Preventing Gum Infections | Periodontist in Alexandria VA

Gum disease can be a major problem, but if detected early enough, it can be reversed. Once gum disease has progressed, bone and soft tissue are damaged by infections. Untreated gingivitis can easily progress to periodontitis if left untreated. As a result, you may lose your teeth and suffer serious health problems. The good news is that knowledge is power, and you can take control of your oral health by learning about the different types of gum disease.

Our goal in this post is to explain how gum disease progresses and what you can do to maintain better oral health.

Gums that are healthy are light pink and firm. If your gums are red, bleed easily, or swell, you may have gingivitis. Poor oral hygiene is usually responsible for this condition. With the right steps, it is very possible to reverse the situation at this point.

Inflammation of the gums is a hallmark of periodontitis, a form of advanced gum disease. It is at this point that the infection has spread below the gum line. As a result of the bacterial infection, the jawbone deteriorates while the supporting gums are pulled away from the teeth. When these two factors are combined, tooth loss occurs as the supporting structures of bone and tissue deteriorate. The symptoms of this condition include receding gums, bad breath, and gingival pockets. As a result, pus may form, which indicates an infection.

Periodontitis (Aggressive)
This is a very rapid progression that stems from periodontitis. Gingival ligaments that hold your teeth in place may quickly deteriorate and jaw bone damage may occur at a more advanced rate. Luckily, there are ways to reverse this damage with guided bone regeneration.

Periodontitis (Chronic)
The term chronic periodontitis refers to the inflammation of the gingival tissues around the teeth. Due to gum recession, this can result in bone loss. Your teeth may be very loose and you may have gingival pockets.

Systemic Periodontitis
Periodontitis caused by a systemic disease is called systemic periodontitis. This type of condition may include:

Respiratory disease
Heart disease

How to stop gum disease:
One way to prevent future gum problems is to improve your oral health routine. Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. Additionally, you should visit your dentist every six months. Keep reading to learn more about how to maintain good gum health.

Your daily oral health routine should include flossing. Floss at least once a day. By flossing, you can remove plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing should be done after brushing. Flossing can be done in the morning, in the afternoon, or even at night. By flossing at least once a day, you can significantly reduce your risk of periodontal disease.

Regular Dental Cleanings
You will be able to detect gum disease easily if you visit your dentist regularly, every six months. By having your teeth cleaned regularly, the dentist will be able to detect warning signs of gum disease before it becomes a serious problem. Professional cleaning will remove any buildup of tartar and plaque. Even if you brush and floss regularly, hard-to-reach areas may result in plaque buildup. If you suffer from gingivitis, it may be possible to fully reverse it with regular dental visits.

Stop Smoking
Here’s one more reason for you to stop smoking. Gum disease can be greatly reduced by quitting smoking. You may find it more difficult to fight gum disease if you smoke, because smoking weakens your immune system. In addition, smoking makes it much harder for the gums to heal after they have already suffered damage.

Brush Daily
Brush your teeth every day. As a result, you will be able to remove the food and plaque that are trapped between your gums. Give your tongue a good scrub as well. Bad breath may be caused by bacteria on your tongue, particularly on the back of the tongue. Make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles and fits comfortably in your mouth. Consider using an electronic toothbrush if you are able to do so. Compared to manual toothbrushes, these toothbrushes are significantly more effective at removing plaque. Ensure that the head is replaced every few months.

Use fluoride toothpaste.
When choosing toothpaste, be sure to select one that will prevent gum disease. In stores, there are a variety of products claiming to reduce gingivitis and freshen your breath. Which one should you pick? The most important thing is to choose a product that is ADA-sealed and contains fluoride.

Use mouthwash
Over-the-counter mouthwash can help you reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis. Plaque and tartar can be reduced with mouthwash, as can food particles stuck between teeth.

Our periodontist office can help if you are already in the late stages of gum disease. Our professional experience in treating periodontal disease enables us to assist you in reversing even the most severe stages of gum disease. Please contact our periodontist office today to schedule an appointment. Make your oral health a priority with the help of our team.

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

Do You Need a Periodontal Consultation? | Best Periodontist Alexandria VA

Gum disease is best prevented by practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

When it comes to your dental routine, how do you know if it’s working? You may notice specific symptoms of gum disease when you brush and floss, and your dentist will observe less obvious signs during your dental examination.

