The Link Between Coughs and Cavities

Cough syrup and your teethWhen dealing with a pestering cough, all you want to do is make it stop. So if you’re like most people, you turn to a common, over-the-counter cough syrup. While this remedy can make a cold easier to bear, there is a link between this soothing fix and cavities.

At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we always put the health of our patients first, which is why we get a little nervous during cold and flu season. While there are many things you can do to help keep germs away, sometimes catching the dreaded sore throat, stuffy nose, or constant cough is inevitable. When this happens, we want you to be cautious of how you ease the symptoms.

Many cough medicines and cough drops contain ingredients that can be detrimental to the health of your smile. The most common over-the-counter medications include smile-damaging components like sugars, alcohol, and citric acids – all of which can cause some serious problems.

Alcohol, Sugar, and Acid

A healthy, normal mouth is full of saliva all day, everyday. Saliva helps rinse away dangerous acids and sugars. When alcohol is introduced to the mouth, saliva production decreases and becomes less effective. In a dry mouth, the sugars and acids that are found in many cough medicines are left in the mouth and on the teeth, and the chance of decay increases.

What To Do if You Get Sick

There a few ways that you can still find relief for your cough in the medication you’re used to and lower your risk for tooth decay.

  • Take medicine with food. Saliva production increases while eating so it can help remove dangerous sugars and acids in the medicine.
  • Avoid cough medicine right before bed. Not only does saliva production decrease during sleep, if you take medication after your nightly brushing routine, the sugars and acids will be on your teeth all night long.
  • Try a pill form of the medicine instead of a liquid. A pill reduces the amount of damaging ingredients that come in contact with teeth.

Everyone at our Potomac Falls dental office is hoping for a healthy cold and flu season for all of our patients. If you do happen to catch a bug, try the tips above in order to keep your teeth healthy while you’re nursing yourself back to health.

Accepting patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

 

 

How Did People Care for Their Teeth in Ancient Times?

Dentistry of the past We like to think the patients at my dental office in Potomac Falls are well taken care of. From cleanings, cosmetic dentistry options, and restorative treatments, we strive to keep each and every patient comfortable, informed, and above all, healthy. However, dentistry wasn’t always so painless and didn’t revolve around a preventive philosophy like it does today. In fact, dentistry in ancient times was not only reactive, treating problems as they arose, it was also full of disturbing beliefs and could be quite painful.

The Legend of the Tooth Worm

The first documented reasoning behind tooth pain is credited to the Sumerians and dates back to 5000 BC. The widely accepted belief of the tooth worm hypothesized that decay resulted from a worm digging into the tooth and ruining it from the inside out. It’s not a completely farfetched idea since holes caused by cavities can resemble those dug by worms. After being diagnosed with a tooth worm, treatment could include a mixture of heated beeswax and henbane seed, or, more commonly, the tooth was extracted.

Bling Bling, Mayans Had Shiny Things

Known as the masters of primitive cosmetic dentistry, Mayans used precious stones to decorate teeth. While much different from today’s version of cosmetic dentistry, which prioritizes making smiles more even, white, and straight, the Mayans’ dentists were still quite skilled at their craft. Holes were carved and chipped into teeth to provide a place for stones and gems to sit. The stones were then affixed to the crevice using plant sap, other chemicals, and even crushed bone.

The Middle Ages and Dentistry’s Coming of Age

Throughout ancient times and into the Middle Ages, there wasn’t such a thing as an actual dentist. No dental schools existed, and it was not a recognized profession. In fact, most dental treatments were performed by either a barber or general doctor. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later, when French physician Pierre Fauchard, The Father of Modern Dentistry, wrote a book detailing proper care for teeth and the link between sugar and cavities that dentistry evolved as a respected medical practice. Because of his work, the first dental college opened in Baltimore in 1840.

While the dentistry of ancient times seems quirky, painful, and even scary, it’s because of these continued explorations in oral health that we’re able to provide the level of care we do at my Potomac Falls dental office. We’re here to get you healthy, help you get the smile of your dreams, and keep your smile strong for years to come.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

Awkward Dental Moments and How to Handle Them

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We’ve all been there. We get home after an important business dinner, change out of our fancy clothes, head to the bathroom to wash our face and brush our teeth, we look in the mirror and… BAM! there it is. A piece of your sauted spinach side dish stuck right in between your two front teeth. You can’t help but slightly panic, “How long has that been there? Did everyone see it? Why didn’t anyone say anything?!” At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we’d like to offer you some tips on how to avoid this post-meal worry, along with others, by fixing the problems when they happen.

