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1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22209

"I will continue to be a patient of Dr. LaVecchia and team!" — Megan J.

Monthly Archives: September 2019

What Kind of Toothbrush Is Right for You?

THE TOOTHBRUSH HAS CHANGED a lot over the last century, and we consider ourselves very lucky that we don’t have to use animal hair as bristles. However, there are now so many different toothbrush options to choose from that it can be a little intimidating trying to find the perfect one.

Bristle Firmness

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the harder you scrub, the cleaner you get. That might be true with household chores, but we need to be a little more gentle on our teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can actually scrape away enamel and damage gum tissue — increasing your risk of gum recession, which can be permanent. This is why it’s typically better to use a toothbrush with soft bristles.

Electric or Manual Toothbrush?

When electric toothbrushes first hit the scene, there wasn’t much difference in their effectiveness compared to that of manual toothbrushes. The technology has come a long way since then. Modern electric toothbrushes actually can do a better job of cleaning the plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.

A good electric toothbrush will reduce plaque levels by up to 21 percent more than a manual toothbrush, as well as reducing the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent. With an electric toothbrush, you’ll also have an easier time brushing for the full two minutes and you’ll be less likely to brush too hard.

Sonic or Oscillating?

Even if you decide you want an electric toothbrush, there are still a lot of options to choose from, but don’t worry too much. Oscillating brushes (the ones with spinning tops) and sonic brushes (the ones that vibrate side to side) are both great ways to get a cleaner smile. And you can always ask us for a recommendation at your next appointment!

Toothbrush Storage

Having the world’s best toothbrush won’t do you much good if you don’t store it the right way, because an improperly stored toothbrush is a breeding ground for all the bacteria you just scrubbed off your teeth. Make sure to store your toothbrush upright somewhere with enough air flow that it can fully dry between uses — preferably far away from the toilet.

In addition to proper storage, it’s important to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head, if you have an electric one) every few months. A dirty, frayed toothbrush is nowhere near as effective as a fresh, new one.

Here’s a nifty way to store your toothbrush if you’re looking for ideas:

Bring Us Your Toothbrush Questions

We want all of our patients to have the best tools for the job of keeping their teeth healthy and clean, but don’t forget that your best resource for good dental health is your dentist! We look forward to seeing you twice a year!

Dental health is all about having good habits, the right tools, and a great dentist!

Top image by Flickr user Electric Teeth 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.

How To Prepare For A Dental Emergency

EMERGENCIES ARE SO MUCH easier to deal with if we’ve prepared for them in advance, and that includes dental emergencies. You might be wondering what you can do to prepare for something like an unexpected tooth injury or dental health issue. It’s true that a dental emergency isn’t quite the same as a food shortage or a flat tire, but we can still make plans for what to do.

If A Baby Tooth Gets Knocked Out…

Call the dentist right away if your child loses a baby tooth in an accident, especially if it wasn’t loose beforehand. In most cases, we won’t put the tooth back in because it could create problems for the incoming permanent tooth. Since that tooth will be replaced eventually anyway, this might not seem like a big deal, but there may be other, less obvious damage.

If A Tooth Gets Broken…

In the event of a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth, get straight to a dentist. The sooner treatment happens, the better. What you can do beforehand is find the broken tooth fragments and place them in cold milk to preserve them. You can also rinse your mouth out with water.

Never ignore a crack or chip, because if the damage is deep enough to expose the dental pulp, the tooth is in danger of infection, which can lead to the death of the pulp, a painful dental abscess, bone loss, and worse.

If An Adult Tooth Gets Knocked Out…

If an entire permanent tooth is knocked out, get to the dentist as fast as you safely can, because the clock is ticking on the fate of that tooth. If the dentist sees you within an hour of the accident, the tooth can usually be saved. You can improve the tooth’s chances by putting it back in the socket and holding it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth. If it won’t go back in, storing it in cold milk will also help.

Do NOT handle a knocked out tooth by the root. Do NOT let it dry out. Do NOT scrub it clean or use any soap, alcohol, or peroxide on this. Doing any of these things will kill the root, and then it will be much harder or even impossible to successfully replant.

It’s too bad we can’t just regrow adult teeth, isn’t it?

We’re Ready To Help In Case Of Emergencies!

In addition to being familiar with common types of dental emergencies, it’s essential to know where you’re going to go for help! Our practice is ready to help any patient with an unexpected dental problem. We hope that you’ll never need to use this information and that the only time we’ll see you will be for regular appointments, but it’s always good to be prepared!

