How can an airway-focused dentist help?

An airway-focused dentist can assess the airway and help to determine if there are deficiencies in growth or airflow. The dentist evaluates facial structures and symmetry, arch development, and the soft tissues, including lips, tongue and throat, as well as the dentition. If discrepancies are noted, the dentist can help to guide a patient through the appropriate treatment. In children, growth can be influenced through early intervention. Adults have many options as well when it comes to improving the airway. The goal is that whenever we treatment-plan a patient for any dental work, we keep their airway in mind with every decision and focus on the best decision for optimal breathing and health.

How is our smile connected to our airway?

When the jaw develops properly, the teeth have room to fall into place and create a nice smile with a healthy bite relationship. The jaw has the opportunity to develop well with proper breathing habits. One of these habits could be compromised by a functional limitation due to anatomy. While catching these issues early is ideal, there are solutions available regardless of age to increase the quality of life through a better airway.

I like my smile. What if I just want a cleaning and not cosmetic dentistry?

That’s wonderful! We would love to have you join us. Like a family, we all have different needs and goals. Because we are a full-service practice, we can do pretty much anything you need us to do. We are particularly good at cleanings thanks to our hygienist, Julie!

Do you do consultations?

Definitely! Just call us and set up an appointment. It will be helpful for you to bring in your most recent full-mouth X-rays. Don’t worry if you have not had any taken! We will do them for you. Half the battle of creating a healthy smile is listening to the needs of the patient, so that’s Dr. Roca’s focus will be during a consultation. She will ask you a series of questions, examine your teeth and your X-rays, and take pictures of your teeth. Using our software, she can show you what work she would recommend and generate a picture of how your real smile can look. It’s really quite fun!

I am afraid of the dentist. What can you do to help me?

Our staff is very friendly and committed to making your experience very comfortable and enjoyable. When you come to our office, you won’t just sit in the chair. Our staff takes the time to get to know you and answer all your questions. We also offer a variety of ways to receive anesthesia, from topical gels and nitrous oxide to IV sedation. We will do whatever you need to make your experience comfortable and pain-free. We can also prescribe an oral sedative to take the edge off and even attach a TENS (massage) machine to distract you from any discomfort.

How can I protect my teeth from damage?

The enamel on our teeth is hard, but as we all know, it can be chipped and cracked. In addition to following any advice we give, here are some other ways you can protect your teeth:

  • Avoid chewing ice, cracking nut shells or opening packages with your teeth.
  • Avoid “hard foods” such as popcorn kernels.
  • Limit acidic soft drinks and sugary foods that stick to your teeth, and if you plan on sweets, have them as part of a meal.
  • Decide against tongue and lip piercings, which can fracture teeth and increase infection risk.
  • Avoid acid erosion from acid reflux at night while you are sleeping by learning to keep your tongue in the roof of your mouth.

Should I update my manual toothbrush to an electric?

When used appropriately, a manual toothbrush can be as effective as a powered toothbrush. However, when used correctly, a good-quality electric toothbrush is like going to the dentist every day. The key is to hold the brush “still” as you move from tooth to tooth, letting the brush do the moving for you. Dr. Roca always says that good-quality toothbrushes are so thorough when used correctly, it is going to put her out of business. Like with a manual brush, we recommend brushing for two to three minutes, at a 45-degree angle toward the gums, covering the entire inner, outer, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Make sure to include the gum line where the tooth meets the gum. Just remember, the trick with an electric brush is holding it still, unlike a manual brush that you move in circles along the gum line.

I’m pregnant. Is it safe for me to go to the dentist?

Congratulations! Yes, you should continue to see your dentist, as pregnancy can increase the likelihood of certain dental issues. Be sure to inform us that you are pregnant and if you’re experiencing any changes in your oral health.

When should my child receive his or her first dental check-up?

Ideally, you should seek a dentist for your child when the first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. But at Arlington Smile Center, we want to see them as soon as you have any questions. For example, to treat a newborn that might be tongue-tied, or educate new parents who want to learn about nutrition and myofunctional tools to help strengthen their baby’s mouth, we invite you and your infant for a well-baby visit. We will give you lots of advice on how to give your baby the best chance to get the best dental health, airway, and facial features possible.

I’ve heard that my silver-colored fillings contain mercury. Should I have them replaced?

Arlington Smile Center will never recommend replacing old silver fillings unless they are broken down or have new decay. If they need to be replaced, we will do so with tooth-colored resin fillings. Dental amalgam (silver) fillings contain silver, tin, copper and liquid mercury, which are combined to form an inert (non-active) alloy. According to the FDA, the CDC, the American Dental Association® (ADA), and a number of other public health agencies, there is no link between this type of filling and any known health issue. Because of speculation and controversy, amalgam is the most researched and tested dental filling material on the market. We do not offer amalgam “silver” fillings anymore because it is bad for the environment, but if you currently have one present in your mouth, it will usually outlast you. Resin fillings need to be replaced more often but are now the standard of care for most fillings. We offer more expensive, stronger fillings made out of hard porcelain called onlays or inlays, though these are not usually covered well by dental insurance and need to be sent to the lab for fabrication.

This is just a sampling of often-asked questions. Have one of your own? Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 703-237-7622 so we can assist you.