Woodbridge, VA

What Are Some Habits That Are Bad for Teeth? 

So much more goes into maintaining a healthy smile besides brushing and flossing your teeth and seeing your dentist in Woodbridge, although those are certainly important. Everything from what we eat and drink to our everyday habits can impact oral health. In fact, there are many habits that are bad for teeth, and some of them you may not even realize you’re doing or know could negatively affect oral health. 

  • Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

Many people may equate brushing their teeth to them needing a good scrubbing. But the truth is, there is no need to brush so hard. In fact, using too much pressure or brushing vigorously can cause damage. Brushing roughly can wear down tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity and making teeth more susceptible to decay. Additionally, brushing too hard can irritate the gums and cause them to recede. You should always brush using gentle strokes at a 45-degree angle with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

  • Using Teeth for Things Other Than Chewing

Using your teeth for things other than chewing and speaking could mean an emergency trip to your dentist in Woodbridge. Using your teeth as a third hand to help hold onto something or as a pair of scissors to help open a package can easily damage your teeth. Broken restorations or broken or chipped natural teeth are two of the most common problems linked to using your teeth as tools. Instead, it is always worth taking your time and finding an appropriate tool.

  • Crunching Ice

Crunching on cold, hard ice may seem harmless, and could even be rewarding. But doing so can also break restorations or teeth. Additionally, chronically crunching ice can create small cracks in the teeth. Over time, these cracks can become bigger and bigger, causing problems. 

  • Nail Biting

One of the most common habits that are bad for teeth is nail biting. Even though tooth enamel is hard, nails are also hard, and chronically biting them can cause tooth damage such as chipping a tooth. Nail biting can also cause teeth to move, making them appear crooked, overcrowded, or overlapped. Besides that, habitually biting your nails can even make you place your jaw in an unnatural position, which could lead to jaw pain and TMJ.

  • Using Tobacco

All types of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, are bad for both overall and oral health. Not only can this habit increase the risk of cancer throughout the body, but it can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, tobacco use can stain teeth, cause decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

  • Clenching Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth could be one of those habits that you may not even realize you’re doing. Often done subconsciously or even during sleep, constantly clenching or grinding teeth could wear down teeth and make them appear short, easily cause chips or cracks, or lead to jaw pain.

Habits are called habits for a reason – they’re part of our lives and they’re hard to break. But there are ways to break them, and we believe that you can. In the meantime, make sure to talk to your dentist in Woodbridge about any habits you have so that they can be on the lookout for any common problems associated with them and offer some tips to quit. 

What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

 April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when healthcare professionals come together to raise awareness of this sometimes deadly condition.Oral cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence and can often be treated successfully when it’s caught early. Of course, your dentist in Woodbridge wants to do everything we can to help the cause, so we’re listing out a few things to look out for when it comes to oral cancer. 

Visible Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be tricky to detect because it can often look like other things that aren’t so serious. However, any one of these particular signs could be a cause for concern. If you see any of these common signs of oral cancer, you should call your dentist in Woodbridge as soon as possible, especially if they don’t go away on their own after two or three weeks. 

  • Chronic cough
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side 
  • A hard lump in the soft tissues
  • Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
  • A painless lump on the outside of the neck
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2-weeks
  • Discoloration in the mouth, including a red, white, or black appearance

Early Detection is Key

Yes, oral cancer can be deadly. However, it can often be treated very successfully. But the key to successful treatment is to catch it early. During your regular visits to your dentist in Woodbridge, your dental team will look for any concerning areas and monitor any changes that may require more evaluation. You should also keep an eye on your oral health at home to monitor changes in your mouth. Check Your Mouth has some great resources that you can, and should, use to periodically check your mouth for problems. 

Why Does Oral Cancer Occur? 

The truth is that anyone can get oral cancer. But there are certain things that increase the risk. Some of them are controllable, others are not. 

