Can Gum Help Keep Your Mouth Healthy?

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Did you know that just by chewing a little piece of the right kind of gum you can:

  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Starve bacteria
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Reduce your risk for gum disease

It may sound too good to be true, but one important ingredient can make all the difference: Xylitol.

Xylitol is not just another unhealthy artificial sweetener. Instead, it’s a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that does far more than keep glycemic levels healthy and low. Of course it does that too without compromising taste or sweetness, but it can also make a major difference in your oral health.

How Xylitol Gum Protects Your Mouth

One of the most common causes of oral health problems is a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans — the bacteria mostly responsible for plaque. This bacteria feeds on sugars and carbohydrates that linger in your mouth. Since Xylitol does not produce the carbohydrates the plaque needs to live, the bacteria injests Xylitol, fills with a substance that offers no nutrition, and starves. That means your oral oral bacteria levels drop — sometimes by up to 75%!

Other Benefits of Xylitol Gum

Killing bacteria is exciting enough, but chewing a piece of Xylitol gum can do even more:

  • Chewing Xylitol gum increases saliva production which protects your teeth and remineralizes them with naturally occurring calcium and phosphate.
  • Acidity in your mouth can lead to enamel erosion. Xylitol in gum or mints can reduce the acidity of your saliva.
  • Xylitol can help your body better absorb calcium which we all know can strengthen your teeth.

To learn more about how chewing Xylitol can benefit your oral health, or for suggestions about which Xylitol products to use, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call today.

Welcoming patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

6 Different Ways to Use Dental Floss

Oct - floss hacks

Everyone has some dental floss. We are especially sure of that considering we give you a roll at every visit to our dental practice in Potomac Falls! And if you are anything like us, you probably have a few extra rolls lying around the house. Why not tuck one in your purse? Store one in your glove compartment? Or drop one in your toolbox? We aren’t suggesting that you floss your teeth all over the house (though you could), but since it’s useful for so many things other than your teeth because of its incredible flexibility and strength, it’s worth keeping it handy.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to use floss besides on your teeth:

  • Cut delicate foods: Floss is thin and strong and works to slice delicate cheeses, rolls of cookie dough, or other foods that might squish when a knife is pushed into them.
  • Sew on a lost button: When your sewing kit isn’t nearby, floss works as super strong thread.
  • Bundle kindling to light a fire: Because waxed floss burns like the wick of a candle, it is the perfect firestarter. Wrap it on a pinecone, tie up kindling, or twist it around a newspaper roll and light it like a candle. Your fire will be burning bright in no time.
  • Stop an annoying drip: Have you ever spend a sleepless night because of a dripping faucet? Tie some sanitary floss around the spigot to direct the droplets down the string and into the drain. No more dripping!
  • Decorate your house: Use floss instead of wire to hang pictures to protect your wall. String a popcorn garland without worry of germs. Repair a wind chime. And tie up drooping plants.
  • Make an emergency hair tie: A bad hair moment can strike at anytime. Grab a piece of floss and tame your unruly tresses.

Do you have any awesome floss hacks? Share them with us at your next appointment. We all love helpful hints. Call my Potomac Falls dental office and schedule a visit!

Welcoming patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

Is Mouthwash an OK Substitute for Brushing?

Sept2Mouthwash

At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we’re occasionally asked if it’s okay to replace brushing with mouthwash, or supplement it with a rinse. Most of the time, mouthwash is used to relieve a bit of bad breath embarrassment. And while quick swish of mouthwash can give you a tingly, minty fresh mouth, could it actually be as good as brushing?  

Don’t Toss the Brush

Many people think the main reason to brush their teeth is to get rid of a bit of morning breath or destinkify a day’s worth of coffee drinking and snack eating. In reality, there are many more reasons to brush than simply to freshen your breath. Brushing for at least two minutes twice a day helps remove dangerous plaque and bacteria that could lead to decay, bad breath, and even more serious oral health concerns. Brushing is the only recommended way to keep your mouth healthy enough to avoid bad breath.

A Bigger Problem

Sometimes when bad breath is an issue, it could be caused by some malodorous food or drink. When that happens, try chewing a piece of sugarless gum. But if breath is stinky more often than just after eating garlic pizza, or any other strongly scented food, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Bad breath is a key sign of gum disease, which is a serious health problem. Gum disease can absolutely affect your mouth’s health by loosening teeth, making them more sensitive, and yes, causing chronic bad breath. What’s more, gum disease could also affect your whole body. Gum disease has been linked to many overall health concerns including increased risk for heart disease and stroke. For your oral and whole-body health, don’t let bad breath linger. See your Potomac Falls dentist as soon as you can.

