What’s With the Sticky Fluoride?

We have recently made the switch in the way we administer our fluoride treatment at the end of every cleaning appointment! We have shifted away from the standard fluoride foam and gel in the trays to a new paint-on, or fluoride varnish, type of application. Fluoride varnish is a gel that is applied with a small soft brush to the sides and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

Fluoride varnish is becoming the preferred method for delivery of professional fluoride treatments. Research has shown that fluoride applied directly to teeth is important for fighting decay. It is proven safe and effective, and is easy to use. It sets quickly on the teeth, and gagging and swallowing is unusual. We are finding that patients are more comfortable and accepting of fluoride varnish than with standard trays, making it perfect for patients of any age.

Advantages of fluoride varnish:
• Quickly applied, takes less than a minute
• You can eat and drink immediately after (with a few minor exceptions)
• Your own saliva sets up the fluoride and sets it on the teeth
• Ingestion is very minimal
• Helps to decrease tooth sensitivity
• No large trays needed
• Can be applied to ALL ages

Disadvantages of fluoride varnish:
• No brushing or flossing for 4-6 hours after application
• May make the teeth feel a somewhat fuzzy initially, but most people find it tolerable

Fluoride varnish offers many advantages over tray applications. All in all, fluoride has been dentistry’s greatest success in preventing dental caries. So what are you waiting for? Try the fluoride varnish at your next cleaning appointment and join the others who won’t use anything else!

Wisdom Teeth: Do I Need Them?

Do I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out?

It’s a question we get almost every day. The roots of wisdom teeth are usually not fully developed until age 21 or later, so it is common to have the teeth removed as a teenager or young adult while the roots are still forming. Once fully formed, wisdom teeth roots continue to grow and are more likely to become tangled with sensory nerves in the lower jaw and/or sinuses. Regular dental visits are important during your teens and early 20s. If you visit your dentist regularly, they can use x-rays to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth and any problems will be seen early.

What kind of problems could there be?

Impaction. One of the most common justifications for wisdom tooth removal is impaction. Impaction is when the teeth do not have enough room to erupt fully and are therefore impacted in the gums and/or bone.

Infection. When our wisdom teeth can’t come in all the way, part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth.

Altered Bite. This is due to wisdom teeth pushing adjacent teeth out of alignment. When wisdom teeth are not coming in straight, they will put pressure on the teeth directly in front of them.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there’s a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it’s easier to take them out when you’re young.

How Much is Too Much Radiation?

It’s a concern that many people have. And a valid concern while being at the dentist as many people come to expect some sort of dental radiographs to evaluate their teeth. The benefit of radiographs are that they help us diagnose common problems such as cavities, gum disease and some types of oral infections. Dental radiographs allow the dentist to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums. Without necessary radiographs, more disease would go unnoticed, treatment would begin later and as a result, people would have more pain and lose more teeth. But how much is too much?

Digital dental radiographs have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what you are exposed to in other imaging procedures. The use of digital radiography has reduced the amount of radiation by 75-80%! The human body is used to getting bombarded with x-ray radiation from the general environment we live in (*click on chart below*), so our bodies are used to repairing the damage caused by low amounts of radiation. Dental radiographs have always been considered safer than other forms of medical radiation because they are directed to areas of the body that are not so radiosensitive. The x-ray machine at a dental office is quite large, but the actual x-rays come out of a very small cone. This limits the x-rays the exposure area of the actual x-ray. Very little radiation exposure occurs beyond the diameter of the beam. Also, our x-ray equipment goes under regular inspections by the state to ensure they are accurate and safe.

Radiation from dental radiographs is quite minimal and very safe for healthy patients to be exposed to. We understand you may have concerns regarding dental radiographs and we would be glad to answer them during your next appointment with us. Your need for dental radiographs depends on your age, your medical and dental history and the current condition of your mouth.

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Oral health and overall health are connected in many ways. Several health issues have oral health complications, and on the flip side, poor oral health can indicate overall health problems.

Though diabetes doesn’t cause gum disease, and gum disease doesn’t cause diabetes, people who have one of them are more likely to have the other when compared to people who are not affected by either condition.

Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. Because gum disease is a type of infection in the gums and the bone surrounding gums, people with diabetes can have a harder time getting rid of gum disease than people without diabetes. People who have their diabetes in control tend to have less gum disease than those who aren’t managing the disease well.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to make us at Hannon & Sandler aware of your condition so we know you have an increased risk for gum disease. You should also pay close attention to your oral health, making sure to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit us regularly for check-ups. People with diabetes or gum disease may also be eligible for enhanced benefits through your dental plan, which may cover extra cleanings and exams. Some studies have shown that people with diabetes who receive regular oral health care may even lower their overall medical costs from diabetes. So, please, check with dental insurance carrier to see if they have this added benefit for you!

Are the Negative Myths About Dental Implants True?

You may have fond memories of eating hot dogs and chips at Wrigley Field while watching the Cubs dominate the diamond, but since your tooth loss you’ve come to accept moments like these as faded memories of the past, because you can’t fully enjoy your favorite foods with a tooth missing. You’re wondering, “Can I ever enjoy a baseball game like I used to?” You know about the possibility of dental implants as an answer to your woes, but you’re hesitant due to all the negative things you’ve read about it. Thankfully, there are answers to help dispel the myths.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Dental implants restore confidence, freeing you from hiding your beautiful smile for fear of ridicule. They also allow you again to eat all the amazing foods you love.

Missing teeth can impact your overall health, resulting in uneven chewing, meaning decreased digestion and metabolism of nutrients from your food. With dental implants you can be confident that you are chewing all your food properly.

In severe cases of tooth loss, the structure of your face is compromised, as your jawbone stops stimulating bone growth. As a result, the chin can begin to protrude and the face wrinkles more than normal. This problem is avoided with dental implants.

Implants act as your regular teeth, so they don’t require any special maintenance beyond normal recommended dental care.

What Are the Negative Myths About Dental Implants?

  • People Will Notice Your Dental Implants – One of the most attractive things about dental implants is that they resemble your normal teeth. They are actually undetectable to others.
  • Dental Implants are Painful – This makes people very hesitant, but the procedure is much simpler and less uncomfortable than they think. Once the implants are in place, they will feel just like regular teeth. Dr. Stirneman also offers sedation dentistry to help patients feel relaxed and confortable.
  • The Recovery Time is Too Long ­– This period is usually three to six months, as your implant post fuses with the gum tissue. From the relative standpoint that your dental implants will contribute to a lifetime of a healthier mouth, the three to six-month period of healing is minor.
  • Dental Implants Cost Too Much – The main factor to consider about dental implants is that they are normally a one-time procedure. Thus, it is most likely a one-time investment.
  • Any Dentist Can Place a Dental Implant – Yes, any dentist with a valid license can place a dental implant. This does not measure the skill level of the dentist, though, and their ability to handle any issues that may arise during the procedure. But, an advanced and skilled professional will be able to safely guide you back to optimal dental health. It’s important to keep this in mind when shopping around.

The Educated Choice

The beauty of having correct information is that it empowers you to make confident decisions. Now that you have a broader perspective, you can rest assured that your steps to regain your confident smile with dental implants will be successful.

6 Things You Should Know About Dental Sealants

Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean the hard to reach areas in your mouth – especially those molars you use to chew. Molars are rough, uneven and a favorite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide. There is another way to help prevent tooth decay with something called dental sealants. Dental sealants are a dental treatment intended to prevent tooth decay. Here are 6 things you should know about dental sealants:

  1. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the permanent molars (typically after age twelve)
  2. The sealants are painted quickly onto the surface of the tooth and allowed to dry and form a protective layer over the deep grooves of teeth
  3. Dental sealants are invisible, smooth, easy to clean, and can last up to 5-10 years
  4. Dental sealants help protect teeth in areas where 75% of dental decay begins
  5. Dental sealants are a recommended dental care application for children and young adults who are cavity prone (aged 6-16 years) and adults with deep grooves in their tooth surfaces
  6. According to the CDC, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”

Your dental sealants are long-lasting but may need to be checked for wear and chipping during your regular dental visits to Premier Dental Care in Herndon. Proper oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will help protect your teeth and your dental sealants as well.

If you would like to learn more about dental sealants or would like to schedule your next dental appointment, please get in touch!

5 Reasons To Consider Replacing Your Silver Filling

We often get asked by our patients why they may need to replace their silver filling if they are not suffering from dental pain. Ultimately, deciding what filling material to use to treat dental decay is a choice that must be made by you and your dentist. We’ve put together a list of 5 reasons why you should consider replacing your silver filling but first let’s understand the difference between silver fillings/dental amalgam and composite fillings.

