Should You Brush Your Tongue?
Oral health plays a big role in our overall health and wellbeing. Brushing and flossing our teeth daily is important, but many people overlook the role our tongue holds in oral health. The tongue is not just for tasting and speaking, but it also plays a crucial role in maintaining good oral health. Let us take a look into the role the tongue plays and then the importance of cleaning your tongue and how to clean it.
Cleaning the Mouth
Our tongue acts as a natural cleaning tool for the mouth. The surface of the tongue helps to remove the bacteria and food particles that can collect on our teeth and gums. When we eat, particles of food can get stuck in the crevices between our teeth and gums. The tongue helps to remove these particles and prevents them from building up. This build up could lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Another important role that our tongue plays in oral health is maintaining proper oral hygiene. Our tongue helps to regulate the pH balance in our mouth by producing saliva, which helps to neutralize acid in the mouth. This is important because acidic environments in the mouth can lead to the erosion of tooth enamel, which can cause tooth decay and sensitivity.
Diagnosis of Health Issues
Lastly, our tongue can be an indicator of overall health issues. A discolored tongue or one with white patches can indicate an infection, while a lack of vitamins may cause a red tongue. The appearance of our tongue can also be a clue to underlying health issues such as diabetes, anemia, or oral cancer.
Now that we have discussed the role of the tongue in maintaining good oral health. Let’s discuss the importance of cleaning the tongue and then how to.
Cleaning Your Tongue
Although often overlooked, cleaning your tongue is an essential part of oral hygiene. Just like brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue can prevent bad breath and help remove bacteria and. The surface of the tongue can trap food particles that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
You can use a tongue scraper or a toothbrush to clean your tongue. Start at the back of your tongue and gently scrape or brush towards the front. You can use a similar brushing motion as if you were brushing your teeth. Be sure to rinse your scraper or toothbrush with water after each use.
Overall, our tongue plays a critical role in maintaining good oral health. Cleaning your tongue with a soft-bristled brush or a tongue scraper can help keep the tongue clean and healthy. Additionally, regular dental checkups can help identify any underlying health issues that may be affecting the tongue and the rest of the mouth.
Debunking the Myth: Root Canals and Pain Perception
Root canals have long been feared and misunderstood and are often associated with images of excruciating pain and discomfort. However, it’s time to set the record straight and debunk the myth that root canals are extremely painful. Modern advancements in dental techniques and anesthesia have transformed the root canal procedure into a relatively painless and effective solution for saving damaged teeth.
Dispelling the Myth
The idea that root canals are painful procedures can be traced back to outdated practices and anecdotal experiences. In the past, the procedure might have been associated with discomfort due to limited anesthetic options and less precise techniques. However, dental science has come a long way since then.
Today’s dental professionals are equipped with an array of advanced technologies and improved anesthetic methods, ensuring that patients experience minimal pain during the procedure. Local anesthesia effectively numbs the area around the tooth, making the process virtually painless. Many patients report feeling no more discomfort than they would during a routine filling.
Understanding the Procedure
A root canal is a dental procedure performed to treat an infected or damaged tooth pulp. The process involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the root canal, and sealing it to prevent further infection. The misconception about pain often arises from the initial discomfort caused by the infection itself, rather than the procedure to treat it.
The Importance of Timely Treatment
Delaying or avoiding a necessary root canal due to fear of pain can actually lead to more severe pain and complications in the long run. Untreated dental infections can spread, causing abscesses, bone loss, and even systemic health issues. By addressing the problem early with a root canal, patients can alleviate pain and maintain their oral health.
It’s crucial to dispel the myth that root canals are extremely painful. With modern techniques, advancements in anesthesia, and the expertise of dental professionals, the procedure is generally no more uncomfortable than a routine dental filling. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, consulting a dentist promptly can help determine the appropriate course of action and alleviate any unnecessary anxiety. Remember, maintaining good oral health through regular check-ups and timely treatments remains the best way to prevent any dental discomfort.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
Recovery: Aftercare Tips
Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure that millions of people undergo each year. Although the procedure itself is relatively straightforward, the recovery process can be lengthy and challenging if proper aftercare steps are not followed. At Pike Smiles in Falls Church, VA, we recommend following the aftercare tips listed below to help you heal comfortably and quickly after your wisdom tooth removal procedure.