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Generally, it is caused by poor dental hygiene, although certain diseases, aging, hormones, and other factors can also play a role. In the event that you notice any of the following symptoms, it may be time to consult your dentist regarding your gum health:

  • Gums that are bright red or purple
  • Swollen gums
  • Tenderness or pain
  • Whenever you brush or floss, you experience bleeding.
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gum recession

Sometimes, there are no obvious symptoms at all. It’s for this reason that regular checkups are so important. You can reverse the effects of gingivitis by paying careful attention to your oral hygiene, receiving professional cleanings, using prescription mouthwashes, or undergoing other treatments as required.

Why should we be so proactive? When left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more serious gum disease, called periodontitis.

Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that cause inflammation, which causes the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that become deeper over time. Bacteria continue to multiply in those areas where brushing cannot reach, resulting in further inflammation, infection, and the eventual breakdown of gum and bone tissue.

Untreated periodontitis can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Roots are more susceptible to decay due to significant gum recession.
  • Periodontal abscesses
  • Teeth that are loose or have shifted out of place
  • loss of bone around the teeth
  • Tooth loss

Your dentist may refer you to our periodontal office if you show signs of advanced gum disease.

A periodontist specializes in diagnosing, preventing, and treating gum disease. Upon completing dental school, a periodontist must complete an additional three years of advanced education. A periodontist is trained and skilled to treat gum disease surgically and nonsurgically, as well as to place dental implants and perform cosmetic procedures.

In addition to diagnosing and treating periodontitis, periodontists recommend a variety of procedures based on your specific needs. In order to restore your gum health, they offer the following treatments:

  • Oral, topical, or time-release medications
  • Scaling and root planing are non-surgical deep cleaning procedures that remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line and smooth tooth roots to remove bacteria and help the gums attach to the teeth again.
  • Flap surgery can be used to treat persistent gum infection, reduce pocket depth, and re-secure the gums snugly around the teeth.
  • Various regenerative procedures are available to help restore and repair tissue that has been damaged by gum disease, including bone grafts and gum grafts.

Be proactive if your dentist recommends a periodontal consultation. The best way to protect yourself from the serious consequences of untreated gum disease is to consult a specialist in this field. Periodontists have the knowledge and experience to treat gum disease, restore bone and gum tissue, and prevent it from progressing. Contact our periodontal office today to schedule an appointment.

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

Adolescents and Periodontal Disease | Periodontist Waldorf MD

Many people do not realize that periodontal disease is not exclusive to adults. It can also affect adolescents. It is important to note that gingivitis, a milder form of periodontitis, is a sign that more serious problems may arise in the future. Periodontitis can develop if gingivitis is left untreated.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), younger people are more likely to develop severe gingivitis. There is a link between gingivitis and periodontal disease. Periodontitis is more likely to affect children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies.

Children and adolescents suffer from three types of periodontal diseases.

Chronic gingivitis

An adolescent who exhibits or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums may have chronic gingivitis. Early treatment can prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Because periodontitis can occur in teens as early as their early teenage years and progress throughout their teens, the term chronic periodontitis replaces the term adult periodontitis. A chronic and aggressive form of periodontitis primarily affects the incisors and first molars. Bone loss is one of its distinctive characteristics. On examination, patients who have this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque.

Periodontal disease that is chronic and aggressive in nature.

This more severe form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics as the chronic and aggressive types. Gum inflammation and the accumulation of plaque and calculus are common symptoms.

There may be a change in the overall gum structure in both forms of more severe periodontal disease. As a result of these changes, teeth may become loose or even fall out, depending on the severity of the changes.

Any treatment’s success depends heavily on early diagnosis. Periodontal examinations should be conducted twice a year as part of an adolescent’s complete dental examination.

Mouths are full of bacteria. It is necessary for food digestion in some cases. In areas where bacteria can travel, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities, diseases are more likely to develop. When dental hygiene is practiced properly, healthy mouths offer greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Every family member should have a dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and you should consult your doctor if you are experiencing pain, sensitivity, or other oral issues. The early detection and treatment of oral problems at our periodontist office prevents them from developing into serious periodontal disease or irreversible damage.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 20602

Are You at Risk for Periodontal Disease? | Periodontist Waldorf MD

Periodontitis is a disease of the gums that affects both young and old adults. Even though this oral disease is more prevalent in older adults, 47.2% of people over 30 are affected by it. Furthermore, it may be silent or painless, which means that you may not be aware of it right away.

