DC Smiles

Why Do We Separate Health Care and Dental Care?

You rely on your medical insurance to treat anything that might go awry with your body – from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. 

Well, everything except what’s inside your mouth, that is.

For millions of Americans, dental care is covered by a completely separate plan or considered an additional and “optional” side dish to your main entrée medical insurance. Dental coverage is not a required benefit for adults under Obamacare or most Medicaid plans. Meanwhile, many typical dental plans don’t cover even regular cleanings at 100%, while cavities and other problems are costly, with or without insurance.

Dental Care as a Luxury

Sadly, a third U.S. residents don’t get regular dental check-ups every year, and one quarter of those surveyed in a recent survey by the Federal Reserve reported they had skipped seeing a dentist due to the expense. Treating dental care as a luxury rather than a basic right creates a socio-economic population of people who suffer common tooth problems that lead to advanced and dangerous complications.

How did the mouth become the black hole of medical insurance? Why do we treat the dentistry industry as a different profession? And is there a disconnect between what goes on in our mouth and what happens throughout the rest of our body?

Haircuts….and Surgery?

Historically, the separation of dentistry and medicine can be traced back to the practices of surgery and less invasive methods of healing. Physicians did not perform surgery, which was seen as a mechanical skill and not as part of the ancient medical arts.

Instead, American barber surgeons – who already had the right tools – performed surgery and extracted teeth, which was a tradition brought over from Europe. Instead of offering their services in hospitals, barber surgeons set up commercial establishments, inviting in surgical and tooth extraction customers with the red and white striped pole – still associated with barbers today.

In 1840, the first dental college was opened in Baltimore, MD, elevating the industry to a trained profession worthy of intense study and licensing. But, that was only after two self-trained dentists appealed to physicians at the college of medicine at the University of Baltimore to add dentistry to the courses of study. When the physicians at the time refused to do so, the separate college was opened and dentistry and medicine continued to remain separate professions.

Dentistry was still a growing field in the 1960’s when Congress put together the first public health insurance programs. The dental market was not valued as highly as other forms of medical care at the time. In fact, in 1960, only 2.3 percent of Americans retained any form of dental insurance.

Dental and medical fields have continued to grow separately from one another, culminating in a landscape of professional independence and autonomy. Yet, a lack of communication and continuity in care between our oral health and the care of other bodily systems can sometimes have disastrous results.

More than 800,000 visits to the ER each year are complications resulting from preventable dental issues, costing the public systems billions of dollars. Yet, without dentists working in the emergency room, most of those problems remained untreated.

Dental and medical records are also kept separate, even though many illnesses may include symptoms from various parts of the body that should be compared and studies. Infected teeth can spread bacteria across other systems leading to severe consequences up to and including death.

Yet, an integrated approach to dental and medical care is slowly gaining ground. The Affordable Care Act requires providers to offer dental coverage for children. Some universities are building dentistry courses into their nursing, pharmacy and physician assistant programs.

Hopefully this trend continues into the future, acknowledging the importance of a cohesive and comprehensive perspective on oral and overall health.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.




High Anxiety in the Dentist’s Chair: Is it All in Your Head?

Throw a rock into a crowd and you’re likely to hit someone who doesn’t enjoy going to the dentist. It’s one of those appointments we love to complain about, even though we appreciate how critical it is to our overall health to get regular check-ups of our teeth and gums.

You may not LIKE going to the dentist, but 5% to 8% of Americans avoid going to the dentist entirely due to actual fear. And up to 20% of potential dental patients only go if they consider it absolutely necessary – like when they are experiencing tooth pain or other mouth issues.

Where does that level of fear come from?  For many, it may stem from a scarring experience as a young child – perhaps an unfortunate accident or lack of proper levels of anesthesia during a procedure. One bad occurrence can set a would-be patient on a path of avoidance for the rest of his or her life.

For others, there’s no one incident to point to, but rather a general fear of sitting in the dentist’s chair. Studies point to fear of pain, fear of embarrassment and fear of loss of control as the top reasons patients prefer to take their chances outside the dental office.  Although pain can be a reality during certain procedures, developing a healthy mindset about visiting the dentist starts well before one steps through the office door.  If you or someone you know suffers from a fear of going to the dentist so intense it prevents them from getting regular oral care, try some of these tips for dealing with dental anxiety.

