The Top 4 Causes of Bleeding Gums | Implant Dentist Waldorf

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Do you see flecks of blood while brushing or flossing your teeth? Swollen, red, or tender gums can bleed during your regular oral hygiene routine, even if you feel you are being gentle. It is important that you do not ignore these symptoms as they may indicate a periodontal issue.

Here are four reasons why your gums may be bleeding, and what you can do to prevent it.

Gingivitis

Plaque and bacteria can build up on your teeth and become inflamed; yet because bleeding gums are usually painless, this symptom is shrugged off as unimportant. It is likely a sign of early periodontal disease known as gingivitis. The good news is that this condition can be treated and even reversed when caught early. It is also preventable by brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily to reduce plaque build-up, and scheduling regular dental examinations and cleanings.

Schedule an appointment with our office or ask for a referral if you suspect you have gingivitis.

Oral Hygiene Habits

If your gums bleed during your regular at-home oral hygiene routine, make sure you are not brushing too vigorously or flossing your gumline too hard. Don’t skip days of brushing and flossing and then make up for it with an overly vigorous cleaning.

Smoking and Periodontal Disease

Inhaling cigarette smoke can leave toxins on the teeth that irritate gums and cause them to bleed. Smoking can also compromise your immune system and prevent gum tissue from healing correctly. Quitting cigarettes can help reduce bleeding gums. If you smoke, be sure to keep up with oral examinations to evaluate your gum health at regular intervals.

Gum Disease and Your Diet

Good nutrition benefits every aspect of your health. Research shows proper oral hygiene along with a balanced diet can reduce the risk of gum problems. Crisp-skinned fruit and crudites (raw vegetables) are particularly good because they clean tooth surfaces and produce saliva. They make excellent, healthy snacks. Foods and beverages high in sugar, starch and acids, however, can cause tooth decay and lead to poor oral health.

For a healthier body, start by paying extra attention to your gums. If they bleed regularly, contact our periodontal office or get a referral. Our Alexandria, VA doctor can provide a complete examination of the gingival tissue and recommend proper treatment.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

5 Links Between Diabetes and Oral Health | Periodontal Dentist Near Me

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About 20 percent of total tooth loss cases are linked to diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This common metabolic disease affects the entire body, including the mouth and teeth. If you’re among the 463 million Americans living with diabetes, keeping blood sugar in check, following your physician’s recommendations, and keeping up with regular dental visits will help you maintain good oral and overall health.

Here are five ways diabetes can impact your teeth and gums:

Gum Disease and High Blood Sugar Levels

Research suggests that if your blood sugar isn’t under control, it can worsen periodontal (gum) disease. Severe gum disease can break down the bone that supports your teeth and lead to tooth loss, One early warning sign of potential periodontal disease is bleeding while you brush or floss. At this stage, the condition can be treated and even reversed by maintaining proper oral hygiene, following a regular dental exam schedule, and eating a balanced diet.

Mouth Infections and Diabetes

Diabetes affects your immune system and can make you prone to mouth infections. Oral thrush, or candidiasis, is an overgrowth of normal mouth bacteria and is not uncommon among diabetics. It resembles a white film on the tongue and inside of the cheeks, and is a reaction to the yeast thriving on high sugar levels in saliva. Oral thrush can be treated with antifungal medications.

Slow Healing and Diabetes

Diabetes can slow the healing process of sores, cuts, and injuries in your mouth. Poor blood sugar control prevents sores from healing quickly and properly. Be sure to see our periodontist if a sore in your mouth is not healing properly.

Diabetes and Dry Mouth

According to studies, many people with diabetes make less saliva. Symptoms may include a dry tongue, cracked lips, and constantly feeling thirsty. Some medications and higher blood sugar levels contribute to dry mouth. You can treat this by carefully managing your sugar levels, drinking plenty of water, and eating healthy, crunchy foods to get your saliva flowing.

Altered Sense of Taste

Diabetes can change the way you process flavors; some foods may seem blander than they used to. Consider this an opportunity to explore new cuisines, spices, herbs, and textures. However, be cautious about adding sugar to your food, as it could negatively affect your condition.

