Woodbridge, VA
womans health

Oral Health and Women: What You Need to Know

May is Women’s Health Month, so your dentist in Woodbridge thought it was an excellent time to learn more about the connection between women, hormone levels, and oral health. Women have a unique set of issues that we wanted to shed some light on during this important time of health awareness and wellbeing.

The Teenage Years

When a young girl hits puberty age, estrogen and progesterone play a role in both oral and overall health. They begin the process of puberty that can trigger reactions in your gums that result in redness, bleeding, and swelling within the mouth. Gums may react differently to different germs and bacteria, which could lead to bad breath, cavities, and unnecessary pain. Canker sores and swelling in the salivary glands can also be symptoms of an impending menstrual cycle once puberty has fully set in. It’s essential that adolescent girls regularly see their dentist in Woodbridge for regular checkups and cleanings.

Using Birth Control

If you’re someone who relies on oral contraceptives or pills for birth control, you’ll want to let us know that you take this medication. Maintaining your oral health while using these pills is very important. Hormone levels in women on the birth control pill, especially brands containing progesterone, can increase the risk of developing gum disease due to increased blood flow. Sometimes, prescription antibiotics will be necessary to help treat your gum disease.

During Your Pregnancy

Few things are more exciting in a woman’s life than having a child. However, a mother’s oral health can affect the baby’s overall health, so dental care is critical during this time of crucial development. Again, women might experience changes in their oral health due to an abundance of estrogen and progesterone, as we spoke about earlier during the onset of puberty. Due to this hormonal increase, “pregnancy gingivitis” can occur with painful inflammation in your gum and surrounding tissue. Gum disease has been linked to preterm or low birth weight in newborn babies. 

All About Menopause

If you’re a woman going through menopause, it’s important to pay close attention to what’s happening with your oral health and any changes. Women at this stage of life often experience dry mouth due to a decrease in how much saliva their body creates. When there’s not enough saliva in your mouth, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria that leads to dangerous gum disease. You also need saliva to fight tooth decay, wash food away from your teeth, and fight germs. It’s also important to note that certain medications we start to take as we age can also lead to dry mouth as a side effect. Hormonal changes during menopause can also lead to issues with osteoporosis. This could lead to bone loss in your jaw, ultimately leading to tooth loss. 

Hormonal changes are a normal part of a woman’s life, but they don’t have to interfere with how you take care of your teeth. All women should have access to outstanding care like we provide as your dentist in Woodbridge. This Women’s Health Month, don’t overlook your dental care. Talk to us about how we can help you stay healthy for a lifetime. 

How To Tell If You Have A Cavity 

confused womanCavities are one of the most common dental problems your dentist in Woodbridge sees and treats every day. Now, while a teeny, tiny cavity may seem like no big deal, the truth is, it’s important to treat any area of decay quickly to keep other problems from popping up. If cavities aren’t treated quickly, they can lead to an abscess or even tooth loss. However, a cavity may not always be easy to recognize on your own, so it’s important to know what to look out for. 

4 Signs of a Cavity

Symptoms of a cavity can differ from person to person and can be pretty subtle, so much so that you may never have feelings of discomfort and you may not know decay is present until your next appointment with your dentist in Woodbridge. Here are some common tell-tale signs that a cavity may be lurking in your tooth. 

1. Toothache

The most common sign of a cavity is, of course, a toothache. Tooth pain can occur suddenly, and there are many times when a toothache does not have any clear sign as to what caused the pain in the first place. However, any pain in the mouth is typically a sign that something is wrong, and you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Woodbridge. Most often, lingering tooth pain that lasts for a few days is a sign of a cavity. 

2. Sensitivity

Similar to a toothache, tooth sensitivity may also be a sign of a cavity. Unlike a toothache, however, sensitivity usually causes shooting pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet and may not be persistent. Sensitivity can occur when the protective layer of tooth enamel is worn away, leaving nerves and roots exposed to heat, cold, sugar, as well as the bacteria that cause cavities. 

3. Staining

There are also some key signs of a cavity that are visible such as tooth staining. While some types of discoloration are natural, such as staining due to coffee, tea, or red wine, other stains can indicate a problem. If you notice a new tiny white spot on your tooth or darker areas of brown or gray, it’s likely that decay is present and is progressing deeper into the tooth. Any new signs of discoloration should be discussed with your dentist

4. Pitting

Another visual cue that a cavity may be forming is a pit or hole in a tooth. These two symptoms may also start with a small white dot and progress into pitting. Now, keep in mind, some of the most common places for cavities to develop are between the teeth where you won’t necessarily be able to see the pitting. This is one of many reasons why it’s so important to see a dentist near you every six months. 