The good news is that periodontal disease can be prevented and treated. Are you interested in learning more about this common oral health issue and what you can do to prevent it? Keep reading to learn more!

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is often caused by poor oral hygiene. In fact, the mouth is home to the second-most diverse microbial community in the body. It contains, at the very least, 700 different species of bacteria. Plaque is the result of many of these microorganisms.

Plaque is a clear, sticky substance that constantly forms on the teeth. After meals, oral bacteria are even more active in creating plaque. The reason for this is that they feed on leftovers as well as sugar and starches.

All of these factors emphasize the importance of brushing and flossing after each meal. There are, however, some individuals who are more susceptible to, or are at a higher risk of developing, periodontitis.

What role does age play in periodontal disease?

Periodontitis is more common among older adults, affecting 70% of those over 65. Consequently, seniors are more likely to suffer from tooth loss.

Scientists believe that gums break down faster with age. Aged gums also appear to be more prone to inflammation. Furthermore, aging slows the body’s ability to heal wounds, such as those in the gums.

Aside from older people, who is most likely to suffer from periodontitis?

Besides poor oral hygiene, smoking tobacco also increases the risk of periodontitis. According to research, women between the ages of 20 and 39 who smoke are twice as likely to develop periodontal disease. There are 15.6% of smokers in the general population who suffer from gum disease, as opposed to 4.9% of non-smokers. As a result, smoking is the leading modifiable risk factor for gum diseases.

Genes may also play a role in periodontitis. Researchers found that dozens of genes contribute to gum disease risk. Stress and poor eating habits can also raise the risk of periodontitis.

Can periodontal disease be cured?

The answer is yes! However, early detection and treatment are of utmost importance here. Periodontitis is most reversible in its early stages. Those with gene-related risk factors are affected. For this reason, dental professionals want to know their patients’ medical and family histories.

This knowledge allows dentists to monitor at-risk patients actively. As a result, early intervention and prevention can be implemented.

What are the treatment options for periodontitis?

Early detection of periodontitis increases the chances of reversibility. Surgical treatment may not even be necessary if your periodontist in 20602 catches it early. If this is the case, your oral healthcare provider may only need to perform scaling and root planing.

Modern ultrasonic scalers allow for a more thorough deep cleaning of the teeth and gums. In turn, this removes a greater amount of plaque than regular brushing and flossing. As long as you maintain good oral hygiene at home, your gums will be able to recover and heal. Additionally, the cleaner your pearly whites are, the less likely you are to experience a recurrence of gum disease.

Keeping your mouth healthy will reduce your chances of developing periodontitis.

Even younger people can develop periodontitis, although it is more common in older adults. If your gums bleed, you shouldn’t panic, but you should be concerned.

If you notice any signs of periodontal disease, consult your dentist right away. By doing this, your dentist has a better chance of reversing the damage. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our periodontics office in Waldorf, MD.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302
Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 20602

6 Tips for Gum Disease Prevention | Implant Dentist Alexandria

More and more research is surfacing about gum disease, making prevention more critical than ever. The term “gum disease” refers to an infection of the gum tissue and surrounding bones. The gum disease, gingivitis, affects only the gums.

A more severe form of gum disease, periodontitis, affects both the gums and the bones that support your teeth. There is a link between gum disease and serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. Most people don’t realize they have gum disease until it’s too late, so it’s important to take extra precautions.

You can prevent gum disease by following these six tips.

1. Maintain good oral hygiene

Although it may seem obvious, good oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy gums. When it comes to gum disease, brushing your teeth is not sufficient. Our periodontist in Alexandria agrees that flossing should be incorporated into your daily routine to prevent plaque from building up on your teeth and damaging your gums. You may also benefit from using an antimicrobial mouthwash that contains little to no alcohol.

2. Increasing your intake of vitamin C

Gum disease has been linked to vitamin C deficiencies. Increasing your intake of vitamin C will not only help prevent gum disease from developing, but it can also treat and, in some cases, cure it. In addition to its healing properties, vitamin C is also capable of stabilizing loosened teeth and preventing gum swelling and receding.

3. Follow a healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent gum disease. You should avoid sugary foods and drinks since they can cause tooth decay and gum disease. It is important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, as this will boost your immunity and help prevent many diseases, including gum disease.

