Smile! It Can Make You Healthier

There are so many reasons to smile — a funny joke, a cute kitten, a new baby, and many, many others. But at my Potomac Falls dental office, we want to give you a few more reasons to smile big and wide.

Health Benefits of Smiling

There’s a little bit more involved with smiling than just the simple motion we’re used to. When we smile, our brains produce and release more of the “happy” hormones known as endorphins. Serotonin levels also rise, making us feel relaxed. Smiling can even help keep us healthy since it increases antibodies and white blood cells, both of which help boost the immune system and fight off germs.

Pass it On

You can actually share all those health benefits of smiling by sharing a grin with those around you. Smiles have an unexplainable effect on people. When we see someone flash their pearly whites, whether a friend or complete stranger, we naturally and unconsciously return the favor. That’s right. Smiles are, in fact, contagious.

There’s another neat thing about smiles. They’re universal and there’s no room for misinterpretation due to language or cultural barriers. What’s this mean? It means smiling is quite powerful. Smiling at people you encounter initiates that natural response to smile back, allowing not only yourself to access the health benefits of smiling, but offering everyone else the same.

“What if I Hate to Smile Because I’m Embarrassed of My Teeth?”

There are a number of things that can make us uncomfortable with the way our smile looks. Whether it’s because teeth are a little crooked, there’s a gap between them, or they’re not quite white enough for you, there are ways to help. Cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Potomac Falls can transform any smile through a variety of treatments including:

If the way your teeth look is holding you back from experiencing all the health benefits smiling provides, call my dental office in Potomac Falls. We will talk about your smile goals and the best ways to achieve them.

Welcoming new patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon and beyond.

3 Dental Health Facts All Men Should Know

While it’s typically recommended that everyone has a preventive dental care appointment and dental cleaning at least twice a year, men are less likely to visit their Potomac Falls dentist regularly than women. Many men skip these important check ups and rather only schedule an appointment once they have a problem. The truth is, seeing the dentist every six months can keep these problems from occurring in the first place and help keep mouths and bodies healthy.

  • Advanced Dental Treatments. Since we now know that many men don’t maintain regular dental care to help keep small concerns from getting more serious, it should come as no surprise that the likelihood for needed advanced dental treatment in men is higher. One of the common dental problems across all ages and genders is decay. When decay is left untreated, there’s a higher risk for a necessary root canal and dental crown. When it’s really bad, teeth may fall out or need to be extracted then replaced with a dental bridge, dentures, or dental implants.
  • Gum Disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) and Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) report that men are more likely to suffer from gum disease than women. In fact, between the ages of 30-54, 34% of men have gum disease compared to 23% of women. Gum disease is a serious condition that not only affects the mouth, but can contribute to other problems throughout the rest of the body. There’s evidence to support that gum disease may lead to heart disease, respiratory disease, and even certain types of cancer. Regular visits to the dentist help diagnose gum disease early before it has a chance to affect whole-body health.
  • Oral Cancer. The word cancer itself always insinuates fear. Oral cancer is no different and actually kills more than 8,000 people a year. When caught early, treatment can be very successful. When it’s not, there’s a whole host of issues that can result. If facial surgery is needed to remove the cancer, there’s a chance for disfigurement. Oral cancer can also spread to other areas of your body, making treatment more complex. Your dentist will check for oral cancer at every preventive care appointment and get treatment started as soon as possible if there’s a problem.

If it’s time for you to take care of your smile and see a dentist, call our dental office in Potomac Falls to schedule an appointment today.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon and the surrounding areas.

Oral Piercings: Concerns & Care

If piercings are your thing, we aren’t here to judge. We believe everyone should be free to express themselves how they wish. However, when it comes to oral piercings, the team at our Potomac Falls dental office wants you to be aware of some of the concerns that go along with them.

The Concerns

If you’re thinking about getting your tongue, lip, or cheek pierced, make sure you know all of the risks involved with doing so in order to make an educated decision.

  • Infection. Since your mouth is always warm and moist, it’s the perfect place for bacteria to flourish. A piercing increases the chance that those bacteria will cause an infection. Once you create a hole in a place where bacteria already lives, it’s extremely common for infection to occur. These infections can be serious, even life threatening. If the infection makes the tongue swell, your airway can close, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Gum Disease. It’s more common for those with oral piercings to have gum disease than those without. Since there is essentially a foreign object in your mouth, the chance for gum damage is increased. Once the gums are damaged, bacteria can wiggle in there and lead to gum disease.
  • Tooth Damage. Many people with oral piercings play with them. A lot. Clanking the jewelry against teeth can cause them to chip or break, making dental treatment necessary. Clicking or accidentally biting the jewelry can also create tiny holes in the enamel, opening the root up to bacteria and decay. If this happens, you may need a filling or, if severe enough even a root canal.

