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

"Great experience as always!" — Tony W.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Before Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

THERE AREN’T MANY things we love more than the smile of a child. It’s important to keep that smile healthy, and regular visits to the dentist are a crucial part of that. If your child hasn’t been to the dentist before, we want to give you and them a good idea of what their first checkup will be like. First impressions are important, and a good first experience with the dentist is the beginning of a lifetime of good dental health decisions and habits!

Dental Anxiety: Not Just For Adults

One in three American adults struggles with dental anxiety severe enough that they avoid going to the dentist, but it doesn’t only affect adults. New things can be scary for young children, and an older family member might have already poisoned the well for them by describing their own unpleasant dentist experiences. They could even pick up on negative feelings Mom or Dad has about the dentist without being told explicitly.

Helping Your Child Have a Positive Perspective on Dentists

There’s a lot a parent can do to help their child meet the dentist feeling positive and relaxed, and we can take things from there!

  • Get started early. A child can benefit from a dental visit as soon as their first tooth appears. The early start also helps build a trusting relationship with the dentist.
  • For very young children, play pretend to explain what will happen. You can play the part of the dentist and show them that it can be fun and interesting, not scary.
  • If the children are old enough, you can simply explain. Don’t make the dentist a mystery; children are happier when they understand what’s going on. A quick explanation of dental visits and why they matter will go a long way.
  • Teach the importance of dental hygiene. Kids who know how important brushing and flossing are to the health of their smiles are better able to appreciate the dentist.
  • Meet the dentist beforehand! A great way to make the first appointment less stressful is for the dentist not to be a stranger during that appointment. We’re happy to schedule an advance meet-and-greet.
  • Be there to reassure your child. Information is no substitute for the presence of a loved and trusted adult. Stay close by to offer plenty of support and encouragement in early visits.

We Look Forward to Meeting Your Child!

It’s so important for a child’s first experience with a dentist to be a good one. If you’d like more ideas for how to help your child avoid dental anxiety and the problems that come with it, or if you simply have questions about their dental care, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Together, we can make the first checkup wonderful!

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.

Bad Breath: A Big Deal in Medieval England

IN THE MIDDLE AGES, the English didn’t understand much about cavities or gum disease, but they did put a huge emphasis on having fresh breath. Why? Because, not knowing how germs work, they believed it was the actual bad smell that carried disease.

The Fresh Breath of Middle English Literary Characters

Almost all dental care in Medieval England was about smells. This practice even made it into the Canterbury Tales, where Chaucer’s characters chew cardamom and licorice to keep their breath smelling clean. A mixture of aniseed, cumin, and fennel was sometimes recommended to women.

Dental Woes of Medieval England

What dental problems were they living with while focusing mainly on breath? Fortunately, there wasn’t much sugar to cause cavities in the diet of Medieval England. Unfortunately, small particles of stone would get into their bread from the millstones they used to grind flour, and that caused severe erosion. Most adults would lose four to six teeth in their lifetimes.

Treatment for Alleged “Tooth Worms”

Things got really weird if you ever had a toothache. Physicians believed they were caused by tiny worms, and remedies included myrrh and opium. Those were expensive, though, so a cheaper option was to burn a candle very close to the tooth so the alleged worms would fall out into a basin of water.

For the sake of our teeth, we’re glad we don’t live back then!

Top image is in the public domain, accessed via Wikimedia commons.
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 Anatomy of Human Teeth

DO YOU KNOW what the parts of the human tooth are? We’d like to give you a quick tooth anatomy lesson, because the more patients know about their teeth, the better they will understand the importance of good dental health habits like brushing, flossing, and avoiding sugary treats. We’ll start in the crown and work our way down to the roots.

The Three Layers of the Dental Crown

Everything visible of a tooth above the gums is the crown, and it consists of three layers. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Enamel

The outermost layer of the tooth is the enamel layer. Tooth enamel is mostly composed of inorganic hydroxyapatite crystals, which make it the hardest substance in the entire body. We need it to be that way so that we can chew a lifetime’s worth of food!

However, because it’s inorganic, enamel can’t repair or replace itself if it is eroded or damaged too much. It’s also extremely vulnerable to acid. That’s why brushing, flossing, cutting back on acidic and sugary foods and drinks, and regular professional cleanings are so important!

Dentin

The next layer of the crown is the dentin, which is very similar to bone. It’s more yellowish than enamel and there’s more of it in adult teeth than baby teeth (if you’ve noticed that brand new adult teeth seem more yellow than baby teeth, that’s why). Microscopic tubules run through the dentin so that the nerves in the center of the tooth can detect temperature changes. When the enamel erodes, these become exposed and cause tooth sensitivity.

The Pulp Chamber

The core of the tooth is the pulp chamber, where the blood vessels and nerves are. The pulp is what makes a tooth alive and how we feel the temperature of our food. It’s also how we feel pain when something’s wrong with the tooth. Don’t ignore tooth pain; it’s the body’s natural warning sign that it’s time to see the dentist!

The Roots of the Teeth

Underneath the gumline are the roots of our teeth, which are longer than the crowns and anchored in the jawbone. They are cushioned and held in place by the periodontal membrane between them and the bone. Roots don’t have enamel to protect them; the gum tissue does that (as long as it’s healthy) and they are coated in a calcified layer called cementum. At the tip of each root is a tiny hole through which blood vessels and nerves can reach the pulp chamber.

Keep Those Teeth Healthy From the Roots to the Crowns!

Every part of the tooth, from the enamel to the pulp, from the crown to the supporting periodontal structures, needs to stay healthy. Keep brushing and flossing to protect the enamel and gums, and don’t forget your regular dental appointments!

Our patients’ smiles 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.
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