How to Prevent Cavities 

Besides seeing your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, exams, and x-rays, it’s also important to make sure you’re taking great care of your smile at home. Some of the best ways you can help prevent cavities are to: 

  • Brush and floss every day
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Limit sugary sweets and drinks 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet

We recommend that every patient visit the dentist at least every six months to check for any early signs of decay when a cavity is typically easy to fix with filling. More severe cavities may require additional treatment such as a root canal or extraction. 

calendar

How Do You Go To The Dentist After A Long Time? 

Your dentist in Woodbridge usually recommends that all patients visit us at least twice a year. However, we understand that any number of things can keep you from seeing your dentist as often as recommended. Perhaps you have a fear of the dentist or life simply got in the way of scheduling your next appointment, either way, you’re now ready to get back. Here’s what you need to know. 

Communicate With Your Dentist in Woodbridge

One of the most important things you can do when you’re visiting your dentist after a long time is to be upfront and honest with your dentist and dental team. Explain your individual situation as well as any fears or worries you may have. We promise to welcome you with open arms and pride ourselves on our ability to care for patients in a gentle, caring, and non-judgmental way. 

Expect That You May Need Some Treatment

Dentists recommend visits every six months because our oral health can change quickly, and it’s important to catch any problems or potential problems early. However, if it’s been a few years since your last visit, that’s ok. We’re just glad you’re back. You should expect that some things in your mouth may have changed since your last checkup, and you may need some more initial treatment to get your smile back to optimal health. Entering your appointment with the mindset can help put you at ease. 

Stay Stress-Free

We understand that seeing your dentist can be stressful, especially if it’s been a while since your last checkup. Scheduling your appointment first thing in the morning or at the end of your day can help ease any additional stress. Also, if you can, consider giving yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment. That way you won’t be faced with additional stressors such as traffic or worry about being late. 

What To Expect

Knowing what to expect when you walk into the office can help you relax. First, you will be welcomed by our caring and friendly team. They may ask you to complete or confirm any paperwork, such as your health history form. Then, you’ll have a gentle exam, perhaps with new dental x-rays, so we can get a thorough understanding of your current oral health. The most important thing to remember throughout your appointment is to communicate with your team. Your dentist in Woodbridge and the entire dental team is here to help you with anything you need. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our office. Our team is dedicated to caring for every member of our community and will work with you to get your smile back in the best shape possible, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve sat in the dental chair!

Caution tape warning sign

Gum Disease Linked to Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk

An updated study conducted by the American Academy for Cancer Research of nearly 43,000 people over several years has shown a potential positive correlation between gum disease and an increased risk of colon cancer. While the whole-body complications associated with gum disease, such as heart disease, aren’t new, the link to colon cancer is a relatively recent topic of interest to researchers and your dentist in Woodbridge.

The Link Between Gum Disease & Colon Cancer

The study that examined the potential link between gum disease and colon cancer took several things into consideration – health, lifestyle, and pathology reports from routine colonoscopies. Those pathology results showed something interesting about those participants who had serrated polyps and conventional adenomas, the two types of intestinal lesions that can cause colon cancer, and who also had a history of gum disease.

Patients with a history of gum disease had:

  • A 17% increased risk of having a serrated polyp
  • An 11% increased risk of having a conventional adenoma

But that’s not all.

Patients who had lost four or more teeth, which is a very common side effect of gum disease, had a 20% increased risk of having a serrated polyp.

While this research does suggest a correlation between gum disease and colon cancer, the scientists did state that more research is needed to fully understand how oral health can affect gut health.

Signs of Gum Disease

If caught early, gum disease can be reversed and the risk of other oral health and overall health complications decreases. However, untreated gum disease will eventually reach a point where it can no longer be cured. This greatly increases the likelihood that gum disease will lead to tooth loss and cause other problems throughout the body. This is why your dentist in Woodbridge encourages all patients to know the early warning signs of gum disease so you can seek treatment sooner rather than later.