What to do if There’s Food Stuck in Someone’s Smile

First and foremost, if you notice that one of your dining partners has a piece of food stuck between their teeth, it’s recommended that you politely and discreetly point it out. Nobody likes the feeling of seeing a food particle in their smile when they look in the mirror hours after the meal has ended, wondering why nobody told them. Help your tablemate avoid this fate by silently motioning to your own mouth while making eye contact. This is a great way to make them aware of the problem without causing unnecessary attention. They can then try several tricks to remove it with ease.

  • Swish with water. The active motion of moving water throughout the mouth can help loosen the stuck food particle and wash it away.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Sugarless gum is sticky and can work at removing lingering food just like a lint roller works on eliminating fuzz from fabric.
  • Floss. If floss is available, it’s the best option for removing anything that may get stuck between teeth. However, it’s best not to floss at the table. Politely excuse yourself and head to the restroom.
  • Paper towels. No floss? No problem. The corner of a folded paper towel can also work to unstick a piece of food from between teeth.

No matter which technique you use, never use tools that could damage teeth, gums, or your mouth. Avoid keys, pens, hairpins, wire, tweezers, or similar objects.

What About Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be caused by a variety of things, like a garlic-loaded dinner. When that’s the case, no problem. Just chew a stick of sugarless gum or pop sugarless mint. If neither of these options are available, water can help neutralize the bad breath agents on the tongue. Is bad breath more of a chronic problem, not just post-meals? It could be a sign of something serious and you should visit your dentist in Potomac Falls as soon as you can.

With these tips in the back of your head, and a little pre-dinner stop for gum and floss, you’ll be ready to handle any awkward dental moment quickly and with ease.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

 

 

Unwrap a New Smile This Holiday Season

cosmetic dentistry

Your smile is one of the first things other people notice about you, and it’s how they arrive at a first impression. The thing is, their response to your smile is largely subconscious. So we ask, is your smile saying the right things about you? If it’s not, there’s never been a better time to reward yourself with a new smile. During a season when so much energy is dedicated to gifting loved ones, perhaps it’s time to give yourself a present and unwrap a new smile this year.

At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we can transform your smile to ensure that it’s telling the world you’re smart, professional, young, vibrant, and always ready to make a great first impression. With a variety of cosmetic dentistry treatments available, you can get the smile of your dreams.

Professional Smile Whitening

One of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures, a professional whitening completed by your dentist in Potomac Falls can instantly take your smile from dull to dazzling. Simple and quick, a professional tooth whitening is the easiest way to get the brighter, whiter smile of your dreams.

Porcelain Veneers

Typically used on teeth that haven’t been successfully whitened by a professional whitening treatment, are unproportional in shape, chipped or fractured, or even to fix gaps, porcelain veneers are artfully sculpted for each individual patient to match the color and shape of the natural teeth. Virtually undetectable, veneers cover the front surface of teeth and are sometimes preferred over a crown or other more invasive treatments since a lot of the natural tooth remains intact during the procedure.

Porcelain Crowns

In patients where a veneer isn’t appropriate, porcelain crowns are used. Crowns can be sculpted to match the appearance of surrounding, natural teeth, while also providing strength and durability. A crown can be used to repair a chipped, cracked, or fractured tooth, one that has severe decay damage, or where enamel has eroded. Replacing the entire exterior of a tooth, crowns can bring a tooth back to full function and create a better aesthetic appearance.

This is just the short list of the comprehensive cosmetic dentistry treatments available at our Potomac Falls dental office. Stop by, we’re sure we have the treatment that’s right for you. We would love to discuss your goals and recommend the best treatments to help you unwrap the smile of your dreams.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding communities.

How Did the Pilgrims Take Care of Their Teeth?

Dental health now vs dental health of the pilgrims.

When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of huge turkeys, delicious pies, and a table full of yummy goodness. We also think about what we are thankful for and enjoy time around the table with friends and family. While the tradition of Thanksgiving hasn’t changed much since the Pilgrims and Native Americans first joined around a plentiful feast, the way we care for our teeth sure has.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and to perhaps give you a little something extra to be thankful for this season (your toothbrush, anyone?), everyone at our dental office in Potomac Falls thought it would be interesting to examine how dental hygiene has changed since the days the Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock.