Other Concerns

One of the most common ingredients in many mouthwash brands is alcohol. When alcohol is introduced into the mouth, it naturally dries the palate and reduces saliva production. Why is this a concern? Without saliva, bacteria that causes bad breath, decay, and other problems is left to linger and cause damage. So basically, while a quick swish with mouthwash may seem to temporarily relieve bad breath, it could actually be making the problem worse over time.

If you or someone close to you is suffering from bad breath, stop the embarrassment and give our Potomac Falls dental office a call today. We’d love the opportunity to help identify the problem and work with you to fix it. You deserve a healthy, confident smile. Let us help.

Welcoming patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

How To Eat Vegetarian Without Putting Your Teeth In Jeopardy

Sept1Vegetarian

Let’s begin with some definitions:

  • Vegetarians who only eat fish are called pescetarians–people who avoid all meat-based proteins except for fish are at the lowest risk for oral health issues because most pescetarians also eat cheese and eggs, and vitamin D is most often found in fish.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume animal products like cheese, eggs, and yogurt. This diet provides more access to calcium, but very little to vitamin D.
  • Vegans also avoid all animal-derived food sources including eggs, cheese, and milk. Some vegans even avoid honey!

Unfortunately, with a vegetarian diet, it can be difficult to get foods rich enough in calcium and vitamin D to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy. So if you’re a vegetarian or thinking about becoming one, check in with your Potomac Falls dentist next time you come by for a visit for some advice about how to protect your teeth and gums.

We also recommend the following steps and strategies:

  1. Visit a dietician. Dieticians are trained to help people understand how much of which kinds of food to eat in order to have a healthy vegetarian diet. A dietician can also assess your current health, activity level, and body type to make stronger recommendations.
  2. Don’t skimp on broccoli and dark leafy greens like turnip greens, kale, spinach, and collards to get enough calcium. If you don’t love the dark leafies, a variety of vitamin C-fortified products are available at the supermarket: some brands of orange juice, tofu, soy milk, and cereal are calcium-enriched.
  3. Understand that calcium is useless without vitamin D to help the body absorb it! Many of the products listed above are also fortified with vitamin D.
  4. If you don’t have access to D-enriched products, or prefer to eat raw, it would be smart to use a vitamin D supplement, ask us or your general physician for recommendations.

Anything Else?

Visit us next time you’re near by and talk to us about how to make sure you’re eating a proper diet to maintain your oral health. We absolutely encourage independent inquiry, but while web research is an important starting place, it’s best to work in concert with your health professionals including us: your Potomac Falls dentist, your general practitioner, and any specialists you see.

Serving patients from Potomac Falls, Herndon, and nearby neighborhoods. .

Top 4 Hygiene Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Aug hygiene

You brush twice a day, you floss once a day, and you’re always careful to never miss a day. You’re confident your oral hygiene routine is top notch. But is it possible there are some common mistakes in that routine? At our Potomac Falls dental office, we’re always happy to hear our patients are working hard at home to keep their smiles healthy, but we want to make sure they aren’t making mistakes that could ultimately harm their teeth.

  • Ignoring Your Tongue

Your tongue harbors a lot of sneaky bacteria in all its nooks and crannies, which can contribute to bad breath and lead to tooth decay. Since the tongue is in frequent contact with teeth, the bacteria can transfer and start to cause damage to the enamel. A gentle scrub with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper successfully removes a lot of the dangerous bacteria and keeps your pearly whites safe.

  • Foregoing The Rinse

After eating, brushing your teeth may be the last thing on your mind, especially if it’s after lunch during a crazy work day. While we’d love it if patients brushed following each meal, sometimes it’s just not possible. Instead, rinse with some water. Water helps wiggle out any food particles that may be lingering around and neutralizes acid, keeping your teeth safe. If you do have a chance to brush after eating, we recommend waiting at least 30 minutes. Meals that are high in acid can weaken enamel, and if you brush when enamel is weak, you may do more harm than good.

  • Storing Your Brush Incorrectly

Between the long oval cases that your whole brush can fit into, the caps that cover just the bristles, and shutting it behind the bathroom cabinet, there are many different ways you can store your toothbrush. But which way is the right way? It’s pretty simple. Just stand your toothbrush bristle end up and allow it to air dry.

