Our Blog

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

February 28th, 2017

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Dr. Hughes and Dr. Mascia. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Dr. Hughes and Dr. Mascia during your next visit to our Springfield, VA office.

How do I know if I have dry mouth?

February 21st, 2017

Dry mouth, also medically known as xerostomia, is the condition of not having enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. There are many ways to keep dry mouth at bay, including:

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing every day after a meal
  • Avoiding tobacco, as well as drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
  • Avoiding dry foods, as well as foods containing high salt, acid, spice, or sugar levels
  • Drinking water frequently or sucking on ice chips
  • Using a humidifier at night

Please call our convenient Springfield, VA dental office to learn more about dry mouth, or ask us during your next visit!

How a High-Tech Office Helps Your Orthodontic Treatment

February 21st, 2017

Our office strives to bring you the latest and greatest in orthodontic techniques and technologies. Being on the cutting edge of the industry is important—it ensures you, as our patient, are getting the best orthodontic treatment you possibly can while keeping costs down!

The goal of a high-tech office is three fold: to have effective treatment, to have efficient treatment, and to make the whole process easy, painless, and cost-effective for you.

Here are some of the technologies being implemented by Dr. Hughes and Dr. Mascia to do just that:

3D oral scanners: If you've ever experienced getting impressions the traditional way, it isn't very fun! Having a gag reflex is common and it takes several minutes on both the top and bottom of the mouth to get a successful impression.

With 3D oral scanners, we create a perfect digital scan of your teeth without radiation. We then use the results of the scan to create accurate braces, retainers, and other appliances for your unique teeth and mouth.

Digital Imaging: New digital imaging provides us with accurate, panoramic, and cephalometric views of your teeth and their supporting structures. This lets us plan and implement treatment with the utmost precision.

Not only does this kind of imaging expose patients to far less radiation than traditional X-rays but it also gives us immediate access to the images, whereas X-rays had to be developed. This expedites treatment time and means fewer trips to our Springfield, VA office for you.

New, high-tech braces options: There are so many more choices when it comes to braces these days! Advances in the industry like Invisalign®, self-ligating braces, and lingual braces, allow patients to not only get highly accurate and precise treatment, but do so discreetly without anyone else even knowing.

Digital scanning and imaging takes the guesswork out of braces. Instead of the orthodontist estimating tooth movement and treatment progression, these days it's all computer modeled with exacting detail. The result? Your braces do exactly what they're intended to do in less time with a picture-perfect outcome.

These are just some of the advances in the orthodontic industry. Needless to say, they all make the entire process that much easier and effective for you. If you have any questions or are interested in treatment, please don't hesitate to contact our Springfield, VA office!

Don't brush after EVERY meal!

February 7th, 2017

This may come as a surprise, but brushing your teeth right after a meal can be one of the worst things you can do for your healthy teeth. A toothbrush can be considered an assault weapon against your smile if used immediately after eating certain foods.

Enamel is like the tooth’s shield. It is a hard mineral exterior on each of your teeth. In reality, enamel is the hardest part of the human body—even stronger than bone! I like to regard it as a “super-structure.” But every superhero has a weakness, and enamel’s kryptonite is acid.

A healthy tooth lives in a mouth that has a proper pH balance. When that balance tips from alkaline to acidic, a harmful process called demineralization begins. Demineralization occurs when acids attack and soften the tooth surface. Pores and fissures form and harmful bacteria move in.

With each bite of food or drink, our mouth pH fluctuates. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid. Here are some examples of those sources of acid: citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. There are certainly many others, but these are the most common.

So how does brushing your teeth immediately after a meal make this process even worse?

After eating highly acidic foods, your teeth are susceptible to damage. When you brush your teeth in this weakened state you are actually damaging your enamel. The abrasive bristles of the brush wear away the protective surface of the teeth. You should avoid brushing for at least an hour, or take other, simple preventive measures immediately following a meal.

First, rinse with or drink clear water. Then chew some sugarless gum. Both of these practices will produce saliva, restore a healthy pH level in your mouth, and coat your teeth with nourishing minerals. Out of all the sugarless gums available, the best of the best are those that list xylitol as the first ingredient. Another option is to consume cheese, milk, or another non-acidic food or drink to conclude your meal.

After you have given your mouth time to return to a healthy pH, feel free to brush your teeth. Just keep in mind that any time you eat acidic foods, you weaken your teeth. Make sure not to worsen the problem by brushing immediately after dining and damaging your teeth even more. Questions? Call us at David R. Hughes Orthodontics.

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