Tip 1: Don’t keep it to yourself

If you thought you were the only one with a major fear of the dentist before you started reading this blog post, you should know by this point that you’re not alone. It’s an extremely common issue – and one that every dentist is aware of.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about your anxiety. It’s nothing they haven’t heard before, and they might have ways to allay your concerns. Your dentist may have some ideas that have worked for other patients to calm them down. Together you can work on a strategy to create a more relaxing visit – whether that means music playing in the background or a step-by-step description of what’s happening inside your mouth.

Tip 2: Take your time

You might think that rushing through your dental appointment in order to get it done as quickly as possible would be a good idea, but in fact, you might need some extra time to get through it.

Talk to your dentist about going slow. Have a pre-agreed upon signal to use to communicate to your dentist that you need a break. You might want to hold something tightly in your hand, like a stress ball or a worry stone to re-focus your physical attention.

Tip 3: If all else fails, look into medication

Similar to taking something before flying if you have a phobia, fear of dental appointments might require a prescription for a mild sedative. Talking to your dentist or a psychiatrist will give you a better idea if that may be an option for you.

Depending on the procedure, anesthesia might be available, if you can’t even handle being conscious during your visit. But, such measures are really only appropriate for someone with a true phobia.

If your fear of dentists has prevented you from getting regular check-ups, remember how important maintaining your oral health is. Neglecting your teeth and gums can lead to serious conditions, including dental pain, tooth loss and gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It’s worth facing your fears to start back on the road to healthy teeth.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.





Can Mouth Breathing Be Dangerous to Your Health?

The average person takes between 17,000 and 30,000 breaths in one day. That’s a lot of air traveling through your respiratory system! As long as air is traveling into your lungs, you might not be concerned about whether it’s flowing in through your mouth or your nose.  Breathing is breathing, right?

Maybe not. Humans were designed to breathe through the nose, which provides a natural filtration and humidifier for the air they take in. When it becomes difficult to breathe through your nose – you have a cold or you’re breathing hard after exercising, it’s normal and appropriate to take in oxygen through your mouth.

However, when mouth breathing become chronic in older children and adults, it can cause serious health concerns including problems with speech, the need for braces and orthodontia facial development issues, lack of oxygen and even changes in posture. It’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed as early as possible.

In Through Your Nose, Not Through Your Mouth

Typically, mouth breathing starts because of a blockage of the nasal passages. Whether it’s allergies, enlarged tonsils or sinus issues, it may be difficult for a child or adult suffering from any of those conditions to breath easily through the nose.

It’s a common issue, and in fact affects up to 40% of the population. Unfortunately, even if the underlying problem is addressed, the habit of mouth breathing can continue and remain a problem.

It’s only been recently that the negative impacts of mouth breathing have been studied and exposed. Understanding how mouth breathing can affect the health of you and your children may compel you to seek medical intervention if required.

Snoring and Poor Sleep Quality

Mouth breathers snore more during sleep. Snoring can interfere with the quality of sleep and healthful rest of an individual and lead to tiredness and lack of focus during the day. Snoring can also aggravate sleep apnea.

Postural Changes

Incredibly, breathing through your mouth can cause an altered positioning of your head and shoulders as your body must adjust to keep airways open. Elevated shoulders, forward positioning of the head and increased curvature of the spine can result.

Changed Facial Appearance

Over time, young children who predominantly mouth breathe may experience changes in the overall shape of face. Abnormal tongue positioning can lead to narrow faces and misaligned teeth.

Decreased Oxygen and Compromised Immune System

Chronic mouth breathing means bypassing the body’s natural filtration system against germs, allergens and other pollutants. In fact, the nose produces its own bacteria-killing gas – nitric oxide. Mouth breathers lose that advantage of fighting off common microbes with every breath they take. Nitric oxide also enhances your lungs’ capacity to absorb oxygen.

Are You a Mouth Breather?

If you or your child suffers from chronic mouth breathing, addressing the issue sooner rather than later can help prevent many of the issues mentioned above. It’s essential to retrain your child to breathe normally through the nose.

  • Identify the underlying cause and treat allergies or sinus issues.
  • Focus on your own breathing patterns (we usually don’t!).
  • Encourage children to breathe through their noses.
  • See a dentist or orthodontist about a jaw expander if necessary.

90% of a child’s facial development is complete by early adolescence, so correct mouth breathing issues before they become untreatable!

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.




Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders: Do You Have One?

You probably don’t think too much about your tongue. It’s there when you need it – like, when you’re licking an ice cream cone – and tucked away when you’re not. Sometimes you might burn it on hot coffee or soup, but that’s probably the biggest trouble it can cause, right?

