Woodbridge, VA

How Can You Tell If Someone Has Gum Disease?

 Gum disease is one of the many oral health conditions that can affect other parts of the body. It’s a potentially serious infection that can lead to anything from tooth loss to cardiovascular diseases. Gum disease can’t be reversed by your dentist in Woodbridge in its more advanced stages, so it’s important to know the most common signs and symptoms so you can seek treatment early.

Bleeding Gums

A very common early-warning sign that gum disease may be brewing is if you notice blood while brushing or flossing your teeth. It’s a myth that bleeding gums are normal, and in fact, it’s usually a sign that there may be trouble. Signs of bleeding gums should be mentioned to your dentist in Woodbridge sooner rather than later for early intervention. 

Red & Swollen Gums

Another typical symptom of gum disease is red, swollen gums. While this can be apparent in the earliest stages of gum disease, it can also indicate that gum disease has progressed. Swollen or red gums may also be painful, but not always. Don’t ignore puffy gums or you may just be allowing gum disease to become severe and irreversible.

Sensitivity

While some people do have sensitive teeth and experience pain or discomfort when enjoying hot or cold food, it could also be a sign of gum disease. One sign of gum disease is gum recession, which is when the gum tissue starts to pull back from the teeth, exposing the sensitive nerves. Any new sensitivity should be talked about with your dentist.

Chronic Bad Breath

Periodic bouts of bad breath are usually normal and nothing to worry about, but bad breath that lasts and doesn’t go away no matter how hard you try could also be a symptom of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria, and the bacteria release a stinky byproduct, causing bad breath. 

Levels of Gum Disease

There are varying levels of gum disease, with the symptoms and life-long risks increasing along with each stage. 

  • Gingivitis – The most common stage of gum disease and can be reversed
  • Stage 1 Periodontitis – Can’t be reversed, minor damage to the connective tissue between the teeth and the bone
  • Stage 2 Periodontitis – More noticeable, severe damage in the tooth and bone
  • Stage 3 Periodontitis – May require surgery, some tooth loss is likely
  • Stage 5 Periodontitis – Several missing with a likelihood of losing more

The best ways to protect your gums, teeth, and overall health from the risks of gum disease are to do everything you can to avoid it in the first place. Make sure you brush and floss daily, don’t use tobacco products, and see your dentist in Woodbridge every six months for preventive dental checkups. 

Sinus Pressure vs. Toothache

 Any type of tooth pain can be unbearable, just ask your dentist in Woodbridge. We’re all too familiar with toothaches and will do everything we can to help alleviate the pain. However, sometimes tooth troubles aren’t the actual cause of tooth pain. In fact, sometimes a toothache may be a sign of sinus pressure or a sinus infection, and it’s important to know the difference. 

Where Are The Sinuses?

Before we can dive into whether or not a toothache is a result of a sinus problem or an actual issue with your teeth, we need to look at where the sinuses are located and how tooth pain can result from either a tooth problem or a sinus problem. The sinuses are located throughout the face, and any inflammation in them can affect the eyes, forehead, nose, cheeks, or teeth. 

Sinus Infections & Tooth Pain

Pain in the teeth is often a side effect of a sinus infection. But this pain is usually localized to the back molars and doesn’t spread to other teeth. Keep in mind that the jaw can also be affected during a sinus infection, but it can also be a sign of other problems, including a misaligned bite or other tooth troubles. Keep an eye out for the differences between tooth pain caused by a sinus infection versus tooth pain caused by a dental problem. Some signs of a sinus infection include: 

  • Pressure in the nose, eyes, or forehead
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Thick mucus

Toothache Symptoms

There are some telltale signs of a toothache that results from a problem with the actual teeth as opposed to a sinus infection. Some of the symptoms of a toothache that requires treatment from your dentist in Woodbridge sooner rather than later include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods
  • Pain that moves throughout the mouth
  • Swollen or painful gums
  • Throbbing or sharp pain
  • Pain when chewing

When Should You See a Dentist for Tooth Pain?

