Posts for category: Oral Health
During the COVID-19 quarantines, stir-crazy celebrities have been creating some “unique” home videos—like Madonna singing about fried fish to the tune of “Vogue” in her bathroom or Cardi B busting through a human-sized Jenga tower. But an entertaining Instagram video from Kevin Bacon also came with a handy culinary tip: The just-awakened film and TV actor showed fans his morning technique for cutting a mango to avoid the stringy pulp that gets between your teeth. After cutting a mango in half, he scored it lengthwise and crosswise to create squares and then turned the mango inside out for easy eating.
With his mango-slicing video garnering over a quarter-million views, the City on a Hill star may have touched a nerve—the near universal annoyance we all have with food stuck between our teeth. Trapped food particles aren't only annoying, they can also contribute to a bacterial film called dental plaque that's the top cause for tooth decay and gum disease.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to avoid stuck food if you love things like popcorn, poppy-seed muffins or barbecue ribs. It's helpful then to have a few go-to ways for removing food caught between teeth. First, though, let's talk about what NOT to use to loosen a piece of stuck food.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 adults found that when removing something caught between our teeth, we humans are a creative lot. The makeshift tools that survey respondents said they've used in a pinch included twigs, safety pins, screwdrivers and nails (both the hammer and finger/toe variety). Although clever, many such items are both unsanitary and harmful to your gums and tooth enamel, especially if they're metallic or abrasive.
If you want a safe way to remove unwanted food debris, try these methods instead:
Brush your teeth: The gentle abrasives in toothpaste plus the mechanical action of brushing can help dislodge trapped food.
Use dental floss: A little bit of dental floss usually does the trick to remove wedged-in food—and it's easy to carry a small floss container or a floss pick on you for emergencies.
Try a toothpick. A toothpick is also an appropriate food-removing tool, according the American Dental Association, as long as it is rounded and made of wood.
See your dentist. We have the tools to safely and effectively remove trapped food debris that you haven't been able to dislodge by other means—so before you get desperate, give us a call.
You can also minimize plaque buildup from food particles between teeth by both brushing and flossing every day. And for optimally clean teeth, be sure you have regular dental office cleanings at least twice a year.
Thanks to Kevin Bacon's little trick, you can have your “non-stringy” mango and eat it too. Still, you can't always avoid food getting wedged between your teeth, so be prepared.
Cavities are also called dental caries and are small holes that develop in the outer layers of the teeth as a result of decay. Cavities can occur when plaque acids break down tooth enamel and create holes in teeth. One way to restore teeth affected by cavities is to place dental crowns over them. Dr. Paul Gibberman, Dr. Lauren Gibberman, and Dr. Maria Hodas, the experienced dentists at Gibberman Dental in Alexandria, VA, can use dental crowns to strengthen and restore teeth damaged by cavities.
Signs of a Cavity
Some symptoms are an indication of a cavity, although not everyone who has a cavity will experience any symptoms. One common sign of a possible cavity is a toothache. Sensitivity to sweets, as well as hot or cold foods and beverages, are also indicative of a cavity. A change in the color of a tooth is another sign of a cavity, as are visible holes in a tooth.
It is important to treat cavities promptly to prevent the decay from spreading. Decay that spreads to the inner pulp layer of a tooth can require more intensive treatment than simply filling the cavity. In severe cases of tooth decay, a root canal might be needed to restore the tooth. If that is not possible, the extraction of the tooth might be the best option.
How Dental Crowns Help
When a tooth develops cavities, the decayed areas need to be removed before the tooth can be restored. After removing all traces of decay, the holes or caries are cleaned and a dental filling is then used to fill the holes and seal the tooth. If the cavities were small, filling them with dental filling is often sufficient to restore the tooth. However, if the decay was extensive, a dental crown can be placed over the tooth after filling it to further strengthen and protect the tooth.
Dental crowns are protective hollow caps placed over damaged teeth. Once in place, the original tooth is completely concealed inside the crown. Extensive decay that leaves a tooth with several holes can weaken the tooth so it is no longer strong enough to perform normal biting and chewing functions. Dental crowns provide a strong outer shell that can withstand the daily wear and tear of biting and chewing food. They can also protect against further damage to the tooth.
In addition to strengthening and restoring teeth damaged by extensive decay, another benefit of dental crowns is that they look just like natural teeth so they readily blend in. Once in place, no one will be able to tell the difference between the dental crown and the rest of your teeth. The experienced dentists at our practice in Alexandria can determine if dental crowns are the right choice for restoring your damaged teeth.
Dental crowns can restore teeth that have been damaged or weakened by cavities. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Paul Gibberman, Dr. Lauren Gibberman, or Dr. Maria Hodas to discuss the possibility of restoring your teeth with dental crowns by calling Gibberman Dental in Alexandria, VA, at (703) 823-6616.
Life has changed dramatically over the centuries. But although our ancient forebears wouldn't recognize much of our modern world, they would be well acquainted with one particular oral habit that still persists. There's some evidence from archeological dental examinations that our ancestors also clenched or ground their teeth.
This habit of involuntarily gnashing, clenching or grinding the teeth together is most prevalent among children, although not considered a major problem at these younger ages. But it can continue into adulthood, as it does for one in ten people, and lead to an array of problems from worn teeth to jaw joint pain.