Rest and Take It Easy
It’s essential to rest and avoid any strenuous activities after your procedure for at least the first 24-48 hours. Resting allows your body to recover more quickly. Physical exertion can also cause the blood clot that forms over the surgical site to dislodge, which can lead to dry socket.
Apply Ice Packs
After wisdom tooth removal, swelling is common and applying ice packs can help reduce inflammation. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to your cheek for 10 -15 minute intervals. Do not place the ice pack directly onto your skin. Repeat this every few hours for the first few hours after surgery or as needed.
Use Gauze to Control Bleeding
It is normal to experience bleeding after wisdom tooth removal. Bite down gently on a piece of gauze for 30-45 minutes to control bleeding. If the bleeding persists, contact us immediately.
Take Prescribed Medications
You may likely be prescribed pain relievers and/or antibiotics after your surgery. Take these medications as prescribed, and do not exceed the recommended dosage. Pain relievers can help alleviate discomfort, while antibiotics can help prevent infection.
Follow a Soft Foods Diet
After your wisdom tooth extraction, stick to soft, easy-to-eat foods that do not require excessive chewing. Foods like smoothies, soup, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and applesauce are ideal. Avoid hot, spicy, or crunchy foods that can irritate the surgical site and cause pain.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
While you should avoid brushing the surgical site, it’s essential to keep your mouth clean after your wisdom tooth extraction. Rinse your mouth gently with warm saltwater several times a day to help prevent infection and promote healing.
Proper aftercare is critical for a smooth and speedy recovery after wisdom tooth removal. Following these essential aftercare tips can help ensure that you heal comfortably and successfully after your surgery. If you have any concerns or questions during the recovery process, be sure to contact us.
When to Replace Your Toothbrush
Replacing Your Toothbrush in Falls Church, VA
Toothbrushes don’t last forever, but it can be difficult to figure out when the time has come to replace it. Surprisingly, your toothbrush should be replaced every 3-4 months according to manufacturer guidelines.
Signs You Need A New Toothbrush:
- Frayed bristles
- Your teeth feel fuzzy even after brushing
- You were recently sick
- A bad smell
- You can’t remember when you last replaced your toothbrush
Your toothbrush is the first line of defense against bacteria that cause bacteria, tooth decay and bad breath. Brushing your teeth between each meal is an excellent way to prevent tooth decay. If you are brushing your teeth for two minutes twice per day, then you are already taking actionable steps to protect your teeth from cavities.
If you are using a manual toothbrush, the bristles will start to fall out and become mangled or twisted within about 3 months. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) also advice to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months or whenever they appear to be worn out.
Once the bristles of your toothbrush start to loose their stiffness, Pike Smiles advises that you should throw it out. Without bristles that brush aside food and plaque, your toothbrush quickly loses its efficiency.
What if I have an Electric Toothbrush?
Electric toothbrushes clean the surface area of your teeth by vibrating and rotating quickly. The heads on your electric toothbrush still have nylon bristles that will wear down after regular use. These bristles are also shorter, which can lead to fraying more quickly.
You should plan to change out your electric toothbrush head every 12 weeks, or even earlier. You should be watching for signs of wear and tear on the bristles to know when it’s time to say goodbye to a brush head.
All in all, your toothbrush is an important oral hygiene tool. To make the most out of your toothbrushes lifespan, you should use only your own toothbrush and store it upright and let it air dry. You should plan to replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. It might be beneficial to mark your calendar on the date of your purchase so you remember when it’s time to replace it again. If you have any more questions about oral hygiene, call our office.
Do’s and Don’ts After Teeth Whitening
So many of our patients at Pike Smiles ask about what they should do and what they should avoid to ensure that their teeth whitening treatment is as successful as possible. We’ve heard it all from “Can I eat chicken nuggets after my teeth whitening?” to questions about nicotine use and dark-colored liquids and how they can affect treatment. Don’t worry though, we’ve got the answers for every do and don’t question we’ve heard so far.
These guidelines are most important to follow in the 48 hours after your teeth whitening appointment when your teeth are at their most porous. Some patients prefer to play it safe and follow these recommendations for longer from anywhere to 72 hours after, to a full week.
Do’s After Teeth Whitening
- Do use a desensitizing toothpaste after your appointment to reduce any chance of discomfort.
