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Periodontist in Alexandria | Oh, Baby! Pregnancy and Dental Health

Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon? During pregnancy, it is essential that you don’t neglect your oral health. Pregnant women are much more prone to gum disease due to the hormonal fluctuations that take place during pregnancy.  Those hormonal changes cause gum tissue to become inflamed which allows dangerous bacteria to take hold. 40% of pregnant women have some form of periodontal bacteria that could be affecting their overall health and the health of their pregnancy.  That number rises in women of color and women with less access to good quality dental care over their lifetime.  

Oral Health Problems for Mom During Pregnancy

Oral health should be considered an important part of prenatal care. When periodontal conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease are present during pregnancy, they can lead to poor health outcomes for mom. Nearly 60 to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis.  This is an early stage of periodontal disease.  The gums become red and swollen from inflammation that may be aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy. If left untreated, the bone that supports the teeth can be lost, and the gums can become infected. Teeth with little bone support can become loose and may eventually have to be extracted. Periodontitis has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.  How periodontitis may lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes is not yet fully understood but researchers are working hard on this every day.

How Oral Health Conditions Can Affect Your Baby

The Academy of General Dentistry suggests a link between gingivitis and having a preterm or low-birthweight baby. If an expecting mother has gingivitis, it can cause bacteria to enter in the bloodstream and travel to the uterus. The bacteria themselves trigger chemicals that may induce early labor.

Maintaining good oral health is important in combating problems during pregnancy and if it is discovered can be managed with the help of your dentist. Without proper treatment, gingivitis can lead to other health issues that not only affect you, but also your pregnancy. Keep yourself and your child safe by having a consultation with a periodontist before or during your pregnancy. We also recommend that you bring your new baby to a pediatric dentist in their first year of life so they can teach you how to care for their mouth and gums and also to get started on the path to a healthy dental life

Periodontist Waldorf | What Research Tells Us About Periodontal Disease

Periodontist Near Me

What Research Tells Us About Periodontal Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 percent of adults aged 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease; that rises to about 70 percent of adults over age 65. Gum diseases are linked to overall health as well as oral health, so it is vital to address them.

How Does Periodontal Disease Start?

Our mouths contain various types of bacteria. They can help sanitize the mouth and break down food particles; but too much can lead to periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. This can be dangerous to oral health because it not only attacks the gums; it can affect the teeth and jaw.

When bacteria collect in the mouth, they create a gummy, colorless substance known as plaque that sticks to your teeth. If the plaque is not removed during brushing and flossing, the particles can harden and turn into tartar. Over time, plaque and tartar become more difficult to remove at home. Therefore, a professional cleaning on a regular schedule can help prevent periodontal disease as well as tooth decay.

Why Treat Periodontal Disease Early

The longer the plaque and tartar remain on the teeth, the more harm they can cause your overall oral health. Eventually, they will inflame gum tissue, a condition known as gingivitis. While this is the mildest form of periodontal disease, it can progress to affect the soft tissue (gums) and the tooth. If it is not addressed, this condition can cause teeth to loosen or fall out. Periodontal disease is broken up into four stages: gingivitis, slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease.

What the Latest Gum Disease Research Shows Us

Having periodontal disease can affect your overall bodily health. Many studies show connections between gum disease, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and dementia. Some studies have found a link between gum health and osteoporosis. This progressive bone-thinning disease, most common in small white and Asian women, can weaken jaw bones, making the effects of periodontal disease more pronounced.

Our Waldorf periodontist has solutions aimed at helping you prevent and treat the underlying causes of gum disease. Routine cleanings and periodontal screenings go a long way toward preventing gum disease and stopping its progression. If you have sore, red, or bleeding gums, make an appointment with our periodontist in Waldorf as soon as possible.

We offer targeted treatments that include cleaning the pockets around teeth to prevent damage to surrounding bone. In some cases, antibiotic therapy can be used. You will work with our doctor to find the best course of treatment for you.

Contact our periodontist in Waldorf to schedule your next visit today, and protect your smile from periodontal disease.

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

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
Url: https://www.drkarlsmith.com/
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf, MD 60423

Alexandria Periodontist | Periodontal Disease and Childhood Obesity

Periodontist Alexandria

About half of all children suffer from some form of periodontal disease, a bacterial infection in the gums, according to studies published in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If it is left untreated, it can harm the teeth and jaw, especially in adulthood. Fortunately, if this condition is caught early enough and properly treated, its effects can be managed and even reversed.

Several factors can lead to the onset of periodontal disease in children. These include poor oral hygiene and untreated plaque. Diet, diabetes, hormonal changes, and even genetic predisposition can also increase your child’s risk.

