget that an essential component of having healthy teeth is scheduling regular dental appointments!

Now set that timer and get brushing!

Top image by Flickr user Gloria 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.
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