Everything to Know About Sealants – Winchester VA, Dentist

A dental sealant is a plastic coating applied to the surface of the tooth as a preventive measure against decay.  Since it tightly covers the incoming teeth, it protects the enamel of each individual tooth.  While daily brushing and flossing helps keep your teeth clean from food debris, it may not keep every single tooth safe in those hard to reach areas.

Tooth decay is more likely in the grooves of molars when they initially come in.  The sealant will cover the jagged grooves of an incoming tooth to create a smooth surface which dramatically reduces the chances of developing a cavity.  Sealants are best used starting at age 6 and may even be useful for baby teeth to help ensure that the baby teeth do not come out too soon.

How does the operation work? The process involves first cleaning the teeth with a paste and rotating brush.  Then, a solution is applied which changes the surface of the tooth to allow the sealant to form a tight bond to the tooth. Then the tooth is cleaned again and dried and the liquid sealant is added onto the tooth.  The dentist then uses either a light or a second chemical component as a catalyst to harden the seal.  Once it hardens, it remains as a smooth coating and a protective shield for years to come, and your child can chew and eat just as easily as before..

Sealants can help prevent decay for years, but it’s best to have them examined regularly or to see if they should be replaced.  Does your child need sealants for their molars? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexis today to see if your child needs sealants at 540-486-5111.

What is Leukoplakia? – Dental Care in Winchester, VA

Leukoplakia is characterized by thickened white or greyish patches that form on the insides of your cheeks, the bottom of your mouth, your gums, and sometimes even your tongue. These spots cannot be wiped off and are usually irregular or flat-textured. Some leukoplakia has fuzzy white patches on the sides of the tongue. This is called hairy leukoplakia and most often affects people with weakened immune systems due to medical problems, such as HIV or AIDS. Oral thrush and leukoplakia are often confused but oral thrush patches are softer and may bleed more easily.

The exact cause of leukoplakia is unknown but tobacco, injuries to the inside of your cheek, inflammatory conditions of the body, and rough or uneven teeth are all thought to contribute. While leukoplakia often resolves on its own, it can be reoccurring. It is recommended to avoid tobacco and alcohol products, have a dental professional address irritation from dental problems, and eat antioxidant-rich foods to help deactivate irritants.

a girl sticking her tongue out

While leukoplakia isn’t usually dangerous, it can be an early sign of oral cancer. If you are experiencing oral sores that don’t heal on their own within two weeks, lumps, persistent changes in the tissues of your mouth, pain, or anything else that seems abnormal to you, please call Dr. Alexis at (540) 486-5111. We care about your oral health.

Do I Need to Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed? – Dentist in Winchester, VA

Some people find that their wisdom teeth grow in just fine and don’t create any problems. If your wisdom teeth grow in completely, are positioned correctly with no problems biting properly with opposing teeth, and are easy for you to clean then you don’t need to worry about getting them removed. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people.

Wisdom teeth can be very painful and create many problems for your overall oral health if not removed at the right time. Aside from wisdom teeth pushing your other teeth too close together while growing in, they can create jaw damage, sinus issues, inflamed gums, and many other problems.

If wisdom teeth are unable to emerge completely, they may become impacted within the jaw. This can result in infections or even cause cysts forming around new teeth. Ultimately, this could lead to nerve damage or damage the roots and bone support of your teeth.

Inflamed gums can make it very hard to clean your teeth properly. Pockets that help bacteria grow may appear between your teeth. The longer that bacteria is left uncleaned, the higher chance you will have of getting cavities.

Because your wisdom teeth can have such a huge impact on your overall oral health, it is important to consult a dental professional on whether you should have them removed or not. Dentists will look at the shape of your mouth and the position of your teeth in order to best advise you on the right course of action for you. Call Dr. Alexis at (540) 486-5111 to schedule your appointment today!

Eat Your Way to a Healthier Mouth – Dental Services in Winchester, VA

Chances are, if you have visited a dental professional before, you know that sugary food and drinks will give you cavities. But did you know that you can consume certain food and drinks to improve your overall oral health?