Wrong. You might not believe it, but tongue positioning is an important indicator of oral and overall health.

Although babies are typically born with tongues that stick out a bit, there is a normal receding process that happens as a child develops. If something prevents that progression and a child’s tongue protrudes during swallowing, speaking and even at rest, it’s known as an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). In fact, any disorder of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth falls under this diagnosis.

Left untreated in children and adults, OMD can actually cause a myriad of other problems all over your body, including:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Mouth breathing
  • Teeth-grinding
  • Stomach aches
  • Speech problems
  • Sleep apnea

Who knew improper tongue positioning could cause such havoc!?

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder – Where Does It Start?

OMD typically appears in developing children. Many times, it will start with insufficient nasal breathing or mouth breathing. Such issues can be caused by allergies or chronic nasal congestion. If a child can’t breathe properly through his or her nose because it’s clogged and begins to rely on mouth breathing, the tongue will be forced to lie flat and lip muscles will weaken.

Similarly, OMD can also be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids that block air passages. Even after tonsils are removed, the mouth-breathing habit can continue and cause more issues.

And although family heredity does play a role in the size and strength of facial muscles, parents will be chagrined to learn that thumb-sucking and extended pacifier use in babies can also lead to the disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

You may be able to recognize the signs of OMD in your young child. If you notice she is snoring regularly, breathing through her mouth consistently or developing speech issues – such as lisping – it’s a good idea to visit a dentist.

OMD can also be recognized through dental problems – specifically an improper alignment between the upper and lower teeth, also known as a malocclusion. Overbites and other issues can cause difficulties in biting and chewing food.

A diagnosis of OMD is usually made by a dentist or orthodontist, although a treatment plan may include the participation of a speech-language pathologist, as well.

OMD Therapy – How Can It Help?

Although it may be difficult to believe that an exercise-based therapy can help retrain and strengthen the oral and facial muscles to dramatically improve these disorders, a growing field of professionals have demonstrated such results through orofacial myofunctional therapy.

A trained professional works with patients to evaluate and treat OMDs by gradually training the tongue back into its natural position. Awareness of facial and oral muscles is taught and proper swallowing techniques are demonstrated. A program of exercises is followed – sometimes over a six to twelve-month period in order to promote proper coordination and patterns of muscle movement.

OMD is best treated when caught early, so if you think your child suffers from incorrect oral postures and swallowing issues, see your dentist or doctor right away. Orofacial myofunctional therapy techniques can improve critical speaking, breathing and sleeping capabilities. Don’t underestimate the importance of your tongue!

Think you or a loved one suffers from OMD? Make an appointment today – we can help! With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.




Does Diet Affect Your Child’s Facial Development?

If your dentist suggested that what you eat affects the health and development of your child’s teeth, you’d nod your head and agree.  After all, at this point, everyone is aware of how sugary snacks and drinks speed tooth decay and contribute to cavities and other dental woes, right?

But, the effect our diet has on our teeth may be more complicated than that. Our western diet of processed and nutritionally empty foods may have serious consequences for the way teeth and jaws form.  And, it may start as early as birth. 

Lack of Nutrition Leads to Braces?

Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948) was a dentist often called the Isaac Newton of nutrition. He traveled the world studying different cultures and their dental formations, and theorized that many modern tooth issues – such as crowding, overbites and spacing – were due to overall societal changes in diet and nutrition and an increase in consumption of flour, sugar and processed foods.

Although genetics plays a role, he believed such a diet in lacking in nutrient dense foods had a powerful physical effect on the development of jaw and bone structure. Evidence of increasingly common dental issues within more recently industrialized societies supports his research.

Do Your Teeth Need to Work Out, Too?

Although we know that sugars and starches lead to bacteria and increased tooth decay, the very textures we chew may have an effect on how our teeth develop as children.

Before the advent of our agricultural society, ancient humans strenuously chewed through meat, nuts and wild plants. Modern diets are often softer and require less jaw strength to bite through. This may also change a child’s mandible growth during formative years.

Breast vs Bottle: How Are Teeth Affected?

Variations in tooth and jaw formation may occur as early as the first few months of life. Breast-feeding has been demonstrated to provide optimal oral mechanical stimulation for developing infants. The shape and positioning of a breast versus a bottle may have a strong effect on the growth and positioning of babies’ teeth.

Although some of these theories are debated, there is enough evidence to support the idea that modern, softer diets may have an impact on jaw development. Before the Agricultural Revolution, incidents of malocclusion and wisdom teeth impaction were practically unheard and are now quite common. And, incredibly, human faces have become 5 to 10% smaller over the course of last few thousand years – which is really a blink of an evolutionary eye.