If you are among the 10.5 percent of Americans living with diabetes and want more information on how it impacts your gum health, call our periodontal office in Alexandria, VA. We are happy to answer your questions.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

What is Your Risk of Oral Cancer? | Dentist in 22302


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Oral cancer screenings at the dentist’s office are a safe and effective way to catch this disease early, when treatment is easiest. Nearly everyone is susceptible to oral cancers, but some are at higher risk than others.

Tobacco Use and Oral Cancer

Any form of tobacco, whether smoked or “dipped,” escalates the risk of cancer of the gums, throat, soft tissue, tongue, and inner surface of the lips. Risk depends on many factors, including how long or frequently tobacco is used. Former users and even non-smokers are not risk-free, however. Screenings, which are built into routine dental exams, are designed to catch oral cancers early. 

Alexandria, VA 22302 Dentist

Drinking and Oral Cancers

About 70 percent of cases are among heavy drinkers, according to the CDC. That equals two or more drinks per day for men and one or more drinks per day for women. People who imbibe heavily are more than twice as likely to develop oral cancers than people who abstain. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) calls this sexually transmitted disease the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, which affect the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsil area. HPV is most common in sexually active young people. The OCF reports some positive news, however: People diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancers are at a lower risk of related death or reoccurrence. 

Age-Related Oral Cancer Risk 

Your risk of developing oral cancer increases as you age. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the average age of diagnosis is 62, but that is statistically declining because of HPV. As the age for new cases decreases, it is important for everyone to get regular screenings.

Gender and Oral Cancer

Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, heavier tobacco and alcohol use among men accounts for some of the difference but the gap is narrowing as more women drink and smoke. Regular oral health examinations can detect oral cancer early in both genders. 

Sun Exposure and Oral Cancers

People who work outside or with prolonged exposure to sunlight have a higher risk of developing lip cancer. It’s vital to use UV protection such as high-SPF lip balm. We suggest another proactive approach: Regular dentist visits, where screenings are a routine part of an examination.

Nutrition and Oral Cancer Risk

American Dental Association research indicates a link between diets low in fruit and vegetables and a higher risk for oral cancers. However, this type of cancer can also develop in people with healthy diets. No matter how you eat, a comprehensive oral examination is critical to early detection.

Regular exams make it possible for your dentist or our periodontal doctor to detect oral cancer early, vastly improving the outcome. Call our office for more information.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Top Gum Disease Myths, Busted | 22302 Dentist

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Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by an infection from dental plaque that hardens and turns into calculus (tartar) and can’t be removed at home. This condition is preventable through proper oral care, and treatable by our periodontist. 

How much do you know about periodontal disease? Here are some of the top gum disease myths and facts. 

MYTH: If you don’t have tooth decay, you won’t get gum disease. 

FACT: Many people with no decay may indeed have gum disease and not realize it immediately. Gums that bleed or swell, or are red or tender, may be facing the earliest stage: gingivitis. Make sure to see your dentist for a professional cleaning, and brush and floss daily to prevent infection. 

MYTH: Bad breath is a sure sign of gum disease.

FACT: While halitosis can be an indicator of gum disease, it can also be linked to poor brushing habits, diet, an ulcer, or another medical condition. If professional dental intervention and good at-home oral care don’t clear up your sour breath, see your primary care physician to investigate medical causes.  

MYTH: Gum disease will cause you to lose your teeth.

FACT: You do not have to lose any of your teeth to neglect if you see your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene at home: Brush, floss, and clean between your teeth every day. Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of plain water. If your gums show signs of disease, our periodontist can create a treatment plan for you.

MYTH: Gum disease is not common.

FACT: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of adults 30 and older have some degree of periodontal disease. It can form at nearly any age and intensifies over time. Never put off a visit if you suspect a gum problem. 

MYTH: Pregnancy and bleeding gums go hand in hand.

FACT: “Pregnancy gingivitis” develops in some women, but it is not a universal condition. It is caused by the bacterial film that grows on the teeth and results in a buildup of plaque. Those who suffer from this problem usually experience it in their first trimester. If you are pregnant or considering parenthood in the near future, you can help prevent gum disease by taking good care of your oral health. Your dentist may also recommend more frequent examinations and cleanings.

For more information on periodontal disease and how to prevent it, call our Alexandria, VA dental office or ask your general dentist for a referral. 