First, neither the Pilgrims or the Native Americans had access to proper toothbrushes like we do now. Instead, they used animal hair tied to a twig or an animal bone, or sometimes even needles from a pine tree. These tools were designed to remove debris from the teeth. Not that we have to tell you twice, but take your Potomac Falls dentist’s advice, stick to the modern hygiene tools.

For a toothpaste, the Native Americans had a bit of an advantage. Since they were familiar with the land, they knew what was available to them to help scrub their teeth. In fact, they used herbs like sage and also the cucacua plant, which was used to make a toothpaste-like cleanser. While the Pilgrims also used herbs, leaves, and even salt to clean their grins, their imbalanced diet led to more complicated oral health issues.

Since the Pilgrims traveled for quite some time across the Atlantic from England, their food choices were limited. The pantries aboard the Mayflower were full of food that would not rot during the journey, but wasn’t very good for their teeth. It included dried meats and fruits, beans, grains, cheese, beer, and a whole lot of hardtack. Hardtack is a dry biscuit whose ingredients include flour, water, and salt. While the Pilgrims were making their way to freedom and surviving on what food they had, despite its damaging effects to their teeth, the Native Americans were eating a much healthier, fresher diet, which helped keep their teeth in better shape.

The Native Americans knew the land they lived on and used that knowledge to their advantage, especially when it came to food. They were hunters, gatherers, and farmers, and ate a well-balanced meal of meat, nuts, berries, and veggies. Since oral health isn’t based on brushing and flossing habits alone, but also results from a good diet, the Native Americans naturally had healthier smiles.

Now that we have the luxury of modern dentistry and technology, like checkups, fillings, and actual toothbrushes (along with a multitude of flavored toothpastes), our oral health has become much better than that of both the Native Americans and Pilgrims. However, that doesn’t mean we should take any of the dental technologies available for granted. In fact, we should be thankful for all that’s available to us to help keep our smiles healthy and our teeth white and strong, starting with a preventive at-home brushing and flossing routine and visits to our Potomac Falls dental office.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls and Herndon.

 

Living With Diabetes? Your Mouth is at Risk

  National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is dedicated to bringing awareness to a disease that affects nearly 30 million Americans – diabetes. Diabetes may cause problems throughout your entire body from your eyes, nerves, and kidneys, to your heart and even your mouth. Our dental practice in Potomac Falls wants to increase awareness of how diabetes can contribute to oral health concerns.

One of the most dangerous oral health issues associated with diabetes is the development of gum disease. Those battling diabetes are at increased risk for gum disease since they’re more susceptible to bacteria and have a limited ability to fight off this bacteria. This is especially true when a diabetic’s blood sugar is difficult to control. When diabetes is not monitored and controlled, the glucose level in saliva increases, helping bacteria in the mouth multiply and thrive. This makes keeping up with your appointments with your Potomac Falls dentist and brushing and flossing everyday extremely important.

Like diabetes, gum disease may cause concerns and serious whole-body issues. Gum disease can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and many other problems. Gum disease can make diabetes even more difficult to control since it affects blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes, maintaining proper oral hygiene is not only important for a healthy mouth, but for a healthy body as well.

There are several levels of severity to gum disease. The earlier stage is known as gingivitis which may be treated, thereby reducing risk for other problems, if caught early. However, if gum disease is left to fester, periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, can develop.

If a patient develops periodontitis, the gums actually pull away from the teeth creating pockets. Bacteria collect and fester in these pockets. The longer the bacteria is in the pockets, the deeper they become and infection can set in, causing more serious problems. This infection will eat away at the bone that holds your teeth in place and can result in loose teeth, teeth that shift, or even lost teeth.

Gum disease is only one of the oral health concerns associated with diabetes. While it may be one of the most serious issues, the other problems are just as severe and are well worth noting. Some of the other issues linked to diabetes include:

  • Tooth Decay
  • Fungal Infections
  • Taste Impairment
  • Infection and Delayed Healing

One of the best ways to ensure that your diabetes isn’t negatively affecting your oral health is to control your blood sugar. It won’t hurt to keep your regularly scheduled appointments at my Potomac Falls dental office where we can help catch any problems in your mouth before they become big issues. Preventive, at-home care is also extremely important, so make sure you’re brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Finally, remember to mention any changes in your condition or medication to us at your appointments. The more we know, the more we can help keep your mouth and your whole body healthy.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

 

Reshape Your “Vampire” Fangs With Tooth Recontouring

easy way to fix vampire teethWhile having extra-pointy canine teeth, sometimes called vampire teeth, isn’t dangerous to your health, it’s not uncommon for patients of our dental office in Potomac Falls to express concern, or even embarrassment, about their sharp, spiked teeth. But we’ve got an easy solution that can transform your smile quickly – tooth recountouring.

