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Hagerstown Dentist | 6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush

Dentist in Hagerstown, MD

Dentist in 21742Do you ever think about your toothbrush? You use it twice a day, but how much do you know about it? We’ve compiled a list of interesting toothbrush facts. The next time you brush, consider these bits of trivia.

  1. Toothbrushes Are Less Common Than Mobile Devices

It is estimated that more people own and use a mobile device than those who own and use a toothbrush. With nearly 8 billion mobile devices, the world has more mobile phones, tablets, and other gear than people. However, only 3.5 billion people are estimated to use a toothbrush.

  1. Where Did It Come From?

It is believed that the first modern toothbrush was invented by a prisoner in England. Sometime around 1780, William Addis created a toothbrush from bone and used swine bristle for the brush.

  1. A Long History

Long before Mr. Addis invented what we know as the toothbrush, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese crafted tools for cleaning their teeth. The ancient Chinese used “chewing sticks” to freshen breath as early as 1600BC.

  1.  What are the bristles made from?

Originally, toothbrush bristles were primarily made from cow hairs or boar hair. Today, nylon is the material of choice, and has been since the 1930s.

  1. What Color Is Your Toothbrush?

Blue is the most common toothbrush color. The second most common color is red.

  1. A Home for Bacteria

More than 100 million bacteria call your toothbrush home. You don’t get sick regularly because, like your toothbrush, your mouth is home to hundreds of millions of bacteria. Your body is quite effective at fighting off these germs, but if you don’t change your toothbrush regularly or share with someone else, you might catch an illness.

Now that you are a toothbrush expert, spread the word about the importance of regular brushing. Be sure to brush for two minutes twice each day. The American Dental Association recommends that you change your toothbrush every three to four months. If you have a weakened immune system or have been sick recently, you should replace your toothbrush.
For more dental care tips, or to schedule your next visit to our office, please contact us.

Hagerstown Dentist | The One Piece of Gear Every Athlete Needs

Dentist in Hagerstown, MD

Dentist in 21742An injury to your mouth can be a painful, expensive experience. For athletes, mouth and tooth injuries pose a very real risk. Mouthguards are an excellent tool for protecting your mouth from injury and harm. Our team can help you find a solution that protects your teeth.

Why Wear a Mouthguard?

Mouthguards protect your teeth. For athletes who play contact sports, injuries to the mouth can cause cracked teeth, or even worse, missing teeth. Mouthguards defend your teeth against such injuries. But mouthguards aren’t only for teeth. Your mouth is mostly made up of soft tissues, such as your tongue, inside cheeks, and lips. These areas can become injured or pierced when playing sports.

Do All Athletes Need a Mouthguard?

High-contact sports such as hockey, wrestling, football, and boxing pose the greatest risk for mouth injuries. But all athletes can benefit from being cautious. Gymnasts should consider wearing one to protect their mouth in the event of a fall. Baseball and basketball players should also wear one to protect themselves from being injured by a ball or collision with another player. Mouthguards should be treated as a necessary piece of your athletic gear.

Which Mouthguard Is the Most Effective?

Our team can help you find the best mouthguard during your next visit to our office. There are a number of options available ranging from store-bought ones to custom-fitted mouthguards. We will work with you to determine which type of mouthguard is best for you. It is important that any guard fits properly. We can also work with you if you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment and are wearing braces. Braces can puncture your mouth if impacted, particularly during sports. Our team will help you find a solution that works.

Your mouth should be protected while participating in athletic activities. Oral injuries can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult. Protect yourself from an injury before one happens. Contact our office and ask about finding a mouthguard that is right for you.

Hagerstown Dentist | 5 Ways Dental Implants Change Your Life

Dentist in Hagerstown, MD

Dentist in 21742The American College of Prosthodontists reports that about 178 million American adults are missing at least one tooth. Nearly 40 million have lost all of their permanent teeth.