  • Brushing Too Hard

Usually when we try to clean something, a good, hard scrubbing is a great idea. But not when it comes to our teeth. Brushing too hard can damage gums and even cause them to recede. Additionally, too much pressure can weaken enamel, and without enamel, teeth are more susceptible to decay. Instead, try using gentle, small circles.

Along with a proper at-home oral hygiene routine, regular visits to our dental office in Potomac Falls are necessary for a healthy smile. Visiting us at least twice a year helps catch any potential problems early, allows us to monitor your oral hygiene habits, and keeps your smile in its best shape for life.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon

How White is Too White?

Aug white

Super-white smiles used to be a thing reserved for TV stars and the big screen. But advancements in dentistry have made this cosmetic dentistry procedure accessible to the general public. Now nearly everyone is on the journey to get a dazzlingly white smile. At my dental office in Potomac Falls, we’re all for getting a brighter, whiter smile, as long as it’s done safely and correctly.

Types of Whitening

There are several forms of whitening to choose from, each having their own pros and cons.

    • Strips — Inexpensive, but are not custom-fitted which could lead to serious problems
    • Trays — Slightly more expensive but again, not custom, so the same concern for problems exists here too
    • Professional — The strongest level of whitening available and professional guidance throughout treatment

Addicted to Over Bleaching?

A little whitening here and there can help boost your pearly whites and your confidence, but there are times when whitening can become an obsession. This is particularly concerning. Not only can over-whitening cause some serious dental problems, it may also cause your teeth to become too white.

Yes, it’s completely possible for teeth to be over whitened. Usually, a whitening treatment will brighten your smile a few shades in a few treatments, depending on the product. However, when used excessively, whitening treatments may actually cause teeth to take on a translucent appearance or look a bit gray. This is whitening to the extreme.

Things to Remember

  • Just because it’s white, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Often times we mistake a gorgeously white smile as being extremely healthy. But that’s not always the case. Over-whitening can lead to weakened enamel and increased risk for decay.
  • Follow the directions. Never leave a whitening product on longer than stated in the directions. Excessive contact with the whitening agent may cause gum irritation, increased sensitivity, or damage to the enamel.
  • Always talk to your dentist first. Prior to beginning any whitening treatment, talk to your dentist in Potomac Falls. A conversation with a professional can help get you your ultimate shade of white while also keeping your teeth healthy.

If you’re interested in boosting your smile, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call. We’ll perform a smile analysis and talk about the best whitening treatment for you. With our help, you’re sure to get the smile you’re looking for.

Accepting patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

Which is Better? Regular Floss or a Floss Pick?

July2Floss

We talk a lot of about the importance of flossing, and it’s well worth it. Most gum disease develops between teeth, which makes flossing a crucial part of your hygiene routine. At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we’d like to talk about the two most common forms of flossing: floss picks and regular dental floss.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are those individual pieces of plastic that have a small piece of floss in between two posts. They’re sometimes preferred over traditional floss for a variety of reasons, but are they as effective? Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easier to Use. Floss picks may make it easier to floss, especially if you have difficulty using your hands or fingers. Reaching into the back of the mouth may also be easier with a floss pick.
  • Not So Easy. On the other hand, some people find floss picks more difficult to use. If your teeth are tighter together, floss picks may not be the ideal choice and can actually be harder to use.
  • Effective. There is evidence that suggests floss picks are effective at removing food particles and dangerous plaque between teeth. But are they as effective as traditional floss?

Cons:

  • As Effective? Some research shows that floss picks are just as effective as traditional floss. Other studies suggest floss picks are less effective due to their shape. Since floss picks are pretty stable, some believe this limits their ability to properly clean below the gum line and around each tooth.
  • Need More Than One Most of the time, to get the best clean from a floss pick, you’ll need more than one pick as opposed regular floss where you only need one piece. This may require a larger investment.

Regular Floss

Regular floss has been used for quite some time to remove dangerous bacteria from between teeth. While it’s been proven to clean effectively and help lower risk for gum disease, there are some people who can’t seem to get comfortable with this traditional form of flossing. If this is the case, using a floss pick is completely acceptable. If you’re ok with regular floss, keep on flossing!

Flossing goes a long way toward keeping your gums healthy and gum disease away, but it’s only part of having a healthy mouth. Regular appointments at our Potomac Falls dental office are also key to keeping your smile healthy, so make sure to visit us at least twice a year.

Welcoming patients from Potomac Falls and Herndon.

The Insurance Files, Part 3: I Know Some Of My Options, Now What?

