Common Problems


Tooth Decay

Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, they may negatively impact your quality of life.

When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, with tooth decay resulting.

Sensitive Teeth

Your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. Hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth. Even more reactive to temperature extremes are the old fashioned metal fillings.  The expansion and contraction of these is so great that the tooth can actually crack, or a large gap can open at the metal-enamel interface.   Unusual sensitivity showing up in teeth with old metal fillings is a warning sign.
Even without fillings, over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.

Gum Disease

Gum infection, or periodontal disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Gum disease is not contagious, but it is communicable, so intimate contact can transfer bacteria and other single-celled organisms responsible for the infection. If a person is really attentive to his or her oral health, but their partner is not, the healthy person may be putting their own mouth at risk.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. (We knew that, right?).  Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. Brushing more often, especially when away from home, ie school or work, is a great first step.  Scraping your tongue is a big help.  Tongue scrapers of many designs are out there.  Find one that works for you.  These are 100% more effective than brushing the tongue. 
While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem.

Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.  Cold sores usually appear near the edges of your lips.  If you are frustrated with a history of recurring episodes, especially cold sores, look up the use of Lysine tablets as an over-the-counter supplement.   There is some evidence that 500mg per day, every day, is effective in keeping the episodes to a minumum.

Orthodontic Problems

A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions.

3302 Old Bridge Rd., Suite F
Lake Ridge, VA 22192
Phone: 703.497.9709
Fax: 703.497.2715

Office hours

Mon-Thu 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM.