Dr. Stephen A. Price


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Bruxism: An Unknown Consequence of Pandemic Shut-Down

Bruxism: An Unknown Consequence of Pandemic Shut-Down

A few months ago, the New York Times reported an increase in dental complaints such as tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, and headaches since the novel coronavirus forced a global shutdown. Additionally, dentists report an increase in tooth fractures in the past several months. These concerning problems are often related to tooth grinding and clenching. In turn, bruxism often relates to stress. It is no secret that months of shutdown and the uncertainty of the pandemic itself are the perfect ingredients for a stressful situation.

If you are concerned that you might be clenching and grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. Bruxism can cause several unpleasant side effects. Lifestyle habits and appropriate dental care may correct them.  

What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism describes clenching and grinding. Clenching occurs when you bite down with extreme force for a prolonged period. Grinding involves stronger than normal biting force as well as a back-and-forth motion. A person may do these things without knowing it but may notice the symptoms of these movements. Bruxism may be discovered through symptoms such as jaw soreness, tooth soreness, or sensitivity. With prompt attention, bruxism may be managed before it can cause more severe problems such as:

  • Severe headaches
  • Jaw, face, or neck pain
  • Chronic sleep disruption
  • Damage to tooth enamel
  • Tooth fracture

Is Bruxism Preventable?

Because bruxism is associated with stress, there may be no way to avoid all potential triggers. However, the person who establishes strong stress- management skills may be less likely to clench or grind their teeth. Additionally, experts advise people to reduce caffeine and alcohol intake and avoid smoking, at least before bed. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, listening to music, or taking a walk are also helpful.

What if Bruxism Has Already Begun?

Bruxism can cause problems that take time to resolve, so an evaluation should occur as soon as symptoms appear. A dentist may not cure bruxism but can provide services that minimize the impact of excessive biting force. The most common approach to managing bruxism is a nightguard. This appliance is worn at night. It fits over the teeth like a mouth guard that one would wear while playing sports. It does not prevent grinding and clenching, but it prevents damage that could result from extreme pressure.

Stress can negatively impact your dental health. We can help you address problems like bruxism with conservative, non-invasive care. To schedule your consultation, call (703)-935-2879.

The Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath strikes us all from time to time. It’s sometimes unavoidable, especially if we enjoy eating especially pungent foods. You may notice an odor on your breath after that garlic-laden meal or a salad with a healthy portion of onions. These are the minor frustrations that can be handled by drinking extra water, chewing some mint gum, or brushing teeth after consuming notoriously smelly foods. What if bad breath isn’t related to foods, though? And what if it persists day after day or gets worse over time? This is a problem that can be handled between you and your dentist.

When bad breath is not caused by food, it is important to schedule a dental exam and cleaning. The odor could be a sign of a few different problems that your dentist can treat. Some of the common causes of bad breath include:

  • Plaque and tartar buildup. If you brush only once a day and do not floss your teeth, you have a higher risk of plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque is an invisible film that harbors not only debris but also bacteria. Bacteria deposit waste onto teeth and gums that can become foul-smelling. Your dentist can perform a thorough cleaning that removes plaque and tartar and gives you a fresh slate to improved oral health – and better breath!
  • A dirty tongue. Just like debris can accumulate on the teeth and gums, it also often builds up on the back of the tongue. Sulfurous waste from bacteria travels on the breath. The tongue can be brushed with the toothbrush. However, a tongue scraper is a better idea. This can be purchased at a pharmacy and should be used gently so as not to irritate delicate tissue.
  • Gum infection. Whether it is a mild form of gingivitis or full-blown periodontal disease, infection carries bacteria. Gum disease in all of its forms is a common cause of bad breath. Professional treatment can eradicate the infection and restore integrity to the gums. Treatment should be followed with good oral health practices that include brushing twice a day and flossing every day.
  • Dehydration and fasting. If you are dehydrated or regularly skip meals, your mouth will produce less saliva. Saliva carries odorous bacteria from the mouth and can be stimulated by chewing gum and sipping water throughout the day.

We can help you get a handle on bad breath. Call (703)-935-2879 to schedule your visit with Burke, VA dentist Dr. Stephen Price.  

A Toothache is a Sign You Need a Full Dental Checkup

Toothaches are uncomfortable, to say the least. Most people do what they can to avoid this stressful problem. Even if a toothache is mild, it is a signal that something is affecting those pearly whites. Sometimes, tooth pain can be a secondary problem. For example, a sinus infection or bad allergies may cause nerve irritation that results in pain in the mouth. This can happen but, more often than not, a toothache means you need a dental checkup.

What Causes a Toothache? 

The most common reason a person gets a toothache is that a tooth has begun to sustain damage from oral bacteria. Another reason a tooth may hurt is that it has been fractured or because grinding or clenching takes place during sleep. A toothache can feel like a dull ache or sharp or throbbing pain. It may occur intermittently or remain constant. The tooth may hurt only when chewing or brushing teeth, or when drinking hot or cold beverages. However, tooth pain feels, it is important to get to the source of that pain. A full dental exam can do that.

When Should I See a Dentist for My Toothache?

People often treat tooth pain with warm salt-water rinses or over-the-counter pain medication. Because toothaches usually stem from an underlying problem like decay, home remedies only provide temporary relief. They do not resolve the problem that is causing pain. Without adequate care, the toothache is likely to persist or come back even worse. See a dentist if:

  • Tooth pain lasts more than a day or two.
  • Pain is severe.
  • Tooth pain coincides with swelling, fever, or jaw pain.

What to Expect at Your Dental Appointment

When you have a toothache, your dentist will try to fit you into their schedule right away. When you call our office, let us know the reason for your visit. We don’t want you waiting any longer than absolutely necessary to get the care you need to restore comfort. At the time of your visit, we may perform full x-rays or x-rays only of the area where the pain is occurring. This depends on how long it has been since your last full dental exam. Dr. Price may ask for details about your toothache, such as the type of pain you are having. He will review the x-rays to evaluate the root of your tooth and the tooth structure itself for signs of damage such as a fracture. Treatment can then be performed based on the reason for the toothache.

A toothache may be treated with a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown. In more severe cases of damage, a root canal may be needed. It is advantageous to schedule a dental exam as soon as a toothache starts so we can repair the problem in the most conservative way.

Schedule your dental exam at our Burke, VA office today. Call (703)-935-2879.

Two Ways to Improve Your Smile

There are several ways that you express your personality. You choose clothing and even music that reflects who you are and how you feel. These are preferences that you can choose. One that you cannot is your smile. You get what you get, right? No! Thanks to modern dental technology, you can make your smile a perfect match to your personality.

Here, we discuss some of the common ways this is done.

  1. Invisalign

We are incredibly proud to be a Premier Invisalign Provider in Northern Virginia. Dr. Price has helped many patients get their best and healthiest smiles using this convenient system. When Invisalign was first developed as an innovative aligner system, it barely held a candle to traditional orthodontics. Now, it is recognized as one of the leading alternatives to braces available today.

Invisalign works by first determining the best path to bite and alignment correction. We do this via sophisticated impressions and imaging, which are then processed in a high-tech laboratory. Then, the system is progressed through personal oversight from Dr. Price. Patients appreciate the results they can observe from one visit to the next. For Invisalign to work, patients need only commit to wearing aligners at all times other than during meals and when brushing and flossing. Aligners can also be removed for short periods such as special occasions.

  • Dental Implants  

Tooth loss is a common problem that does not get a lot of attention. Historically, when a person has lost a tooth, or many, a dentist would create a mold to match missing teeth. A lab would create new artificial teeth. This is not a match for what nature had intended, though. Our natural teeth don’t sit on top of the gums; they are tethered to the periodontal ligament and jawbone through their roots. When a tooth is lost or extracted, that stability is also lost. Dental implants have become the gold standard of tooth replacement for this very reason; these root replacements reinstate the stability that was once provided by natural teeth and roots.

An implant is a titanium “root” that is affixed to an artificial tooth through an attachment called an abutment. Each part of the dental implant system is made to be as durable as a natural tooth. The outcome of this procedure is more than 98 percent successful as it relates to natural form and function.

Dr. Price has established our Burke, VA office as a comprehensive dental practice in which patients can attend to their oral health needs. Call (703)-935-2879 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you make the most of your smile!

How Does COVID Affect Dental Visits?

The first half of this year has been uncertain, to say the least. Many cities have closed down, opened up, and closed down again. At this time, many people are wondering whether or not they should keep their regularly-scheduled dental exam and cleaning. Realizing that these services cannot be conducted from six feet away, it may sound like a good idea to just forego that dental appointment. However, this may come at a cost down the road. Here, we discuss what dental offices are doing to keep patients’ safety at the forefront of dentistry.

Social Distancing is a Priority

We’ve heard a lot in the news recently about the importance of maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet. This is because studies show that droplets from a sneeze or cough can travel that far. This, in combination with wearing a mask, is believed to have a significant effect on the risk of infection. But how does this happen in the clinical setting?

Your Dentist is Social Distancing!

Obviously, it is not possible to maintain distance between the dentist and patient during exams, cleanings, and necessary procedures. However, there are steps that have been taken to increase the ability to maintain social distancing in the office. One of the ways this is achieved is by minimizing the number of people in the office at one time. To preserve the safest possible environment, the reception area is kept empty and is cleaned often. Magazines and other items that are normally available have been removed so patients are not touching the same objects. Hand sanitizer is also kept in an accessible location. Following these protocols, there is a very low chance that patients will even cross paths during their visits.

Additional Safety Measures

We may be facing a transition into a new normal in society, at least for the next several months. However, this new normal does not diminish the importance of regular dental care. In addition to social distancing and mask-wearing, the dental office may follow safety precautions such as family-friendly scheduling, quick and convenient prescreening for each patient, no hugs or handshakes (as much as we’d like to!), and regular temperature checks of staff members. These precautions allow our patients to receive the dental care they need with the peace of mind they deserve.

Do you have questions about our current practices or services? Contact our Burke office at (703)-935-2879 for friendly assistance.

Expecting? Here’s How to Protect Your Oral Health!

One of the critical advances in dentistry in the past decade has been the intense study of the oral-systemic link. Multiple research projects have led to a clear understanding that every person’s oral health has a very real effect on their body. For pregnant women, this link includes effects on the developing fetus. Poor oral health has been identified as a contributing cause of gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction, premature delivery, and preeclampsia, all conditions that expectant mothers wish to avoid.

It can be frightening to think that your oral health throughout pregnancy can affect your baby. To avoid problems can be a bit more challenging when you’re pregnant due to the ways that changing hormones influence the gums, in particular. It’s not all bad news, though. Here, we outline a few strategies for maintaining a healthy mouth throughout pregnancy.

Watch Out for Sweet Cravings

It’s an old wives’ tale that pregnant women have an unnerving craving for pickles. The truth is every woman may have new and unusual cravings. Sometimes, those are for sweets or high-carbohydrate foods such as bread and rice. Studies show that one of the dangers of starchy, refined carbs is that these molecules increase blood glucose levels. They act similarly to sugar in the way that they affect the teeth and gums.

If you’re pregnant and you find that you’re craving sweets more often than usual, satisfy your pregnancy cravings with fresh fruits, when possible. Fruits like strawberries can be enjoyed with a drizzle of honey or whipped cream for extra deliciousness, and they have a teeth-whitening effect to boot! Another option for satisfying that sweet-tooth without increasing the risk of cavities is to find sugar-free recipes online.

Managing the Effects of Morning Sickness

Morning sickness can be unpleasant at the very least. At worst, when nausea leads to vomiting, this pregnancy-related illness can be unhealthy. Extreme nausea and vomiting may cause dehydration and fatigue. This problem can also affect the teeth because of the acid in stomach reflux. The acid in reflux fluid erodes enamel and may result in cavities. While it may sound logical to brush teeth promptly if nausea causes vomiting, this should be avoided. Acid softens the enamel of teeth. Brushing within 30 minutes of acid exposure could scratch the outer surface of teeth, further increasing the risk of decay and erosion. Instead of brushing, rinse the mouth with water and dab a small amount of mouthwash around the gums for freshness.