- Do try to stick just to drinking water. Even clear beverages like Sprite can discolor your teeth due to carbonation, acidity, and high sugar content.
- Do eat white and light-colored foods like white rice, white sauce, most kinds of pasta, unbreaded chicken (yes, sadly, excluding chicken nuggets), and white fish like Atlantic cod and haddock.
- Do feel free to eat popcorn but be safe by being mindful of any pieces getting stuck in hard-to-reach places and remove them.
Don’ts After Teeth Whitening
- Don’t eat dark-colored foods like salmon, beef, chocolate, and peanut butter, or drink darkly colored beverages like coffee and most juices. Research has shown that red wine, tea and cola stain teeth after whitening treatment, interesting coffee didn’t show the same results, but we recommend avoiding it to be safe regardless.
- Don’t drink beer, red wines, or sugary mixed drinks, if you do drink alcohol stick to clear liquids like vodka, gin, and white wine.
- Don’t vape or smoke, or use any orally administered nicotine product, for at least the first 24-48 hours after. After that, or if you cannot abstain, we recommend brushing your teeth after.
- Don’t use mouthwash or colored toothpaste.
- Don’t eat condiments other than mayo or similarly white condiments.
- Don’t eat fruits and vegetables like tomatoes or beets, but lettuce and others that require little chewing, are lighter in color.
The Bottom Line
The basics of do’s and don’ts after teeth whitening could be summarized as follows: If it can stain a t-shirt it could stain your teeth and try to practice the fundamentals of oral hygiene.
We hope these tips can help you before your appointment, whether at our office or elsewhere. Professional teeth whitenings are a safe, effective procedure that we’ve seen transform patients’ self-image and self-confidence and we would love to be able to do the same for you.
If you are in the Falls Church, VA community, we would love to help you explore your options when it comes to teeth whitening and to answer any other questions that you may have.
4 Signs You Need Emergency Dental Care
Damage to teeth and gums can’t be ignored. It’s always important to act quickly if something is wrong, but some dental issues are more pressing than others. How can you know the difference between a dental problem that needs to be solved soon and a problem that needs to be solved now? At Pike Smiles, we never want our patients to put off a dental procedure when it could lead to lasting harm, so we’ve compiled a list of important warning signs that mean you should get your teeth checked out as soon as possible. After all, you’ve only got so many teeth — it’s best to keep them all in good shape.
1. Broken or missing teeth
It goes without saying that obvious physical damage to your teeth is one of the most urgent dental emergencies you can experience. If your tooth has been damaged, rinse your mouth with warm water immediately and call us as soon as possible. If your tooth has come out, gently try to put it back into the socket (without touching the root!) or keep it in your mouth to protect it until we can see you.
2. Dental abscesses
A dental abscess is a small collection of pus inside a tooth or gums that is caused by a bacterial infection. If your symptoms include shiny red swollen gums, a fever, or pain that spreads to your jaw or neck, you may have an abscess, even if you don’t see it. Try to see us as soon as possible, but, in the meantime, you can reduce the pain of the abscess by avoiding cold drinks. Use a soft toothbrush to very gently clean the area until we can get you into the office.
3. Lost filling or crown
A crown or filling can become loose or even fall out for a variety of reasons. If you lose a crown or filling, it’s important to try to save it — we may be able to reuse it. Rinse the area with warm salt water and continue to brush the damaged tooth (gently!) until we can see you.
4. Significant pain or swelling in the teeth, gums or jaw
Constant pain or swelling in your mouth is never normal! This symptom may seem vague or common, but it could be a sign of major damage or an infection that could have nasty results if left untreated. Don’t tough it out. Call us and we will decide together whether you need to come in for an appointment.
Ignoring any of these four dental problems could result in the permanent loss of teeth. Infections can even spread to other parts of your body and cause serious general medical issues, so it’s extremely important to get your teeth examined if you experience any dental emergency on this list!
We want your tooth pain or mouth pain to stop.
First and foremost, if you are in pain, we want to help you get some relief. Then we can address any underlying causes to solve the problem using dental best practices. If you believe you’re experiencing a dental emergency, give Pike Smiles a call at (703) 533-8200 as soon as possible. We’ll get you an appointment in the near future, so you can go back to your life and leave tooth pain behind.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?