Some of the most common signs of gum disease include:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Swollen, red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum recession

4 Ways to Protect Against Gum Disease

Gum disease can be caused by any number of things, but there are some habits that can substantially increase someone’s chances of getting it. The best ways to protect yourself against gum disease are to:

Brush your teeth twice a day

Floss daily

Quit smoking or using tobacco products

See your dentist in Woodbridge at least every six months

If you suspect that you may have gum disease, we recommend scheduling a dental appointment as soon as you can. After all, early treatment is key to protecting your teeth and your body.

Spring Cleaning windows

Spring Cleaning Tooth Tips

Spring is a time when many people start to clean out their homes after the winter season, opening windows, cleaning out closets, and even scrubbing baseboards. When it comes to your dental health, your dentist in Woodbridge wants to remind all of our patients and neighbors that giving your teeth a “spring cleaning” too can help protect teeth. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Get a New Toothbrush

You should replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months, according to the American Dental Association. If you’ve gone all winter without treating yourself and your teeth to a new toothbrush, now’s the time to start fresh. Choose a toothbrush that has soft bristles, as medium or hard bristles can actually damage your teeth. If you’re using a manual toothbrush, consider upgrading to an electric version. Your dentist in Woodbridge can help you find the best toothbrush for you. 

  • Check Your Supplies

One key part of spring cleaning a house is to remove all of the expired stuff from the fridge and pantry. Don’t forget to also check your dental supplies. Like most things, dental care items like toothpaste and mouthwash have expiration dates, and it’s important to toss anything that has expired. This may also be a time to try out a new toothpaste or mouthwash. Again, your dentist can make recommendations as to what new items are available and which may be right for you 

  • See Your Dentist in Woodbridge Regularly

While spring is when most people deep clean their house, it’s also a wise time to schedule a checkup and dental cleaning, especially if it’s been longer than six months since your last visit. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile all year round. Preventive dentistry appointments help: 

  • Remove plaque buildup that at-home brushing and floss can’t touch
  • Catch potential problems early when they’re often easier to treat
  • Give your dentist a look under the surface of your teeth through dental x-rays

Oral & Overall Health

There’s a strong connection between oral health and overall health, so it’s important to take care of both. Seeing your dentist twice a year, replacing your toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash regularly, and brushing and flossing every day can go a long way in protecting your smile against decay and oral health diseases such as gum disease.

Celebrate the spring season by treating your teeth to a gentle dental checkup and cleaning.  Call us to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Woodbridge today! 

How Does COVID-19 Affect Oral Health?

Masked Mona Lisa

By now, we’ve all heard of the term “COVID long-hauler,” which is used to describe patients who have recovered from COVID-19 but still experience some long-term side effects. However, did you know that your dentist in Woodbridge is also seeing a slew of oral health complications in both adults and children who have contracted and recovered from COVID-19?

Taste & Smell

Perhaps the most well-known symptom of a COVID-19 infection is the loss of taste or smell. While this doesn’t happen to everyone, it is a fairly common side effect. There is still some debate about why this happens. One of the potential explanations is that since COVID is a respiratory virus, and the respiratory system includes the nose and the mouth, the cells included in these areas can be infected and cause inflammation. In turn, this inflammation can change a person’s ability to smell and taste. More research is needed to conclusively determine the cause, but this is a current working theory. 

Ulcers

Medical researchers who continue to study COVID-19 suggest that the infection damages blood vessels in the body, including in the mouth. According to The Angiogenesis Foundation, when blood vessels are damaged, it prevents oxygen from being delivered throughout the body and can basically starve the tissue. If this happens in the gums, the result can be ulcers. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that over 80% of patients that were hospitalized with COVID-19 noticed lesions or ulcers in their mouths. While most ulcers should go away and heal on their own as you get better, if an ulcer lasts longer than two weeks (and you’re feeling better and testing negative), you should see your dentist in Woodbridge.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is one of those things that doesn’t just affect COVID-19 patients. In fact, dry mouth can be caused by numerous things such as medication, smoking, dehydration, and some diseases. However, COVID-19 patients and “long-haulers” tend to experience new or worsening dry mouths. The virus that causes COVID-19 can affect the salivary glands and reduce their ability to produce enough saliva. Without saliva, we’re left with the feeling of a dry, desert-like mouth as well as an increased risk for developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Your dentist in Woodbridge can often help relieve the symptoms of dry mouth, so make sure to mention this at your next appointment. 