You may not be able to avoid braces for your child, but you can you support healthy tooth and jaw development. Besides practicing good oral hygiene, make sure your kids are eating nutrient-dense foods, including choices that exercise chewing muscles and encourage proper oral posture. See a family dentist that takes a holistic, whole-body approach to oral care.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.




Don’t Have Time to Exercise? With HIIT, You Do

It won’t come as a shock to read that incorporating regular physical activity into your life is proven to boost energy, improve mood, battle common health conditions and help maintain weight levels. We know you’ve heard this before – exercise also strengthens your heart, promotes better sleep and revs up your sex drive.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say.  But who has the time?

Perhaps one of the most common excuses we all use for not including more exercise in our daily lives is lack of time. From work to grocery shopping to various kids’ after-school activities, we barely get a moment for an extra cup of coffee, never mind the 30+ minutes of physical activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. As important to our health as we know exercise to be, it’s usually the first item to get pushed off our “to-do” lists.

But, what if your workout took less time than it takes to drink that cup of coffee?

Engaging in high intensity interval training (HIIT) can cut your exercise commitment time in half.

Double the Effort, Half the Time

High intensity exercising involves pushing your heartrate up to 75% of its maximum capacity. Typically, these workouts require shorter bursts of high-energy routines done in internals with periods of rest. They sometimes combine cardio and strength training, in order to get more full body exercises done in the least amount of time.

Although longer, slower workouts also burn fat and calories, HIIT does it more effectively. In fact, after a high intensity workout, your body will continue to burn at a higher rate of calories for up to 24 hours after your workout – even while you are sitting on the couch!

HIIT Better for Health?

For decades, health-conscious citizens have dutifully laced up their running shoes to jog leisurely around the neighborhood in order to garner the benefits of increased lung capacity and strengthened heart muscles.

Although none of them were wasting their time doing it, they could have gotten it done more quickly and efficiently through HIIT.  A 2006 study published in the Journal of Physiology found that compared to longer periods of traditional endurance training, shorter periods of sprint interval training produced similar muscle capacity and exercise performance.

Spending hours on the treadmill may strengthen your heart, but it won’t build muscle throughout the rest of your physique, as it only works you aerobically- meaning your body is using oxygen rather than its own stored energy to fuel your metabolism.  You may even find that any fat you lose is accompanied by some muscle.  Conversely, HIIT works your body both aerobically and anaerobically. Anaerobic conditions happen when the intensity of your physical exertion exceeds your available oxygen, thus requiring your body to rely on alternate fuel sources, say those extra slices of cheesecake you’ve had stored in your hips since last summer….

 Don’t get us wrong – any kind of exercise is better than none. But, if you’ve been using “lack of time” as your excuse du jour for years now, you’d better think up a new one. Because, HIIT will get you fitter faster without the typical commitment.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.


Are Sleep Issues Causing Your Headaches?

We all know that sleep plays a vital role in our day-to-day health and well-being.  During regular periods of shut-eye, our body repairs cells and regenerates itself. Adequate sleep cycles are related to both physical and mental health and supports brain function and emotional well-being. Lack of sleep can raise your risk of suffering from a host of health issues, including disease, increased reaction time and decreased mental proficiency.

OK, so you know how important sleep is, but how do you know if you need more? If you wake up more than occasionally with a bad headache and/or neck pain, it may be a sign that you need to focus on night-time habits that increase your quantity and quality of sleep.


Waking up with a pounding head forces you to re-examine what you might have done the night before to cause it. Although alcohol or caffeine are possible culprits, quality of sleep may also be contributing to your headaches or migraines.  In fact, headaches are two to eight times more common among people with sleep disorders.

What’s going on during your night-time hours that’s causing your headache?  It could be any one of these issues:


We all have the occasional night of restlessness, but if you suffer from insomnia on multiple nights during a given week, you may want to seek help. Stress and anxiety prevents relaxation and cumulative nights of less than ideal sleep creates a cycle of fatigue and worry. A headache is a common symptom of all these conditions.

Tooth Grinding

Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth during the night – which is also known as “bruxism,” puts stress on the mouth and facial muscles, resulting in aches all over your head and face. If you think you might be grinding your teeth in your sleep, see your dentist for a treatment plan.  This can be a sign of a sleep issue.