4. Make sure you stay hydrated.

Hydration is essential for preventing gum disease and promoting overall health. Water helps produce more saliva, which helps fight off bacteria that can cause gum infection.

5. Give up smoking

Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products can lead to countless health problems, including gum disease. The use of tobacco products can cause serious damage to your gum tissues, so you should avoid them at all costs.

6. Be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis.

The importance of visiting your dentist regularly cannot be overstated. In order to prevent gum disease, it is advisable to have your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly to ensure there are no warning signs of gum disease or other dental problems.

In addition to harming your oral health, gum disease can also have a detrimental effect on your overall health. Taking the above recommendations into consideration will lower your risk of developing gum disease. If you would like more information or tips regarding the prevention of gum disease, please contact our periodontics office in Alexandria, VA to schedule an appointment.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302
Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 20602

The Different Types of Gum Grafts | Periodontist Waldorf

periodontist in alexandria

Dentists and specialists see gum disease as one of the most prevalent dental problems today. In many cases, soft tissue problems are not recognized by millions of Americans until they visit a dentist or periodontist. In order to improve your smile, an expert will recommend one of various types of gum grafts based on the severity of your case. Learn more about these unique procedures and what to expect.

Gingival Flap Surgery

Our 20602 periodontist may recommend this type of procedure if gum disease progresses and bacteria spreads under the soft tissue. The procedure involves lifting the tissue and cleaning the infected area to prevent worsening side effects (e.g., bone loss, tooth loss). Afterwards, the gums are secured to encourage reattachment.

Soft Tissue Graft

Gum recession is one of the most obvious symptoms of periodontal disease. As a result, your tooth structure and root become exposed, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity and infection. In order to prevent more serious problems, your periodontist can attach tissue from the roof of your mouth or another nearby area to your receding gums. By doing so, the exposed tooth roots will be covered, and further gum recession will be prevented.

Crown Lengthening

While crown lengthening is commonly viewed as a cosmetic procedure, it is also excellent for treating gum disease. An overgrowth of soft tissue can make teeth appear short and “stubby.” Many individuals call this type of smile a “gummy smile.” Periodontists can remove unnecessary gum tissue and expose more of your natural tooth root. When you need a customized restoration (e.g., a dental crown), but lack sufficient tooth structure, this can be extremely beneficial.

Gum Regeneration

Your periodontist may recommend gingival flap surgery or gum regeneration if your soft tissues are infected. Instead of securing your gum tissue to your teeth, this process allows it to naturally regenerate. The entire procedure involves placing a bone graft into the area after folding back your gums to restore and create a healthier, more aesthetically pleasing smile.

Keeping your gums healthy is just as critical as keeping your teeth healthy if you want to avoid expensive and timely procedures. With a gum graft performed by a local periodontist, you can feel more confident and comfortable with your smile moving forward. 

We specialize in treating issues related to your overall gum health. We invite you to contact our periodontics office in Alexandria, VA today to schedule an appointment.

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

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 20602

A Periodontist’s Role in Gum Disease | Periodontist in Alexandria VA

Periodontist in 20602

As most of us are aware, regular oral hygiene is essential to prevent cavities and maintain a bright white smile. Did you know that your teeth, gums, and surrounding bone structure play a critical role in the health of your entire body? In particular, the gums are remarkable elements of strength, but unlike other kinds of tissues, they do not regenerate when damaged, especially in the event of gum disease.

Infection of the gums and the tissues that hold your teeth in place is known as gum disease, also known as gum recession or periodontal disease. As the name implies, receded gums pull away from teeth, exposing sensitive areas and even the root of the tooth. In addition to creating convenient cavities for bacteria to settle in, gum recession can also lead to tissue and bone structure damage, bleeding, and sometimes even the loss of the tooth itself.

What causes periodontal disease?

There is a direct correlation between bad habits and periodontal disease. Those who neglect regular brushing and flossing are ideal candidates for the buildup of bacteria and plaque, which may result in the onset of disease. Symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath, swollen or tender gums, and bleeding gums. The most concerning aspect of this disease is that it is usually painless and can be undetected until it has already spread.

There are a number of factors that contribute to this condition, including brushing your teeth too hard, genetics, grinding your teeth, and poor dental hygiene. It is always advisable to consult a periodontist in order to address the issue, regardless of its origin. Periodontists are dentists who have completed at least three additional years of residency training in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of gum disease. Additionally, these specialists are trained to place dental implants.