Black tea

Perhaps the most surprising thing you should consume for healthy teeth and gums is black tea. Despite the fact that tea and coffee can stain your teeth, black tea has actually been shown to improve oral health. Compounds in black tea can suppress the growth of bacteria in plaque which ultimately prevents cavities and gingivitis. Just be sure to brush your teeth after drinking black tea to help keep that smile white!

Crunchy fruits and vegetables

Less surprisingly, the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” rings true for the dentist as well. Crunchy fruits, such as apples, require a lot of chewing which increases the production of bacteria-neutralizing saliva. The less bacteria that is left in your mouth, the less plaque gets built up.

Calcium

Because your teeth are bones, they require calcium to stay strong. You may think that once you are an adult, calcium isn’t as important as when you were a child. This is a common misconception. The benefits of calcium to your teeth does not stop when your bones have stopped growing. When your body is lacking in calcium, it begins to take that calcium from your bones and teeth. This increases your risk of both cavities and tooth decay. To ensure that you get enough calcium in your diet, try adding more dairy, fish, and even kale to your daily meals.

Vitamin C

Just like when you get sick with a cold, a diet rich in vitamin c will help your body to fight off oral infections, such as gingivitis. Vitamin c will also help to repair connective tissue in your mouth. To ensure you are getting enough vitamin c, try to eat foods like bell peppers, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruit.

Following these tips will help keep your mouth healthy. However, it is still recommended to visit a dental professional every 6 months to make sure your teeth are kept in the best shape possible! To schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexis, please call (540) 486-5111.

Gingivitis: How to Reverse the Effects – Winchester, VA Dentist

 

 

a woman with healthy gums smiling

Understand what gingivitis is and what causes it

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that causes inflammation, redness, and even bleeding of the gums. This is due to a buildup of plaque on your teeth which when not properly cleaned can harden into tartar and begin collecting bacteria. The longer this tartar is left to collect bacteria, the more irritation and a higher likelihood of the gingivitis progressing into a more permanent gum disease called periodontitis occurs. Because this condition is caused by a buildup of plaque patients who use tobacco products, have ill-fitting dental restorations, and those who practice poor nutrition or oral hygiene habits are at a higher risk.

Get a proper diagnosis

As with any medical problem, patients will want to have a dental professional provide a proper diagnosis. Patients experiencing tender or swollen gums, gums that bleed after flossing or tooth brushing, persistent bad breath, or formation of pockets between the teeth and gums should seek out of a professional opinion.

Practice good oral hygiene at home

Once a diagnosis has been made, patients will want to learn how to establish healthy oral hygiene habits. This will not only aid in reversing the current effects of gingivitis but will lower the patient’s chances of contracting this disease again in the future. The first thing that patients need to look at is whether they are brushing their teeth and flossing not only often enough but in the proper way. This will help to combat plaque buildup. Once healthy brushing and flossing habits are in place it is then necessary to look at other habits the patient may have. Since tobacco and poor nutrition are both risk factors for contracting gingivitis patients should aim to stay away from the use of tobacco products as well as large amounts of unhealthy food.

Visit a dental professional

While practicing good oral hygiene is important, only a dental professional can effectively treat gingivitis. Going for a professional cleaning will ensure plaque and tartar is completely cleaned from the teeth. This will also allow for the dental professional to advise the patient further on the proper steps to take in order to stay gingivitis free!

To make sure your gums are healthy or to get them back on the road to health, contact Dr. Alexis today!

What are Dental Veneers? – Cedar Creek Dental in Winchester, VA

Dental veneers, also called porcelain veneers and dental porcelain laminates, are thin segments of porcelain. They are used to restore the look of damaged or misaligned teeth, and are about as strong and durable as natural enamel. Veneers can make minor tooth positioning changes and can change tooth color, size, and shape.

a dentist comparing a dental veneer to natural tooth

How Dental Veneers Work

Dental veneers are bonded to the surface of teeth (hence their name: they literally provide a veneer for a tooth). The bonding creates a strong hold to keep the veneer in place. Typically, they are made from either porcelain or a resin composite. However, the former does a better job of reflecting light like natural teeth, and its surface is less vulnerable to stains.