Regardless of the cause, tooth loss can have serious consequences on your oral health, diet, speech, appearance, and self-esteem. Dental implants provide a long-term solution for tooth loss that can improve more than just your smile. Here are 5 ways dental implant restorations can change your life:

  1. Improve your speech. Missing teeth can leave gaps that cause speech impediments. Dentures can be bulky or loose, leading to discomfort, slurred words, and embarrassment. Dental implants stay secure and do not take up additional space in the mouth, so you can speak naturally.
  2. Preserve your jawbone. The roots of teeth are naturally embedded in the jawbone. When the tooth and root are missing, your jaw’s bone structure can begin to deteriorate over time. Dental implants help to preserve and strengthen the bone, as natural teeth do.
  3. Keep your teeth in place. When a tooth is lost, surrounding teeth can shift into the opening, distorting the shape of your smile and bite. Dental implants fill the gap and hold your surrounding teeth in their correct positions.
  4. Look younger. When we are in early adulthood, our teeth and jawbone work together to support our facial features. When teeth are lost, your facial skin can crease or droop near gaps. Jaw bone loss can lead to further loss of support, causing a more aged appearance. Dental implants restore your facial support and help preserve jaw bone structure.
  5. Improve your smile. Gaps in your smile can leave you feeling self-conscious about your appearance. Dental implants look like natural teeth, restoring the beauty of your smile. Studies show that feeling good about your smile boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

To learn more about the benefits of dental implant restoration, contact our office for your consultation.

Hagerstown Dentist | Ow! Your Guide to Canker Sores

Dentist in Hagerstown

A canker sore can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult and even painful. Maintaining your oral health by brushing and flossing may also be difficult with a sore in your mouth, but keeping up with your daily oral hygiene routine is an important step in the healing process. We’ve put together a short guide to everything you need to know about canker sores.

What do they look like?

Canker sores are usually small, round reddish sores. You’ll find them on the soft tissues of your mouth, such as your tongue, the sides of your mouth, and at the base of your gums. Occasionally, a sore might have a yellow or white colored center.

What causes them?

Among the most common causes of canker sores are injuries. This can happen from biting your lip or cheek, an injury from sports, or even vigorous brushing. Certain people are sensitive to toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate, leading to sores. Foods may also cause canker sores in certain people. Chocolate, eggs, nuts, and spicy foods have been known to cause the sores. At times, a diet that is deficient in vitamin B-12 or zinc is the culprit.

What can I do?

Your best defense is to keep your mouth healthy. This means keeping up with your twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. With a mouth sore, it may be tempting to avoid the area when brushing your teeth. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Aid the healing process by keeping your mouth clean and healthy. You may also try a mouthwash formulated for mouth sores. When in doubt, or if pain persists, talk to our team.

Brush thoroughly but gently around sores. Most canker sores heal within a week. If you find you are regularly getting sores, or they are taking longer than one week to heal, schedule a visit to our office. We will assess your oral health and provide you with our expert advice.

For more information about oral health or to schedule your next visit, please contact our office. We look forward to seeing you.

Hagerstown Dentist | Optimal Gum Health for Seniors

Dentist in Hagerstown

Dentist in HagerstownFor seniors, it is imperative that gum health is a top priority. As you age, your risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease increases. Periodontal disease is both preventable, and in many cases, reversible. When left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications such as bloody or swollen gums, and even tooth loss. Even more alarming are the numerous studies connecting periodontal disease to other serious illnesses. Here’s what you need to know about gum health as you age.

Periodontal Disease and Your Overall Health

Periodontal disease has been linked to serious health issues. In fact, a recent study conducted by the University of Southampton and King’s College London uncovered a link between periodontal disease and an increase in the rate of cognitive decline in those who suffer from early Alzheimer’s disease. In patients with periodontal disease, the study found cognitive decline underwent a rapid change, occurring six times as fast on average.

Periodontal disease has also been found to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Risk factors for these serious issues increase with age, among other causes, and it is especially important to limit potential risk factors where possible. This can be as easy as improving your gum health with a visit to our office.

The Numbers You Need to Know

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, moderate or severe periodontal disease was found in over 14% of seniors aged 65 to 74. The number increases to more than 20% for those over 75 years of age. Men were found to be more likely than women to have moderate to severe periodontal disease. Smoking was also found to have a significant impact. The same study showed 32% of current smokers had periodontal disease, compared to 14% for those who never smoked.

Steps You Can Take

As you age, it is essential to keep up with your gum health. Doing so is an important link in lowering your risk factors for other serious ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. You can keep your gums healthy by brushing twice each day for a full two minutes. Be sure to regularly floss your teeth as well. Flossing is an effective way to clean the hard-to-reach cracks and gaps where plaque builds up. Schedule a visit with our team for a complete gum evaluation. We can work with you to devise a course of action to ensure healthy gums.

Good Nutrition Leads to Healthy Mouths

Dentist in Hagerstown

At Valley Dental Associates, we know the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease (or gum disease), and both are among the easiest to prevent. One of the most common ways we recommend to boost your oral health is by improving your diet, because you (and your mouth) truly are what you eat. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy mouth and body, while an unhealthy diet can lead to the exact opposite.

