703-528-3336
1-855-VA-SMILE
1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 103
Arlington, VA 22209

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

Monthly Archives: March 2021

Weird Mouth Trivia to Drop at Parties

LOOKING FOR SOME trivia to impress people once we can safely have parties again? We humbly present a few of our favorite weird mouth facts for your consideration.

We Need Spit to Taste Our Food

Most of the ten thousand taste buds in our mouths are located on our tongues, but none of them would do us any good without spit. When food molecules dissolve in our spit, the chemicals can be detected by the receptors on our taste buds.

The Bumps on New Adult Teeth Are Called…

Do you remember when your adult front teeth came in that they had funny little bumps on the chewing surfaces, or have you noticed them on your child’s teeth? Those bumps are called mamelons. The theory is that they help the teeth break through the gums. For most people, they wear away over time with regular chewing.

And The Bumps on the Tongue?

It’s easy to assume that the bumps on our tongues are taste buds. That’s true in a way, but individual taste buds are much too small to see with the naked eye. The bumps are structures called lingual papillae, and there are four types: filiform, fungiform, foliate, and vallate. That’s getting into a more intense biology lesson, but basically, all of them except the fungiform papillae have taste buds on them.

To tie it back to oral health, the trouble with papillae is that they create a rough texture on the tongue’s surface where lots of bacteria can hide. If we let it build up, it can leave a lingering bad taste in our mouth and a bad smell on our breath. It can even dull our sense of taste! That’s why we need to clean our tongues daily, ideally with a tongue-scraper.

The Only Group of Muscles That Doesn’t Need Bones to Move

The tongue is made up of eight muscles. Four of those are intrinsic (the ones that actually make up the tongue) and four are extrinsic (the ones that attach the tongue to the mouth and throat). The tongue has an amazing range of movements. It can lengthen, shorten, curl, uncurl, and roll (though not everyone can do that last one). We’d have a hard time eating and speaking if it couldn’t move in these ways!

The Tongue Has Amazing Stamina

It’s a myth that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, but it is true that it doesn’t really get tired after getting a workout. The reason for that is the tongue’s many built-in redundancy systems that come from having eight different muscles working together.

Our Teeth (Including Adult Teeth) Begin Developing Before We’re Born

Around six weeks into fetal development, baby teeth begin developing. After another six weeks, the adult teeth get going. The baby teeth won’t finish forming for many more months, and the adult teeth for years, but it’s incredible how early the process starts.

What Weird Mouth Facts Do You Know?

Maybe mouth facts aren’t the trivia category you usually go for at parties, but as dental health professionals, it definitely our favorite. We’d love to hear any others you know the next time we see you for an appointment!

Final piece of trivia: our patients are the best!

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.

Plan Ahead for the First Loose Tooth!

A GREAT WAY to make the prospect of losing that first baby tooth less scary is to help kids see it as a rite of passage: losing baby teeth is a major part of being a big kid, just like learning to ride a bike and tie their own shoelaces. It’s a big, exciting step, and hopefully they’ll be able to see it that way with a little help.

What’s Your Strategy?

Any loose tooth game plan should include the actual strategy for helping the tooth come out. We would discourage parents from chasing their kids around with a pair of pliers, as that won’t be very fun for them. Encourage them to wiggle the tooth often with their tongue or a clean finger to help it along, and try not to force the issue if they’re still too nervous. It’s generally best to wait until the tooth is very loose.

Give Your Child an Active Role

When it comes to pulling the tooth out, there’s the old standby of tying some dental floss around a doorknob, but parents could also make it a little more unique by tying the floss to a Nerf dart, a toy arrow, or the dog’s collar. See which one the child likes best.

Don’t Forget to Celebrate!

Once the tooth is out, it’s time to celebrate! That could be as simple as waiting for the Tooth Fairy, but maybe a new toy or a trip to get ice cream would be more exciting. Including some kind of reward, even a small one, will help them have something to focus on besides the scary parts.

Top image by Flickr user Micah Sittig 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.

The Tooth Fairy Then and Now

WE CAN ALL REMEMBER what it was like to put a baby tooth under the pillow and find a shiny quarter there in the morning. The Tooth Fairy is a prominent figure in the magic of childhood, and it’s fun to look at how cultures have approached lost baby teeth differently throughout history.

The Superstitions That Preceded the Tooth Fairy

Long before the Tooth Fairy was sneaking teeth out from under pillows, she was digging them out of the ground. Medieval Europeans would burn or bury baby teeth because they believed that a witch could control people if she got hold of their teeth.

In addition to protecting themselves from witches, kids would burn their baby teeth to help ensure a peaceful afterlife, because they might be doomed to an eternity of searching for their teeth as ghosts if they didn’t destroy them! That sounds pretty intense.

Unlike their neighbors to the south, the Vikings considered baby teeth to be good luck in battle — so much so that they would buy them so that they could wear necklaces made out of children’s teeth! That could either be very intimidating or very strange-looking — or maybe both.

