My Blog

Posts for: December, 2014


Kristin Cavallari's flawless smile has been featured on TV, film and magazine covers. But the 25-year-old actress and reality-show personality didn't always have a perfect set of teeth. In fact, she told Dear Doctor magazine — where readers recently voted to crown her with the “Smile of the Year” award — that her dental treatments began the same way many do: with orthodontics in sixth grade.

“I had the ‘spaghetti catcher,’ which is what everyone used to call it,” she reminisced. But by that, she didn't mean a strainer — she's talking about what dentists call a “palatal expander.”

In case you're not familiar with this orthodontic device, a palatal expander takes advantage of the natural growth patterns of a child's upper jaw to create additional space for the top set of teeth. How does it work? Basically, it's similar to braces: By applying gentle pressure, the appliance creates changes in the jaw. Unlike braces, however, it's invisible — it fits between the upper teeth, close to the roof of the mouth.

During the three to six months a child wears the palatal expander, it pushes the left and right halves of the upper jawbone apart, and then maintains and stabilizes the new, wider spacing. Since the palatal bones don't fuse until after puberty, tightening it a little bit each day for the first few weeks provides a quick and painless method of making the upper jaw a bit roomier. And that can be a very good thing. Why?

There are lots of reasons. For one, it can relieve the condition called “crowding,” when there is not enough space in the upper jaw to accommodate the proper alignment of the permanent teeth. In the past, teeth often had to be extracted in that situation. It may even allow “impacted” teeth — ones which are blocked from erupting by other teeth — to come in normally.

It can help treat a “crossbite,” when the back top teeth come down to bite inside (instead of outside) the lower back teeth. It also generally shortens the total time a child needs for orthodontic treatment. That's good news for any teenager — even if their own day-to-day “reality show” isn't featured on TV!

If you would like more information about palatal expanders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Palatal Expanders” and “Early Orthodontic Evaluation.”

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
December 19, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   dentures  

If you’ve had the misfortune of losing all or most of your teeth (a condition called edentulism), you still have effective options for restoring lost form and function to your mouth. There is, of course, the traditional removable denture that’s been the mainstay for edentulism treatment for decades. If you haven’t experienced significant bone loss in the jaw, though, a fixed bridge supported by titanium implants could be a better choice.

But what if bone loss has ruled out an implant-supported fixed bridge? There’s still another option besides traditional dentures — a removable “overdenture” that fits “over” smaller diameter implants strategically placed in the jaw to support it.

A removable, implant-supported bridge offers a number of advantages for edentulism patients with significant bone loss.

Speech Enhancement. Any denture or bridge supported by implants will have a positive impact on speech ability, especially involving the upper jaw. But patients who’ve previously worn removable dentures may not see a dramatic difference but will still be able to benefit from the greater stability of the denture, particularly if the dentures were previously unstable.

Hygiene. A removable denture allows better access to implant sites for cleaning. Better hygiene reduces the risk of gum disease and further bone loss.

Long-Term Maintenance. Regardless of which type of implant supported restoration is used, it will eventually require some maintenance. A well-designed removable overdenture can make any future maintenance easier to perform.

Aesthetics. For personal satisfaction, this is often the ultimate test — how will I look? As a product of the evolving art of facial aesthetics, removable dentures supported by implants can replace lost tissues and restore balance to the face, and often produce a remarkable smile “makeover.”

To find out which restoration option is best for you, you should first undergo a thorough examination to determine the status of your facial and jaw structures, particularly the amount of bone mass still present. Ultimately, though, the decision should be the one that best fits your functional needs, while fulfilling your desires for your future smile.

If you would like more information on tooth restoration options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fixed vs. Removable: Choosing Between a Removable Bridge and a Fixed Bridge.”

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
December 18, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Find out why wisdom tooth removal in Woodbridge, VA is almost always recommended.

If your dentist in Woodbridge, VA has told you that your wisdom teeth are coming in, then we may start talking to you about wisdom teeth removal and when you should come in for surgery.

What are wisdom teeth?

The wisdom teeth are the third molars that often erupt during a person’s late teens or early twenties.Oral Surgery

Do wisdom teeth always need to be removed?

Sometimes wisdom teeth can erupt and grow in properly and healthy, in which case no surgery is necessary; however, the majority of people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed due to misalignment and the possibility for complications that could affect your teeth, jawbone or nerves.

Also, wisdom teeth can become impacted, which means they do not fully erupt. This makes it easier for bacteria to get trapped around the wisdom tooth and cause an infection. Impacted wisdom teeth are also more likely to develop gum disease or cavities since it’s harder to brush these teeth properly.

Do I have wisdom teeth?

There are some people who are born without wisdom teeth. However, since we perform routine dental X-rays each year, your Woodbridge, VA dentist will be able to tell you if you do have wisdom teeth and if they need to be removed.

What does wisdom teeth extraction entail?

If the wisdom tooth has fully erupted then removing the tooth is just as easy as any other tooth extraction; however, if the wisdom tooth is impacted, we will need to perform surgery. This is a simple outpatient surgery that is most often performed under conscious sedation. During surgery we will make a small incision in the gums and then remove the bone that lies over the tooth. Then we will begin to extract the tooth in sections. After the wisdom teeth have been fully removed, we will place gauze over the empty tooth’s socket to help with the bleeding.

What should I expect after surgery?

You may experience some facial swelling, which can be easily treated by placing an ice pack on your face for a few minutes at a time for the first 24 hours after surgery. We also recommend the use of over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen to reduce swelling and discomfort. We will also give you a list of foods to avoid and other at-home care instructions to prevent infection or complications. Your stitches may or may not be dissolvable, but your Woodbridge dentist will let you know whether you need to come in to have them removed or whether they will dissolve on their own.

Wisdom tooth removal is quite common. In fact, approximately 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted each year in America. If you or your teen is getting their wisdom teeth removed in Woodbridge and has any questions about the procedure, don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime.

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
December 04, 2014
Category: Oral Health

Athletic activity can boost your health, but many sports also carry some risk — especially to the teeth. This is something NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice well knows.

“Football can be brutal — injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player,” Rice noted in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. In fact, Rice himself chipped a couple of teeth, which were repaired with crowns. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” Rice recalled.

You don't have to be a legend of the NFL to benefit from the type of high-quality mouthguard a dentist can make for you or your child. Consider that:

  • An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.
  • Mouthguards prevent an estimated 200,000 or more injuries each year.
  • Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits annually.
  • Each knocked-out tooth that is not properly preserved or replanted can cause lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000.

You and/or your child should wear a mouthguard if you participate in sports involving a ball, stick, puck, or physical contact with another player. Mouthguards should be used for practice as well as actual games.

It's also important to be aware that all mouthguards are not created equal. To get the highest level of protection and comfort, you'll want to have one custom-fitted and professionally made. This will involve a visit to our office so that we can make a precise model of your teeth that is used to create a custom guard. A properly fitted mouthguard is protective, comfortable, resilient, tear-resistant, odorless, tasteless and not bulky. It has excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas.

If you are concerned about dental injuries or interested in learning more about mouthguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Jerry Rice, please see “Jerry Rice.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Athletic Mouthguards.” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”