May4

First thing is… if you’re not the kind of person who asks questions about how stuff works, get yourself a propeller beanie and buckle in for some discovery.

If you are able to choose your dental plan provider, we recommend going with Metlife, Aetna, Cigna, United Concordia, or Delta Dental. But if not, the information that follows will still be helpful.

While insurance companies are required to give you all the information about how your benefits work, what is covered, and what is not; sometimes the information is difficult, if not impossible, to understand if you are not an insurance agent. Sometimes, even the consumer-oriented brochure-style breakdown is difficult to understand.

So read carefully and ask questions!

Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • Is my current doctor in-network?
  • May I have a list of in-network doctors in my area code? (Sometimes you have insurance, but the nearest in-network provider is an hour away, which makes things tricky or even unmanageable)
  • What is your plan’s specific breakdown of services covered by class?
  • Which services will I need to get permission from my primary doctor to have?
  • I’d like a breakdown of everything that’s covered. Do you have such a breakdown?

While you’re reading and researching dental insurance, it’s a good idea to make a list of your own questions. And don’t be afraid to ask an insurance agent to decode the jargon. They had to read and study a lot to be able to sell the stuff, so they are happy to put that information to use.

This concludes the insurance files. Thanks for stopping by. If you have questions or need help beyond this, do give us a call or drop in.

The Insurance Files, Part 2: DHMO Sounds Like a Disease. DPPO Sounds Like 90s Hiphop. What?

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It’s easy to find out whether you’re covered under a DPPO (Dental Preferred Provider Organization) or a DHMO (Dental Health Maintenance Organization). Your insurance card will say so, because this is key information for your providers.

Many health insurance companies, like Metlife, Aetna, Cigna, United Concordia, and Delta Dental offer coverage that is both DPPO and DHMO coverage.

Here’s what you need to know about the difference:

DHMO

A DHMO means that you have access to services only within a network of providers. That means your insurer will give you a list of dentists, you’ll select one as your primary care provider.

That person will be like your dentistry liver: If you want or need care, it has to go through her. Filling? Go to your primary (they’ll probably take care of it). Root canal? Your primary will refer you to another in-network doctor, an endodontist. You get the idea.

Usually, if you get services outside the network, you are responsible for 100% of the cost, and there is no option of reimbursement.

DHMOs are a little more straightforward than DPPOs because there is only one set of fees. There’s a co-pay based on the class of service, and maybe a deductible. The paperwork is easy because your record stays with the network, and your insurance company is already set up to pay those providers directly.

DPPO

A DPPO is not an inversion of the Naughty By Nature lyric. It means you have access to services from any doctor, but the way you and your insurer pay for them is different. There is still a network, and when you elect to get services within it, you will pay a lower set percentage of the services depending on the class of service.

For example, you’ll be covered 100% for preventive care and 90% for minor restorative care (fillings, root canals) in network. Out of network, you’ll be covered 80% for preventive care, and 60% for minor restorations.

If you get services outside of the network, you will be obligated to a higher percentage of the service, and may even have to pay 100% up front (depending on the provider), and submit forms for reimbursement.

This is by no means a complete explanation, and our percentages are completely theoretical. But if you’d like more information, visit The Fair Health Consumer Website.
Join us next time when we talk about how to choose your dental plan.

The Insurance Files, Part 1: Have Insurance? Use It!

Ped1July

We know insurance is complicated and it’s hard to know what’s covered, how much of it, and whether whomever you talk to on the phone at the insurance company has any clue what’s going on. We know you worry about whether the people in our office are getting the most out of your benefits. And we know it can be shocking when something costs hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars, even though you have insurance.

Part of ending that shock and feeling secure in the process is understanding your policy. Here is a useful description of the levels of care Insurance pays for.

Class I: preventive care and diagnosis. Exams, cleanings, x-rays are typically covered in-full if the provider is in network.

Class II: Low-rent restorations: fillings, gum treatments, and root canals are reimbursable for a portion of the cost. The usual split is 80%.

Class III: Big restorations: Crowns, bridges, or dentures. Here the split is 50%.

Class IV:  Braces, Invisalign, orthodontic work. For these, insurance usually only covers patients under 19, and has a lifetime maximum dollar amount that they’ll reimburse. Some insurance does offer reimbursement for patients older than 19. Check your policy documents or call your agent or the company that provides your insurance.

And remember, we accept many types of insurance: Metlife, Aetna, Cigna, United Concordia, and Delta Dental.

Join us next month for a discussion of the difference between a dental DHMO and DPPO.