What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?
One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. Implants have certainly revolutionized the field of replacement teeth. If you are considering tooth implants for missing teeth, you need to know the facts. There are pros and cons of dental implants that are carefully weighed by your dentist before surgery can be scheduled.
Research continually shows that dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth. However, like any type of surgery, there are advantages and disadvantages.
Cons of Dental Implants
No procedure is right for everyone, including dental implants. While there are some risks associated with dental implants, they are relatively mild. The disadvantages include:
- You have to meet a set of requirements
- In order to have dental implant surgery, you first have to meet certain criteria. As the procedure involves anchoring the implant to your jaw bone, if you’ve experienced significant bone loss as a result of losing teeth, there may not be enough for the dental implant to be successful. You also have to be in good health so your jaw bone can fully recover.
- The cost of the procedure
- While dental implants are the best long term solution for tooth loss, they’re not always the most cost effective. However, dental implants are well worth the price for the comfort, confidence and natural feel they give you.
- The procedure can be lengthy
- Dental implants are not a quick fix and can take several months to complete. If you’re replacing an existing damaged tooth, this will first need to be removed. Your dentist will then need to prepare the tooth site before fitting the implant anchor. Once the anchor has been fitted, you’ll need to wait several months while it heals and the surrounding bone grows. The final stage of the procedure involves placing the artificial tooth.
Pros of Dental Implants
While there are some drawbacks to dental implants, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
- They look and feel like natural teeth
- Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth. In fact, once your implant has been fitted, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between your replacement tooth and your real teeth. Implants also won’t feel any different from your regular teeth. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they’ll feel just as strong as your regular teeth too.
- You can eat and chew with ease
- Unlike dentures, implants won’t feel any different than your regular teeth when eating and chewing. Once the dental implant procedure is complete, you can eat what you want! Whether you fancy crunchy snacks, chewy foods, or hot or cold drinks, you can eat and drink without concern — just remember not to overdo the sugary treats.
- Dental implants can last a lifetime
- Implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement solution. You may need to replace the crowns every 10-15 years, but if you look after the implants, they can last a lifetime.
- They’re easy to take care of
- You should take care of your implants the same way you would take care of your regular teeth with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and a healthy diet.
- They prevent bone loss
- Dental implants are anchored into your jaw, similar to your real teeth. The screw thread of the implant acts as the root of a natural tooth, so with dental implants, your jaw bone remains strong and you won’t experience bone loss.
You can see that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Dental implants have been proven to be a great option for people who suffer from tooth loss. We always want to make our patients look and feel great, and dental implants is a great way to do that. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have, so give us a call!
Insights on Invisalign®
From Pike Smiles in Falls Church, VA
Braces can feel like a bit of a contradiction. You want a clean, straight smile, but you first have to wear a highly visible device on your teeth for months on end. You want a well-aligned bite, but for a while braces make some day-to-day tasks, such as brushing teeth and eating some foods, more difficult. Fortunately, for those who want to show off their pretty pearly whites as they go AND show off the results of their realignment as soon as possible, one option is Invisalign®.
The Benefits of Invisalign®
Invisalign® aligners are clear plastic devices intended to straighten your teeth over time. They are nearly undetectable by observers. Not only are they more difficult to see (getting you closer to being able to show off that perfect smile), but they can be taken out temporarily when needed, allowing you to brush your teeth or eat without distraction.
The Invisalign® Fitting Process
For most Invisalign® cases, Dr. Shyamsundar will take a mold of your teeth and send it in. From there, orthodontic experts will determine the difference in positions between where your teeth are and where you want them to be and will create several stages of aligners to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. You’ll have to wear the aligners most of the time—about 22 hours a day. At certain points in the process as your teeth change position, you’ll move on to the next device, switching them out until your teeth are right where you want them to be.
Alternatively, there are kits you can order to take a mold of your teeth at home. This is an overall less expensive process, but you aren’t likely to achieve the same results and you lose the benefit of your dentist’s expertise. Invisalign® may not be the best solution for you, so it’s best to consult your dentist beforehand even if you decide to go this route.