What are the advantages of seeing a periodontist over my regular dentist?

Make an appointment with a periodontist as soon as possible if you have or suspect that you have gum disease. Unlike traditional dentists, periodontists have extensive training beyond dental school and are well versed in state-of-the-art techniques for diagnosing and treating gum disease. Furthermore, they can perform plastic surgery in order to improve the appearance of your gums and smile, as well as detect oral cancer proactively.

A comprehensive periodontal examination can be requested during a regular dental visit. The examination will include probing and evaluating pockets beneath the gum line, as well as examining the color and firmness of your teeth and the overall symmetry of your bite. X-rays may also be taken by periodontists in order to examine the health and integrity of the supporting bone structure.

Additionally, periodontal probing can be performed, which entails placing a small measuring probe between the tooth and gum in order to determine the depth of existing pockets.

When is the right time to see a periodontist?

A recent study confirms that nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease. If the issue has not already progressed, some of these cases may be treated through your regular dentist. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms to help diagnose potential problems:

  • An alteration in the bite when chewing, speaking, or brushing. Different bite patterns can lead to long-term problems.
  • The most obvious signs of gum disease are red, swollen, or bleeding gums. In the event that you notice bleeding when brushing or flossing, you should consult our periodontist in Waldorf immediately to prevent minor problems from becoming more significant.
  • A loose tooth may also indicate an infection or periodontitis. The loss of a tooth should never be considered a minor inconvenience or a non-issue.
  • You may experience pain around or under the gums of a specific tooth if there is an infection near the root.

Prevention and treatment.

Sadly, receding gums do not grow back. However, you can prevent further recession, pain, damage, and the need for extensive surgery by taking preventative measures. A thorough dental cleaning can often help treat milder forms of gum recession by removing excess plaque and tartar on your teeth, as well as killing bacteria remaining on your teeth with specialized antibodies.

You can also prevent gum recession by taking care of what you already have. It is simply a matter of brushing and flossing at least twice a day and having regular dental checkups at least twice a year. Maintain a consistent healthy diet, refrain from smoking, and be aware of any abnormal changes to your teeth and mouth. 

Please contact our periodontics office in Waldorf, MD today to schedule an appointment.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 20602

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

14 Medical Conditions With a Surprising Connection to Your Oral Health | Alexandria VA Periodontist

Alexandria periodontist, Periodontist near me

People learn early on that brushing and flossing can prevent cavities.

Nevertheless, many people don’t realize that dental health is critical to maintaining overall health, especially for those with certain medical conditions. Together, dentists and periodontists can help you keep your oral health in good condition to prevent future problems. If you have any questions, you can contact our periodontist office.

In recent years, health care has become increasingly focused on improving whole-person health. Poor oral health can exacerbate other conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, just as mental illness has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. In addition to improving overall health, routine preventive dental care can also reduce health care costs. According to a recent study by Cigna, those who receive consistent preventive dental care can reduce their total medical costs by 4.4% a year. Diabetes patients experienced even greater savings-an average of 12.25% per year.

These conditions have been linked to oral health, so patients with these conditions should visit their dentist regularly to receive the dental treatment they need.

Kidney Disease

A patient with kidney disease may be more susceptible to infections caused by severe gum disease because their immune system is weakened. Cavities and gum disease result in pain, difficulty eating, bad breath, and chronic inflammation, which can contribute to other medical conditions, such as heart disease. Furthermore, dental infections can delay a kidney transplant, making good oral hygiene essential.

Organ Transplant

Any organ transplant requires dental management. Doctors will ensure that patients do not have untreated infections or dental issues that could further complicate the procedure. After receiving anti-rejection medications, patients may have difficulty fighting bacteria and preventing infection.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Historically, oral health and rheumatoid arthritis have been connected; Hippocrates recommended pulling teeth to treat arthritis. Researchers believe rheumatoid arthritis may be triggered by an infection that causes inflammation in dental disease. Pain and stiffness can also cause jaw pain and make it difficult for people with arthritis to brush and floss.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is characterized by the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, which affects the function of the hands and arms. Patients with the disease have significantly more decayed teeth than those without. Additionally, grinding and clenching their teeth can lead to headaches, tooth fractures, and TMJ disorders.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Studies show that people with poor oral health are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Researchers believe that periodontitis and gingivitis bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain. Fatty plaques can block a blood vessel that leads to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. Strokes are caused when they cut off blood flow to the brain.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes dry eyes and mouth. A number of patients develop the condition as a complication of another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. People with Sjogren’s syndrome may find it difficult to chew certain foods, and brushing may be painful. Thrush can also develop as a result of the condition.