  • Age: People over 50 years old are more likely to get oral cancer 
  • Tobacco Use: 80% of people who get oral cancer are those who use tobacco products
  • Drinking Alcohol: Almost 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women

Oral cancer is a serious condition that results in nearly 11,600 deaths in America every year. It can affect the tongue, tonsils, gums, and other parts of the mouth. For this reason, and many others, we recommend seeing your dentist in Woodbridge every six months for regular exams. 

How Does Nutrition Affect Oral Health?

What we put into our bodies can certainly affect how we feel and how healthy we are overall. But eating the right foods can not only fuel your body, but it can also enhance your oral health. During this National Nutrition Month, your dentist in Woodbridge dentist wants to help all of our patients know just how important proper nutrition is to oral health. 

What is Proper Nutrition? 

The basics of eating right include reducing fat and sugar intake while increasing the amount of nutrient-rich foods. But how much of what things should your child be eating? That’s where things aren’t so simple. Ever since the original Food Pyramid Guide was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992, nutritional recommendations have shifted. The current standards are reflected in MyPlate and vary depending on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. However, most of the common rules of thumb remain the same including focusing on eating plenty of: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

How Are Nutrition and Oral Health Related? 

The body’s response to eating “bad” foods and drinks increases the likelihood of someone experiencing oral health issues and diseases. Let’s look at foods that are high in sugar, for example. Sweets and beverages like soda and even juices packed with sugar attack tooth enamel. If the sugar is not rinsed away or is left exposed to the teeth for long periods of time, it will work away at and erode the protective tooth layer called the enamel. Without this barrier, teeth are more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity. Although almost every food contains some amount of sugar, even the good foods we’re supposed to eat, try your best to stay away from items that have added sugars and remember to read nutritional labels. 

Beware of Hidden Sugars

The sugar content in the sweeter-tasting foods that you choose for you and your family isn’t the only thing your dentist in Woodbridge is wary of. There are hidden sugars everywhere, even in things that don’t taste sweet. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can actually raise blood glucose levels and affect the body the very same way actual sugar does. Since these carbs end up breaking down into simple sugars, they put teeth at the same risk for decay as eating a sweet treat. 

Eat Well, Protect Smiles 

The main goal for your dentist in Woodbridge is to keep patients healthy by being a key member of their healthcare team. Encouraging a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to ensure not only a healthy body but also a healthy mouth.

Does Green Beer Stain Your Teeth? 

Some of the most common ways people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are by wearing a bunch of green, maybe going to a parade, and oftentimes, drinking beer. It’s also likely that you’ll be able to find many bars and restaurants serving green beer, after all, this is one of the biggest drinking holidays all year. However, this green beer, and alcohol in general, can affect your teeth. While your dentist in Woodbridge supports celebrating St. Paddy’s Day as you wish, we do encourage enjoying the day responsibly and reducing your risk of the negative oral health side effects of drinking. 

Tooth Staining

Green beer can certainly stain your teeth as well as your lips and tongue. But this staining is only temporary and should easily disappear after you brush your teeth, ideally with a slightly abrasive whitening toothpaste. However, drinking beer and other types of alcohol, even if they’re not a bright vibrant green, can still cause tooth discoloration. Consuming alcohol regularly can make teeth look yellow or even brown. Darker drinks such as stouts and porters are more likely to lead to discoloration. Now, tooth discoloration that occurs from drinking alcohol over a long period of time probably won’t be removed by brushing your teeth. In this case, you may want to consider talking to your dentist in Woodbridge about your cosmetic dentistry options including veneers or professional smile whitening.

Damage to Enamel 

Sugar is often labeled as the worst thing for teeth, but acidic foods and drinks can also cause damage. When acid is introduced into the mouth, it can wear away tooth enamel. Without this protective barrier, teeth may become increasingly sensitive and can even appear discolored or thin. So what’s this have to do with drinking beer? Well, beer is quite acidic, and drinking too much of it can wear down enamel. 

