Tooth Sensitivity: What You Can Do About It

sensitive teethDo you suffer from sensitive teeth? Does just the thought of drinking a hot or cold beverage make you want to cringe? You’re not alone. Most people will experience teeth sensitivity at one time or another, and when it happens, the pain can be sharp and sudden. Sensitive teeth can be caused by a number of things:

  • Tooth decay near the gum line
  • Vigorous brushing, which can erode tooth enamel and expose dentin
  • Gums that are inflamed and sore due to gum disease, which pulls back your gums and exposes the roots of your teeth
  • Bruxism (or teeth grinding), leading to the wearing down of tooth enamel
  • Teeth whitening
  • Acidic food and drinks, which erode tooth enamel
  • Plaque buildup
  • Using mouthwash over a long period of time, which can worsen tooth sensitivity when mouthwash acids come in contact with exposed dentin

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are ways to reduce the discomfort:

  • Brush gently using a soft bristled toothbrush, taking care when brushing along the gum line to avoid removing gum tissue
  • Try toothpaste made for sensitive teeth, and make sure it contains fluoride but not tartar control ingredients. Also, spread a thin layer of your toothpaste on the exposed roots before you go to bed.
  • Avoid food and drinks that are acidic, such as citrus fruits, pickles and tomatoes
  • Wear a mouth guard to bed if you grind your teeth
  • Rinse your mouth daily with a fluoridated mouth wash
  • Get regular dental checkups – every six months is recommended

Some dental procedures can also be used to reduce tooth sensitivity, including:

  • Bonding, crowns or inlay, which can cover exposed root surfaces
  • Applying fluoride gel or varnish to the exposed root surfaces
  • Surgical gum graft if the gum tissue has eroded from the root

If your tooth sensitivity is persistent, it may be time to visit your doctor. To learn more about treating sensitive teeth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

What is TMJ Exactly?

TMJDoes your jaw pop or click? Does it sometimes feel like it gets stuck for a moment? These could be signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a condition where part of your jaw is misaligned, making it difficult to move your lower jaw forward, backward or side-to-side. The cause of TMJ is not easily determined, but some doctors surmise that it could be brought on by grinding your teeth; however, teeth grinding can also be caused by other problems. There are additional signs that can indicate you may be at risk for TMJ, including:

  • An abrupt change in how your jaw comes together
  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw and facial muscles that may radiate to your neck or shoulders
  • Clicking, grating or popping noises when you open or close your mouth
  • Jaw pain caused by talking, chewing or yawning, which may lead to headache, dizziness and, on rare occasions, migraines.
  • Lock jaw – where your jaw gets stuck for a moment
  • Swelling of the face and mouth on the affected side
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw that make it difficult to swallow
  • Ear pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Effective Treatment for TMJ
There isn’t a definitive cure for TMJ, but there are several treatments available that can alleviate symptoms. If you suffer from TMJ, consider the following remedies:

  • Wear a mouth guard. If you suspect your TMJ may be caused by grinding your teeth, it may help to wear a devise that fits over your upper teeth to prevent them from grinding against your lower jaw.
  • Try a pain reliever. Aspirin or over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen or Tylenol can effectively reduce and even eliminate pain and muscle spasms caused by TMJ.
  • Apply heat. A warm hot water bottle or a heating pad on a medium setting can also help minimize pain and muscle spasms.
  • Relax. Look into relaxation techniques like deep breathing and a calm environment to train yourself to better relax, helping to reduce the urge to clench your jaw.

If your jaw pain is consistent, or you find that you cannot fully close your mouth, it’s time to visit your doctor. To learn more about treating TMJ, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Preparing Your Child for the Dentist

pediatric dentistryAs a parent, you know the importance of taking your child to the dentist regularly. But, to your child, a visit to the dentist can be downright scary. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your child for his or her next dental visit, and hopefully alleviate some common fears.

Start With the Right Dentist
You and your child need to feel comfortable with your dentist; otherwise, you could be setting the stage for a visit full of apprehension and even tears. Even before your child sets foot in a dentist’s office, it’s a good idea to meet with a few dentists to determine his or her bedside manner, the friendliness of the staff, and the atmosphere in the waiting room. A fun and structured environment can be a big plus for a child.