Your child should be screened for periodontal disease if their gums are:

  • Red
  • Sore
  • Swollen
  • Bleeding from brushing and/or flossing

Periodontal disease in children should not be ignored. If left unchecked, it can cause your child’s gums to pull away from the teeth, affecting the structure of the bone beneath and potentially impacting their jaw alignment and bite. Over time, bone and tooth loss can occur.

This condition is preventable and highly treatable when it is caught early. Regular cleaning at home and examinations in our Alexandria periodontal office will help keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy. It is up to you to teach your child about the importance of daily oral hygiene. Have them brush with fluoride toothpaste two minutes twice a day, including all tooth surfaces and the gumline.  

Flossing is also critical. Ideally, your child should floss twice a day or after meals, but once per day will suffice. You, as a parent, will most likely have to help your child thread the floss and use it properly. Our periodontist in Alexandria is more than happy to show you and your child the proper way to floss.

Diet is also important. Always make healthy foods readily available. Emphasize fresh fruit and vegetables for the entire family and limit foods that are high in starch, sugar, and acid. That includes soda, sports drinks, and juices. Encourage your child to drink water or rinse after consuming sweet foods and beverages. 

If periodontal disease has begun, it is not too late to treat or even reverse it. Deep cleaning treatments can help remove plaque and tartar under the gumline. In some cases, antibiotics may be applied to the affected area or taken in pill form. In advanced cases, surgical cleaning can remove infected areas under the gum and restore gum structure.

Our periodontist in Alexandria can examine your child’s teeth and gums in a gentle, positive manner and make the best treatment recommendation. If you suspect your child has sore, bleeding, or inflamed gums, please contact our office right away, or schedule a routine periodontal screening today.

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

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (301) 638-4867
Url: https://www.drkarlsmith.com/
601 Post Office Rd., Suite 1-B
Waldorf , MD 60423

Waldorf Periodontist | What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Have to Do with Gum Disease?

Waldorf Periodontist

How is gum pain related to joint pain? Periodontal disease, or gum disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are systemic inflammatory disorders that affect different parts of your body. Both diseases attack the immune system and the surrounding tissue, eventually leading to tooth loss or joint pain. These two diseases have more in common than you might think. Understanding them could help preserve your overall health.

Perhaps the most striking similarity in gum disease and arthritis is the presence of inflammation, an immune system response that is triggered to fight viruses and bacteria. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it will trigger an inflammatory response automatically, even if there are no viruses or bacteria present. One study in the journal PLoS Pathogens found that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis, will increase the severity of rheumatoid arthritis. This ultimately causes symptoms to progress more quickly.

It is important for patients with rheumatoid arthritis to take care of their oral health. It’s also vital that they work with their dentist to find out what kind of treatment works best. Those with both periodontal disease and RA should work with a team composed of both a physician and a periodontist. A periodontist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. When patients with RA successfully treat periodontal disease, their other symptoms may also improve.

If you’ve been diagnosed with RA, pay close attention to oral health, keep up with your dental exams, eat healthy and don’t forget to brush and floss. If inflammation or joint stiffness gets in the way of your oral care, talk to your dentist about ways to make personal dental care easier.

For any questions about periodontal disease or rheumatoid arthritis, contact the office of Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS to schedule a consultation with our periodontist in Waldorf.

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

What Baby Boomers Need to Know About Gum Disease

Waldorf Periodontist

If you’re a baby boomer, born between 1946 and 1964, here’s another reason to improve your oral health: Your risk of periodontal (gum) disease rises with age and can lead to a host of physical problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Higher Risk of Periodontal Disease

Boomers grew up in a time of prosperity, education, and opportunity. Yet this generation has a greater need for oral treatment than any other. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 70 percent of Americans 65 and older have chronic gum disease. Surveys suggest that growing up in a time of plenty may have led to a taste for a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar. Starches and sweets accelerate the formation of plaque, which leads to enamel erosion and gingivitis. 

Research also shows that boomers can do better to protect their oral health. One survey shows only 40 percent of older people use mouthwash, 34 percent brush their teeth only once a day, and 47 percent say they often skip flossing. 

When age-related conditions like arthritis make proper brushing and flossing more difficult, it exacerbates the problem further. 

Periodontal Disease Raises Risk for Alzheimer’s 

Another reason to take care of your mouth as you age is the growing connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. More than 6 million Americans over 65 have been diagnosed with this form of dementia, a number projected to more than double by 2050.  