As to why adult teeth grinding occurs, researchers have proposed a number of possibilities. Some believe it may be related to the arousal response that occurs when a person passes through various stages of sleep. It also appears that certain psychoactive drugs can trigger it. But at the top of the cause list, teeth grinding is believed to be a physical outlet for stress.
Because of the possibility of multiple causes, there is no one method for treatment—instead, it's better to tailor treatments to the individual. Universally, though, patients who use drugs, alcohol or tobacco, all of which are considered contributing factors, may reduce grinding episodes by restricting their use of these substances.
It's also possible to reduce the incidence of teeth grinding through better stress management. People can learn and use individual relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness or biofeedback. For sleep-related teeth grinding it may also be helpful to forgo use of electronic devices before bedtime for a better night's sleep.
Dental treatments like an occlusal guard worn mainly during sleep can minimize the effects of nocturnal teeth grinding. This custom-made appliance prevents teeth from coming fully into contact with each other, thus lowering the intensity of the biting forces generated and preventing cumulative damage to teeth and dental work.
If you have symptoms like sore teeth and jaws, reports from your family hearing you grind your teeth, or catching yourself during the day clenching your teeth, make an appointment for a full examination. From there, we'll help you find the right combination of solutions to keep this old habit from complicating your oral health.
If you would like more information on teeth grinding, 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 “Teeth Grinding.”
Visiting your family dentists in Alexandria, Virginia can help save your children’s smiles
The health of your children is very important, and so is their dental health. A vital step in ensuring your children enjoy healthy smiles is teaching them proper dental habits. Regular visits to your family dentist can help. The family dentists at Gibberman Dental in Alexandria, Virginia offer a wide range of family dental care services, including dental services for your children.
So, what should you be teaching your children about proper dental habits? First, let them know how important it is to remove the plaque on their teeth. Plaque is filled with bacteria that can destroy smiles. Pediatric dentists often refer to plaque bacteria as “tooth bugs.”
Next, show them how to remove the plaque by brushing after meals and before bed. Demonstrate:
Gentle brushing in a circular motion, covering all the surfaces of the teeth and along the gumline. Always use a toothpaste containing fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay. Then, have your children demonstrate the technique back to you.
Next, show your children how to floss. Flossing can be taught when your child is around the age of 4, and your children should be able to floss without your help when they are about 8 years old.
It’s often helpful for kids to use a flossing tool. They come in kid-friendly shapes like dinosaurs and can help make flossing fun. Show your children how to wrap the floss around the tooth as they go down in between teeth. Then, have them demonstrate the technique back to you.
Don’t forget to set a great example for your children. When they see you brushing after meals and before bed, and flossing every day, it reinforces how important brushing and flossing are.
Regular visits to your family dentist need to start early. A child is at risk of tooth decay the minute the first primary tooth erupts in the mouth. A first visit when your child is young helps to prevent tooth decay and other dental problems later on.
A first visit should happen when your child is about 2 to 3 years old. This is a very important appointment because it helps forge comfort between your child and your family dentist, so appointments can be calm and relaxing later on.
Teaching proper dental habits and visiting your family dentist is vital to helping your children enjoy healthy smiles. To find out more about family dentistry services, call the family dentists of Gibberman Dental in Alexandria, Virginia at 703-823-6616. Call today!
If you're intrigued by the strange and bizarre, here's one to pique your interest: geographic tongue. It's a rare condition that causes the appearance of red patches on the tongue surface, surrounded by grayish-white borders, and which look a lot like continents on a map (hence the name). But although it may look odd, geographic tongue won't harm your health.
The condition is also known as benign migratory glossitis, so named because it's not cancerous and the patches seem to move or “migrate” around the tongue surface. The most common causes are thought to be stress or hormonal disruptions in those predisposed to the condition. Many researchers believe zinc or vitamin B deficiencies in the body contribute to its occurrence. It also seems more prevalent among non-smokers and pregnant women, as well as occurring as a family trait.
The red patches are created by the temporary disappearance of some of the papillae, tiny bumps on the tongue's top surface. The patches can abruptly appear during a flareup and then disappear just as suddenly. But as “angry” as the patches may look, geographic tongue is not considered a health danger. It isn't normally painful, although people can experience stinging or numbing sensations emanating from the patches that can be mildly uncomfortable.
Because it's also rare, you're not likely to encounter it personally. But if you or a loved one does begin to notice red patches on the tongue, there are a few things you can do to lessen any accompanying irritation. For one, cut out foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, eggplant, mint or highly spicy or acidic foods, all of which have been known to increase discomfort. You might also avoid astringents like alcohol or mouthwashes that likewise irritate the patches when they occur.
Although geographic tongue can't be cured, your dentist can help you manage symptoms when they arise with the help of prescribed anesthetic mouthwashes, antihistamines or steroid lozenges. These not only can help lower any discomfort or irritations, they may also lessen the duration of a flareup.
For the most part, geographic tongue usually causes more embarrassment than physical discomfort. But with a little help from your dentist, you can keep it to a minimum. Geographic tongue may be odd, but it's nothing to worry about.
If you would like more information on geographic tongue, 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 “Geographic Tongue: No Cause For Alarm.”