Usually, any type of tooth pain should warrant a visit to your dentist in Woodbridge sooner rather than later. And if you’re in doubt about what’s causing your pain, it’s best to schedule an appointment. Some key signs that you should call your dentist include: 

  • Any mouth pain that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Zaps of pain when teeth are exposed to something hot or cold
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away

If you’re not sure if you have a sinus infection that’s causing tooth pain or an acutal problem with your teeth, it’s always wise to contact your dentist when any discomfort in your mouth is apparent. We’ll do everything we can to find the source of your pain and work with you to find the best solution. 

Is Xylitol Better for You Than Sugar? 

Xylitol is a natural sugar alternative that has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years. But is this sweet substitute for traditional sugar better for you? Can you still enjoy sweet snacks with xylitol without the guilt you may feel from eating too much sugar? Let’s check in with your dentist in Woodbridge to see how, and if, xylitol is better for you than sugar. 

What is Xylitol?

We’ve already covered the fact that xylitol is a natural sugar substitute, but there’s even more to know about the stuff. Xylitol is found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and even in our own bodies. Its sweet taste can mimic traditional sugar, but there are a few differences between xylitol and sugar. 

Xylitol is lower in calories than sugar (by about 40%!) which means the weight concerns that often go hand-in-hand with eating too much sugar are reduced by replacing it with xylitol. Additionally, xylitol doesn’t increase blood sugar levels the same way sugar does. This can make xylitol a better choice for your sweet fix without the negative side effects on your body and without the need to sacrifice taste.

But the benefits of xylitol don’t stop there. As your dentist in Woodbridge knows, xylitol may also help improve and protect oral health.  

Xylitol & Oral Health? 

So the reality is that we all have bacteria in our mouths. Some of these bacteria are beneficial, but some are dangerous. One of the bad types of bacteria is called Streptococcus mutans, and these bacteria are the main causes of plaque buildup and cavity development. Streptococcus mutans really really love to eat sugar. This means the more sugar we have, the more we feed these bacteria. But there’s another problem. Streptococcus mutans won’t only feed on sugar, the sugar will also help them create more and more bacteria. But this doesn’t happen with xylitol. Streptococcus mutans will still feed on xylitol but instead of fueling bacteria, xylitol starves them and they die off. This can help: 

  • Reduce the risk of tooth decay
  • Decrease bacteria levels by up to 75%
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Lower the risk of gum disease

Swapping Sugar for Xylitol

Making the switch from sugar to xylitol may be easier than you think. In fact, one of the easiest swaps you can make is by choosing gum that contains xylitol. Chewing gum can increase saliva production, which washes away bacteria, and neutralizes acid to protect tooth enamel. Plus, the added benefit of xylitol can starve bacteria.

Another way you can make the switch is by looking for xylitol in your grocery store baking aisle. You can swap sugar for xylitol in many recipes so you can still enjoy a sweet snack without all of the risks of sugar. 

Keep in mind that swapping to xylitol instead of sugar isn’t enough to fully protect your teeth. You will also want to continue to brush and floss every day, as well as see your dentist in Woodbridge regularly for professional dental cleanings and exams. 

What is Nitrous Oxide Used for at The Dentist? 

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas occasionally used for dental treatment. Now, while not everyone will be a candidate for nitrous oxide, this type of sedation dentistry has been known to help ease nervous or scared patients during procedures. If you have dental fear, you should talk with your dentist in Woodbridge about nitrous oxide or other sedation dentistry options. 

Why is Nitrous Oxide Used? 

One situation when nitrous oxide may be used in dentistry is when a patient is scared of the dentist. Fear of the dentist is incredibly common in the United States, and about 36% of people in the United States have fear of getting dental treatment. But nitrous oxide can help a patient relax and stay calm throughout their visit. 

