Posts for category: Oral Health

SecondThoughtsonTonguePiercingShouldYouRemoveYourTongueBolt

It was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe it was years ago, or maybe it was yesterday — at some point in your past life you had your tongue pierced and a metal bolt inserted. But now you are wondering whether you made a bad decision. If you have the bolt removed from your tongue, will your mouth go back to being the way it was before the piercing?

The answer is yes, your oral health will improve when you remove a tongue bolt. There are many reasons for this. Your tongue has a rich blood vessel supply to fuel its energy needs and heals quickly.

Some people suffer from chronic pain as long as the bolt is in place. In addition to pain, tongue piercing is associated with other risks. The bolt can chip your teeth or cause tooth sensitivity. It can also cause your gums to recede from your teeth. You may also suffer from inflammation and infection in your gums. This can lead to bone loss and ultimately to loss of teeth.

A piercing and tongue bolt can also cause damage to the nerves in your tongue. This causes pain for some people until the bolt is removed. Your tongue is well supplied with nerves as well as blood vessels. That is why biting your tongue hurts and bleeds a lot, another good reason for not having a piercing.

So what happens if you have the bolt removed? In most cases conditions in your mouth will return to normal. We will want to monitor your condition after removing the bolt to make sure it has not caused collateral damage to your gums and teeth and other oral structures.

Removing the bolt will leave your tongue with a hole that is likely to close spontaneously. If it does not close, a small surgical procedure can remove the skin that lines the holes, which are then stitched closed. This procedure is done with local anesthesia so you don't feel anything, and healing is usually quick and without complications.

If you are having second thoughts about a tongue piercing, it's time to make an appointment for a consultation with us. You can also view the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Piercing.”

ActressFlorenceHendersonSharesHerSecretsforKeepingYourNaturalTeethasYouAge

Florence Henderson is a multi-talented actress most recognized for her role as Carol Brady on The Brady Brunch, one of the longest-running situational comedies. In fact, this role earned her the title of America's Favorite TV Mom and her first TV Land Pop Culture Icon award, which is on permanent display in the National Museum of American History.

During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Henderson discussed her oral health as well as her role as spokesperson for Polident (denture cleanser) — even though she does not have dentures. Henderson attributes her beautiful, natural smile to prevention. “Flossing, brushing and regular dental checkups are vital if you want to keep your teeth,” she said, adding, “I always have mouthwash, dental floss, toothpaste and a toothbrush on the set.”

Similar to the great advice “Carol Brady” shared on television, Henderson's advice on oral hygiene is spot-on. We agree that an effective educational approach to oral hygiene and diet is essential to keeping teeth for a lifetime.

The first step is to ensure you have a proper brushing and flossing technique. We can go over these during your next office visit. Our goal is to ensure that you are applying the ideal amount of pressure and motion because gum tissues are soft and can easily be damaged. And you should never use a hard-bristled toothbrush or saw at your gums and teeth when brushing. The best technique is a modified, gentle scrub where you hold a well-designed, multi-tufted toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line to gently wiggle/scrub your teeth clean.

As for flossing, you should do it at least once daily to remove the plaque buildup that occurs in the protected areas between teeth where your toothbrush can't reach and where periodontal (gum) disease and dental caries (cavities) start and progress. Many people are shocked to learn that over 50% of the accumulation of plaque occurs in these areas.

To learn more about proper oral hygiene, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Florence Henderson, please see the article “Florence Henderson.”

By Floss and Smile PC
February 28, 2014
Category: Oral Health
BleedingGumsmaybeaWarningSignofGumDisease

If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, it’s unlikely the cause is brushing too hard. The more common reason (especially if you’re experiencing little to no pain) is periodontal (gum) disease caused by the accumulation of bacterial deposits known as dental plaque and calculus where your teeth and gums meet.

This bacterial dental plaque results in an infection in the soft tissues of the gum; the body responds to this infection with antibodies, which in turn cause the gums to become swollen, or inflamed. As this biological “war” rages on, both the infection and inflammation become chronic. The tissues are weakened from this disease process and bleed easily.

Bleeding gums, then, is an important warning sign of possible gum disease. As the infection progresses the normal attachment between the teeth and gums begins to break down and form pockets in the void. The infection will continue within these pockets, eventually spreading deeper into the gums and bone. The gum tissue may begin to recede, resulting in bone loss and, if untreated, to tooth loss.