The Care

To reduce your risk of infection, tooth damage, or gum disease, make sure to follow proper care of your oral piercing.

  • Clean the area thoroughly and often to help keep bacteria and infection away.
  • Rinse with water after eating to wash away food particles that can attract bacteria.
  • Avoid playing with it to minimize the chance of tooth damage.

If you’ve already had a part of your mouth pierced, keep an eye out for any signs of infection including swelling, redness, fever, chills, or shaking. If you notice any of the symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Our Potomac Falls dental office is here to help answer any questions or concerns you may have about getting an oral piercing. If you’re on the fence, call to schedule an appointment with us today.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon.

Top 4 Secrets Your Mouth Tells Your Potomac Falls Dentist

Regular visits to our Potomac Falls dental office are crucial to maintaining a healthy, happy smile. We can catch problems early, we can talk about your smile goals and treatments to get you the ultimate grin, and it’s always nice to see you. But your visits can also tell us a whole lot about things you may haven’t even thought of, or secrets you might not want us to know.

You’re a Nail Biter

The teeth of nail biters usually display certain qualities that your dentist can identify. Teeth may have chips and cracks, front teeth appear flat and leveled, and there may even be symptoms of TMD (temporomandibular disorder). When a chronic nail biter wears away teeth, their bite may alter, causing jaw pain and other serious concerns.

You’re Suffering from an Eating Disorder

When a patient is battling bulimia, their dentist may be the first medical professional to suspect a problem based on how oral health is affected by the disease. Erosion, usually on the back side of the front couple teeth, is a typical sign of bulimia. When enamel is eroded away, teeth are at increased risk for developing cavities. If you have an eating disorder, we urge you to seek help as soon as possible. There are professionals who can find a treatment that works for you.

Your Bad Breath is Hiding Something Serious

Bad breath is embarrassing, but it can also be a sign of something serious — whether in the mouth or in the body. It’s important to note that different stenches could mean different things. For example, a fruity smell may be a sign of diabetes whereas a fishier smell could indicate liver or kidney failure. If breath is neither and rather just unpleasant, it may be a sign of gum disease, which may increase the risk for heart disease.

You Don’t Floss as Much as You Should

We see it all the time. A patient arrives for their appointment, sits in the chair, opens wide, and their hygienist is greeted with puffy, red gums. While this can be a sign of any number of things, it most commonly means the patient flossed right before their appointment, and really no other time before that since their last visit. We can’t tell you enough how important it is to floss every single day, not just when you’re coming to see us.

All of these secrets told by your mouth are serious and require prompt medical attention. If you identify with any of them, we encourage you to contact your dentist in Potomac Falls as soon as you can. If you’d like our help, or if you’re looking for a dentist, schedule an appointment at our Potomac Falls dental office today. We’ll perform an in-depth exam and get you started on a path towards optimal oral and overall health.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon.

Suffer From Migraines? See Your Potomac Falls Dentist.

 

June is Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, and as anyone who has ever suffered a migraine can tell you, they aren’t fun. While it may seem weird to get a message about migraines from our Potomac Falls dental office, trust us, you’ve come to the right place.

What is a Migraine?

Similar to a headache in that there is throbbing head pain, migraines are usually more intense, more painful, and could be debilitating. Unlike most headaches, migraines usually affect only one side of the head and have additional symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • Pain behind an eye or ear
  • Temple pain

Sometimes people can sense a migraine coming on because they experience sensations anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes prior to actually feeling a migraine. This is known as ‘migraine with aura’ and some signs include:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands or face
  • Seeing lights/flashing lights or obscure lines

How are Migraines and Dentistry Related?

When looking at the cause of migraines, much of the focus is on the head since that’s where the symptoms tend to show. However, some migraines may have an underlying dental cause.

Research suggests a possible correlation between a bad bite (malocclusion) and migraines. A bad bite results when the top teeth and the bottom teeth don’t line up in way that allows the jaw to completely relax. When the teeth don’t align, excessive pressure is put on the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which is where your lower jaw attaches to your upper jaw, resulting in pain. The muscles that contribute to the anatomy of your jaw are also linked to your head, so when they’re stressed and painful, your head may also be stressed and painful, leading to a migraine.