The Role Nutrition Plays
While diet is not the only factor that leads to periodontal disease, studies suggest the disease may be more severe among patients whose diets lack essential nutrients. Poor diets will generally lead to a weaker immune system, leaving your body susceptible to all kinds of ailments, including periodontal disease.

A Well-Balanced Approach
There is no “magic” diet that we can recommend to improve your oral health, but the most important thing is to seek a well-balanced approach in your eating. While fad diets that emphasize one food group over another may help you lose weight in the short-term, they probably will not provide all the nutrients your body needs in the long run.

Meals should include a balance of lean meats or other healthy protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Foods containing substantial amounts of sugar and salt should be consumed in moderation.

Soda and Sugar: A Dangerous Duo
Millions of gallons of soda are consumed every day in America, but sipping a cold soft drink can be very harmful to your teeth. Many of these beverages wear down the enamel that protects the teeth, which weakens and even destroys them over time. The American Beverage Association estimates that soft drinks account for almost 30 percent of all drink consumption in the U.S., averaging an annual total of about 50 gallons per person (up from only 20 gallons in the 1970s). For healthy teeth and a healthy body overall, try to limit your soda intake.

Sugar is another ubiquitous treat in our daily lives. When we eat sugar, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths convert it to acids that attack tooth enamel. Consuming too much sugar can swiftly lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis. Most people do not even realize how much sugar they consume each day. It’s important to limit your daily sugar intake by reading the labels of all the food you eat, and sticking with natural food sources that are low in sugar, especially ones that minimize added sugar, such as fruits and vegetables.

If you have questions about your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, talk to Drs. Winebrenner, Franklin, Thomas, and Patel about it. See you soon!

How Computers Help Dental Implants Look Natural

Dentist in Hagerstown, MD

Never before have dental implants looked as natural and aesthetically pleasing as they do today. With the help of computer-aided design and computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Drs. Winebrenner, Franklin, Thomas, and Patel and our team are able to create implants with impeccable fit and finish. Although these technologies have been in use since the 1980s, it’s only recently that they became efficient and cost-effective enough to be useful.

Drs. Winebrenner, Franklin, Thomas, and Patel can also take digital scans of your teeth, providing a much more in-depth and accurate representation of them when compared to traditional X-rays. This scan can be used to create a physical model of your teeth through the use of 3D printing technology, allowing for the utmost in accuracy when planning your implant treatment.

Since each of our patients are unique, these CAD/CAM technologies offer a highly customized approach to implant dentistry that helps avoid the “one-size-fits-all” ways of the past. The goal is to have an implant look and function as closely as it can to the tooth it’s replacing. That’s why these implants are typically milled using ceramic or composite resin — materials chosen due to their durability and resemblance to teeth.

Even the planning of your surgery can be aided and guided by computers. 3D CT scans create a digital representation of your mouth including all significant anatomical markers. This data is imported into planning software which, coupled with CAD/CAM implant technology, is able to 3D print surgical guides that snap into place over a patient’s teeth. This means less risk for surgical error and much more accurately placed dental implants.

The main benefits of CAD/CAM dental implants are that they:

  • Are extremely accurate for every patient, down to 50 micrometers
  • Have better long-term results and more natural-looking implants
  • Can be manufactured quickly, the same day in many cases

Of course this is just a quick summary of the benefits, and a computer-modeled implant may not always be the best option. If you have questions about the dental implants or the technologies we use to make them look as natural as possible, feel free to contact our Hagerstown, MD office.

What’s the best dental floss?

Dentist Hagerstown

Dental floss is similar to a lot of products that depend mainly on the consumer’s preference. Fact is, floss comes in a wide variety of flavors, coatings, and other variations, but all types of floss essentially do the same thing. After all, that is what is most important: that the dental floss you buy is functional—cleaning the areas in between your teeth. If you want to know what the best dental floss is, the answer is the kind that enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas. So to help you find the right type of floss for you, here are some options.

Flavored Dental Floss

Many people that floss prefer a flavored dental floss because it freshens their breath even more than unscented floss. The latter can also take on the smells associated with bacteria in your mouth. And we all know how bad that can be. So, if flavored dental floss is what you prefer, and it allows you to floss your teeth regularly, then it is automatically best for your mouth.

Flossers

There are also products on the market called flossers, which usually consist of a plastic instrument with strung floss and a pick on the opposite end. This option can be both effective at cleaning the areas in between your teeth and scraping off plaque. These flossers also come flavored in mint and various other varieties.