Gum Inflammation

We previously mentioned how infection can cause inflammation in the blood vessels but inflammation can also occur in other areas throughout the body. Brought on by a surge of white-blood-cell-rich blood to the infected areas, inflammation in the mouth, particularly the gums, can result in red, painful, swollen, and oftentimes bleeding gums. These symptoms may resolve on their own, but you should monitor recovery at home and schedule an appointment with your dentist in Woodbridge if you notice changes or if it’s not getting better. Red, swollen gums that tend to bleed can also be a sign of gum disease, which can be serious. So it’s better to get checked out sooner rather than later. 

The prevalence of COVID-19 continues to be challenging. During these times, and all times, we encourage our patients to do everything they can to keep themselves and their teeth healthy, including brushing and flossing daily and maintaining routine dental checkups.

toothbrush with toothpaste

How Do I Choose a Toothbrush?

Buying a toothbrush can be a confusing process. Just consider how many rows and rows of brightly colored toothbrushes are at your local supermarket, each one claiming to give you the best clean or other promises of great oral health. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, choosing a toothbrush can quickly become overwhelming. However, before you simply pick up the first one you see, take some time to read this guide from your dentist in Woodbridge on how to choose the right toothbrush for you.

The 3 S’s

Choosing the right toothbrush can be as easy as considering the three S’s – size, shape, and softness. However, this is just the first step. There are other things to consider when buying your next toothbrush, and your dentist in Woodbridge is always here to help.

Size

Both the size of the toothbrush handle and the toothbrush head are important factors to consider. The handle should be sturdy and comfortable enough to hold for a two-minute brushing cycle and manipulate to cover all areas of your mouth. The toothbrush head should be an appropriate size to comfortably fit in your mouth. You should be able to reach your molars without discomfort. A brush head that’s too large can actually keep you from getting a thorough clean.

Shape

Bristles come in two different shapes – straight and rounded. Straight bristles are usually not recommended as they can cause gum damage and even enamel damage. Instead, most dentists recommend choosing rounded bristles. Round bristles are more gentle than straight bristles and still provide an excellent clean.

Softness

The last S to consider is how soft the bristles are. Toothbrush packaging will usually depict the density of the bristles by listing them as soft, medium, or hard. While it may make sense that the harder the bristles the better the clean will be, the opposite is true. Your dentist in Woodbridge will most likely recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush for most patients. The medium and hard bristles are more likely to harm gums or tooth enamel.

Manual or Electric? 

There’s some debate about whether a manual toothbrush is better than an electric toothbrush, and truth is, it depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you travel a lot, a manual toothbrush may be better for you since it’s convenient. However, if you have trouble brushing your teeth with a manual toothbrush, an electric option may be more appropriate to make sure you’re brushing properly. Always consider your budget and lifestyle before choosing a manual or electric toothbrush.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a toothbrush is to make sure you select one that you will use regularly. You should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and it’s important that your toothbrush is able to reach all areas of your mouth comfortably. Of course, your dentist in Woodbridge will be able to help you pick out the best toothbrush for you. Just ask!

woman brushing in mirror

Do Dentists Recommend Using An Electric Toothbrush?

Do you use an electric toothbrush or do you stick with the manual kind? If you haven’t tried an electric toothbrush, you may be wondering whether the extra expense is worth it in the long run. Truthfully, there can be some pros and cons to each type of toothbrush, and the experts agree. So what does your dentist in Woodbridge recommend? Let’s find out.

Examining the Experts’ Opinions

Truth be told, it appears that the official word on whether an electric toothbrush is better than a manual toothbrush is still in debate. There have been numerous studies on the matter, and the results can vary. The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that both electric and manual toothbrushes remove plaque and bacteria from teeth, as long as you use a proper brushing technique. In fact, they’ve said that the technique is more important than the tool. Now, another survey published by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that 13,000 out 16,000 patients who used an electric toothbrush for the duration of the study reported better oral health.

Electric May Be Better For Some

Since we mentioned that technique is more important than the tool, we want to talk about those who may benefit from an electric toothbrush over a manual toothbrush. Those who have trouble holding onto a toothbrush and manipulating it to scrub all parts of the mouth and teeth can absolutely see improvement in oral health by switching to an electric toothbrush. Some of these patients can include kids, those with arthritis, or people who have braces.