You shouldn’t have to live with the pain of recurring migraines. If you’ve been suffering from persistent headaches or migraines and haven’t been able to find relief with other treatment, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We can evaluate your bite and overall oral health and recommend the best solution for you.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

Sports Drinks and Their Effect on Teeth

Beverages designed to help replace nutrients lost during sports or exercise can help your body recover, but they can also cause irreversible damage to your teeth. At our Potomac Falls dental office, we’re in the business of protecting smiles, so we want all of our patients to know the harmful effects sports drinks can have on their pearly whites.

Surprise! It’s Not the Sugar.

Usually when we talk about foods and drinks that cause decay, we’re dissing the sugar content. And while it’s still completely true that sugary foods and drinks lead to oral health problems like cavities, when we talk about sports drinks, the thing we’re more concerned with is acid.

Many popular sports drinks are very acidic, and that’s a problem. The acid in these beverages damages the protective enamel. Any damage done to the enamel is always a concern because once enamel is gone, it’s gone, and teeth are left exposed to even more problematic elements like bacteria, sugar, and even more acid. This causes the problem to become worse since bacteria feed on sugar and then produce even more acid, snowballing the damage into a neverending cycle.  

The Damage

Besides increased risk for decay and cavities and the need for fillings, if problems are left untreated, more in depth treatment like root canals may be necessary. If acid is left to continually eat away at enamel, the tooth’s roots may become infected, and that can hurt. Treatment, however, isn’t as painful as you may think. Root canals actually relieve the pain, not cause it. More so, if a tooth has been treated several times, the need for a dental crown or onlay may be necessary to strengthen the tooth and prevent the need for repeated fillings.

It’s best to seek the opinion of a dentist in Potomac Falls if you notice any symptoms of possible decay including:

  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweets
  • Discoloration
  • Toothaches
  • Pain when biting
  • Holes or pits on the tooth surface

Maintaining regular dental appointments at our dental office in Potomac Falls is the best way to catch any damage to the enamel early to decrease the need for more advanced treatment. Dental cleanings and exams at least twice a year are typically recommended, so make sure you’re keeping up with your dental checkups. If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call to schedule an appointment today.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

Why Did People Not Smile in Old Pictures?

Old photographs are packed with memories, but they’re also lacking quite a few elements that are common in pictures today. Color, for one. But perhaps the most noticeable difference between old time pictures and modern snapshots is the lack of smiles. At our Potomac Falls dental office, we want all of our patients to smile big and wide in photos, and we were curious to why this wasn’t always the norm.

Technological Limitations

Back when the very first photo was taken in 1826, it took over eight hours to expose. That’s about an entire work day to take a picture — which also meant the subject could not move or the photo would be ruined. Luckily, this first picture wasn’t of a person. Thirteen years later, the exposure time was shortened to just fifteen minutes. While a huge time saver, fifteen minutes was still a long time for someone to sit as still as a statue, let alone hold a smile. Try it yourself. Set a timer, put a smile on, and don’t move until the timer buzzes. Impossible, right?

Bad Oral Health

Let’s say our ancestors had the technology available to take quick, instantaneous pictures. Would that have changed things? Would great-great-great-grandmother Ethel be grinning wide in those old photos? Probably not. Unfortunately, dental care wasn’t very advanced, and oral hygiene suffered. Even it was possible to get a picture quickly, many people would have been too embarrassed by their teeth to actually show them off.

From Stoic to Smiling

As time went on, things changed. Technology got better, and photos can now be taken in an instant. Advancements in dentistry makes it easier to get a smile you’re proud to show off. Now, people aren’t as afraid to show off their many expressions in photographs, including big, wide smiles.

However, there are still some who may be shying away from showing their pearly whites in pictures because they’re embarrassed by their smiles. Perhaps teeth may be a bit crooked. Maybe they have unsightly stains. Possibly silver fillings are making the smile appear dark and dingy.

If this sounds like you, there are ways we can help. Cosmetic dentistry, along with high-tech equipment, makes getting the smile you’ve always wanted easier than ever before. If you want to stop hiding your smile in pictures, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call today to set up a consultation. We’ll discuss your smile goals and the best solutions to get you the smile of your dreams.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

Asthma & Your Oral Health

Asthma affects nearly 24 million Americans and is a serious medical condition that, if not treated proactively, can lead to trouble breathing, wheezing, and sometimes, even death. But at our Potomac Falls dental office, we also know it may have a negative effect on oral health.