What is a Silver Filling Made From?

Dental amalgam or silver filling as it’s commonly known, is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Dental amalgam has been used by dentists for more than 150 years because it is long lasting and a cost effective alternative to other cavity-filling materials such as tooth-colored composites or gold fillings.

What is a Composite Filling?

A composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to restore decayed teeth. A composite filling is unlike an amalgam or metal filling, in that a composite filling is tooth colored to match the natural surrounding tooth in which it is placed.

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Replacing Your Silver Filling:

  1. For cosmetic reasons. Composite fillings offer a natural aesthetic that shows no dark or metallic spots in the mouth like that of gold or silver amalgam fillings. Natural in appearance, composite fillings are also best suited to front teeth and other high-visibility areas. As with most dental restorations involving fillings, the procedure requires the removal of the decayed portion of the tooth before the composite filling can be placed.
  2. You may have a crack(s) in your filled tooth. Corrosion of the metal filling can occur over time. The expansion and contraction of the filling over the years can cause fractures in your tooth. A fractured tooth allows food debris, saliva and bacteria to get in and cause a cavity in a filled tooth.
  3. You may have a cavity under your silver filling. Did you know that cavities can actually hide under fillings may go undetected because they are opaque to x-rays? Just because a tooth is filled it doesn’t mean it is cavity free. At Premier Dental Care in Herndon our team uses x-rays to help diagnose the condition of the tooth, but we also use an intra-oral camera that helps us get a better picture of what exactly is going on inside.
  4. Your filling may be leaking. Over time as an amalgam filling breaks down, it can pull away from the tooth and lose it’s seal. That’s when the filling can begin to leak and allow food, saliva, and bacteria to enter your tooth which can cause damage to the tooth in the form of decay. It also causes less strength in the tooth and may make it more susceptible to fracturing.
  5. You clench or grind your teeth or chew on hard objects. Normal chewing in general put enough force on teeth naturally and over time can wear down your fillings. If you clench or grind your teeth this causes even more excessive force which cause fillings to breakdown faster. Do you chew on ice, pen caps or hard candy? If so, you can also impact filled teeth by putting more pressure on the tooth and filling than would normally occur.

Is Dental Amalgam Safe?

We often get asked is dental amalgams are safe and they are. The Mayo Clinic recently stated that dental amalgam is a safe and durable choice for dental fillings. The major health organizations and associations say that dental amalgams are a safe and effective cavity-filling material.

  • The American Dental Association
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • U. S. Food and Drug Administration
  • World Health Organization
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Autism Society of America
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Cavity Prevention

Prevention is the best medicine. The best cavity is no cavity at all! You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by:

  • Flossing daily and brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Visiting the dentist regularly

Five Signs You May Need A Root Canal

If someone mentions the phrase ‘root canal’ to you, your immediate reaction may be fear or dread. The fact of the matter is that root canal therapy also known as endodontic therapy is a critical procedure to help save a tooth from failure and extraction.

The signs of a root canal can be varied. Here are five signs you may need a root canal.

  1. Swelling Around The Tooth: Any swelling around the root of the tooth could signal a brewing infection
  2. Change In Your Tooth Color: If your tooth changes from a gray to black or yellow
  3. Pimples: If you have a pimple or boil at the site of the problem tooth
  4. Pain: Pain isn’t always an indicator of a root canal, but it can be. Regardless, any time you have dental pain, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
  5. No Pain: Even without pain, an X-ray may reveal a lesion at the tip of the root meaning the tooth could be necrotic.

What is a Root Canal?

Your tooth’s root canal is the space within the root of a tooth under the enamel crown of the tooth and below the gum line. The tooth root is part of the tooth substructure that consists of some dentin, the pulp chamber, the periodontal membrane, nerves, and blood vessels.

Is a Root Canal Painful?

People fear root canals because they assume they are painful. In fact, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.

How is a Root Canal Performed?

During the root canal procedure, the pulp, nerves, and any bacteria or decayed matter is extracted from the root of the tooth and replaced by special dental materials and often finished with a tooth crown to encapsulate the surface of the tooth. The aim of the procedure is to restore the tooth to its full, normal function. Typically, a root canal requires one or more appointments to the dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist). Root canals usually last a lifetime, but in some instances a tooth may have to be re-treated to ward off new infections.