Ideally, a thorough dental exam and cleaning can be done before pregnancy. If tooth pain or other problems arise during pregnancy, a call to the dentist can identify appropriate solutions. To schedule a visit to our Burke, VA office for your exam and cleaning, call (703)-935-2879.

Can Invisalign Do Things that Regular Braces Can’t?

Regardless of how appealing it sounds to have straighter teeth, many people worry about how they will get from point A to point B. Will they have to wear braces like their parents or siblings did? If so, their approach to braces is No, Thank you. There are several concerns raised by patients who want to straighten their teeth, including comfort, appearance, and oral health. These concerns are addressed in the Invisalign system, which is one of the reasons why this treatment quickly became the leading request among patients who want straighter teeth. Here, we point out the leading advantages to Invisalign over traditional braces.

Invisalign Doesn’t Have Brackets or Wires

Braces are individual brackets that are glued on each tooth. Brackets are connected through an arch wire on the top row of teeth and one on the bottom row. Every so often, the orthodontist tightens the wires to pull teeth into their new position. Invisalign doesn’t have brackets or wires; it is a set of clear plastic aligners that look like something an athlete would wear, or like the trays that are used to whiten teeth. The material from which aligners are made is virtually undetectable due to clarity, eliminating the concern that the smile will be cosmetically diminished by braces.

A More Comfortable Experience

One of the primary reasons braces can be uncomfortable is that brackets project from the teeth. Brackets are square, which gives them edges that can be relatively sharp. Unless wax is applied over each bracket, there is a good chance that tissue inside the mouth could get caught on an edge now and then. This not only hurts in the moment but can lead to persistent swelling and irritation as the injury is repeated. Aligners form around teeth so there is nothing to poke at the cheeks or catch on the lips.

Does this mean that Invisalign is completely comfortable? No. Patients should remain aware that Invisalign treatment is moving their teeth. This will incur a bit of discomfort as roots move in the periodontal ligament. Most patients can manage comfort with an over-the-counter medication as needed.

Oral Health

Another advantage of Invisalign is that it is easier to care for teeth throughout treatment. With brackets and wires, there is plenty of opportunity for food to get trapped in hard-to-reach places. This increases the number of bacteria on teeth and the gums, which means a greater likelihood of cavities and gingivitis or gum disease. Invisalign patients need only remove their aligners every morning and night to brush and floss as they normally would.

We are proud to be a premier Invisalign provider in Northern Virginia. To schedule your consultation for a straighter smile, call (703)-935-2879.

Dental Facts That Need to be Understood

Dental care is integral to good oral and general health. Therefore, the persistence of misunderstood ideas about oral care doesn’t serve us at all. Often, the belief in outdated and unfounded misconceptions keeps people from asking their dentist questions that could promote healthier teeth. Here, we want to clear up a few of the most commonly misunderstood dental facts so you can avoid unnecessary discomfort and stress.

Baby Teeth Don’t Need to Be Brushed

Baby teeth will fall out, so strict oral care is not necessary. This could not be more inaccurate. Early dental care, including visits to the dentist, is vital to a child’s lifelong oral health. First, when a baby and toddler receive routine tooth-brushing from a parent, they learn the importance of this habit and are more likely to maintain it throughout life. Second, when a child begins seeing the dentist at a younger age, they are less likely to develop dental anxiety. Finally, baby teeth are placeholders. They are needed to create space in dental arches for the primary teeth that are developing directly behind them. When baby teeth become decayed, the development of primary teeth may be affected.

Sugar is Sugar

There is an expectation among patients that their dentist will tell them to avoid sugar. Sugar is indeed bad for our teeth. More than knowing this, it is important to understand why. How exactly does sugar lead to cavities and other problems? It’s a matter of timing. When we eat a sugary treat, the bacteria in the mouth convert that sugar to acid in less than 30 seconds. Then, the acid lingers in the mouth for about half an hour. The more we snack on sugary drinks and treats, the more acidity is washed over our teeth and gums. From this perspective, it is better to enjoy a sweet treat and then let the mouth restore healthier pH levels before eating again. An even better idea is to consume water after having something sugary. Don’t just drink the water, swish it around in the mouth. This will dilute sugar acids and help enamel to remineralize more quickly.