In the early stages of the disease, bleeding gums could be the only symptom you notice. It’s possible the bleeding may eventually stop, but this doesn’t mean the disease has, and is more likely advancing. If you’ve encountered bleeding gums, you should visit us as soon as possible for a complete examination.

There’s a two-pronged approach for treating gum disease. The first prong — and top priority — is to remove as much of the offending bacterial plaque and harder deposits (calculus) as possible, along with the possibility of follow-up antibacterial and antibiotic treatment. This may require more than one session, but it’s necessary in stopping the disease. The second prong is instituting proper oral hygiene: daily brushing and flossing (using proper techniques we can teach you) and semi-annual professional cleanings in our office to remove any plaque or calculus not removed with brushing.

Bleeding gums is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right with your gums. The sooner you seek diagnosis and treatment, the better your chances of halting the damage caused by the disease.

If you would like more information on bleeding gums as a warning sign 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 “Bleeding Gums.”

By Floss and Smile PC
February 13, 2014
Category: Oral Health
TelevisionHostNancyODellProvidesAdviceforNewMothers

When her daughter Ashby was born in 2007, Nancy O'Dell was overjoyed; but she found the experience of pregnancy to be anxiety-provoking. O'Dell is host of the popular entertainment news show Entertainment Tonight.

After her baby was born she compiled her memories and thoughts into a book for first-time pregnant mothers. The book, “Full of Life: Mom to Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant,” covers a wide range of topics — including oral health during pregnancy.

“While my dental health has always been relatively normal, pregnancy did cause me some concern about my teeth and gums. With my dentist's advice and treatment, the few problems I had were minimized,” O'Dell told Dear Doctor magazine. An example of her experience is a craving for milk that started at about the time the baby's teeth began to form. She felt that her body was telling her to consume more calcium.

As often happens with pregnant mothers, she developed sensitive gums and was diagnosed with “pregnancy gingivitis,” the result of hormonal changes that increase blood flow to the gums.

“I love to smile,” said O'Dell, “and smiles are so important to set people at ease, like when you walk into a room of people you don't know. When you genuinely smile you're able to dissolve that natural wall that exists between strangers.”

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental health during pregnancy. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nancy O'Dell.”

By Floss and Smile PC
January 29, 2014
Category: Oral Health
EatingDisordersCanCauseProblemsWiththeTeethandMouth

Sometimes what’s going on in the mouth may point to a deeper issue. Although unpleasant to address, a dental examination could reveal signs of an eating disorder.

There are two disorders in particular that can adversely affect oral health: bulimia nervosa, characterized by food binging followed by purging through self-induced vomiting; and anorexia nervosa, characterized by self-starvation behavior. Occasionally, patients with one disorder may display behavior associated with another disorder.

“Binge-purge” behavior patterns are especially damaging to tooth enamel. When teeth are exposed to high levels of acid, the minerals in tooth enamel soften and erode. This is common with patients who overuse sodas, sports drinks and juices with high levels of citric acid. But bulimic patients also experience it because of stomach acid residue in the mouth after purging.

Patients with eating disorders also encounter other problems in the mouth. The salivary glands may become enlarged, giving the sides of the face a puffy appearance. The throat, palate and back of the tongue may appear red and damaged caused by fingers or other objects used to induce gagging.

There are also some differences between the two disorders in their effect on dental health. Anorexics tend to neglect grooming habits, including daily oral hygiene, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Bulimic patients, on the other hand, are very mindful of body image and practice excellent grooming habits — but to a fault. In fact, aggressive brushing (especially after purging when high acid has caused enamel softening) can actually cause more erosion.

In the short-term, it’s important to treat dental problems caused by eating disorder behaviors, as well as encouraging better hygiene practices like waiting a few minutes to brush after purging or by rinsing with a little baking soda and water to help neutralize the acid. Ultimately, though, the eating disorder itself needs to be addressed and treated. In addition to your personal healthcare providers, the National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org) is a good online source for information and referrals.

Although a sensitive issue, an eating disorder can’t be ignored. Because of its effect on all aspects of health, including the teeth and mouth, the sooner it’s addressed, the better the outcome for patients and their families.

If you would like more information on the effect of eating disorders on oral health, 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 “Bulimia, Anorexia & Oral Health.”



Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
& Orthodontics

1438 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
office (703) 212-0602
fax (703) 212-0607