Nitrous oxide may also be used if a procedure will take a bit of time. Patients can become uncomfortable laying back in the dental chair with their mouths open for prolonged periods. This may cause them to become jittery, making it hard for your dentist in Woodbridge to work. During these treatments such as a root canal or restorative dentistry, you may benefit from laughing gas or another form of sedation dentistry. 

What Are the Effects of Laughing Gas? 

Many dentists prefer nitrous oxide because the effects wear off quickly. In fact, your dentist will probably give you straight oxygen once treatment is done and you’ll be back to feeling like yourself in no time. Many patients can go right back to their day without downtime. However, it’s still wise to have someone drive you after your appointment. 

Patients may experience some side effects during or after using nitrous such as: 

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

These symptoms should be temporary and short-lived. To help avoid nausea, only eat a small meal or snack before your appointment.

Is Nitrous Oxide Safe? 

Controlled and monitored use of nitrous oxide is considered safe by the American Dental Association. In fact, patients who use nitrous oxide at their dental appointments are still conscious and can answer questions from their dentist in Woodbridge

How is Laughing Gas Administered? 

Perhaps one of the best things about laughing gas is that there are no needles involved in administering it. The gas is administered through a small nose mask that allows you to simply breathe in the nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture. 

If you’ve been putting off routine dental care because of fear, or if you know you have a strong gag reflex or the need for a longer appointment, talk with your dentist about nitrous oxide or other types of sedation dentistry. Dental care, even bi-annual cleanings, x-rays, and checkups, shouldn’t be delayed. After all, preventive dentistry is the best way to avoid more complex treatment because it allows your team to catch problems early when they’re easier to treat. 

5 Damaging Dental Trends on Social Media

social media 2The internet is full of great information, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between wise advice and dangerous trends. This is particularly true when it comes to health tips and dental tricks. However, your dentist in Woodbridge wants to warn you that there has been a rise in social media trends that can directly damage dental health. 

DIY Dentistry Dangers

Taking a do-it-yourself approach to anything involving your oral health is concerning. But when thousands of social media stars showcase their at-home dental care to millions of people, some patients are bound to try these techniques. Here are five of the most damaging DIY dental trends on social media. 

  • Whitening

We understand that having a bright, white smile is desirable, and there are many ways your dentist in Woodbridge can help whiten your teeth. However, some trends online claim that different concoctions of household products can whiten teeth quickly. The problem is that these mixtures usually contain very acidic ingredients that can easily weaken tooth enamel, make it easy for cavities to form, and can even cause teeth to appear darker. The other problem? They don’t work. 

  • Orthodontics

Even before the days of social media, teenagers would put items in their mouths to mimic the look of braces. This still happens, but it’s been taken one step further. Social media influencers are often seen using everyday items to try and close gaps in their teeth or straighten overlapping teeth. Not only can moving teeth on your own cause major alignment problems and issues with your bite, but some of the materials used can also restrict blood flow, causing teeth to die and potentially fall out. 

  • Filing Teeth

One of the most widespread trends currently shows users filing down their teeth into tiny points, also known as the “veneers check” trend. The idea is that filing the teeth down will prepare them for veneers. Not only does this trend make us cringe, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. First, veneer prep from your dentist in Woodbridge does not require filing down teeth this way. Second, filing healthy, natural teeth can cause permanent damage and require professional treatment such as dentures. 

  • Prosthetic Teeth

If you’re missing a tooth and decide to have it replaced with a dental implant, your dentist will also custom-create a crown (the white part of the tooth) to complete your smile. However, social media trends showcase very popular videos of patients creating their own prosthetic teeth or sometimes even partial dentures using arts and crafts supplies. 

  • Gluing Fangs

With Halloween right around the corner, it won’t be surprising to see a few ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and vampires around. But usually, these are found in decorations or costumes. Yet there is a concerning trend of using very strong, permanent (and toxic!) glue to attach vampire fangs to teeth. 

We can’t stress enough how dangerous these trends are. If you’re unhappy with your smile and want to change something about the way your teeth look, always start by talking with your dentist in Woodbridge about your options.  