Gentle Dental Floss

Some people find that typical dental floss is too harsh on their gums. For that reason some companies make floss with soft coatings that are less abrasive on the gums. For the most part these types of floss are just as effective as regular floss, and for those people that require a more sensitive approach to flossing, especially when just starting out, this is the best option.

Of the aforementioned options, it is difficult to name an absolute best type of floss. However, Drs. Winebrenner, Franklin, Thomas, and Patel and our team say that the type of floss that works best for you, giving you the greatest chance of succeeding at regular flossing, is the best. For more information on floss, contact our Hagerstown, MD office.

Choose Chocolate on Valentine’s Day

Dentist Hagerstown

From a student handing out sweets for her classmates to an older married couple exchanging boxes of candy, Valentine’s Day is the time of year when people like to show affection by gifting sugary treats to their loved ones. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of Valentine’s Day candy, you can celebrate the holiday in a healthier way by making dark chocolate your confection of choice.

Contribute to Your Health

According to the Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that the cocoa beans used to make chocolate contain flavonoids, which can help protect the body against damage from various toxins. Flavonoids may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and the brain. Dark chocolates typically contain a higher amount of flavonoids than other types, making them a great choice for chocolate lovers. However, you should keep in mind that many companies produce chocolate that is so heavily processed that the flavonoids are largely eliminated. Your best bet is to look for high-quality dark chocolates and cocoa powders that have undergone minimal processing.

Protect Against Cavities

If you think there’s no way candy could ever be beneficial for your teeth, think again. The Texas A&M Health Science Center has reported that the tannins present in cocoa beans may actually help prevent cavities by interfering with bacteria’s harmful interaction with teeth. Just like with flavonoids, tannins have been found to be present more often in dark chocolates, rather than milk chocolates, giving you another great reason to choose the richer, sweet varieties.

Avoid a Sticky Situation

One more benefit of choosing chocolate over other candies is that it is less likely to get stuck in the crevices and spaces between teeth. Gooey sweets like taffy can stay lodged in the mouth for longer periods of time, putting you at a greater risk for developing cavities. When you choose your chocolate, be sure to avoid types that also contain sticky ingredients like caramel or marshmallow, and instead opt for the plain varieties.

Remember that the health benefits you can receive from dark chocolate are largely based on eating the candy in moderation. With that being said, it’s easy to make this delicious and health conscious switch when you’re out shopping for your sweetheart, friends, loved ones, and yourself. Have fun satisfying your sweet tooth this year and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Valley Dental Associates!

How Does A Tooth Decay?

Dentist Hagerstown, MD

When acids are allowed to erode tooth enamel long enough to leach calcium and other minerals from your enamel and dentin, a process called demineralization occurs. This rapidly leads to tooth decay unless reversed by good oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings at our Hagerstown, MD office. Acids responsible for tooth decay come from the wastes of mutans streptococci and lactobacilli bacteria that thrive in dental plaque, a substance that is the leading cause of periodontitis.

Where do demineralizing acids come from?

Dietary sugars comprise the bulk of tooth-decaying acids, including table sugar, cooked starches, fructose, glucose, and lactose. In fact, as soon as you bite down on a sugary cookie or into a French fry, bacteria start digesting sugars, breaking them down and eventually excreting them as demineralizing acids. As this bacteria colony grows and becomes organized, plaque develops and forms that tough, yellowish coating you often see on the tops of teeth at the gumline.

Plaque is the Problem

Dental plaque is a filmy type of nesting place for bacteria that also keeps acids pressed against tooth enamel. Since plaque cannot be removed by brushing, it is important that a person who suffers tooth decay visit Valley Dental Associates immediately so we can use special tools to scrape and thoroughly clean teeth.

Signs of Tooth Decay

Early tooth decay and cavities remain asymptomatic until demineralization creates a hole deep enough to reach the tooth’s inner tissues and nerve endings. Eventually, tooth decay will cause tooth sensitivity, toothache, vague pain when biting down on the affected tooth, and possibly pus seeping around a tooth’s gum line if the decay creates an infection. If treatment is delayed long enough, a decaying tooth may loosen, crumble, and ultimately fall out, which leaves an empty or partially empty socket.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Getting regular checkups with Drs. Winebrenner, Franklin, Thomas, and Patel, brushing and flossing twice a day, and eating fruits or crunchy vegetables at snack time instead of a candy bar or doughnut are the three best ways to keep your teeth healthy, white, and where they should be: in your mouth.