Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores

canker soresMouth sores in general can be irritating and sometimes painful. The most common mouth sores are canker sores and cold sores. But how can you tell the difference?

Canker Sores
When you have a canker sore, it’s difficult to chew or smile without discomfort. Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that carry the following traits:

  • Open sores that can be single or in a group with a white, yellow or gray center surrounded by a bright red border.
  • May be caused by stress, fatigue, hormones or tissue damage
  • Reside inside the mouth, usually on the cheeks or tongue
  • Reappear periodically
  • Can be difficult to prevent
  • Are not contagious

To prevent to recurrence of canker sores, avoid acidic foods that can cause mouth irritation. And refrain from chewing on the inside of your mouth, which may lead to tissue damage that triggers canker sores.

Cold Sores
A cold sore is a blister filled with fluid that usually develops outside the mouth around the lips. The characteristics of a cold sore are:

  • Brought on by a virus- herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Can be triggered by stress, fatigue, exposure to extreme conditions or injury
  • Appear as red, fluid-filled blisters and usually in a group
  • Are highly contagious

If you feel a cold sore beginning to surface, there is a brief window of time for you to intervene before it gets worse. Begin by keeping the cold sore area clean and avoid touching it. There are over-the-counter medications you can use to shorten the duration of a cold sore. These include Docosanol (Abreva) and Benzyl alcohol. Many people also suggest Carmex as an effective cold sore treatment. When you get a cold sore, be sure to abstain from sharing food, drink or utensils with anyone else. And never share hand or bath towels, which can spread the virus.

For more information about the difference between canker sores and cold sores, and how to treat them, or to schedule an appointment, please complete our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.

5 Easy Tips for Plaque Prevention

aesthetic dentistryPlaque build-up is no laughing matter. When plaque accumulates, your teeth feel like they have a slimy coating, and if this is left on too long, it can wear away tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. What’s more, bacteria found in plaque can make your teeth turn yellow and give you bad breath. To learn more about the best ways to combat plaque, check out these five helpful guidelines.

  • Brush Daily. Brushing twice a day is one of the best ways to care for your teeth and gums. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and choose toothpaste with fluoride. And don’t neglect your tongue, gums and the insides of your cheeks where plaque also forms.
  • Floss Regularly. This isn’t the easiest habit to get into, and it may seem tedious and time consuming, but flossing is essential for fighting plaque. It helps remove food particles between your teeth that your toothbrush is unable to reach. While twice a day is great, just flossing once a day can make a big difference.
  • Rinse Your Mouth. Using an antiseptic mouthwash along with brushing and flossing is the ultimate triple threat for stopping plaque in its tracks. Gargling for just 30 seconds each day can go a long way to warding off bacteria found in plaque.
  • Watch Your Diet. Sticky, sugary candies are major culprits for plaque buildup. That’s because they linger on your teeth longer than other foods. Other foods that cause plaque include cereal, bread, potatoes and corn. After eating these types of foods, try to make it a point to brush as soon as possible.
  • Get Regular Cleanings. A professional cleaning by your dentist will keep your teeth healthy and plaque free, just as long as you continue to care for your teeth diligently in between visits.

To learn more about plaque prevention, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall visit or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!

4 Helpful Tips to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

bruxismTeeth grinding is a common habit by many, and while some of us may catch ourselves grinding our throughout the day, most of us aren’t even aware that we do it. This can make identifying and treating teeth grinding (or Bruxism) a challenge. Waking up with a sore jaw is one of the tell-tale signs that you grind your teeth, and it’s also more likely when you’re under high periods of stress. This can cause significant damage to your teeth including wearing away your tooth enamel, increased sensitivity and damage to dental work. If you’re prone to grinding your teeth, check out the following tips to help knock the habit.

  1. Wear a Mouth Guard

An extremely effective way to eliminate teeth grinding is to wear a mouth guard at bedtime. Wearing a night guard while you sleep will help protect your teeth from the damage grinding your teeth can cause. Talk to your dentist about the type of mouth guard that’s right for you.

  1. Avoid Alcohol

When you consume alcohol, you’re prohibiting yourself from really getting a good night’s sleep. And when your sleep is disturbed you wake more often throughout the night, which may increase how much you grind your teeth.

  1. Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools

The next time to get the urge to open that soda bottle with your teeth, don’t. The more often you chew on inanimate objects like pen lids and the like, the more your teeth become accustomed to clamping down. This can lead to the self-conscious activity of clenching your teeth, even when there’s nothing in your mouth.

