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Posts for: March, 2017

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If you suspect you have periodontal (gum) disease, it's important to get a correct diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment the better the long-term outcome.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that's most often triggered by plaque, a thin film of food particles on tooth surfaces. Plaque buildup most often occurs when a person doesn't practice effective oral hygiene: daily brushing and flossing and professional cleanings at least twice a year.

The most common type of gum disease, gingivitis, can begin within days of not brushing and flossing. It won't always show itself, but you can have symptoms like swollen, red or bleeding gums, as well as bad taste and breath. You could also develop painful abscesses, which are localized pockets of infection within the gums.

If we don't stop the disease it will eventually weaken the gum attachment to the teeth, bone loss will occur and form deep pockets of infection between the teeth and bone. There's only one way to stop it: remove the offending plaque from all tooth surfaces, particularly below the gum line.

We usually remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) manually with special hand instruments called scalers. If the plaque and calculus have extended deeper, we may need to perform another procedure called root planing in which we shave or “plane” the plaque and calculus (tartar) from the root surfaces.

In many cases of early gum disease, your family dentist can perform plaque removal. If, however, your gum disease is more extensive, they may refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in the treatment and care of gums. Periodontists are trained and experienced in treating a full range of gum infections with advanced techniques, including gum surgery.

You can also see a periodontist on your own for treatment or for a second opinion — you don't necessarily need a referral order. If you have a systemic disease like diabetes it's highly advisable you see a periodontist first if you suspect gum disease.

If you think you might have gum disease, don't wait: the longer you do the more advanced and destructive the disease can become. Getting an early start on treatment is the best way to keep the treatment simple and keep gum disease from causing major harm to your teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “When to See a Periodontist.”


By Pender Dental Care
March 15, 2017
Category: Oral Health
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For anyone else, having a tooth accidentally knocked out while practicing a dance routine would be a very big deal. But not for Dancing With The Stars contestant Noah Galloway. Galloway, an Iraq War veteran and a double amputee, took a kick to the face from his partner during a recent practice session, which knocked out a front tooth. As his horrified partner looked on, Galloway picked the missing tooth up from the floor, rinsed out his mouth, and quickly assessed his injury. “No big deal,” he told a cameraman capturing the scene.

Of course, not everyone would have the training — or the presence of mind — to do what Galloway did in that situation. But if you’re facing a serious dental trauma, such as a knocked out tooth, minutes count. Would you know what to do under those circumstances? Here’s a basic guide.

If a permanent tooth is completely knocked out of its socket, you need to act quickly. Once the injured person is stable, recover the tooth and gently clean it with water — but avoid grasping it by its roots! Next, if possible, place the tooth back in its socket in the jaw, making sure it is facing the correct way. Hold it in place with a damp cloth or gauze, and rush to the dental office, or to the emergency room if it’s after hours or if there appear to be other injuries.

If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back, you can place it between the cheek and gum, or in a plastic bag with the patient’s saliva, or in the special tooth-preserving liquid found in some first-aid kits. Either way, the sooner medical attention is received, the better the chances that the tooth can be saved.

When a tooth is loosened or displaced but not knocked out, you should receive dental attention within six hours of the accident. In the meantime, you can rinse the mouth with water and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) to ease pain. A cold pack temporarily applied to the outside of the face can also help relieve discomfort.

When teeth are broken or chipped, you have up to 12 hours to get dental treatment. Follow the guidelines above for pain relief, but don’t forget to come in to the office even if the pain isn’t severe. Of course, if you experience bleeding that can’t be controlled after five minutes, dizziness, loss of consciousness or intense pain, seek emergency medical help right away.

And as for Noah Galloway:  In an interview a few days later, he showed off his new smile, with the temporary bridge his dentist provided… and he even continued to dance with the same partner!  And of course to keep your Hollywood smile, consider teeth whitening.  Check out our newest video to learn more!

If you would like more information about dental trauma, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”


Not all toothbrushes are created equal. Some are equipped with bristles that are soft and flexible, while others are fitted with bristles that are firmer and sturdier. Some toothbrushes are narrow, while others feature a tapered shape. Not sure which toothbrush you should be using? Here are a few toothbrush tips to help keep your teeth in shape!

Opt for Soft Bristles

When in doubt, it's always best to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. This is because toothbrushes with stiff bristles can sometimes be too harsh for those with sensitive gums or weak enamel. If a toothbrush with soft bristles just isn't cutting it, try one with bristles that are medium-soft or medium-firm.

Choose the Right Size

The size of your toothbrush can also play a role when it comes to easy brushing. If your mouth is on the narrow side, it's recommended you select a toothbrush with a narrow profile. If your mouth is a bit wider, you should go with a toothbrush that features a wider construction. You can also select a tapered toothbrush that widens from the tip down, allowing you to use both the narrow and the wider section to reach all of those tough spots.

Powered or Manual?

You also want to make sure that you are using a toothbrush that is easy to handle and easy for you to maneuver. Some people prefer manual toothbrushes because they feel that they let them to reach deeper, while others swear by electric toothbrushes because they make brushing time quick and simple.

Think you might be using the wrong toothbrush? Well, toss it out and start all over again using the above toothbrush tips. Once you are able to find the toothbrush that works for you, you'll be all set and ready to keep those pearly whites in tiptop shape. If you live in Fairfax, South Riding, or Merrifield, Virginia, we invite you to contact us today and experience a comfortable and convenient dental experience.