Read Up
Visit your local library for books about visiting the dentist that you and your child can read together. Knowledge is power, so the more your child knows about what to expect at his next dental visit, the better.

Role Play at Home
Children love to play pretend, so why not pretend your child is going to the dentist? Have your child practice opening their mouth wide, and explain to her some of the sensations she may experience during her visit, such as water being sprayed in her mouth, or tools that will be used to check her teeth. Keeping the role playing fun and light is the key to calming her nerves about her upcoming visit.

Explain the Dentist’s Job
Explain to your child that the dentist’s job is to make your teeth clean and healthy. It may help to tell them that certain people need certain tools for their jobs. In a dentist’s case, this involves certain tools and a special chair. If they understand that the dentist is there to perform a job, they may be more apt to cooperate the day of their visit.

To schedule your child’s next dental appointment, contact Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

Don’t Sip Your Way to Tooth Decay

An ice cold, fizzy beverage can be a real treat. It’s refreshing, tasty and oh-so-satisfying. It’s also one of the leading culprits of tooth decay. You guessed it: soda. And besides wreaking havoc on your tooth enamel, soft drinks consumed regularly can lead to health complications including diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.

dental healthSoda is loaded with sugar, and when this sugar meets with bacteria in your mouth, it forms acid that attacks your teeth. Over time, this tooth-attacking acid can weaken tooth enamel, especially in children, whose teeth have not developed fully. What’s more, the sugar and caffeine found in soft drinks can actually accelerate dehydration. And your body actually needs water to fight fatigue, so when you begin to feel sleepy in the afternoon, choose water over a soft drink. It’s better for not only your teeth, but for your overall health.

Of course, brushing twice a day and flossing regularly is also critical to good oral health, as is visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent or reduce tooth decay:

  • Try to eat at least two servings of dairy foods per day
  • Reduce your juice intake to no more than six ounces daily
  • Indulge in a sugary soft drink only occasionally rather than regularly
  • Wait at least an hour after drinking soda to brush your teeth, which allows your saliva to begin the repair process
  • Replace your soda intake with water
  • When you do have a soda, use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth
  • Wash your mouth out with water when you’re finished to flush out tooth-decaying acid
  • Drink fluoridated water and use toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Watching your sugar intake
  • Chew sugarless gum

To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is It Time For a New Toothbrush?

You use it every day, often quickly and without much thought, yet it’s one of the most important tools for good oral health. It’s your toothbrush, and when it receives enough wear and tear, it needs to be replaced. So how do you know it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new?

According to the American Dental Association, it’s best to get a new toothbrush every three to four months, but exactly when really depends on how vigorously you brush. If you have a heavier hand, the bristles on your toothbrush will wear out sooner. When the bristles start to stray in different directions, it’s time for a new brush.

Types of Toothbrushes
toothbrushToothbrushes come in two styles – manual and electric. A manual toothbrush is more portable, making it easier to brush on the go. An electric brush needs to be charged so it may not be best when traveling. Regardless of the brush you choose (both are effective), the most important thing to remember is to keep it clean. Just one toothbrush can contain nearly 10 million germs and bacteria. Thankfully, these bacteria aren’t a major threat to your teeth, and it helps that toothpaste has an anti-germ element built into it. What’s more, bacteria needs moisture to survive, so after you brush, be sure to rinse your toothbrush under water to wash away leftover toothpaste and saliva, and then store your toothbrush upright so the bristles can air dry.

Remembering When to Replace Your Toothbrush
In our busy lives, it can be easy to forget when it’s time for a new brush. But there are some ways you can help yourself get into the habit of regular replacement. Consider changing out your toothbrush when you have your semi-annual check-up. Your dentist will give you a new brush at that time, so remembering to toss the old one should be easy. It’s also best to make a note on your calendar to remember to get a new brush midway before your next check-up.

To learn more about maintaining good oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.


Dental Crowns: Are You a Candidate?

Dental crowns are caps that are placed on top of damaged or decayed teeth. They protect the tooth from further damage or decay and also restore tooth strength, allowing patients to bite and chew normally.

Dental crowns can help with severely damaged teeth that cause pain or sensitivity, protecting the tooth from further damage while restoring its strength. To see if you may be a candidate for dental crown treatment, consider whether you suffer from any of the following oral health issues:

dental crownMajor tooth decay. In the advanced stage of tooth decay, a dental crown is one of the best treatment options. In this case, dental crowns are most effective when the existing structure of the tooth is still substantial, as it helps support a dental crown. If there isn’t sufficient tooth structure, a dental crown may not be the best option.