  1. Relax

Because stress is a natural contributor to teeth grinding, it makes sense that taking time to relax, breathe and recharge would also help you abstain from grinding your teeth. Listen to relaxing music, take a warm bath, or just close our eyes and breathe for a few minutes.

If you would like more information about treating bruxism, or to schedule an appointment, please complete our convenient online contact form. For locations, click here to find a center near you.


Flossing 101

flossingIf you’re brushing your teeth twice a day, good for you! You’re doing just what the American Dental Association recommends. But don’t forget to floss. In fact, the ADA suggests you floss at least once daily, more often when possible. It’s one of the best things you can do to maintain your oral health and prevent bigger problems from developing later on. And the best way to make sure your pearly whites are as healthy as they can be is to know proper flossing technique.

Flossing the Right Way
These helpful tips will ensure you’re using your flossing time wisely:

  1. Start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long, or about the length from the tip of your index finger to your elbow. Wind the floss around each of your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches of floss between your hands.
  2. Pull the floss so it’s taut and gently slide it up-and-down, making sure to reach just under the gum line, then wrap the floss around the base of each tooth and wipe each tooth two to three times.
  3. Be sure to use a new section of clean floss as you work on each tooth, and be sure to floss both sides of your teeth.
  4. Once you’ve finished flossing, brush your teeth. Flossing together with regular brushing is the best way to protect against gum disease and tooth decay.

The Best Type of Floss
Floss comes in many varieties – waxed, unwaxed, thick or thinner. Regardless of the type of floss you use, the fact that you’re flossing at all means you’re effectively removing more plaque from your teeth than you would from brushing alone. The bottom line: the best floss is the floss that gets used.
Your dentist can help determine the best type of floss to achieve optimal oral health. Dental products that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval are deemed safe and effective.

To learn more about proper flossing technique, schedule an appointment with Dr. Marshall: or call 540-373-2273. We look forward to hearing from you!


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!

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!

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.

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.

What Qualifies As A Dental Emergency?

There are different types of emergencies that require immediate dental care. These include fractures and broken teeth caused by accidents, falls, or sports related accidents; dislodged teeth; facial soft tissue injuries; severe toothaches; and abscesses. There are steps that can be followed to alleviate the pain before you reach our office for treatment, including painkillers or applying ice packs to the affected area.

However, you need to seek our help at Marshall Dental as soon as possible.

Severe toothache or pain
Severe toothache or throbbing pain that comes on suddenly is a cause for concern and should be checked out immediately because there could be an infection. Dr. Marshall will determine the cause of your pain then advise you on the best treatment options. Treatments in such cases may include a root canal procedure, fillings, or a simple intensive oral clean up.

Pain caused by dental abscesses
Abscesses are caused by infections that can develop in the tooth or between the teeth and gums. They are usually due to decay and almost always accompanied by unbearable pain. A draining procedure may be necessary to remove the abscess and prescribe a course of antibiotics.

Tooth Fracture
An X-ray will be performed if Dr. Marshall suspects a fracture that cannot be clearly seen by the naked eye. This determines if there really is a fracture and will help in assessing the extent of damage, which in most cases will call for a crown or, in extreme cases, an extraction of the damaged tooth.

Accidents and other dental emergencies are a part of life. If you find yourself in serious pain due to a dental emergency, give us a call at 540-373-2273 and we’ll take care of your problem.

Protect Your Teeth from Bruxism

Many people suffer from bruxism, teeth grinding, and don’t even know it. Because teeth grinding usually occurs at night during sleep, it’s usually a partner who hears the grinding. While occasional teeth grinding affects most people and doesn’t usually cause harm, excessive and constant teeth grinding will eventually damage your teeth.

The effects of bruxism
Teeth grinding can cause a tooth fracture, loosening of a tooth, or tooth loss. In severe cases, the grinding may substantially erode your teeth. Worse still is the possibility of jaw damage. This condition can lead to hearing loss, temporomandibular joint disorder, and a significant change in the look of your face.

Stop that annoying chatter
To protect the teeth from grinding, dentists usually fit bruxism patients with a mouth guard to be worn during sleep. It is also important to treat the root cause of the problem. For instance, stress could be the reason behind your bruxism. To alleviate this, you will have to do activities that can reduce your stress levels. This may include avoiding caffeinated foods and beverages.

Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth in your sleep? If so, have your condition checked today. Call us at 540-373-2273 and let’s talk about protecting your teeth from bruxism.