Did you know 75% of Americans don’t drink enough water? Many of us suffer from a constant state of mild dehydration. Not getting enough fluids during the day can lead to severe headaches upon waking. Make sure you’re drinking about 8 eight ounce glasses of water or other fluids a day

Sleep Apnea   

If you suffer from migraines and sleep apnea, they may be related. Many of those who suffer from sleep apnea, or an inability to breathe consistently while asleep, find it more difficult to breathe when lying on their backs. But, being forced to lie on one’s side can lead to discomfort and eventually even a pinched nerve.  Pinched nerves happen to be a common trigger for migraines. If you get migraines and have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about your treatment for both.

Neck Pain

Waking up with a stiff neck can set you up for a day of pain and agony every time you try to turn your head. Whether it’s a muscle pull or a tension headache, consider improving a few of your bedtime habits to ensure you’re not giving yourself a pain in the neck.

Pillow Support

Your neck agony may be related to the wrong pillow. If you fall asleep without enough support to your head and neck or strain your muscles for hours overnight, you’re almost guaranteed to wake up with some tension pain. Make sure you keep your head and neck in a neutral position while lying in bed– as if you were standing up. If you do wake up with a stiff neck, try a hot shower to relax your muscles or take some over the counter pain medication.

Sleep Position

Some sleeping positions are more likely to cause neck pain. Sleeping on your back (unless you have sleep apnea) or on your side is less stressful on the spine than spending the entire night on your stomach.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to change the habit of what sleep position you settle in to. Try to start the night on your back or side, at the very least.

Getting quality sleep is important for many reasons – not the least of which is feeling focused and capable of getting through your day. Headaches and neck pain that are related to poor sleeping habits prevent you from looking and feeling your best – get to the bottom of what’s causing that throbbing in the top of your head!

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.



Reduce Inflammation with Your Diet

It usually doesn’t take a professional nutritionist to point out the difference between the foods that we should be loading into our grocery carts on a regular basis and the ones we should pass on by.

Think about foods that have been deemed “bad for you” and you’ll probably come up with a list that includes sugary sweets, soda and anything fried. These types of foods are synonymous with excess calories, weight gain, and contributing to health risks.

Although there are many reasons we should limit our consumption of these foods that provide little in the way of nutrition and force us to carry a lot of baggage (mostly in our thighs), the number one argument for keeping them out of your body is the inflammation they can cause.

Inflammation Situation

What is inflammation? Well, in small doses, inflammation is actually good for your body. It occurs whenever your immune system attacks a foreign chemical or microbe.  It is your system’s attempt to protect itself and whatever “invader” it perceives is doing you harm. Acute inflammation is the immediate reaction of the body to some kind of trauma. Redness, heat or swelling are symptoms of inflammation – and they can occur during an infection or other injury.

However, chronic inflammation is when your body continues to remain in that heightened state for months or even years. It’s a systemic condition that occurs when acute inflammation does not rid your body of a pathogen or when your own cells are being attacked as foreign entities. It may be mostly undetectable, but chronic inflammation contributes to many illnesses including heart disease, forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Foods Can Help or Hurt

Stress, smoking and exposure to toxins contribute to chronic inflammation, as do many foods.  Conversely, your diet can play a big part in preventing inflammation – IF you eat the right foods.  Make sure you are following an anti-inflammatory diet to lower your risk of diseases, and prevent symptoms of chronic inflammation, like depression, fatigue and digestive issues.

Foods that CAUSE Inflammation:

  • French fries and other fried food
  • Red meat and processed meats
  • Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and cakes
  • Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Margarine and shortening

Food that PREVENT or FIGHT Inflammation:

  • Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like tuna and salmon
  • Fruits like blueberries and oranges

Need another reason for adopting an anti-inflammation diet? Foods that fight inflammation are also high in nutrients and included in diets linked with longevity and increased health benefits.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

Bonding or Veneers: Which One Will Save Your Smile?


Whether you are going out on a blind date, or interviewing to get the job of your dreams, there are few things that make a better first impression than a gorgeous, glowing smile of pearly white teeth. In fact, a recent study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that 48% of adults believe a smile is the most memorable feature of meeting someone new.

Over time, environmental effects, accidents, and even the natural aging process can transform the smile we want to show the world into one we’d prefer to keep under closed lips.  Fortunately, cosmetic dental procedures can restore our teeth to their former glory – or maybe make them look better than they ever did in the first place.

Dental bonding and porcelain veneers are two common procedures used to dramatically improve the look of your smile – but what is the difference between them and which one is right for you?

