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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest
4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

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Dental Care Basics

Your mouth is highly active throughout the day, whether you’re eating, drinking, talking, laughing, working or having fun. Maintaining a healthy mouth will make it easier to do the things you need to and enjoy the things you want to. Your mouth is the entryway to the rest of your body and everything that you put into your mouth will become part of your body as soon as it enters your bloodstream.

When your mouth is healthy, you reduce the risk of developing health issues such as cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, pulmonary disease, and more. It’s easier to maintain good oral health when you know the steps involved in a good oral hygiene program, such as the following.

Is Dental Plaque Really All That Bad?

Dental plaque is one of your arch enemies. Not only does it contribute to the development of cavities, but it will also destroy your teeth, gums, jawbone and facial structure if left untreated.

When you eat or drink foods that contain excess sugar or highly refined carbohydrates, a sticky film forms on your teeth and begins to form bacteria. When not removed through brushing or flossing, it settles between your teeth and in the crevices of your gums and begins to form plaque. When plaque isn’t removed, it starts to form tartar, also called calculus, which begins to irritate your gums and cause dental caries.

This is also the beginning stage of gingivitis. If you think you may be developing gingivitis or if it’s been a while since your last dental checkup, then call our Alexandria office to schedule an appointment.

Is Gingivitis Really Detrimental To My Gums?

Gingivitis affects most Americans at some point in their lives and it’s the first stage of periodontal disease. When treated early, it’s completely reversible and there will most likely be no permanent damage. However, when not treated, it will develop into periodontal disease and can ultimately become periodontitis, which can destroy your jawbone, cause you to lose your teeth and distort your facial structure. It’s the primary factor in tooth loss among adults. If you have any of the following symptoms, then you may be in the early stages of gingivitis and should make an appointment with your dentist without delay. Call us if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding gums when you floss or brush
  • Changes in your bite
  • Color changes in your gums, such as from pale pink to purplish or dark red
  • Increased sensitivity to hot or cold or the sugar content of foods or beverages
  • Loosened teeth
  • Uncontrollable halitosis
  • Swollen or inflamed gums

The best cure for gingivitis is prevention, so if you practice good oral hygiene habits, you can deter the onset of gingivitis.

Does It Matter If I Have Cavities?

When cavities aren’t treated by a dentist, they can become abscessed, which can have life-threatening consequences. So, if you have a cavity, it’s important to get it removed and filled if necessary. Cavities are caused by the bacteria that are in plaque and gingivitis. Although your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it can be eroded by the acids in your mouth, and over time, you can develop small holes in your teeth. These can deteriorate into cavities and then become abscessed.

You may not notice the presence of a cavity until you get a toothache, but you shouldn’t ignore it. Symptoms of a cavity include:

  • Pain when you chew or bite down
  • Increased sensitivity to the sugar content or temperature of foods and beverages
  • Tiny holes or pits in your teeth
  • Sudden toothaches

Don’t ignore a cavity. If you have a toothache, then there’s a reason for it, so call your dentist for an appointment. With prompt attention, you can save not only your tooth but the expense of replacing it with an artificial tooth.

Which At-home Practices Should I Follow?

The American Dental Association recommends that you brush at least twice daily and that you use a toothbrush with soft bristles or an electric toothbrush.


When brushing your teeth, use gentle pressure. Otherwise, you can damage the enamel on your teeth. Additional recommendations include:

  • Brush your teeth for at least two minutes
  • Brush your tongue to eliminate residual bacteria that can cause bad breath
  • Replace your toothbrush immediately after you’ve been ill
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months at a minimum

Floss Daily

Proper flossing will remove food particles that are lodged between your teeth and in the crevices in your gums. It also helps to prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque, dental caries, and halitosis.

Use Antibacterial Mouthwash

The final step in your daily oral hygiene routine should be rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash for 30 seconds. This will eliminate any residual bacteria that can cause bad breath or dental decay. Make sure your mouthwash has the American Dental Association seal of approval.

Eat Healthy

The American Dental Association also recommends eating a healthy diet to maintain good oral health. Although the two may seem unrelated, they’re not. When you eat a high-carbohydrate, high-sugar, fast-food diet, you encourage the formation of bacteria because sugar and carbohydrates are the foods of choice for bacteria. The plaque acids that they form will attack your teeth and gums and cause gingivitis and dental decay.

Eat a diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean protein, dairy, and plenty of plain water that’s not flavored with sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you need help understanding what a diet good for your teeth entails, call our Alexandria office and we’ll be glad to help you.

What’s the Importance of Having a Family Dentist?

When you have a personal dentist who’s familiar with your dental and medical history, then they’re more likely to catch anomalies that can indicate the presence of an abscess, bruxism, a cyst, a tumor, loss of jawbone, the early onset of periodontal disease, and more. All of these things, when addressed early, have a much better prognosis than if they’re left to develop into major health issues.

How Important Is Consistent, Regular Dental Care?

Oral cancer is now responsible for 3 percent of all new cancers each year, and those who drink or smoke are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Most dentists now perform cancer screenings, so if you haven’t been tested for oral cancer, then call our office to schedule a screening.

Tooth loss due to aging isn’t a fact of life, it’s a choice. When you choose to maintain good oral health throughout your life, then you significantly increase the likelihood of keeping your teeth throughout your life. Even if you have not had good oral hygiene in the past, it’s never too late to change that. Call our Alexandria office at (703) 940-1886 and schedule a checkup and a dental cleaning. We look forward to speaking and working with you.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Pinecrest

4604-D Pinecrest Office Park Dr, Alexandria, VA 22312

(703) 940-1886