Tooth Fairy…or Tooth Mouse?

The Tooth Fairy doesn’t look like Tinkerbell in every culture. Many Latin and European countries have a Tooth Mouse instead! She’s called Le Petit Souris in France, which translates to “the little mouse,” and like the Tooth Fairy, she swaps out teeth hidden under pillows for money or small gifts. In many Spanish-speaking countries, the Tooth Mouse is Raton Perez.

How Did We Come Up With the Tooth Fairy?

Like many of our traditions in the U.S., the Tooth Fairy has its roots in European folklore. The modern idea of the Tooth Fairy got its start in the early 1900s, and it was actually the beloved fairy characters popularized by Walt Disney that helped the idea gain enough traction to become what it is now.

Why Do We Need the Tooth Fairy?

We probably don’t “need” the Tooth Fairy, but losing a tooth can be a scary experience for many children, and having something magical like a reward from the Tooth Fairy to look forward can really help. They’ll have something to be excited about instead of focusing only on how much it might hurt to lose the tooth. But fantasy characters aren’t the only ones out there who can help with children’s tooth concerns: dentists can too!

We have the 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.

The First Woman to Earn a Dental Degree

IT’S WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, which makes it a great time to celebrate a pretty awesome lady: Lucy Hobbs Taylor, DDS, the first woman to earn a dental degree in North America.

Who Was Lucy Hobbs Taylor?

Born in 1833, Lucy developed a passion for medicine in her 20s while working as a teacher. She was rejected by a medical school because of her gender and advised to try dentistry instead, but she faced multiple rejections there too. 😕

Lucy’s Dental Education

Undaunted, she found a professor who would teach her privately and opened her own practice at age 28. It didn’t take long after that for her to be recognized by her male peers for her skill and gentle chair-side manner, and she was finally accepted into the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, from which she received her degree in 1866. 🙌

The Student Becomes the Teacher

The next year, Lucy married James M. Taylor, a railcar painter and Civil War veteran. She combined her previous experience as a teacher with her hard-won dental expertise by training her husband to be a dentist too! Together, the couple established a successful practice in Lawrence, Kansas. 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️

After James died, Lucy spent less time on dentistry and became active in politics, campaigning for issues like women’s suffrage. Her example inspired many more women to pursue careers in dentistry.

We’re grateful to all of the pioneers of dentistry!

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.

Canker Sores: Triggers and Remedies

GETTING A CANKER sore can mean days of distracting discomfort. Canker sores are small, shallow sores that develop on the inside of our lips or cheeks, and they can make it difficult to eat and even talk. Where do these awful ulcers come from and what can we do about them?

5 Common Canker Sore Triggers

Most canker sores come from one of these five causes:

  1. A tissue injury, such as when we bite our lip or cheek. When it swells up, it compounds the issue by making it easy to accidentally bite it again!
  2. Prolonged high stress levels put a real strain on the immune system, which makes the mouth more vulnerable to developing sores.
  3. Being sick also strains the immune system, which is why we can be more likely to develop a canker sore in addition to the main infection we’re already fighting.
  4. When we eat foods that are highly acidic (including lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, and pineapple), they can be pretty hard on the tissues of the mouth.
  5. Ill-fitting dentures or poking braces can lead to canker sores if they rub the cheeks the wrong way.

Simple Remedies for Canker Sores

If you’re prone to canker sores, try to identify the main trigger. Knowing the cause makes it easier to fight back. We can cut back on eating acidic foods, we can use dental wax to protect from poking wires and brackets, and we can work on reducing our stress levels to give our immune systems a break. If none of these solutions apply, or if you’ve tried them and it still isn’t helping, we recommend following these tips:

  • Apply topical medication or take painkillers to reduce the discomfort.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help reduce inflammation and make the healing process go faster.
  • Use a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium laurel sulfate (but does contain fluoride!).
  • Only brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush to minimize irritation.

Canker Sore Prevention Tactics

Treating a canker sore once it develops is great, but preventing it from ever appearing is even better. Getting plenty of vitamin B12, iron, and folate is a big part of that, and we can get them by making sure to incorporate carrots, salmon, spinach, kale, parsley, and yogurt into our diets.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is important too. Just like being sick can make us more vulnerable to canker sores, having unchecked plaque in our mouths can make it hard for our bodies’ natural defenses to do their jobs in preventing them.

Bring Us Your Canker Sore Questions!

Hopefully we’ve addressed any big questions you have about canker sores here, but if not, we’re happy to answer them! We want our patients to have all the knowledge they need to keep their mouths feeling great.

Our patients are the absolute best!

Top image by Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones 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.
Amenitites

Convenient Appointments

Our early morning and evening appointments let you fit dental visits around work and school.

Scheduling

Insurance & Financing

Our flexible payment options help all of our patients afford the quality dental care they deserve.

Facebook Like

We Like You!

Please “like” us back to follow us on Facebook for special offers, news, and events.

New Patient Forms

New Patient Forms

We invite you to download our forms. Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to open them.

Load