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

7 Ways to Improve Your Smile | 22302 Periodontist

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How important is your smile? The Academy of General Dentistry reports that 40 percent of people notice a smile first, and 96 percent say healthy-looking teeth and gums are important to an overall appearance. This is amplified on big occasions: a job interview, a wedding, a date or any time you need to make a great impression. A nice smile adds confidence. 

Periodontist in Alexandria, VA 22302

Of course, not everyone is born with a perfect set of teeth, but with some effort and great dentistry, an attractive smile is certainly achievable. Here are seven top ways to improve your smile.  

Teeth Whitening

Whether you use an at-home set of trays or an in-office treatment, your teeth can look several shades whiter. To keep them from getting dingy in the first place and prolong teeth bleaching effects, rinse or brush after consuming top stain culprits like coffee, tea, red wine, or dark fruits.   

 Dental Crowns

If you have decay that threatens the health of the tooth, your dentist can place a crown, or dental cap, on the repaired tooth. It covers the tooth completely for optimal function and a natural look.   

Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are custom-made laminates bonded to the front of one or more teeth. They are used to alter tooth color, shape, length or size to transform a smile. 

Tooth Bonding

Also called dental bonding, this cosmetic procedure repairs a cracked or chipped tooth. They can make uneven teeth look more symmetrical and close a gap between teeth. 

Orthodontics 

Straight teeth not only look better, they function better, too, aligning them so they work together and are easier to keep clean. Your dentist or orthodontist can advise you whether braces or aligners would work best for your case. 

Dental Implants

Implants are the modern way to replace teeth lost to decay or trauma. They are also an optimal solution for people born without certain teeth. Dental implants are permanent, so they function more naturally than dentures and bridges. Our periodontist can replace missing teeth safely and effectively with this procedure.

Excellent Dental Care

There are many options for improving your smile professionally; but one thing you can do for yourself is maintain good oral health. That means being fastidious about brushing two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and seeing your general dentist for regular professional cleanings and examinations. 

Good dental habits and certain cosmetic procedures can also help keep your gums healthy, and that is our specialty. Schedule an appointment with out Alexandria, VA periodontist if you have concerns about your gum health or want to explore dental implants. 

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Healthy Gums Can Lower Your Risk of These 6 Diseases | Periodontist in 22302

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Here are more reasons to take good care of your teeth and gums: A growing body of research shows that keeping your gums healthy may lower your risk of developing serious physical conditions. Early intervention by our periodontist can also go a long way toward preventing gum disease and associated problems. 

Alexandria, VA 22302 Periodontist

Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Illness

Much research has shown that maintaining healthy gums reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. Because periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, it can trigger the type of inflammation that causes hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. 

Arthritis and Gum Disease

Inflammation is a byproduct of the immune system attacking the body itself. This response is linked to both periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Several studies show a strong association between RA and gum disease.

The European Congress of Rheumatology did a study on 636 patients who suffered varying levels of teeth lost to gum disease. The research found that participants with 10 or fewer teeth were 8 times more likely to have arthritis than those who retained all of their original teeth.

Respiratory Infections and Gum Disease

Your mouth and lungs are both a part of the respiratory system, so it is possible for mouth bacteria to travel to the lungs.

Most types of bacteria in your mouth are benign and do nothing more than help digest food. However, pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria can enter the mouth and find a prime environment to thrive before spreading from mouth to lungs. The good news is that keeping your mouth clean with regular brushing and flossing reduces the impact of these bacteria.

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Complications

Up to 70 percent of women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Hormone levels change during this time, causing an inflammatory response that in turn can increase periodontal disease risk.

Studies have also shown a strong link between periodontal disease and preterm labor. In a normal pregnancy, inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins exist in balance. However, the scales tip when a pregnant woman has gum disease. Elevated levels of inflammatory proteins increase the risk of early labor and other complications.

Dementia and Periodontal Disease

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined long-term research involving 6,000 people. It found that subjects who joined the study with signs of periodontal disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. 

In April 2021, researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry and Weill Cornell Medicine found a link between gum disease and beta-amyloid, a protein that disrupts communication between brain cells as Alzheimer’s disease develops. 