Should People With Dentures Still See The Dentist?

Dentures 2We always stress the importance of seeing your dentist in Woodbridge at least twice a year to protect your teeth from decay, disease, and other tooth troubles. But what happens if you no longer have any natural teeth and wear a denture instead? Should you still visit your dentist regularly? Absolutely! The truth is, your dentist’s job goes beyond treating natural teeth.

Why Are Dental Appointments Important? 

Dental appointments every six months are important for many reasons such as catching tooth decay early. But denture-wears without the worry of decay can still benefit from these visits for a number of reasons. 

  • Adjustments

Dentures may feel great when they’re new, but over time, they can loosen or the shape of the mouth can change and make dentures feel uncomfortable. Ill-fitting dentures can rub and cause sores or injuries to the gums. They need to be adjusted every so often to ensure they fit properly and are comfortable. Dentures that slip around or click should be a sign that it’s time to see your dentist in Woodbridge

  • Longer Lifespan

A high-quality denture that’s properly cared for should last between 7 to 10 years. However, dentures still need checkups to help prolong their lifespan. Unfortunately, dentures aren’t indestructible and can sustain wear and tear. At your dental appointments, your dentist will examine your denture and check for any damage that can be fixed quickly and easily. 

  • Oral Health

Oral health includes more than just teeth, so even if you no longer have any natural teeth, it’s still important to see your dentist in Woodbridge regularly. Denture-wearers can be at greater risk of gum disease than those with their natural teeth since dentures can harbor plaque, food particles, and bacteria which can sit on the gums all day and cause an infection. Gum disease can be treated successfully if caught early. But if left alone, gum disease can lead to other problems throughout the body such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. 

  • Partial Dentures

Even if you still have some of your natural teeth but use a partial denture to replace only a couple of teeth, you can absolutely benefit from seeing the dentist twice a year. You see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings of your natural teeth as well as for checkups on your partial. Like full dentures, partial dentures can increase the risk of gum disease and decay in natural teeth. 

Both people with a full set of natural teeth and those who wear a denture as a replacement for natural teeth should see their dentist every six months. After all, prevention is the best way to keep serious problems from suddenly popping up. 

Transform Your Smile With These 5 Cosmetic Dentistry Options

Cosmetic 1Do you hide your smile in pictures? Cover your mouth when you laugh? Avoid showing your teeth whenever or however you can? You’re not alone. More than 50% of Americans are insecure about their smile. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Getting a smile that you love is possible with cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Woodbridge

  • Dental Bonding

One of the fastest, and most popular, ways to improve your smile is through dental bonding. Cosmetic bonding can be done in as little as 30 to 60 minutes and can cover up small chips or cracks that may be keeping you from smiling. Your dentist in Woodbridge will use a resin to reshape the size, shape, and even color of a tooth to create a natural and full smile.  

  • Whitening

Another quick and affordable way to transform a smile is through teeth whitening. This treatment can brighten the shade of teeth from anywhere from two to nine shades whiter. But not all teeth bleaching products are the same. While you can buy whitening strips or trays on your own, we always recommend that you talk with your dentist before you decide. Not all stains can be removed through whitening treatments, so it’s important to share your concerns with your dentist before you invest in any product.

  • Porcelain Veneers

Teeth that can’t be whitened through bleaching may benefit from porcelain veneers. This treatment does require your dentist to remove a small layer of your natural tooth, but the procedure is usually pain-free. Porcelain veneers are thin slices of porcelain that are custom-designed to blend into your natural teeth so nobody needs to know you’ve had the treatment. Not only can veneers cover up stains, but they can also cover chips and misaligned teeth. 

  • Dental Crowns

Often referred to as caps, dental crowns toe the line between cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry, depending on what they’re used for. In the case of cosmetic purposes, crowns can change the appearance of individual teeth, including size or shape. Crowns are also custom-made so they’re unnoticeable in the smile. 