When diabetes is not well controlled, it may result in periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and bone supporting the teeth, which can result in tooth pain, bad breath, and tooth loss. Additionally, diabetes increases the level of sugar in saliva, which leads to thrush, a fungal infection that causes painful white patches in the mouth.

Head and Neck Cancer Radiation

For patients undergoing radiation treatment for head and neck cancer, dental treatment is also important. Radiation can cause mouth ulcers, damaged salivary glands, and dry mouth. Many patients suffer from loss of taste, while others experience jaw stiffness and loss of tissue and bone.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, weakens muscles and affects physical function, making brushing and flossing difficult. Additionally, saliva can cause plaque and bacteria to build up in the mouth, causing cavities, gum disease, and pneumonia.

Opioid Misuse and Addiction

Addiction to opioids has been shown to be more prevalent in adolescents and young adults. In particular, wisdom tooth extractions can lead to first-time exposure. 


Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause gum inflammation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in four women of childbearing age also has untreated cavities, and children whose mothers have high levels of untreated cavities are more than three times more likely to have cavities as well.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system, can cause stiffness in the jaw muscles, making it difficult to chew and swallow. Parkinson’s patients are also more likely to have bacteria associated with severe gum disease, which can enter the bloodstream.


Lupus patients are more likely to suffer from severe gum disease, as well as chronic ulcers and lesions on the lips, tongue, and mouth. The disease also attacks the salivary glands, so some of the medications used to treat it may cause dry mouth.

Regular dental care can often mitigate many of the oral side effects of these medical conditions, so patients should brush and floss daily, keep their dentist or periodontist in Alexandria informed of their health status, and schedule regular checkups. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our Alexandria VA periodontist office.

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

Can Your Gum Disease Lead to Cancer? | Alexandria VA Dentist

Alexandria VA dentist

There are many reasons to take care of your oral health. It is important to take care of your teeth so that you can chew, talk, and smile. Maintaining good oral hygiene is also essential to preventing conditions such as cavities and gum disease. 

Did you know that your oral health also plays an important role in preventing cancer? There is an undeniable link between gum disease and cancer. Studies have shown that gum disease not only affects your oral health but has also been linked to cancer. Whenever you have been referred to a periodontist for an evaluation, you should make an appointment as soon as possible.

Tufts University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers conducted a study that found advanced gum disease is associated with an elevated risk of cancer.

It is common for Americans to suffer from dental diseases such as cavities and gum disease. More than 80% of adults have at least one cavity by the age of 34, and 46% of adults aged 30 and older show signs of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dental plaque contains bacteria that produce acids that damage tooth enamel, causing cavities. Without treatment, tooth decay can lead to severe gum infection, which can spread to other parts of the body. Gum infection, or gingivitis, can lead to a more serious condition called periodontal disease, which results in loose gums, bone loss, and tooth loss. More than 70% of adults age 65 and older suffer from periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and heredity are factors that can contribute to periodontitis.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, periodontal disease and cancer risk may be linked. Previous studies have found that advanced gum disease may increase cancer risk by 14% to 20% due to changes in immune response or the spread of harmful bacteria, but the authors of this study say previous studies have been limited. The authors highlighted the public health implications of oral health in light of the prevalence of periodontal disease.

Researchers analyzed dental data collected from 7,466 participants enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study in the late 1990s and followed until 2012. During follow-up, there were 1,648 cancer cases among study participants and 547 cancer deaths. Compared to participants with mild or no periodontitis, those with severe periodontitis had a 24% increased risk of developing cancer. In the study, participants without any teeth had a 28% increased risk of total cancer and an 80% increased risk of colorectal cancer. Those with severe periodontal disease had a doubled risk of lung disease.

According to first author Dominique Michaud, ScD, in a recent press release from Tufts University School of Medicine, this is the largest study looking at the association between gum disease and cancer risk using dental examinations to measure gum disease before cancer can be diagnosed. Michaud also noted that previous research has identified bacteria associated with periodontal disease in colorectal cancer tissues. More research is needed to evaluate whether periodontal disease prevention and treatment may reduce the number of cancer deaths.

