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1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22209

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Monthly Archives: November 2019

Bleeding Gums: Causes and Treatment

BLEEDING GUMS ARE the most common symptom of gum disease, but that’s not the only thing that can cause this problem. Let’s take a closer look at bleeding gums, the various causes, and what we can do about it.

Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Over time, plaque (a sticky, bacteria-filled film that coats our teeth) builds up along our gumlines if we aren’t careful enough in our brushing and flossing routines. Eventually, plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums, making them more likely to bleed and leading to gingivitis, or the early stage of gum disease.

More advanced gum disease is periodontitis, where the infection impacts the jaw and supportive tissues connecting the teeth to the gums as well as the gums themselves. Tooth loss is a major concern at this stage, so don’t let it get this far!

Vitamin C and K Deficiencies

If your gums are bleeding but you don’t have gum disease, ask your doctor to check your vitamin C and K levels, and make sure you’re including good sources of these vitamins in your diet, such as: citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers for vitamin C, and watercress, kale, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, soybeans, and olive oil for vitamin K.

Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue

It’s also possible (though uncommon) to damage gum tissue to the point of bleeding (and worse) simply by brushing too hard. Remember when you’re brushing that you aren’t cleaning out tile grout; you’re cleaning soft, living tissue, and gentle brushing is enough. It’s best to use a brush with soft bristles. One way you know you’re probably brushing too hard is if the bristles quickly become bent outward.

A New Flossing Routine

Sometimes flossing for the first time in a while can cause a little bleeding, but this is no reason to stop flossing. The bleeding should clear up after a few days if there isn’t another cause, but make sure that you’re gentle on your gums when you floss. You want to get beneath the gumline, but avoid pulling straight towards the gums when getting between your teeth. Instead, work your way down carefully with a back-and-forth motion.

Protecting Your Gum Health

The first step to having healthy gums is good dental hygiene. This includes twice-daily brushing for a full two minutes with that soft-bristled toothbrush, daily flossing, and twice-yearly visits to the dentist. A good way to soothe tender gums is by swishing with warm salt water (but don’t swallow it). You might also want to consider switching to an electric toothbrush. They’re better at cleaning and you’re less likely to brush too hard with them.

Let the Dentist Take a Look

If you’ve noticed your gums bleeding when you brush or if they’ve felt sore or swollen lately, the first thing to do is to schedule a dental appointment. The dentist can determine what the source of the problem is and recommend the right next steps to take to get back to great gum health!

We love our patients’ healthy smiles!

Top image by Flickr user nøpe 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.

Conquering Dental Anxiety

EVEN THOUGH WE know, logically, that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of staying healthy, many of us don’t find it particularly fun to lie flat on our backs while someone pokes around our teeth and gums. For some people, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.

Dental Anxiety Statistics: You Are Not Alone

Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better (for your wallet as well as your health) to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.

Why Does Dental Anxiety Happen?

A lot of people who avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear do so because of a previous negative experience they had that soured them on the concept of dentistry altogether. The feeling of not being in control is another reason people might be nervous. We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients feel comfortable so that they can move forward with the right professional oral health care to keep their teeth strong and healthy for life.

History and Pop Culture Skew Versus Modern Dentistry

If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before World War II made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least. The field has come a long way since then, even though movies and TV haven’t done much to update cultural expectations. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.

Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

There are a few things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety.

  • Come visit our practice before your appointment, especially if this is your first time coming in. Familiarize yourself with our space and members of our staff so that it doesn’t seem so foreign on appointment day. You might even want to bring someone you trust along with you.
  • Learn as much as you can about what happens in a typical dental appointment. If you take away the mystery, it will help you regain a sense of control.
  • Talk to us about your anxiety. When we know this is something you struggle with, there’s more we can do to help you.
  • Bring a distraction like headphones and a playlist of relaxing music to your appointment.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dental Professionals

Your care and comfort are our top priorities. If you or someone in your family struggles with dental anxiety and it’s interfering with getting needed dental care, we’d love to schedule a time for you to come to our practice so that you can get used to the facility and get to know our team. We can answer any questions you may have.

We hope to see you soon!

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 Impact of Diabetes on Teeth and Gums

ONE OF THE MOST common complications of diabetes is gum disease, and that isn’t the only way diabetes is hard on teeth and gums. Diabetes and oral health have a close relationship. If the diabetes isn’t carefully controlled, it will be much harder to maintain good oral health, and vice versa.