Cancer Risk and Gum Disease

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people with severe periodontal disease have a higher cancer risk. Those with severe periodontitis had a 24 percent greater risk of various cancers, and those who had lost all their teeth to gum disease elevated their risk by 28 percent. 

Gum Disease Prevention 

Fortunately, gum disease is highly preventable. For more information on how a healthy mouth makes for a healthy body, or to schedule a gum health check, contact our 22302 periodontist office. 

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Top Causes of Sensitive Teeth | Periodontist in Waldorf

Periodontist in Waldorf

If the idea of biting into an ice cream cone or swilling a cold drink makes you cringe, you may be one of the millions of people who suffer from sensitive teeth. Causes include tooth decay, worn enamel or fillings, cracked teeth, and exposure of tooth roots due to aggressive brushing, receding gums or periodontal (gum) disease. 

Periodontist in Waldorf MD

These conditions trigger sensitivity in several ways. One is movement of fluid in the dentin, the soft inner tissue beneath tooth enamel. The motion can irritate the tooth nerve, creating a tingling sensation and sometimes sharp pain.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity occurs when the tiny tubes (tubules) of fluid in the dentin become exposed. This makes them vulnerable to temperature extremes, acidity, or contact with air through mouth breathing. This condition often results from excessive tooth wear, receding gums, periodontal disease, or physical damage to the tooth. 

Temporary Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Teeth whitening and orthodontic treatment may cause temporary teeth sensitivity. In most cases, this will disappear within a week or two. In severe cases of sensitivity, however, the tooth nerve itself may be exposed, causing severe pain and irritation and requiring immediate treatment.

What Can You Do About Tooth Sensitivity?

If you are suffering from sensitivity in your teeth, tell your dentist or hygienist at your next visit. They may need to screen for more serious underlying causes that could need treatment. They will also be able to recommend the best method of managing your discomfort. 

Is Teeth Sensitivity Preventable?

Some forms of sensitivity are preventable, such as overly aggressive brushing. This can cause higher levels of enamel abrasion and gum recession, two problems that can lead to increased sensitivity. If you participate in sports, always wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from trauma: chipped and cracked teeth often become sensitive.

After serious underlying issues have been ruled out, you can help to manage mildly sensitive teeth with special toothpastes that are designed for this purpose. If these do not provide sufficient relief, ask us whether a prescription product may be needed. 

In very severe and persistent cases of tooth sensitivity, root canal therapy, crowns, filling replacements, or gum grafts may provide permanent relief.

If you experience tooth sensitivity, we have options. Regular checkups are an important part of identifying the causes of teeth sensitivity — such as periodontal disease, tooth decay, and other issues — as early as possible. Contact our Alexandria dental team today to schedule an appointment.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

The Connection Between Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis | Alexandria, VA 22302

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Periodontal (gum) disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, are inflammatory disorders. Both diseases prompt the immune system to attack its own tissues. In advanced periodontal disease, the result can be tooth loss; in RA, the effect is painful and swollen joints. Learn about the connection and what you can do to protect your overall health.

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Studies show a strong connection between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Both involve inflammation, which is a protective immune system response to viruses and bacteria. RA is an autoimmune disease which causes it to mistakenly trigger inflammation even if there are no triggers present. Joint inflammation makes brushing and flossing challenging for some people with RA, in addition to many kinds of movement. 

The connection between gum disease and arthritis, however, goes much deeper. In the journal PLoS Pathogens, researchers found that the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, porphyromonas gingivalis, prompts an earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis and increases its severity and progression. 

It is important for patients with rheumatoid arthritis to brush and floss twice a day, or as directed, and see the dentist regularly. If you have RA, it is also vital to work with your doctors to find out what treatments work best for you. People who have both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis should have an informed care team composed of both a physician and a periodontist. 

If you don’t have a periodontist, you should get an evaluation from your general dentist every year to monitor the status of your gums. Research has found that when patients with rheumatoid arthritis successfully treat gum disease, RA pain and other symptoms get better. 