According to the CDC, Americans spend over $113 billion a year on dental care, and they lose more than $6 billion in productivity as a result. Periodontists recommend brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, drinking fluoridated water, and avoiding tobacco products to maintain good oral hygiene.

Our periodontist in Alexandria VA wants to ensure that your overall health is taken seriously. Contact our Alexandria Periodontist 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 Pregnancy | Best Orthodontist

Alexandria VA Periodontist

During pregnancy, hormonal changes may cause your gums to become more sensitive, swollen, and red. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis, or gum disease. Between the third and ninth months of pregnancy, you may experience “pregnancy gingivitis.” Pregnancy gingivitis occurs when your gums become swollen, red, or inflamed because of bacteria along your gum line. Your gums are more sensitive because your estrogen and progesterone levels have increased during pregnancy.

Due to morning sickness, your teeth may be exposed to stomach acid and become demineralized. As a result, your teeth are more susceptible to decay and erosion.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more serious periodontal (gum and bone) disease.

It is possible that poor dental health could affect your developing baby. According to research, there may be a link between periodontal disease and low birth weight or preterm birth. These babies are more likely to have developmental problems, asthma, and ear infections, and may even have a higher risk of infant death.

Our Waldorf Periodontist office recommends an appointment with your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and examined every 3 months during your pregnancy.

What can I do to keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Many factors can affect your teeth, including what you eat and drink, how often you eat and drink, how long food remains on your teeth, and the amount of plaque that remains. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria.

Keep your teeth and gums healthy by:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Keep plaque away from the gum line by cleaning carefully.
  • Every night, floss your teeth before you go to bed.
  • Drink water between meals and snacks. Reduce your intake of sweet beverages.
  • When you brush your teeth after meals and snacks, if this is not possible, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash.
  • Limit sweet foods and foods that stick to your teeth. Whenever you eat a sweet, try to eat it around a meal.

Researchers have shown that pregnant mothers who suffer from periodontal disease expose their unborn children to a variety of health risks, particularly if they also suffer from diabetes.

Periodontal disease generally begins with a bacterial infection in the gum (gingiva) tissue, which progressively destroys the tissue and underlying bone. When left untreated, the bacterial infection causes an inflammatory reaction in the body, which can deepen gum pockets (the space between the teeth and gums) and cause the gums and jawbone to recede. The teeth become loose and unstable when periodontal disease progresses and eventually fall out.

An expectant mother is more likely to suffer from gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and periodontal disease due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Many research studies have linked oral problems to preeclampsia, low birth weight, and premature birth. To reduce the risk of prenatal and postnatal complications, expectant women should seek immediate treatment for periodontal disease.

Why is there a connection?

The following are some reasons why periodontal disease can affect the health of a pregnant woman and her unborn child:

  • Mothers who suffer from more advanced forms of periodontal disease seem to have higher levels of prostaglandin. One of the oral bacteria strains associated with periodontitis is found in prostaglandin, a labor-inducing compound. As a result of elevated prostaglandin levels, a mother may give birth prematurely and deliver a baby with low birth weight.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP): Previously associated with heart disease, this protein is now associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preeclampsia and premature birth. Periodontal infections increase the body’s natural inflammatory response and elevate C-reactive protein levels. Bacteria from periodontal plaque may enter the bloodstream, causing the liver to produce CRP. This can lead to inflamed arteries and blood clots. Eventually, these inflammatory effects can lead to blocked arteries, resulting in strokes or heart attacks.
  • Spread of bacteria: The bacteria in gum pockets can easily travel through the bloodstream and affect other areas of the body. Research has found that oral bacteria and associated pathogens have colonized pregnant women’s internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.

There are many non-surgical treatment options available for pregnant women. To increase the chances of a healthy and safe delivery, it is vital to stop periodontal disease from progressing.

Treatment reduces the chances of pregnancy complications caused by periodontal disease by as much as 50%, and it eases many of the unpleasant and harmful effects caused by gingivitis and periodontal infection.

Our Periodontist in Alexandria, VA can provide education about effective home care for pregnant women and reduce the risk of adverse effects for her and/or her child. Proper home care, dietary changes, and supplemental vitamins can greatly reduce the risks of periodontal disease. To schedule a consultation appointment, please contact our 20602 Periodontist office.

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

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf, MD 20602