A 2019 National Institutes of Health study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows the bacteria that cause gingivitis, the earliest form of periodontal disease, are also connected to several forms of dementia. One species of bacteria, porphyromonas gingivalis, is believed to migrate from gum infections through the bloodstream and into the brain. There, they release enzymes that can destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

The relationship between dementia and gum disease goes the other way, too: People with memory loss may neglect their oral health.

Protecting Oral Health as You Age

Research is underway to develop a drug that can block bad bacterial enzymes and slow the progression of dementia. Until then, it is imperative to take extra care of your teeth and gums as you age.

  • Brush twice a day, floss once or twice a day, and visit our office for regular checkups. 
  • Cut out sugary foods and beverages. Use the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is shown to starve harmful bacteria and reduce plaque buildup.
  • Dry mouth lowers oral pH, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Talk to us about special oral rinses, lozenges, and other preventive measures. 
  • Swish with water after eating and consuming sweet and acidic drinks.
  • Resolve to adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle for overall good health. Studies show this alone may lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease by up to 60 percent.

Aging does not mean gum disease and related health problems are inevitable. Baby boomers are known for being proactive about health care when they have the right information. We are happy to do our part and help you improve your oral health in your golden years. 

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 Alexandria | What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Alexandria Periodontist

If taking a swig of ice-cold water makes you recoil, it’s likely due to your sensitive teeth. What causes this unpleasant reaction? There are several reasons you may need treatment for sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is usually influenced by the soft inner tissue beneath the enamel of your tooth called dentin. When extreme temperatures irritate the tooth nerve, you’ll feel a tingling sensation and sometimes pain.

Another cause of tooth sensitivity is when tiny tubes of fluid in the dentin become exposed. Sometimes this occurs due to receding gums lines or damaged teeth. If this happens, pain can be triggered by foods that are too hot or cold, too sweet or acidic, or simply from contact or exposure to air.

Temporary tooth sensitivity can also be caused by whitening or orthodontic treatments. This type of sensitivity will often dissipate in a couple weeks. However, in severe cases, the tooth nerve itself may be exposed. This causes severe pain and irritation and will require immediate treatment.

What Can I Do to Treat Tooth Sensitivity?

If your teeth are becoming increasingly sensitive, contact our office for immediate care. Our team will likely screen for underlying causes requiring treatment. We’ll also be able to recommend the best method to manage your discomfort.

How Can I Prevent Teeth Sensitivity?

Oversensitivity in teeth can sometimes be prevented. Try to avoid hard-bristled toothbrushes and don’t brush too aggressively. Brushing too hard can damage enamel and expose other sensitive areas. Additionally, wearing a mouthguard while playing contact sports protects teeth from trauma. Teeth will become more sensitive after being chipped or cracked.

After you rule out serious underlying conditions, you can start to managed mildly sensitive teeth with a special toothpaste designed to decrease sensitivity. If that doesn’t provide enough relief, ask about a prescription product.

Contact our office to schedule an appointment with our periodontist in Alexandria if you suffer from any level of tooth sensitivity and we will get you the help you need.

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 Near Me | Gum Disease and Your Overall Health

Our mouths are home to all kinds of bacteria, some helpful and some harmful. Certain amounts are helpful, as they sanitize the mouth and break down food particles; however, too much bacteria will eventually lead to decay and development of gum disease. This can result in long term damage to your oral and overall health.

When bacteria start to build up in the mouth, they create a sticky colorless substance known as plaque. If plaque isn’t removed during your daily brushing and flossing, the particles can harden and turn into tartar. This hard coating becomes more difficult to remove over time, so it’s important to maintain your oral health with a professional dental cleaning.

If plaque and tartar remain on the teeth for too long, they become even more harmful and can cause long term damage to your oral health. Eventually, this buildup causes a mild form of gum disease called gingivitis. The best way to prevent gingivitis is through routine cleanings and proper at-home oral care. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to periodontal disease, an inflammatory condition that affects both the soft tissue (gums) and the tooth. When left unchecked, periodontal disease will eventually cause teeth to loosen or fall out.

Periodontal disease can have an effect on your overall health, as well. Studies show connections between periodontal disease and such serious conditions as diabetes and heart disease. With these kinds of risks, it’s even more important that you monitor your oral health.

When it comes to gum disease, our team has solutions to help you prevent decay and maintain outstanding oral health. For any questions about gum disease, gingivitis, or periodontal disease, be sure to contact the periodontics office of Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS.

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

Walford MD Periodontist | 5 Reasons to Consider Dental Implants

According to The American College of Prosthodontists, 178 million American adults are missing at least one tooth and nearly 40 million have lost all of their natural teeth.