  • Dental Implants

Another form of cosmetic dentistry that may be offered by your dentist in Woodbridge and that can also be referred to as restorative dentistry is a dental implant. Dental implants are used as a permanent solution to missing teeth and will replace both the tooth’s root and the visual crown. This type of treatment is the most invasive of the options listed, but those who have the treatment say the process was worth it as it restored their smile. Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to decay or an accident, dental implants can help complete your smile. 

Nobody should live with a smile that they feel like they have to hide. If you find yourself shying away from smiling, we want to help. Call your dentist in Woodbridge today to schedule a cosmetic dentistry consultation. 

Can You Have Too Many Teeth? 

Most people have 20 baby teeth, and 32 permanent adult teeth. However, a condition called hyperdontia can cause too many teeth to grow inside the mouth. This is usually more common in kids but can also occur into adulthood. Hyperdontia can be treated by your dentist in Woodbridge, but sometimes no treatment is needed. 

Signs of Hyperdontia

The obvious sign of hyperdontia is seeing or feeling extra teeth erupt behind your already established teeth. If extra teeth have already erupted, then it’s pretty easy to diagnose. Your dentist in Woodbridge may also be able to see additional teeth that haven’t yet shown themselves in dental x-rays images. While the condition isn’t typically painful, it can put a bit of pressure on the jaw and gums. Hyperdontia can also cause overcrowding and make teeth appear crooked.

Types of Additional Teeth

Additional teeth can vary in shape and can erupt in various places in your mouth.

Shapes

  • Supplemental – an extra tooth that is similarly shaped to the neighboring tooth
  • Tuberculate – a tube-like shape
  • Compound odontoma – looks like the tooth is made from several growths
  • Complex odontoma – a growth of tooth-like tissue
  • Conical – wide at the bottom and narrows out the top

Locations

  • Paramolar – occurs in the back of the mouth by the molars
  • Distomolar – grows in line with the molars rather than behind them 
  • Mesiodens – appears behind front flat teeth (incisors) and is the most common

What Causes Extra Teeth to Develop? 

There is no known cause of hyperdontia, but there have been links between extra teeth and a few inherited conditions, such as: 

  • Cleft palate or lip
  • Gardner’s syndrome
  • Ehler-Danlos syndrome 
  • Fabry disease
  • Cleidocranial dysplasia

Make sure to talk with your dentist in Woodbridge about all your health conditions as well as your family medical history so they can cater your dental care to your specific needs. 

Treating Hyperdontia

Typical treatment for hyperdontia involves removing the extra teeth. If your dentist does recommend treating hyperdontia, it’s for a good reason. Some things that may require extra teeth to be removed include: 

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain
  • Cuts in your mouth
  • Inability to brush and floss your teeth
  • Feeling self-conscious 

Extra teeth can seem like a real burden, but oftentimes they don’t cause any issues. However, if you have extra teeth and you don’t like the way your smile looks, talk with your dentist in Woodbridge about the best way to treat your extra teeth and perhaps discuss some forms of cosmetic dentistry

What Happens If You Have An Impacted Tooth?

Impacted Tooth 1The term ‘impacted tooth’ refers to a tooth that was supposed to erupt yet hasn’t. As a result, the tooth can get trapped in the gums. Most commonly, impaction occurs with wisdom teeth, but the truth is any tooth can become impacted. So what exactly happens if you have an impacted tooth? Turn to your dentist in Woodbridge

Treatment

The good news is that an impacted tooth doesn’t necessarily always require treatment. If the tooth isn’t causing trouble and there is no concern for the neighboring teeth, your dentist in Woodbridge may recommend leaving it alone. However, in cases where treatment is recommended, solutions can vary from orthodontics to extraction. Each situation is different, and the best impacted tooth treatment for you will depend on your specific needs.  