  • Tooth erosion. Eroding teeth can be caused by drinking acidic or carbonated beverages, forced vomiting or acid reflux. Dental crowns offer a number of advantages in patients with tooth erosion. They blend well with existing teeth and feel much like enamel. And because they bond to your natural teeth, dental crowns permanently reinforce your teeth.
  • Tooth discoloration. When there is a change in the color of your teeth, crowns are an excellent restorative choice to brighten your smile and improve your overall confidence and appearance.
  • Chipped or cracked teeth. Unlike a broken bone, a cracked or chipped tooth will not heal. That’s why a dental crown is frequently recommended. It can significantly extend the lifespan of a tooth and alleviate severe pain and discomfort.

The best way to determine if you are indeed a good candidate for dental crowns is with a dental exam. Your dentist can examine your teeth and gums and suggest the most appropriate treatment option based on your situation.

To learn more about the benefits of dental crowns, or to see if you are a candidate, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall: or call 540-373-2273.

Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

When you’re expecting, it’s important to give your teeth and gums special attention. That’s because pregnancy causes changes in your hormones that increase the risk of developing gum disease, which can ultimately affect the health of your baby. To help you maintain good oral health during pregnancy, check out the following tips:

dental health for pregnant

  1. Talk to your dentist. Regular dental visits are safe for most pregnant women. At your next dental appointment, be sure to let your dentist know that you’re pregnant and the stage of pregnancy you’re in. It’s also important to advise your dentist about any medications your doctor may have prescribed for you before you became pregnant, as well as during pregnancy.
  2. Identify any changes in your mouth. Some women experience red, tender and sore gums during pregnancy. This may be caused by a mild form of gum disease called gingivitis, which can become more serious if left untreated. The good news is gingivitis can be controlled with regular teeth brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits to the dentist.
  3. Watch what you eat. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. As your baby continues to develop, you’ll have a hearty appetite which will likely include increased snacking. When you do snack, you may be making yourself more prone to tooth decay. That said, it’s best to choose foods that are nutritious like fruits, vegetables, yogurt and cheese. The best food to eat during pregnancy should contain vitamins A, C and D, as well as protein, calcium and phosphorous.
  4. Co-exist with morning sickness. Pregnancy and feeling queasy often go hand in hand. If you experience morning sickness and vomit often, rinse your mouth out with water after vomiting. It may also help to rinse with a mixture of water and one teaspoon of baking soda to prevent stomach acid from affecting your teeth. Another option is choosing a bland-tasting toothpaste to help prevent the reflex that triggers vomiting.

To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile during pregnancy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

Oral Hygiene and Braces

For many, one of the most important steps to achieving a beautiful smile is with braces. However, the potential downfall of wearing braces is that the tiny spaces between braces and wires are the perfect place for food and plaque to get trapped, which leads to tooth decay and teeth stains. That’s why it’s extremely important to know how to care for your teeth to truly reap the benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Brushing With Braces
bracesEven without braces, it’s recommended that you brush after each meal. This is even more important when wearing braces.
1. Position the brush at a straight angle and use circular motions, starting with the outside of the teeth.
2. Angle the brush down (for the top teeth) or up (for the bottom teeth) and continue brushing in a circular fashion, making sure the brush is getting under the wires.
3. Move on to the chewing surface and carefully brush the upper and lower jaw.
4. Finish by brushing the backs of your teeth.
5. Inspect your teeth in the mirror to make sure you’ve brushed away all the food particles.

Flossing With Braces
It may seem like a pain, but flossing is essential for effective orthodontic care. Threader floss, which has a stiff end, will allow you to insert the floss between your brackets.

1. Thread the floss under the arch wire, over the space between your teeth. Pull the floss through two teeth and use your fingers to hold both ends.
2. Floss gently between each tooth, moving it up all the way under the gums in a “C” shape.
3. Pull the floss out and use a new section of it to get between the next two teeth, and then repeat.

