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Everyone wants to have a healthy, beautiful smile, but, with so many demands on your time, preventive dental care frequently comes last on your to-do list.
Our staff at Smiles at Fairfax Corner understands how hectic your schedule is. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s been a year or several years, we’re here to help you restore your smile and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
We offer a friendly, comfortable environment where you never have to worry about getting a lecture for falling behind on your dental care. We also offer flexible appointment times so there’s no excuse to put off a comprehensive dental exam and professional teeth cleaning.
Many of our patients have been visiting us for years because they trust us to help them maintain a healthy, confident smile.
During your first visit to Smiles at Fairfax Corner, our dentist will examine you for signs of:
- Tooth decay
- Teeth grinding
- Bone loss
- Oral cancer
- Periodontal (gum) disease
Afterward, we will provide you with treatment options that suit your needs, your budget and your busy schedule.
Everyone loves that refreshing sensation after having their teeth professionally cleaned and polished.
But you may not realize that professional cleanings serve a more important purpose than simply reinvigorating your smile. They help preserve your smile by removing the plaque and calculus that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Plaque, a colorless, sticky coating of bacteria that builds up on your teeth every time you eat and drink, is one of your mouth’s greatest enemies. The bacteria in plaque converts the sugar in foods and drinks into acids that erode the enamel protecting your teeth. That erosion can lead to holes in your teeth resulting in cavities.
This is the reason why dentists perennially urge patients to avoid candy and sugary soft drinks and to brush and floss their teeth after every meal. If left on your teeth, plaque can harden into calculus, or tartar, in less than 24 hours, which can only be removed with a professional teeth cleaning.
While a good dental hygiene regimen is a plus, professional teeth cleanings are essential to removing all of the plaque and calculus from the surface of teeth as well as those hard-to-reach places in between your teeth.
In addition to preventing cavities, professional teeth cleanings prevent bacteria from spreading to the part of the tooth that lies beneath the gum.
When bacteria begins attacking the gums, the result is gingivitis, the first stage of gum (periodontal) disease. This is the only stage at which the damage to the gums can be reversed. When left untreated, gingivitis can turn into full-blown periodontal disease, leading to tooth loss and other complications.
Indications of gingivitis are gums that are red and swollen or bleed after brushing. At this stage of periodontal disease, a dental hygienist can treat the infection caused by bacteria beneath the gum line. Once the infection progresses, however, the patient must seek treatment from a gum specialist called a periodontist.
The type of professional tooth cleaning you will receive will be based on the dentist’s assessment of the health of your teeth and gums. There are three basic types of cleanings:
- A prophylaxis is for people who only need plaque, calculus and stains removed above the gum line. This is the type of cleaning most often covered by dental insurance.
- For patients with signs of gingivitis, the hygienist or dentist will provide gingivitis therapy, which includes additional services to remove plaque just beneath the gum line.
- In more advanced cases of gum disease, a nonsurgical treatment called scaling & root planing may be necessary to remove the bacteria beneath the gums and smooth out the pitting on exposed root surfaces. An antibiotic may be applied as well to treat the ongoing infection. This procedure may require several visits to your dental office. After the treatments are completed, your dentist may prescribe a periodontal maintenance routine, including more frequent cleanings, to help manage your gum disease.
Cleaning Teeth Below the Gum Line
You may have periodontal disease without being aware. Half of Americans over the age of 30 and 70 percent over the age of 60 have some form of periodontal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Periodontal disease, which is the formal name for gum disease, often has no symptoms. However, indications that you may have a severe gum infection include receding gums, shifting teeth and bad breath.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. When plaque and calculus migrate below the gum line, the bacteria attacks the ligaments, tissue and bone that connect the teeth and roots to the jaw bone. This can cause the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth, creating pockets of bacteria around the tooth. Eventually, the bacteria will sever the ligaments holding the teeth in place and they will fall out.
Scaling, root planing and other periodontal treatments can eliminate bacteria that is causing an infection. However, the damage to the teeth and gums may be irreparable. Advanced stages of gum disease can be managed but not reversed. This is why patients are urged to visit the dentist at the first signs of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease and the only stage in which gum disease is treatable.
Oral Cancer Screening
During your first visit to our office, the dentist will give you a quick, painless test to screen for oral cancer.
Oral cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages, which makes it particularly dangerous. By the time symptoms, such as a lump, are visible, the disease may have spread to other parts of the mouth. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than more commonly known cancers including cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer and thyroid cancer.
The screening allows the dentist to detect signs of oral cancer in the early stages. We recommend everyone over the age of 18 are screened on a regular basis.
Teeth Grinding & Night Guards
If your spouse complains about you grinding your teeth in your sleep, you’re not alone. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common condition that affects up to 40 million Americans.
It is often caused by stress but can also be the result of crooked teeth or a “bad bite.” If it’s severe enough, it can wear down the enamel of your teeth and leave them susceptible to bacteria.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Morning headaches
- A sore jaw upon awakening
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
Our dentist can fit you with a mouth guard, or night guard, to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Bad Breath Management
While a pizza loaded with garlic or a burger topped with onions can give you temporary bad breath, chronic bad breath is most likely caused by the germs in your mouth. When bacteria causes dental decay, the damaged cells release an odor.
Halitosis, the medical term for bad breath, affects 25 percent of the U.S. population.
Professional teeth cleanings and gum treatment can help resolve bad-breath issues. Proper at-home dental care, including brushing and flossing your teeth after meals and rinsing with a mouthwash, also keep bad breath at bay.
Call (703) 997-0928 Today to Schedule a Dental Exam
Get back on track with your personal dental care by visiting Smiles at Fairfax Corner.