  • Orthodontics – Braces or brackets can be used to move other teeth out of the way to make room for the impacted tooth and can even help pull the tooth down into place. This treatment is most common in younger patients. 
  • Extraction – If orthodontics isn’t an option, your dentist may recommend an extraction. This treatment is typically completed under anesthesia at your dentist’s office or with an oral surgeon. It’s a short, routine procedure that should have you recovered in no time. 

Causes

In most cases, an impacted tooth occurs because there isn’t enough room in the mouth for a new tooth to erupt. This is common when children lose baby teeth and the adult teeth are trying to pop through the gums. It’s also very likely to occur with wisdom teeth later in life. The jaw may be too small to accommodate additional teeth, or the teeth may already be overcrowded. Teeth that are growing sideways or at weird angles can also become impacted. 

Symptoms

Even though an impacted tooth sounds like a painful condition, the truth is many times a fully impacted tooth won’t have any symptoms. Partially impacted teeth, however, can exhibit some of these common signs: 

  • Bad breath
  • Pain in the gums or jaw
  • Swelling of the gums
  • Headaches
  • Bad taste when biting down

Now, it’s important to know the signs of an impacted or partially impacted tooth so you can seek treatment. However, seeing your dentist in Woodbridge twice a year for preventive exams and checkups can usually help spot a potential impaction early before there’s trouble. 

Complications

If treatment for an impacted tooth is recommended, it’s for a good reason. Occasionally complications can occur with impacted teeth, such as:

  • Misaligned bite
  • Difficulty brushing and, therefore, an increased risk of decay and gum disease
  • Abscess
  • Nerve damage
  • Bone loss

News of an impacted tooth can be concerning for anyone, but don’t worry, there are plenty of treatment options that relieve any symptoms that you have and give you a smile you’re proud of. If you are experiencing signs of an impacted tooth or partially impacted tooth, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

How Can I Change The Way My Teeth Look?

Not white enough, not straight enough, not even enough – these are just a couple of things that tend to bother people about their teeth. If you’re someone who isn’t completely happy with the way your teeth look, you may shy away from fully smiling and enjoying life. Nobody should have to live a life like this. That’s why your dentist in Woodbridge is here to help change your smile and change your life. 

Smile Whitening

One of the most common things people do to change the way their teeth look is to use a smile whitening product. These products are available online, in most pharmacies and grocery stores, and through your dentist. However, before you jump into buying just any product, we recommend talking with your dentist in Woodbridge. Sometimes, a regular smile whitening product won’t work on certain types of stains. Other times, teeth may need some initial treatment before they’re healthy enough for smile whitening. To make sure you get the result you want without any negatives, schedule an appointment with your dentist first. 

Dental Veneers

If smile whitening isn’t the best way to whiten your teeth, your dentist may recommend dental veneers. These custom-made thin pieces of porcelain can cover up stains and give you an instant smile boost. But their benefits don’t end there. Veneers can also be used to:

  • Fix minor chips or cracks
  • Change the size and shape of teeth
  • Close gaps in between teeth
  • Make teeth appear straighter without orthodontics

Dental Crowns

Often referred to as a ‘cap,’ dental crowns can also cover up various imperfections in a smile. Unlike veneers that only cover the front surface of teeth, crowns will cover the entire tooth structure. Dental crowns are custom-made so they complement the size, shape, and color of your other teeth and can be used to cover large fillings, broken teeth, or misshapen teeth. This treatment requires an artistic eye and can give you a seamless smile. 

Dental Implants

The best way to replace missing teeth is with dental implants. These permanent teeth replacements not only give the appearance of a full smile, but they also help with long-term oral health. Since your dentist will replace both the visible tooth and the tooth root, the jaw bone continues to be stimulated and stays strong. There are different types of dental implants from single-tooth implants to implant-retained dentures, so make sure to talk with your dentist in Woodbridge about what type of dental implant is best for you. 

If you’ve been thinking about changing the way your teeth look, start by scheduling a consultation with your dentist. Come prepared to talk about any areas of your smile that you’re unhappy with, and your dentist will work with you to find the best treatments available. 

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