These are just a couple of the common misunderstood dental facts that persist today. We’re happy to share real facts with you during your visit to our Burke office. To schedule your exam and cleaning, call (703)-935-2879.

Are You Clear on the Benefits of Flossing?

We know from years of research and clinical data that oral health is not complicated. There is no secret method of keeping teeth and gums healthy. All it takes is a consistent hygiene routine. With consistent brushing every morning and night (two full minutes) and flossing once a day, it’s possible to avoid a number of unnecessary problems. Here, we point out a few clear benefits of a daily flossing habit.

  • Flossing makes your mouth feel cleaner.

Brushing your teeth removes most of the plaque and debris that accumulate but not all of it. Flossing removes the debris that collects in between teeth and right beneath the gums. When gunk is removed from these hard-to-reach places, the mouth will feel ultra-clean because it is.

  • Flossing reduces the chances of gum disease and other problems.

Most people realize that flossing is their way to better gum health. On the contrary, when flossing is neglected, the gums become weak. Weak gums pull away from teeth. Where the fit between gums and enamel is loose, there is a chance of cavities forming. Because the area of the tooth exposed by weak gums is close to the root, there is a chance that the root area could become infected. This would need to be treated with root canal therapy.

  • And still bigger problems.

Studies have linked poor oral health and gum disease, in particular, with several potentially serious health conditions. Gum disease is a bacteria problem. The purpose of flossing is to remove the bacteria that naturally colonize between teeth at the gum line. If bacteria accumulate, they deposit toxic chemicals into the mouth. These can lead to bad breath at the very least, severe gum disease and, at worst, can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and more.

  • Flossing can reduce the risk of discoloration.

Some of the stains that develop on teeth are localized at the inner corners where teeth meet. Stains can also occur along the gum line where plaque and tartar can build up. If nothing else, people may be motivated to floss to keep their smile as cosmetically pleasing as possible.

Flossing doesn’t have to be an unpleasant chore. The task takes less than five minutes to perform. That’s five minutes a day for a lifetime of healthy benefits. If string floss isn’t your thing, talk to your dentist about options such as a Water Pik or flossing tool.

Let us help you manage your oral health. Call our Burke office to schedule a checkup and cleaning.

Habits to Carry You Through Halloween Temptations

Some people love the spookiness of Halloween; the decorations and haunted houses galore. More popular than that, even, is the vast selection of holiday treats trick-or-treaters receive in a matter of just a few hours. Even the treat-givers are often tempted to set a few goodies aside for themselves as they enjoy the revelry. Regardless of how much Halloween loot you and your family get this year, know that there are easy ways to have your “cake” and eat it, too. Here, we discuss a few strategies to prevent unnecessary tooth damage during the coming festivities.

  1. Time the treats. For yourself or children, candy can be a dangerous treat if not handled carefully. Timing can make a huge impact on the effects of sugary delectables on teeth. Dentists suggest that a few pieces of candy be given after a meal vs. as a random snack. Doing this limits the frequency of exposure to sugar.
  2. Eat this, not that. It isn’t that some treats must be avoided altogether, but some varieties are better when limited. These include sugary gum, hard candies that dissolve slowly, and sticky candy like caramel or taffy.
  3. Rinse and repeat. While it isn’t always possible to brush after snacks and meals, one can easily reach for water to dilute sugar residue in the mouth. After consuming candy or other sugary items, a quick rinse with water can wash some of the sugar down so it does not sit on enamel. Even better than simply rinsing, we suggest drinking plenty of water throughout the day when candies are around. This is an excellent alternative to sugary sodas and other beverages.
  4. Be good about brushing. Regular brushing is always an important aspect of ongoing oral health. When there is a stronger temptation to consume sugar, oral care becomes even more critical to cavity prevention. Brush morning and night for a full two minutes. It’s that simple!

Halloween is a fun time of year that we look forward to as much as our patients do. It’s also a great time to schedule routine checkups and cleanings for the whole family. To make your appointment in our Burke office, call (703)-935-2879.



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