Regular brushing, flossing and dental visits will add life to your teeth and any dental restorations, as well as aid in the life of your root canal treatment.

How Much Does a Dental Crown Cost?

You go for you annual check-up and the doctor comes to examine your teeth and informs you that your tooth with a very large filling is fractured and can no longer going to support your tooth structure. The good news he tells you is that there is a long term solution to save the tooth by performing a crown procedure. But what is a crown exactly and how much will it cost you think to yourself?

What is a tooth crown?

Well a tooth crown (also known as a cosmetic dental cap) is a type of cosmetic or restorative dental application that completely covers or encapsulates your damaged tooth.

Why do I need a tooth crown?

There are many reasons why you might need a dental crown. I encourage you to read our other blog post Do I really need a dental crown? 5 reasons why you may need one to better understand the different reasons why you might need a crown placed on your tooth.

So how much does a crown cost?

Dental insurance coverage varies according to the type of plan and the level of benefits that you have elected. Most insurances provide an annual amount of maximum coverage and then you have to pay for any expenses above that amount. Dental insurance might cover a certain percentage of the cost if the crown is needed for medical reasons, but dental crowns are typically not covered if they are considered cosmetic, and many dental plans have an average maximum annual coverage limit of $1,000-$1,500. Our team can provide an estimate before doing the procedure. Our practice accepts most dental isurance plans. We offer a payment plans through Care Credit which offers low-interest methods of financing dental costs over a period of time and accept we accept payments via major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express). It’s important to remember that dental crowns are a long term solution and an important investment in the overall health of your teeth.

When the procedure is complete we will give you instructions on how to care for your new porcelain crown during your visit. Don’t forget that regular brushing, flossing and dental visits will add life to your teeth, tooth crowns, and any other dental restorations.

The Story Of Your Toothbrush

Have you ever wondered how your toothbrush was made or how it’s different from toothbrushes of the past?

Teeth-cleaning tools have certainly come a long way from the frayed sticks Ancient Egyptians used around 3500 BC!

A Brief History Of The Toothbrush

The first toothbrushes that resemble modern ones were invented in China in the late 1500s, and they consisted of pig bristles attached to a bone or bamboo handle. Before long, the design caught on in Europe, with horse hair sometimes replacing pig. Can you imagine cleaning your teeth with animal hair? It doesn’t sound very fun to us, but there weren’t any other options back then, and it beats chewing on frayed sticks.

Over the centuries, the design gradually became more like the toothbrushes we’re familiar with. Toothbrushes were first mass-produced in 1780, in England. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was made in 1938. Sixteen years later, Philippe Guy-Wood developed the first electric toothbrush in Switzerland.

Even with the long history of toothbrushes and all the advances in the design, oral hygiene didn’t become a priority in the culture until soldiers brought their strict hygiene regimens home with them from World War II. Just one more reason to be grateful for our troops!

How Your Toothbrush Is Made

Nylon bristles and plastic handles were the last major change in what toothbrushes are made of, but how are they actually made? There are a few different steps. First, the handles are molded from plastic pellets. Then a machine positions and attaches the bristles. Next, another machine trims the bristles to the right length. Finally, the finished toothbrushes are packaged and shipped.

To see the manufacturing process in action, check out this video:

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The most important step before a toothbrush makes it to the cup beside your sink is quality control. The American Dental Association tests new toothbrush designs on comfort and efficiency. Toothbrushes that meet their standards are given the ADA Seal of Acceptance, so make sure any toothbrush you purchase has it!

You And Your Toothbrush

A toothbrush earning the ADA Seal of Acceptance isn’t the end of the story. From there, it’s up to you. Remember to brush your teeth for two full minutes twice a day, store your toothbrush upright in a dry place preferably far from the toilet after you use it, and don’t forget to replace it every few months! A frayed, worn out toothbrush can’t do the job of preventing tooth decay and gum disease as effectively as a toothbrush in good condition.

Need A Recommendation?

We know there are many toothbrushes out there to choose from, and there is no one toothbrush that’s perfect for everyone. Children need different brushes than adults, people with braces need different toothbrushes than people without, people with sensitive teeth need toothbrushes with extra soft bristles, etc. So if you’re having trouble finding the best one for you, just ask us at your next dental appointment!