How to Pay for Invisalign®
Depending on the degree of work your teeth need, an Invisalign® treatment can cost between $5,000 and $6,000. Your insurance may be able to cover some of the cost. For the amount your insurance doesn’t cover, you have some options. Pike Smiles offers a dental savings plan. This makes payment much more manageable for some people and can be useful in emergency situations when you don’t have time to save money for the treatment before you begin.
Of course, if you can save the money ahead of time, that’s probably the better option. If you’re planning to save up for clear aligner treatment or something similar, you may want to consider opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Accounts such as these allow you to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck, pretax, to pay for some expenses—including, in some cases, Invisalign®. The types of accounts you’re allowed to open and the amount of money you can put into them will vary depending on your situation, so talk to your bank or another financial professional about your options.
For those who can use them, Invisalign® can be the least intrusive solution for straightening teeth. It’s nice not to have to worry about the looks and inconveniences of traditional braces! The initial cost of Invisalign® may seem daunting, but options are available to help pay for them. If you have any questions about Invisalign® or other methods of straightening your teeth, please contact us. Pike Smiles in Falls Church, VA will be happy to walk you through your options and help you find the best possible solution for your smile.
What You Need to Know About
Dental Crowns and Bridges
Missing or damaged teeth can be a serious issue for our patients, and here at Pike Smiles, we take them very seriously. Fortunately, our crowns and bridges can help you restore your smile. Here’s what you need to know.
What are Dental Crowns and Bridges?
Dental crowns and bridges are a great option for restoring missing or badly damaged teeth. In addition to making your smile look like new, crowns and bridges will help patients with chewing and speaking.
A dental crown is used when a tooth has a very large filling that exceeds its structure, a tooth had root canal therapy, or for cosmetic reasons. A crown can be installed over a tooth as a cap or attached to a dental implant to replace missing teeth.
Dental bridges are used in cases where there are one more missing teeth. Bridges consist of one or more replacement teeth that bridge the gap that was created when the original tooth or teeth were lost. Bridges are secured using either abutment crowns on each end or permanently installed precision metal mechanisms.
How Will They Look?
Dentists work to ensure your dental crowns and bridges blend in seamlessly with your existing teeth and will function like natural teeth. Each part of a dental bridge is custom designed to make sure it looks natural and performs correctly.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Getting a dental crown or bridge usually requires at least two visits to the dentist. In the first visit, the dentist will make an impression of the teeth which are then sent to a dental laboratory. A temporary crown may also be installed at this time.
Once the crown or bridge is ready, the patient can return to make sure it fits properly and have it placed.
If you’re interested in learning more about dental crowns and bridges, or think they may be the right option for you, call our office today at (703)533-8200.
Is Teeth Whitening Safe?
Teeth Whitening in Falls Church, VA
Teeth Whitening has been around for decades and millions of people use whitening products – including plenty of dentists. According to dental professionals, they haven’t seen an increase in problems like cavity risk or tooth fractures after teeth whitening procedures. Pike Smiles works to provide safe teeth whitening services for our patients in Fall Church and the surrounding communities.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
- Teeth Sensitivity: Your teeth may become more sensitive after getting them whitened. You may experience this after your first or second treatment, and it can diminish with time. Ask Dr. Shyamsundar if she can recommend products for treating sensitivity at your next appointment.
- Irritated Gums: You may also experience gingival irritation, which happens when your gums become irritated. If the whitening products touch your gums, then they may become irritated, but Pike Smiles takes precautions to eliminate this risk.
Benefits of Teeth Whitening
- Safety: The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that hydrogen peroxide whiteners are safe and effective. At Pike Smiles, we care for our patients like they are our family. The side effects of teeth whitening stated above usually only occur with at-home teeth whitening products. At our office, we work to minimize the side effects as much as possible.
- Quick Process: Our whitening process is quick and effective. You can walk away with whitened teeth in just one session rather than waiting months for at-home products to take into effect.
- No Recurring Appointments: You won’t have to keep coming into our office for additional appointments because whitening your teeth too frequently can actually damage your teeth. With just a couple of sessions of professional whitening, you can achieve the bright, white smile that you desire.
If you are worried about your upcoming teeth whitening procedure or worried about an at-home product you are using, you can always ask Dr. Shyamsundar if the product is safe. Pike Smiles offers professional teeth whitening that is safe and effective. If you would like to schedule a teeth whitening appointment, use the button to call or learn more about teeth whitening at our Falls Church office.
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