What Does Blood Sugar Have to Do with Oral Health?

You’ve probably already heard that sugar is bad for oral health. The harmful bacteria in our mouths love to eat leftover sugar stuck to our teeth after we enjoy a tasty treat. Unfortunately, high blood sugar is just as delicious to harmful oral bacteria. High blood sugar also weakens the immune system, making that same bacteria harder to fight. This leaves diabetic patients more vulnerable to tooth decay and oral inflammation.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

An estimated 22 percent of diabetics (both type 1 and type 2) have gum disease. It might only be in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or it might be much more advanced (periodontitis), threatening the health of the teeth, gums and even the supporting bone. If the bacteria causing the gum disease makes its way into the bloodstream, it can threaten overall health too.

Symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, bad breath, gum recession, and looser teeth. Other problems associated with diabetes can also increase the risk of gum disease, such as dry mouth, impaired ability to heal, burning mouth syndrome, more frequent and severe infections, enlargement of salivary glands, and fungal infections.

How to Fight Back Against Diabetes

Fortunately, good oral health is still achievable even for patients struggling with diabetes, and maintaining good oral health will make it easier to keep good control over diabetes. Brush twice a day for two full minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, be careful with sugar intake, and avoid smoking. If you’re doing all of this and scheduling your recommended number of yearly dental appointments, you’ll be on the right track!

How Diabetes Can Impact Orthodontic Treatment

We want everyone to have healthy, properly aligned smiles, but gum disease can make it difficult or impossible to begin or continue orthodontic treatment. That’s why it’s even more crucial for diabetics who are current orthodontic patients or who are considering orthodontic treatment to maintain careful control of their diabetes and their oral health.

Take Advantage of Good Resources

We want to emphasize the importance of those regular dental visits. The dentist can recognize warning signs before you can and recommend adjustments to the daily oral hygiene routine before any problems can get worse. The dentist and the doctor can also work as a team to help keep you, your teeth, and your gums healthy — just make sure to keep them both up to date!

We’re ready to fight for your oral health!

Top image by Flickr user Kolin Toney 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 Smoking Affects Oral Health

WE’VE ALL HEARD over and over how smoking can adversely impact health, with the most infamous example being lung cancer. But smoking doesn’t only harm the lungs; it damages every single system in the body, and it also damages oral health.

Smoking Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer

Like we said before, lung cancer tends to get all the attention when it comes to consequences of smoking, but four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Early symptoms of oral cancer include persistent mouth sores or pain, unusual white patches, swelling, numbness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and a sensation of having something stuck in the throat.

What Is Smoker’s Keratosis?

The weirdest effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can cause white patches to develop on the roof of the mouth. These patches are smoker’s keratosis (or stomatitis nicotina). This condition is still something of a medical mystery, but the current theory is that the white patches are caused by inflamed mucous glands. While they typically aren’t painful, they can be pre-cancerous.

Smoking Makes Gum Disease More Likely

As many as half of adults older than 30 have some form of gum disease, and smoking doubles the risk of developing it and makes it harder to treat. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gingiva (gum tissue), bone loss in the jaw, and tooth loss. In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening if the bacteria in the mouth gets into the bloodstream through inflamed gums.

What About Vaping?

Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes is often portrayed as a much healthier option to traditional smoking, but the vapor still contains nicotine and ultra-fine toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The nicotine itself reduces blood flow, affecting teeth and gums, potentially causing gum recession and death of gum tissue. It can also reduce saliva, leading to dry mouth (which causes all kinds of problems from bad breath to tooth decay), and it can trigger teeth grinding, which damages teeth.

Secondhand Smoke Isn’t Safe Either

Sometimes smokers will claim that they’re not hurting anyone else with their habit, and they’re willing to accept the risks to their own health. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Studies have suggested a link between cavities (in baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The broader health risks are especially serious for small children and infants, including infections, asthma attacks, and even SIDS.

The Benefits of Quitting

Someone who has smoked for decades might think that quitting can’t do anything to improve their health, so why bother? It turns out that even people with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their health outlook by quitting. Obviously it’s better not to start smoking in the first place, but it’s never too late to quit!

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Quitting an addictive habit isn’t easy, but smokers who need help quitting are not alone. Some of the best resources are the support of family, friends, and counselors. There’s also a lot of great information available online, and the dentist is another great resource. If you are a smoker, make sure to schedule regular dental exams (sometimes more than two a year) to keep your mouth healthy!

We’re always happy to see our 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.
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