Gum Disease

While enjoying a drink or two during St. Patrick’s Day probably won’t cause gum disease, drinking alcohol excessively could. Many types of alcohol contain a lot of sugar, and as we know, sugar is one of the worst things for teeth. Sugar found in drinks and food feeds bacteria in the mouth and can form plaque. Plaque is a super sticky film that can be removed by simply brushing your teeth, but if you don’t remove plaque by brushing, it will harden into tartar. Tartar can’t be removed at home, and only your hygienist can clear it away with a professional dental cleaning. Tartar buildup also leaves bacteria free to infect the gum tissue and cause gum disease.   

Reduce The Risk

There are different things you can do to enjoy your St. Paddy’s celebration and protect your teeth at the same time. Drinking alcohol in moderation and alternating a cup of beer with a glass of water will help wash away sugars and acid and reduce the risk of tooth staining, enamel erosion, and gum disease. Of course, we also recommend seeing your dentist in Woodbridge twice a year and brushing and flossing every day. 

4 Reasons to See Your Dentist in Woodbridge Regularly

 When life’s busy, it’s easy to overlook your dental health. But the truth is, seeing your dentist in Woodbridge regularly can help catch and treat small concerns before they have a chance to develop into more serious problems. Maintaining dental visits every six months should be an important part of your routine. Here are five reasons why to see your dentist regularly. 

  • Professional Cleanings

Even if you take excellent care of your teeth at home by brushing and flossing every day, drinking plenty of water, and enjoying sugary sweets in moderation, you can still develop plaque and tartar buildup, especially in the hard-to-reach areas like the molars. Professional cleanings every six months will remove any plaque and tartar to help protect your teeth from decay. 

  • Early Cavity Treatment

Nearly every adult will experience at least one cavity in their lifetime. While cavities can have symptoms such as toothache or sensitivity, in their earlier stages, they may not show any signs of a problem. But during this early stage is when cavities are easier to treat. Regular dental checkups can help catch small cavities before they have a chance to grow bigger, deeper, and cause pain or problems. 

  • Oral Cancer Exam

Over 50,000 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer were diagnosed in 2022. There were also over 11,000 deaths. Oral cancer is a serious health condition that can be treated in its early stages, but the longer it goes undetected, treatment gets harder and less successful. Preventive dental exams with your dentist every six months can help catch cancer in its tracks so you can get fast treatment. 

  • Gum Disease Detection

Another serious oral health problem that can develop is gum disease. Like oral cancer, gum disease is best treated in the early stages. If it progresses too far, it can’t be reversed. Gum disease can be caused by any number of things from poor oral hygiene to smoking and even some medications. Skipping out on dental checkups may allow gum disease to develop without the necessary quick intervention to treat it. Advanced gum disease can cause tooth loss and other whole-health problems such as heart disease, dementia, and diabetes. 

We always recommend that patients see their dentist in Woodbridge at least every six months, and for a good reason. These preventive checkups can help diagnose and treat several serious oral health conditions early before they develop into something more serious that can affect oral health and overall health.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental checkup, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today. 

How to Get Rid of Mouth Ulcers

 Mouth ulcers can pop up for any number of reasons, and most of the time, they’re nothing to be worried about. But that doesn’t change the fact that they can be annoying and painful, causing you to want to find the best way to get rid of mouth ulcers quickly. Check out some of the things your dentist in Woodbridge may recommend to ease ulcer discomfort and make them disappear. 

How to Treat an Ulcer at Home

Thankfully, there are several at-home remedies you can use to treat a mouth ulcer and alleviate pain. 

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater several times a day
  • Don’t eat spicy foods
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Buy an over-the-counter topical anesthetic
  • Continue to brush and floss your teeth every day

Should You See Your Dentist When You Have an Ulcer?