Why are Canine Teeth Pointy in the First Place?

Canine teeth are the four teeth (two on top and two on bottom) that are pointy and slightly resemble dogs’ teeth. The canines’ purpose is mainly to help us eat, as they serve to help us hold and tear food. While all canine teeth are pointy in nature because of this purpose, some people have canines that appear much pointier. Nothing about having sharp canines is dangerous, however some people can be uncomfortable with the appearance of their superior spikiness.

What is Tooth Recontouring?

Tooth recontouring, also known as tooth reshaping, is a cosmetic dentistry solution that shows instant results. This procedure is often used to change the shape, length, or surface appearance of teeth and can be helpful in fixing crooked teeth, chipped teeth, and yes, “vampire” teeth.

The procedure can typically be completed in one to three visits, depending on your individual needs, and without any pain. Basically, your dentist in Potomac Falls will use his artistic eye to sand away any extra enamel that is contributing your specific problem. With just millimeters of enamel removed, your tooth will be transformed immediately. This treatment can also be paired with bonding, which uses tooth-colored material to sculpt and reshape a tooth.

What Are the Benefits of Tooth Recontouring?

Besides helping with your cosmetic concerns, there are a variety of benefits of tooth recontouring. Tooth recontouring is a conservative cosmetic dentistry treatment and a cost-efficient way to easily transform your smile.The treatment is generally painless, and often times, no anesthesia is necessary since only surface enamel is being removed. But tooth recontouring can not only improve your appearance, it can also improve your oral health. By removing areas such as overlaps and imperfections where bacteria and tartar can build up, you’re greatly reducing your chances for decay and gum disease.

If you have extra-pointy canines or other cosmetic concerns, give our Potomac Falls dental office a call today. We’ll talk about your concerns, what your smile goals are, and the best treatments for you. We’re sure to get you happy about showing off your pearly whites!

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

Best Foods for A Healthy Mouth

  food that's good for your smileOne of the best ways you can get, and keep, your mouth healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and choose smile-healthy foods. At our dental office in Potomac Falls, we’d like to educate you about how the foods you eat can contribute to great oral health and your overall well being.

When you eat, your mouth goes through changes, starting the minute you take that first bite. While you’re eating, bacteria convert sugars and carbs into acids. It’s these acids that can cause some serious tooth damage. Acids attack the enamel and can lead to cavities. Not only that, the more often you snack throughout the day, the more acid is produced and the more your mouth is exposed to the danger of further decay.

What to Eat

Some of the best foods for your mouth are the same ones that are good for your body. The basic food pyramid can give you some great guidelines to follow to ensure you’re getting the right amount of dairy, protein, and vegetables everyday for your overall wellness. However, when thinking about smile-friendly foods, there are few your dentist in Potomac Falls would like to highlight.

The rules of foods for a healthy mouth are easy to follow and are pretty straightforward. Some of the best food choices include cheese, chicken or other lean meats, and nuts. High in calcium and phosphorus, these foods can both protect tooth enamel and give teeth what they need to remineralize and become stronger.

Additional food choices that are great for your mouth are crunchy fruits and vegetables. Celery, apples, and pears, for example, have high water content and can stimulate the flow of saliva. Foods containing a lot of water tend to lessen the effects of sugars and carbs in the mouth, and the production of saliva helps wash away particles and fight against acid – both useful in protecting teeth against decay.

What to Avoid

Eating acidic food like citrus fruit, tomatoes, and lemons can add to the damage-causing acid. While you don’t have to avoid these tart favorites, they should be enjoyed as part of a larger meal as opposed to being consumed alone. Pairing acidic foods with larger meals helps minimize the amount of acid that actually reaches your teeth and can decrease the damage that acid causes.

Other poor food choices include the obvious culprits like candy, cookies, cakes, pies, pretzels, and dried fruits. With large amounts of sugar, these foods can fuel bacteria which will lead to tooth decay.

What Else Can You Do?

In addition to following a diet of smile-friendly foods, regular visits to our Potomac Falls dental office can not only help keep your mouth healthy, they can help keep your whole body healthy too. With more and more systemic health problems like diabetes and heart disease being linked to oral health, keeping your regularly scheduled appointments is even more important. At these checkups, we’ll not only make sure your mouth is healthy, we’ll also make sure your body isn’t in any danger from oral health problems.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding area.

A Guide to Finding the Right Dentist in Potomac Falls

how to pick a dentistFinding the right dentist can be a difficult process. With so many practices in your neighborhood, all offering similar services, how do you know which dentist to choose? At our Potomac Falls dental practice, we’d like to help make your search a little easier by providing you with a guide on how to find the best dentist in Potomac Falls for you.

Ask Around

When starting your search for the right dentist, begin by asking around. Friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers are great resources to refer to. Find out what they like about their dentists, what type of dentistry the doctors do, and whether or not they’re located conveniently to home or work. Utilizing your acquaintances is great first step in making a list of dental offices you want to look into further.

Make Some Calls

Once you have your list of prospective dentists, get on the phone and start making some calls. During conversations with each practice, you’ll want to ask certain questions to give you some insight into the practice philosophy, treatment offered, and overall feel of the office. Some of the basic questions you’ll want to ask are:

  • “What is the dentist’s level of training?”
  • “What type of amenities does the practice offer to make treatment more comfortable?”
  • “What should I expect during my first visit?”

Schedule a Visit

Your phone calls should give you a thorough understanding of each practice’s personality, level of training, and whether they are a good fit for you. The calls should also help you whittle down your list. Once you have an idea which office is right for you, it’s wise to schedule a consultation. During your visit, note things like cleanliness, friendliness, time-sensitivity, and thoroughness. After these consultations, you should be ready to officially select your dentist, or know that you need to keep looking.

If you’re in need of a new dentist, we invite you to call our dental office in Potomac Falls. We’ll answer any questions you may have and provide you with any information that will help make your decision easier.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.

“You Can’t Wear White After Labor Day… Except in Your Smile!”

teeth whiteningAt our dental office in Potomac Falls, white is always a fashion ‘do’ whether it’s after Labor Day or not. While everyone dreams of a dazzling white smile, it’s not something that needs to remain wishful thinking. In fact, getting a whiter smile is pretty easy, and if you follow the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of keeping your smile bright, it can stay that way!

The best place to start getting your smile a few shades brighter is with your Potomac Falls dentist and a professional whitening. Whitening that’s done by a trained dentist has many benefits over simply doing it yourself using an over-the-counter product.

First, the strength of the whitening gel used in professional whitening treatments is stronger than that found in store-bought kits. A stronger formula means more dramatic results. Additionally, your dentist will also use his trained artistic eye to make sure your teeth aren’t whitened too much (yes, it’s possible for teeth to be too white). And perhaps one of the most important parts of choosing professional whitening over an at-home kit is that the trays used are custom-fit to your mouth, meaning the gel won’t leak onto your gums and potentially cause damage.

After your whitening is completed and you’re sporting your bright, new smile, you’ll want to keep it that way. The following ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ can help.

DON’T  feast on foods that can stain. For at least two weeks after your whitening is completed, avoid foods and drinks that can dull your smile. Anything from berries, tomato sauce, wine, and soda isn’t a good choice.

DO enjoy beverages through a straw. If you have to drink that soda or just absolutely need that morning coffee, using a straw to drink potentially smile-fading beverages can help keep the staining agents away from the front surfaces of your teeth and keep your pearly whites, white.

DON’T smoke or chew tobacco. Tobacco use, as we all know, can cause severe damage to your overall health. It can also cause serious damage to your white teeth. Keep your mouth, and your body, healthy. Just don’t do it.

DO continue to brush twice a day and floss once a day. Good, at-home oral hygiene is crucial to maintaining a white smile as it works to remove sticky, harmful plaque which can give stains something to grasp onto and linger around.

One of the best ways to keep your smile its absolute best is by visiting our Potomac Falls dental office regularly. Routine appointments can not only help you keep your smile white, they can also keep your mouth healthy and strong.

Serving patients in Potomac Falls, Herndon, and surrounding areas.