Patients with RA must pay close attention to oral health and schedule regular dental exams. They should also follow a healthy diet and carefully brush and floss. If you have RA and stiff hands or jaw make caring for your oral health difficult, speak to your dentist, hygienist, or occupational therapist about ways to make dental care easier. Here are some tips on how you can make dental care easier to manage:

  • Toothbrush: You can add a tennis ball or bicycle grip to your brush for a more secure handle.
  • Floss: Experiment with different types of floss, such as waxed, unwaxed, tape style or interdental brushes.
  • Toothpaste: Using toothpaste in a pump may be easier for you than a tube you need to squeeze.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, contact our Periodontist in Waldorf MD office to schedule a consultation and learn what we can do to help you.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Dentist in Alexandria | How Can You Tell if You Have Gingivitis?

3d render of tooth in bleeding gums over white background. Periodontal disease concept.

Gingivitis is among the most common oral health issues. It is especially prevalent in adults over 40. If it is left untreated, this early form of periodontal disease can lead to significant oral health issues. However, it can be effectively treated if it is caught soon enough. In many cases, it can be reversed. Here is what you need to know about gingivitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Gingivitis

Gingivitis often leads to swollen gums that appear red or purple, painful or tender. It can also involve bleeding when brushing and flossing. Bad breath (halitosis) is another frequent side-effect of gingivitis. A buildup of plaque or tartar is sometimes visible as well. Many people have gingivitis without knowing it, as symptoms do not always appear in the early stages.

Preventing Gingivitis

Gingivitis can usually be prevented through proper oral hygiene habits. Your best line of defense is brushing twice daily for two minutes each time. It is also essential to clean between your teeth daily by flossing. This helps to prevent the buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria. As plaque builds up near the gum line, gingivitis can develop.

Gingivitis Treatment

Gingivitis is the first of four stages of periodontal disease and the only one that can be completely reversed. If left untreated, it progresses to slight periodontal disease. This occurs when infection has spread and begun to attack the bone beneath. The second stage can be managed but not reversed. Moderate periodontal disease is the third stage. It results in deeper pockets around teeth which invite even more bacteria to attack the jawbones. Finally, advanced periodontal disease causes extreme sensitivity, loosened teeth, and bone loss.

It is easy to see why it is important to monitor your gum health regularly. Talk to our experienced periodontal team if you have experienced symptoms of gingivitis. If you smoke, have diabetes, are elderly, or take certain medications, you are at a higher risk for developing gingivitis. Be good to your gums by brushing twice each day and flossing daily. Keeping your teeth free of plaque is the simplest way to keep your gums healthy. For questions about your periodontal health or to schedule a visit to our office in Alexandria, please contact us.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
Url: https://www.drkarlsmith.com/
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302



Periodontist in Alexandria | How Dental Implants Can Change Your Life

Dental model on white background.

Dental implants provide a long-term solution for tooth loss, and they can improve more than just your smile. Nearly 180 million American adults are missing at least one tooth and 40 million have lost all their permanent teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists.

Regardless of the cause, tooth loss can have serious consequences on your oral health, appearance, speech, diet, and self-esteem. If you are considering dental implant restorations, here are five ways they can change your life for the better:

  • Dental implants can make you look younger. During early adulthood, the teeth and jawbone work together to support facial features. When teeth are lost, facial skin can crease or droop near the gaps. Jawbone deterioration can lead to reduced support, causing an unnaturally aged appearance.
  • Dental implants can improve your speech. Missing teeth can leave gaps that cause vocal impediments. Dentures can be bulky or become loose, leading to discomfort, slurred speech, and embarrassment. Dental implants stay secure and do not take up additional space in the mouth, so you can speak naturally.
  • Dental implants can help 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, just as healthy natural teeth do.
  • Dental implants keep your teeth in place. When a tooth is lost, the 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.
  • Dental implants are secure and permanent. Unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants are surgically implanted in the jawbone, where they act as root substitutes for missing teeth. The titanium implant fuses with the jawbone, so it will not slip or dislodge. Implants also do not make noise or damage bone the way dentures or bridges can.

Dental implants can work wonders for your oral health and self-esteem. They look like natural teeth, restore your facial support and help preserve jawbone structure. They also improve your smile: Gaps in your teeth can leave you feeling self-conscious about your appearance. Studies show that feeling good about your smile boosts your confidence, alleviates loneliness, and improves your social life.

Dental implant restoration is a safe and modern way to restore your smile. To learn more about the benefits of dental implant restoration, contact our Alexandria office for your consultation.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
Url: https://www.drkarlsmith.com/
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302