Because dental veneers are thin, they do not require the removal of much tooth to be placed. They are matched with the color of surrounding teeth to provide an authentic smile without any noticeable cosmetic flaws. They are easy to install and provide reliable results.

When are Dental Veneers Used?

Often they are used to treat a number of conditions including:

  • Discolored teeth (typically caused by root canal treatment, resin fillings, or certain medications)
  • Chipped teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Irregularly-shaped teeth

How Long does it Take to get Dental Veneers?

You can expect the process to take about three visits. The first is a consultation to ensure the proper course of action for your teeth. The second and third visits are used to create and place the veneers.

Dental veneers will last about 10 years, and they do not need special care. Treat them as you would normal teeth with proper preventative care (brushing, flossing, and mouthwash).

If you are considering dental veneers or would like to explore other cosmetic dentistry options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexis today!

Causes of Yellow Teeth – Teeth Whitening in Winchester, VA

The good news about yellow teeth (if there’s to be a silver lining): most of the time the issue isn’t hazardous to your health.

The not-so-good news: yellow teeth are, well, yellow. And they’re noticeable. They can make you question your dental hygiene. Worse yet, they can shake your confidence. We know how hard a dull and yellow smile can be to one’s self-esteem.

a before and after of a teeth whitening sessionWhy are my Teeth Yellow?

Yellow teeth can be caused by numerous things, including diet, oral cleanliness, generics, and lifestyle.

Frequently, coffee, red wine, soda, and fruit juice consumption leads to yellow teeth and are the leading causes we see in our office. Another common culprit is cigarette smoking and use of tobacco products. The juices and tars in these products have a tendency to stain tooth enamel.

A lesser-known cause is, incidentally, the use of over-the-counter tooth whitening products like peroxides and teeth whitening strips. These products can strip away the enamel, leaving it thin and weak. The result is an enamel more susceptible to yellowing and discoloration.

Genetics play another role, from determining how thick your enamel is initially to other oral factors that factor in. Some inherited disease also cause weakened enamel, contributing to or exacerbating the problem. Medications and other medical conditions (e.g. chemotherapy) can cause noticeable tooth discoloration as well; however, these will generally be darker and browner than typical tooth yellowing.

Many times though, tooth yellowing results simply from poor oral hygiene. Keeping the mouth clean and healthy is an ongoing endeavor: flossing and brushing everyday are critical components of a happy mouth. Scheduling regular dental cleanings will also help to combat tooth yellowness and alert you if any underlying issues are affecting your teeth.

If you’re ready to make your teeth shine, schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexis today!

What is Six Month Smiles? – Dental Services in Winchester, VA

Six Month Smiles is Dr. Alexis’s choice for orthodontic treatment. These modern, clear braces are great at any age (16 years and older) and are perfect for anyone wanting a straight smile! These hardly-noticeable braces are a great way to get the stunning smile you’ve always wanted.  

Benefits

Unlike traditional metal braces that are uncomfortable and restraining, Six Month Smiles provide optimum comfort while straightening your teeth. Other advantages include:

  • An average treatment duration of only six months
  • Lucid-Lok clear brackets and and tooth-colored wires are practically invisible
  • Braces for tooth-alignment have the most predictable final results
  • Six Month Smiles Patient Tray Kits
     make appointments fast, easy, and comfortable
  • The gentler force and short orthodontic treatment period increase patient comfort, safety, and hygiene
  • Six Month Smiles are usually less expensive than traditional braces, veneers, or other alignment therapy

And because Six Month Smile uses lighter forces on your teeth, gums, and mouth, there are fewer risks of root and tissue damage than with traditional orthodontic methods. All of these come together to make your smile the best it has ever been.

a woman with six month smiles

If you’re to make an easy yet drastic change in your dental appearance, to improve your overall confidence and quality of life, and to make the best first impressions with a stunning smile, you’re more than likely ready for Six Month Smiles!