In addition to brushing and flossing accordingly, it’s crucial to avoid sweets, soda and other sugary foods. Beef jerky, popcorn, nuts, ice and chips are a big no-no because they can loosen brackets and break wires. Adhering to a regular brushing and flossing routine will ensure that you have a dazzling smile when your “brace face” days are behind you.

To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

The 5 Best Ways to Damage Your Teeth

By brushing and flossing regularly, most of us think that we’re doing all we can for our oral health. But did you know that many of us have adopted bad habits that can do major damage to our teeth? What’s more, we may not even realize it. By eliminating some of the following practices, you can protect your pearly whites even more. Read on to see if you’re guilty of any of the following:

Teeth Grinding
bruxismAlso known as bruxism, teeth grinding can be brought on by stress or during sleep, unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth. Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep will help. It may also be a good idea to eliminate caffeine, which is a stimulant that can cause jaw tension. During the day, when you feel yourself tensing your jaw, put your tongue in between your teeth to remind your mouth to relax.

Chewing on Ice
You may find it gratifying to chomp away at ice chips, but this mindless habit actually puts you at risk for a cracked tooth. Make it a point to suck on your ice instead of biting it, or if you don’t think you can control the habit, drink your beverages without ice altogether.

Soda and Sports Drinks
A refreshing soft drink or sports beverage is hard to pass up. But these drinks are packed with sugar which can cause tooth decay and eat away at tooth enamel. It’s not surprising that swapping out these sugary drinks for water is the better way to go.

Brushing Too Soon
You’re an oral health superstar if you remember to brush after eating, right? Yes, but don’t do it too soon. When you eat, the acid from the food weakens your tooth enamel, so if you brush right after eating, you may be doing more harm than good. Wait at least an hour before you brush to preserve the enamel on your teeth.

Tobacco products of any kind can wreak havoc on your mouth. In addition to staining your teeth, cigarettes and the like can lead to stained teeth, gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer. Kicking the habit is a great way to not only maintain good oral health, but to positively affect your overall health, as well.
To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.

The Best and Worst Foods for Oral Health

Brushing and flossing are the order of the day when it comes to caring for good oral health. But did you know the food you eat also has a big impact? To follow is a compilation of the best and worst foods for oral health. While eating (or avoiding) these foods won’t necessarily lead to a perfect mouth, following these guidelines can provide you with the tools you need to have the best possible smile. We’ll start with the biggest offenders first.

The Worst

oral health

  1. Citrus
    While citrus is a good source of vitamin C, it’s also highly acidic, especially in grapefruit and lemon juice. These acids can erode enamel of your teeth. Orange juice is less acidic and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D, so it may be best to opt for this variety over other juices. Just be sure to brush and floss accordingly.
  2. Candies and Sweets
    This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given the sugar content of these confections, which can cause tooth decay over time. Another drawback is the physical damage candy can do to your mouth. Hard candy, for example, can chip your teeth, and chewy candy can stick to teeth for a long time, allowing bacteria to build up.
  3. Soda & Sports Drinks
    Besides the sugar content found in soda, the acids in carbonated drinks are also extremely harmful to your teeth. What’s more, carbonation wears away and thins the enamel on your teeth. Sports drinks may seem like a good alternative to soda, but these so-called health drinks are also acidic and full of sugar.
  4. Wine
    Red wine, in particular, contains substances that can discolor your teeth, and the tannins in red wine can make your moth dry and teeth sticky, which worsens stains. White wine is also a culprit for tooth damage, as it (along with red wine) contains acid that can erode the teeth and allow stains from other foods to penetrate more deeply.

The Best

  1. Sugar-free Gum
    When you chew sugar-less gum your mouth produces saliva, which helps rinse harmful acids from your teeth and preserve tooth enamel.
  2. Water
    This is a no-brainer. Water is essential when it comes to oral health, as it helps wash sugars and acid off teeth. It’s also the main component in saliva.
  3. Dairy
    Because your teeth are mostly made of calcium, you need it in your diet to prevent the development of tooth decay. Dairy products like milk and especially cheese are rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth.
  4. Fiber-rich Foods
    High-fiber foods act as a natural scrubber for your teeth. By eating leafy vegetables like spinach or beans, you’re stimulating saliva, which neutralizes tooth-damaging acids. What’s more, while the food itself acts like a detergent in your mouth by scrubbing your teeth with the little food pieces.

To learn more about maintaining good oral health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall or call 540-373-2273.