A Look at The Pros & Cons

As with most things, there are some pros and cons to using an electric toothbrush over a manual brush.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Most have timers to make sure you brush long enough
  • Some may feel that their teeth are cleaner

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Requires charging
  • Difficult to travel with

So, after all of that, does your dentist in Woodbridge recommend an electric toothbrush? Truthfully, your dental team will recommend any toothbrush that you will use every day and use properly. If you find that you’re in more control with a manual toothbrush and your lifestyle isn’t conducive to an electric toothbrush, make sure you select a manual toothbrush with soft bristles, hold it at a 45-degree angle, gently scrub each tooth in circles, and brush for two minutes. If you prefer an electric toothbrush, the same guidance applies.

Your dentist in Woodbridge and your dental hygienist can help you pick the best toothbrush for you. Ask them about it at your next appointment.

Citrus fruits

Could This Healthy Treat Hurt Teeth?

You do everything you can to keep your family healthy. You make sure they eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of exercise, brush and floss their teeth regularly, and see their dentist in Woodbridge at least twice a year. Yet, did you know that something considered healthy may be hurting your family’s teeth?

Fabulous Fruits

The USDA recommends that adults get two servings of fruit a day, the American Heart Association recommends four to five servings, and the CDC recommends 1-2 cups a day for kids, making fruit a pretty essential part of everyone’s diet. Fruits are packed with vitamins and can be an excellent snack. However, not all fruits are optimal in the same way, especially when it comes to oral health.

Sugars & Acids

Fruits are often considered a healthy treat. After all, they do contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants. But when it comes to teeth, some fruits are better than others mainly because of the sugar or acid content. Sugars and acids can wreak havoc on tooth enamel and weaken it. Once the enamel erodes it can lead to several oral concerns, including an increased risk of decay. Keep an eye for the following signs of enamel erosion:

If you notice any symptoms of enamel erosion, contact your dentist in Woodbridge.

What Fruit Can Help Teeth?

Now, we aren’t suggesting that you forego fruits. They are a necessary part of any healthy diet and their whole-health benefits are well worth it. However, when it comes to making choices that can be both good for your body and for your teeth, consider options that contain a lot of water such as:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew

Be Wary of These Fruits

Other types of fruit aren’t as good for teeth as others but may still provide necessary nutrients, so it’s important to find balance in what you eat. Some fruits that may be tougher on your teeth include:

  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple
  • Limes

Moderation is Key

As we’ve mentioned before, eating fruit is still an important part of making sure that your body gets all of the nutrients it needs. But your dentist in Woodbridge would suggest enjoying fruits high in sugar or highly acidic in moderation, and even rinsing your mouth out with water when you’re done eating. Another important note that relates to juice, sipping fruit juice can expose your teeth to even more sugars and acids than whole, raw fruits. Whenever possible, choose natural fruits over juice.

Why flossing is important

Smiling women use dental floss white healthy teeth.While flossing may not be as much of a star as brushing the teeth, it is still important to do each day. Flossing often gets overlooked as being time-consuming and not as effective as brushing the teeth when it comes to keeping the smile free from cavities and periodontal disease. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Patients who have good oral health and wellness will want to make sure they floss at least once a day. Why? Dr. Joseph Cavallo of Woodbridge, VA explains why!

Flossing removes food and plaque

Your toothbrush can’t get everywhere. Flossing is the only way to effectively remove food particles that are stuck between the teeth and along the gumline. The many crevices and corners of teeth make it difficult for a toothbrush to achieve the same results.

Flossing cleans more of the teeth

While you brush the front and back of your teeth, as well as the top of the crowns, you are still not getting the sides of the teeth. Flossing allows access to these tight areas, ensuring you are cleaning all the surfaces of the teeth, including the sides adjacent.

Flossing keeps the gums healthy

When you floss properly, you will also maintain healthy gums. Flossing can get between teeth and along the gumline to reduce the risk of developing problems such as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a condition that is caused by inflammation and infection, and is completely preventable with routine care of the smile.

Flossing can ensure better dental appointments

If you take good care of your smile, you can keep problems such as periodontal disease and tooth decay from occurring. In doing this, it makes future dental visits easier. Without proper oral health habits, patients might have extended or extra visits to the dentist to address periodontal disease, cavities, infections, and so forth.

Call Dr. Joseph Cavallo today!

Woodbridge, VA area patients who are interested in enhancing their smiles with brushing and flossing should also visit their dentist regularly for cleanings and evaluations. Call the office today at (703) 490-5888 to request a visit and find out more about the advantages of routine appointments. The practice is conveniently located in Woodbridge, VA at 12502-A Lake Ridge Drive and accepts new patients and families.

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