To be sure, schedule a visit with Dr. Alexis so a thorough evaluation can be performed and determine if Six Months Smiles is the best solution for your teeth. Let us help bring out your best smile!

What Causes Cavities? – Dental Care in Winchester, VA

Even if you brush your teeth every day, twice a day, floss, and stay away from sweets, there are some factors that contribute to getting cavities that are simply beyond your control. First, it’s important to understand just what cavities are.

Cavities are decayed portions of teeth caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria can eventually invade the living portion of the tooth. It is considered a bacterial infection. Once the decay has progressed to this point, professional dental treatment is required to rid the infection by stopping the disease process and sealing the tooth.

a dentist inspecting a woman's mouth for cavities

Some factors that can contribute to cavities:

Dental Hygiene: Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly helps to mechanically remove the bacterial plaque and food particles that get trapped in the crevices of your teeth.

Diet: It’s important to limit the amount of sugary foods you eat, therein also limiting the food source for the bacteria that cause the cavities. Conversely, more acidic food and drink can wear away at your enamel, making your teeth more sensitive and making it more difficult for the saliva in your mouth to maintain a proper pH balance.

Oral Bacteria: Cavities begin with the bacteria that build up on the plaque that sticks to your teeth. The bacteria feed on the carbohydrates from the foods and beverages we consume, and they excrete acid in the process. This acid dissolves the protective layer of enamel on the teeth, making it easier for the bacteria to infect the teeth.

Tooth Shape: Tooth decay is more likely to occur in the back teeth where the crevices in the teeth trap food particles and bacteria. The depth of these crevices is determined by your genetics.

Gum recession: When gums recede, the root of the tooth, which isn’t protected by enamel, becomes exposed, so it is more susceptible to decay.

Other factors:

  • Gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and vomiting makes the conditions of the mouth too acidic.
  • Retainers and night guards restrict saliva flow over the teeth, promoting plaque formation.
  • Fixed appliances like braces can make it more difficult to brush and floss.

If you have any questions about your teeth or need to schedule a dental appointment, call Dr. Alexis today at 540-486-5111 or send us an email. We look forward to helping you with all of your dental needs!

What is Dental Bonding? – Oral Care in Winchester, VA

Dental bonding is a procedure to treat and repair teeth. The bonding agent is a resin (a plastic material that hardens under special dental curing light). This resin serves a variety of purposes in the dental clinic, from restoration to cosmetic. The most common applications are for:

  • Decayed teeth (cavities)
  • Cracked, chipped, or fractured teeth
  • Tooth discoloration (stains)
  • Cosmetic treatments (tooth gaps, for example)

You won’t need to make any preparations before the procedure in most cases. If you are having bonding done for a filling, the dentist will apply anaesthetic for your comfort.

dental bonding vs traditional dental amalgam

How Does Dental Bonding Work?

Your dentist will use a shade guide to match the color of the resin to the color of your teeth. She will rub down the tooth until it is coarse and rough and then apply a conditioning liquid. This helps the resin to adhere to your tooth. While the resin is soft, she will mold it into the appropriate shape. Once in place, the dental curing light will use ultraviolet light to harden and strengthen the resin. After it has solidified, the dentist will continue to trim and shape the resin, making fine-tune adjustments and polish it so it matches the rest of the teeth.

For fillings, unlike traditional amalgam, you do not have to wait for the resin to harden. You may eat food as normal following your appointment. For resin in general, there is no special care needed. Regular oral hygiene practices are all you need.

How Long Does Dental Bonding Take?

While the length will vary from procedure to procedure, you can typically expect a it to take between 30 minutes and an hour per tooth.

If you are interested in having dental bonding work done for restorative or cosmetic purposes, call Dr. Alexis at 540-486-5112 or schedule an appointment! We look forward to taking care of all of your dental needs.