What the Research Says

There’s been a long-standing belief that those with asthma have an increased risk for oral health problems, including cavities. Since many asthma sufferers tend to also be mouth breathers, the chance for dry mouth is greater. And dry mouth is a concern for your Potomac Falls dentist. When saliva production decreases, its ability to properly rinse away germs and bacteria diminishes, and the likelihood of developing cavities goes up. Even if mouth breathing isn’t a factor, common asthma medications can also dry out the mouth and decrease saliva flow.

Cavities aren’t the only thing that has been linked with asthma. Asthma sufferers also have a higher chance of developing gum disease. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Periodontology, those surveyed who had gum disease were five times more likely to also have asthma. This is especially concerning because of the seriousness of gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to whole-body health issues such as heart disease, more respiratory problems in addition to asthma, and some cancers including kidney, pancreatic, and blood.

What Can You Do?

Whether the connection between asthma and cavities is true or not, there are some simple things you can do to ward off any negative side effects of asthma or asthma treatments.

  • Drink Water. A lot of water. Water helps stimulate saliva flow and keeps the mouth hydrated. The more moist the mouth, the more effective it is at keeping damaging decay-causing bacteria away.
  • Rinse with Water. After using an asthma treatment like an inhaler, rinse with water. Any drying ingredients in the medication won’t have the chance to linger in the mouth.
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist should know if you have asthma, as well as any medication used to control it. You should also let your dental team know if you have any type of anxiety during your visits. They can help keep you comfortable, calm, and avoid a possible asthma attack.

As always, the best way to prevent cavities is to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist regularly. We’re always accepting new patients at our Potomac Falls dental office, so if it’s time for your checkup, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon.

Understanding Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States with about 35,000 cases diagnosed every year. Of those, about 8,000 will lose their lives to this life-threatening condition. At our Potomac Falls dental office,  we want all of our patients to understand the deadly disease so they can work to avoid it or recognize when there is a problem.

Risk Factors

Knowing the risk factors and who is more likely to develop oral cancer is the first step in understanding whether you may be at increased risk.

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. In fact, their risk is about double that of their female counterparts.
  • Age: On average, most people are diagnosed at 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are over 55.
  • Sun Exposure: Instances of oral cancer is increased in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen.
  • Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.
  • Alcohol: Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. In fact, nearly 70% of all those diagnosed use alcohol often. And if you’re a drinker and smoker, your risk may be as high as 100%.

Even if you don’t fall into these risk categories, you can still develop oral cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize a potential problem and getting it checked out quickly can increase survival rate. Early detection is key to beating the cancer, so if you notice any of the following symptoms, see your dentist in Potomac Falls as soon as possible.

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Voice changes

Prevention

While we can’t change our gender or age, we can take steps to limit our exposure to the lifestyle risk factors. Besides that, maintaining regular checkups with your dentist is key to catching any problems early. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call to schedule an appointment today. It could save your life.

You’ve Got Questions About Canker Sores? We’ve Got Answers!

Canker sores are a common problem that tend to come with a lot of questions. What causes them? Are they contagious? Can you cure them? Can you avoid them? Is a canker sore and cold sore the same thing? At our Potomac Falls dental office, we understand canker sores can be confusing, and uncomfortable, so we’d like to give you some answers to commonly asked questions.

What Exactly is a Canker Sore?

A canker sore is ulcer-like lesion that appears on the soft tissues of the mouth. And if you get one, you’ll know. Canker sores look like small, red, painful, raised circles. They may even have a white or gray middle. Canker sores affect the inside of the mouth and aren’t contagious. If you notice something similar on the lip or outside of the mouth, you probably have a cold sore, which is contagious, so get it looked at as soon as possible.

What Causes Canker Sores?

We wish we had a better answer to this, but we’ll fill you in on what we know. Canker sores have no absolute cause. However, there are some things that have a correlation with developing a canker sore.

  • High Stress or Lack of Rest
  • Acidic or Spicy Foods
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

Sometimes you may be able to determine what causes a canker sore to pop up. Other times, they appear seemingly out of nowhere. If you can identify what caused a canker sore to pop up, try your best to avoid it.

How do You Treat a Canker Sore?

Again, we wish we had better news for you. Unfortunately there is no cure for canker sores. You basically need to let them run their course, which is typically about a week or two. While you can’t make one go away, you can ease the discomfort and pain with an over-the-counter product designed to numb the area.

What if a Canker Sore Doesn’t Go Away?

Normally a canker sore will heal itself, but sometimes it needs help. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your dentist in Potomac Falls.

  • It’s still there after three weeks
  • It spread or multiplied
  • It comes paired with a fever or severe pain

At our Potomac Falls dental office, we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions about canker sores or any other oral health concern you have. Give us a call today!

Now accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.