You can rely on 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 Ways Medicine Affects Oral Health

EVERY MEDICATION COMES with a list of potential side effects. Sometimes those side effects include a negative impact on oral health.

The Chemistry Of Medicine And The Mouth

Certain medications and vitamins can be pretty hard on our teeth, even for the short time they’re in our mouths. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines in pill form, so we don’t have to worry about these problems, but it can be an issue for children. Medicine for kids often comes in the form of sweet syrup and multivitamins, and the sugars in them feeds oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Another culprit is asthma inhalers, which can lead to oral thrush — white patches of fungus on the tongue, inside the cheeks, and other oral tissues. These can be irritating or painful. The best way to prevent this complication from inhaler use is for the patient to rinse with water after every use. Rinsing is a good idea for those sugary cough syrups and multivitamins too.

Oral Side Effects

Just because a pill can’t hurt your mouth directly while you’re swallowing it doesn’t mean it won’t have side effects that impact your mouth later on.

  • Medications containing blood thinning components can lead to bleeding gums after brushing.
  • Several medications have a side effect of causing inflammation in the gum tissue, which increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can affect our sense of taste, leaving a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth or causing changes in general. As unpleasant as it can be, this isn’t usually a serious side effect.
  • In rare cases, osteoporosis treatment drugs can compromise the bone tissue in the jaw, increasing the risk of gum recession and tooth loss.

The most common oral side effect of both over-the-counter and prescribed medications is dry mouth. This is a dangerous one because we need saliva to protect our teeth and oral tissues from bacteria. Without saliva, we are much more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

Make Sure We Know About Your Medications

It’s important to be aware of these side effects and to keep your doctor and your dentist in the loop if any of them occur. Prescriptions can sometimes be adjusted to minimize negative effects, but only if your health care professionals know what’s going on!

The dentist is your best resource for any oral health concerns you have!

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.

Dentures Through History

TOOTH LOSS HAS BEEN a problem people have had to deal with all throughout history, and false teeth have been a solution since at least 2500 B.C.

Dentures Through The Ages

The oldest known false teeth were discovered in Mexico, made of wolf teeth. Millennia later, around 700 B.C., the ancient Etruscans would use gold bands or wire to attach human or animal teeth, and two false teeth made of bone and wrapped in gold wire were found in the tomb of El Gigel in Egypt.

In 16th century Japan, they began to use wood as a material for false teeth. By the 1700s, carved ivory had become a popular denture material, and dentures would be crafted by ivory turners, goldsmiths, and barber-surgeons out of ivory, human teeth, and animal teeth.

The Myth Of George Washington’s Wooden Teeth

The first president of the United States struggled with dental health problems from his twenties on, including toothaches, decay, and tooth loss. In fact, by the time he was inaugurated president, Washington only had one tooth left! The causes of his dental troubles were likely a combination of genetics and the poorly balanced diet of the era.

Washington did indeed wear dentures, but they were never made of wood. First, he had partial dentures made of ivory and wired to his remaining teeth. In 1789, Dr. John Greenwood, a pioneer of American dentistry, fashioned Washington an advanced set of dentures using hippo ivory, gold springs, and brass screws attached to human teeth. He had other sets after this one, and as good as Washington’s dentures were for the time, they still caused him pain and noticeably changed the shape of his face.

One interesting detail about Washington’s dentures is that Dr. Greenwood designed them to make room for that last remaining natural tooth. He is reported to have told Washington that a dentist should “never extract a tooth…[when] there is a possibility of saving it.” 

Look How Far Dentures Have Come!

These days, patients in need of false teeth have much better options than George Washington did. Modern dentures are typically made of plastic or acrylic resin, sometimes porcelain. They can be partial or full, removable or fixed by implants. Missing teeth can also be replaced by individual implants, though this is a more expensive option. As dentistry continues to advance, more and more teeth can be saved through root canal therapy and other efforts. Dr. Greenwood would be so proud!

Modern Dentistry Helps Us Keep Our Teeth

Over 36 million Americans have none of their natural teeth left, but modern dentistry and good oral health habits help us keep our teeth longer. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste is essential, as are twice-yearly dental appointments.

Help us help you keep your teeth healthy for life!

Top image obtained through Wikimedia Commons. Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1797.
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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