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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac
2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

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Dental Care Basics

Losing your teeth isn’t an inevitable part of the aging process. With good, at-home oral hygiene and regular professional checkups and cleanings, your natural teeth and gums can last throughout your lifetime. Your mouth is the entry point for your entire body and thus plays a major role in your physical health, so be sure that you’re careful about the substances that go into your mouth and the professional attention it receives.

By following the dental care basics outlined below, you’ll be in great shape to maintain and improve your oral health, building a healthy lifestyle.

How Does Plaque Get Started?

Plaque is a major factor in tooth loss in adults. After you eat or drink a substance, a sticky, bacteria-laden substance forms on your teeth. This substance is plaque. When not removed through brushing or flossing, it settles between your teeth and in the crevices in your gums and begins to attack your tooth enamel. Although tooth enamel is one of the hardest tissues in your body, when it’s constantly beset by bacteria and acids, then it will begin to erode and cause dental caries. Brushing and flossing can remove the plaque and inhibit the formation of cavities and gingivitis.

How Does Gingivitis Get Started?

When plaque isn’t removed, then it causes the gums to become inflamed, which is the beginning of gingivitis. Since gingivitis is often asymptomatic, many people can be in the early stages of it but remain completely unaware of the disease. When it remains on the gums, gingivitis will become periodontal disease and can cause the loss of your teeth as well as a substantial amount of jawbone, and it can cause facial distortion.

If you have any of the following symptoms, then you may be in the early stages of gingivitis:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Change in your bite
  • Increased sensitivity to food or drink temperatures or sugar content
  • Swollen or sensitive gums
  • Discolored gums
  • Loose teeth

If you think you may be developing gingivitis, then call our Woodbridge office for an appointment.

How Do Cavities Get Started?

When plaque remains on your teeth, it can cause cavities to form. Plaque is rife with the same bacteria that attack your tooth enamel and cause cavities, so you should frequently brush and floss so that the bacteria can’t cause your teeth to decay. If your cavities aren’t treated, they’ll become larger to the point that the tooth can’t be saved. They can also become abscessed, which is a life-threatening condition that you shouldn’t ignore.

Cavities are completely preventable, so if you notice any of the following, then call our Woodbridge office without delay:

  • Small holes or pits in your teeth
  • Pain when you chew or bite down
  • Sudden toothache
  • Increased sensitivity to the sugar content or temperature of foods or beverages

Since you may be unaware that you have a cavity forming, you should have regular dental checkups as a precaution. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, then call us today to schedule a cleaning in our Woodbridge office.

What Are the Best At-home Dental Care Practices?

When you maintain a regimen of good oral hygiene, your teeth are more likely to last throughout your lifetime without the need for artificial replacements. The American Dental Association recommends the following procedures for the most effective, at-home dental care:


  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least once daily
  • Brush your teeth for at least two minutes
  • Brush your tongue as well as your teeth to ensure the freshest breath
  • Change your toothbrush after you’ve been ill
  • Change your toothbrush at least every three months
  • Use a gentle pressure and soft-bristled toothbrush

Check with your dentist to ensure the best oral hygiene regimen for your unique needs.


Proper flossing will remove food detritus that brushing may have missed because the floss can reach places that your toothbrush may not. Flossing will help remove tartar, decay, and germs that cause bad breath.


Use an antibacterial mouthwash to eliminate any stubborn bacteria and germs that brushing and flossing may have missed.

Healthy Eating Habits

Today’s diet of choice that’s high in fats, carbohydrates, and sugars, but devoid of nutritional benefits is a great contributor to poor dental health. Opt instead for a diet that contains dairy, nuts, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and ample amounts of clear, unflavored, and unsweetened water, which will provide the most benefits to both your physical and oral health.

What’s the Importance of a Regular Family Dentist?

When your dentist is familiar with your medical and dental history, they’re more likely to be able to spot anomalies in your teeth and gums. When your dentist is familiar with your dental history, minor issues can achieve the most positive prognosis and help you to maintain optimal physical and oral health. Problems such as an abscess, a cyst, a tumor, jawbone loss, bruxism, bite changes, decay or gingivitis will have a much better outcome with early detection, so don’t delay making an appointment if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist.

What’s the Importance of Consistent, Regular Dental Care?

When you have consistent, regular dental care, then you’re more likely to have issues that are left untreated and develop into major issues.

Oral cancer is increasing in frequency, and most dentists are now offering oral cancer screenings. Oral cancer now accounts for 3 percent of all new cancer diagnoses annually. Men and those who smoke or drink are at a higher risk.

Toothlessness isn’t an integral part of aging. When you maintain good dental hygiene throughout your life, you can keep your natural teeth for life. If it’s been a while since your last dental cleaning or checkup, then call our Woodbridge office at (703) 595-2887 to schedule an appointment. If you want an oral cancer screening, we can schedule that also. Call us today; you’ll be glad that you did.

We look forward to speaking with you and working with you.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac

2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

(703) 595-2887