Losing an adult tooth can have a number of negative impacts on your oral health, diet, speech, and even your self-esteem. If you’re interested in a long-term solution for tooth loss that can improve your smile, consider dental implants. Here are five ways that dental implants can improve your overall quality of life:

  1. Retain tooth positioning – Teeth that surround a missing tooth slot will eventually shift into the opening and distort the shape of your smile and bite. Dental implants will fill in the gap and prevent your surrounding teeth from readjusting.
  2. Jawbone protection – Your teeth are naturally embedded into your jawbone, so when the tooth and root are missing, your jaw bone structure will start to deteriorate. Dental implants will preserve and strengthen the bone just like natural teeth.
  3. Look younger and healthier – After you lose teeth, the skin near the gap may begin to crease or droop. Bone loss in your jaw can lead to further damage and eventually create an unnaturally aged appearance. Dental implants will restore your facial support and preserve jaw bone structure.
  4. Improved speech – Gaps in your teeth often cause speech impediments that can get worse over time. With dental implants, you’ll be able to fill in those gaps and speak more naturally.
  5. Brighten your smile – Gaps in your teeth can make you feel embarrassed and affect your self image. That’s why dental implants are made to look natural and can restore the beauty of your smile. Studies show that having confidence in your smile can boost your self-esteem, making you a happier, healthier and more social person.

Contact our periodontist in Alexandria to learn more about the benefits of dental implant restoration, and we’ll help you schedule an appointment.

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

Alexandria Periodontist | 7 Ways to Combat Bad Breath

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is commonly associated with certain foods. Garlic, onion, and cabbage can all cause a foul odor and taste for several hours after you’ve eaten them. This type of temporary halitosis is easily solved by avoiding the foods that cause it. However, in some cases bad breath is a chronic problem that simply changing your diet won’t solve.

Long-term bad breath is caused by the presence of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are most often found on the back of the tongue and thrive when your mouth is dry. There are a variety of ways you can help reduce or eliminate chronic bad breath. Some of these include:

Practice good oral hygiene.

Brush your teeth after you eat as often as possible and at least twice daily. Clean between your teeth using dental floss or another interdental (between teeth) cleaner at least once each day. Food particles between teeth will break down slowly and cause unpleasant odors and tastes.

Brush your tongue.

Even if you brush and floss your teeth as recommended, the bacteria causing your bad breath may remain on your tongue. Use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to gently scrape away any particles of food or bacteria every time you brush. For best results, place the scraper or brush as far back as you can manage without gagging. This will generally become easier over time.

Keep well-hydrated.

Dry mouths allow bacteria to thrive. By drinking plenty of water, you can help prevent the bacteria growth and reduce or stop bad breath.

Avoid bad breath triggers.

Onions, garlic, cabbage, coffee, and tobacco products are all known to cause bad breath.

Chew sugarless gum.

By chewing sugarless gum, you increase saliva production and keep your mouth moist. This helps slow or prevent bacteria growth, minimizing chances of bad breath.

Improve your diet.

Crunchy fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and foods rich in vitamins C and D all work to prevent the growth of bacteria, keep your mouth cleaner, and increase saliva flow.

See your dentist.

Follow your regular schedule of dental hygiene appointments and exams. If you have tried the tips above without improvement, make an appointment for an exam to see if there may be an underlying condition that requires treatment. Treat any oral illnesses, such as decayed teeth, periodontal (gum) disease, or infection.

For more information about the potential causes and treatments for halitosis, contact our office.

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

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

Periodontist in Alexandria | Daily Flossing

We’ve all been told at least once in our life that flossing daily is crucial. Here are four reasons why flossing may be beneficial for your oral health routine:

  • Preventative care. Food and bacteria buildup between your teeth is unavoidable. Over time, these bacterial colonies lead to tooth decay and the destruction of your dental health. Flossing helps remove food and bacteria from areas that your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Helps prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Your teeth aren’t the only part of your mouth that needs attention. Many people take care of their teeth but ignore their gums. Researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry explain that the people who floss regularly experience much lower instances of periodontal pathogens, gum bleeding, and decay-causing bacteria in contrast with people who do not floss.
  • Protects your smile. Flossing does more than just prevent cavities—it also preserves the bones that support your teeth. By preserving the height of that bony structure as well as a healthy smile, you’re maintaining a healthy and youthful appearance that will benefit you for years to come.
  • Gives you better overall health. Gum disease doesn’t just affect your mouth and jaw. It has also been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even respiratory diseases. Flossing daily is more than just an optimal habit—it can help keep you healthy as you age.

We are pleased to offer a variety of oral health solutions to keep your smile healthy. We are also able to customize a health plan tailored to your specific needs. Book your appointment with our team today.

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

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