While most ulcers will heal on their own in about 10-14 days, if an ulcer lasts longer than three weeks, contact your dentist in Woodbridge as soon as possible. They may recommend antiseptic treatments, steroids, or immunosuppressants. Other signs that you should see your dentist for an ulcer include: 

  • Noticeable sores with no pain
  • Really large ulcers
  • Fever
  • Ulcers on the outside of your mouth
  • Pain that doesn’t go away with the use of medication

Could An Ulcer be Oral Cancer? 

Ulcers that don’t go away may be concerning and could actually be a sign of oral cancer. Ulcers associated with oral cancer typically form under or on the tongue, so keep an eye out for those in particular and see your dentist in Woodbridge quickly. Oral cancer can be treated successfully, especially in the early stages. 

Mouth Ulcer Symptoms

When someone has an ulcer in the mouth, they typically know it because they can feel it or see it. Ulcers are usually white, gray, or yellow in the middle and red on the outside. They can appear anywhere in the mouth including on the lips, gums, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and tongue. Pain and swelling are also common and can get worse when brushing your teeth or eating spicy, acidic, or salty foods. 

Are Mouth Ulcers Common? 

Yes! Mouth ulcers are incredibly common and will affect about 20% of people at least once in their lifetime. While there is no one main cause of developing an ulcer, certain people are more likely to suffer from them such as those who have: 

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Diabetes
  • Celiac
  • Immune disorders
  • HIV

Even though ulcers are typically nothing serious, they could indicate another problem in the mouth. If you’re concerned about a new ulcer or have one that won’t go away, schedule a visit to your dentist in Woodbridge

Tips to Protect Teeth During Illness

 From sniffles and coughs to sore throats and fevers, there are plenty of telltale signs that cold and flu season is among us. Unfortunately, December through February is typically prime time for a cold or the flu to affect your family, and we’re just now starting to enter that time frame. While it’s understandable that your sole focus is on feeling better, your dentist in Woodbridge wants to encourage you to also help keep your teeth healthy and protected during any sickness. 

Don’t Neglect Teeth

We always recommend that all patients brush and floss their teeth every day, even when they aren’t feeling well. In fact, brushing your teeth may be even more important when you’re under the weather. Regular brushings will help keep harmful bacteria from settling in the mouth and causing problems such as decay. 

Salt Water Can Ease Discomfort

The tried-and-true method of gargling with warm salt water to help ease a sore throat or painful swallowing still stands today. Rinsing and spitting out salt water helps to essentially pull fluids, along with germs and viruses, out of the throat and into a cup, bucket, or sink. Saltwater can also kill bacteria, ease discomfort, and help you feel better. 

Look Out For Sugary Medications

Many medications including popular cough drops and syrups contain sugar, and sugar is bad for teeth. Your dentist in Woodbridge understands that you will probably use any medicine that helps you feel better, but we do encourage you to find sugar-free options. If they aren’t available, make sure to swish or drink water after taking medicine. 

Drink Water

Every doctor and dentist will agree that we should drink plenty of water when we’re sick. Water helps keep the body and the mouth hydrated and can replace any fluids that are lost through vomiting, sweating, or simply not feeling well enough to eat or drink normally. Staying hydrated during an illness has many benefits such as helping to prevent bacteria from entering the body, decreasing a painfully dry nose, and combating an uncomfortable dry mouth. Dry mouth is a particular concern for your dentist in Woodbridge as a dry mouth is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, increasing the risk of decay and other oral health problems. 

Get a New Toothbrush

Even though some research suggests that getting a new toothbrush after an illness isn’t necessary, we like to err on the side of caution. Toothbrushes should be replaced at least every three or four months, but we also recommend getting a new toothbrush after you start to feel better. In between using your old toothbrush and the new one, make sure to rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with hot water to help kill bacteria. 

During this cold and flu season, protect your family by disinfecting surfaces that are touched often, encouraging sneezing and coughing into the elbow, and washing hands often. While we hope you all stay healthy, if someone does get sick, try to isolate them and make sure to protect their oral health along with their overall health. 

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. 

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. 

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