A Bonding Experience

Dental bonding is a procedure during which your dentist molds a composite resin individually over one or multiple teeth to fix the shape or fill in cracks within your smile. The resin is colored to match the shade of your natural teeth and is permanently bonded with an ultraviolet light. The process is done freehand by your dentist – usually during a single visit.

Once the bonding material is cured, it becomes nearly indistinguishable from your own teeth. Bonding is perfect for fixing chips, making short teeth long longer and improving the overall shape of a tooth. Although it’s not cheap, it’s much less expensive than getting veneers. Bonding is a quick and relatively easy process to mask imperfections in your smile and lasts up to 5 years.

Get a Hollywood Smile with Veneers

Tune into an awards show with a red carpet full of celebrities and you’ll see a lot of blindingly white perfect smiles.  Many of those mouths can thank their dentists for creating them – with the help of porcelain veneers. Want to look like a movie star? Veneers might be the investment for you.

Veneers are thin, individually-shaped coverings that are created to match each of your own teeth. Before veneers can be applied, you must undergo a prep procedure, which involves filing down the actual enamel from each tooth and shaping it to better fit the veneer shell.

Once your teeth are prepped, molds are taken and sent to a dental lab to create veneers that will perfectly fit. There are several different methods of constructing veneers.  Once the veneers are constructed, the veneers are attached to the natural teeth using an adhesive material. Voila – you’re ready for your close-up!

Veneers last longer than bonding – up to 20 years or more.  They also don’t yellow with time or staining foods and drinks (think coffee and red wine) like natural teeth or the materials used in dental bonding. However, veneers can cost more than twice as much per tooth and require multiple trips to the dentist.  Sometimes called “instant orthodontia,” porcelain veneers are used to fix serious smile defects as opposed to minor imperfections.

Determining which dental procedure is the best for you may involve a conversation with your dentist. Consider the time involved, the cost of each affected tooth and the current state of your smile. No matter which treatment you choose, one thing is certain – your smile will be brighter, straighter and more fabulous than before!

Considering veneers or bonding? Let’s talk about the best option for you. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.





Can Your Own Blood Help Your TMJ Disorder?

It might sound like something out of vampire movie, or maybe the latest Hollywood celebrity craze, but using a by-product from your own blood supply – Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – might be the innovative solution you need to treat a chronic temporomandibular jaw joint (TMJ)  disorder.

What is TMJ?

Remarkably, one in every four Americans suffers from a mild to severe TMJ disorder. Issues occur when one or both of the temporomandibular joints on the side of the jaw become dysfunctional through injury or repetitive movements – like grinding your teeth.

TMJ disorders can produce a broad range of symptoms that includes everything from loss of balance to head and shoulder pain to tooth sensitivity. If you think you may have TMJ, read more about it here.

 What is PRP?

Your blood is not just that thick red liquid oozing through your arteries. It’s composed of several kinds of cells – red, white and platelets – each with their own purpose for supporting your healthy body.

Protein-rich platelets are the wound-healing superstars that clot your blood after you sustain an injury – you know, so you won’t bleed to death after getting a paper cut. They also contain growth factors (GFs) that are designed to speed the healing process by regenerating tissue and other body materials.

How PRP Helps TMJ

Research and recent usage have shown that PRP can help heal joint and muscle injuries as well as improve bone and blood vessel regeneration, when injected directly into the affected area. The growth factors in the PRP go to work to heal and repair tissue.

For the treatment of chronic recurrent TMJ dislocation, PRP can regrow connective tissue and ease symptoms that have not responded to other therapies. For many, it can reactivate the body’s natural ability to heal.

So, how does your doctor or dentist get your PRPs into your TMJ?  We’ll tell you ASAP!

  1. Your own blood is drawn. Don’t worry! It’s a small amount you’ll never miss.
  2. The blood is separated into its cell components with a centrifuge machine. The liquid is spun around so fast, it eventually divides into red cells, white cells and platelets.
  3. The platelets are collected and injected into the affected area with the guidance of an ultrasound navigation system to confirm accuracy.
  4. You start healing!

Historically, PRP injections were only done in a hospital that had access to the necessary equipment, but today, many doctors and dentists offer the treatment as an out-patient procedure in the comfort of their office.

The process may sound a bit icky at first to the uninformed, but this remarkable treatment is safe, cost-effective and convenient for patients and doctors. Not to mention, it works!

Dr. Lawrence Singer is proud to offer PRP treatments for chronic TMJ disorders.  Learn more at https://www.dcsmiles.com/.