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Posts for: October, 2020

By Alexandria Smiles Dentistry
October 29, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implant  

The subject of allergies covers a wide swath in medicine. Among other things, people have allergic reactions to animal fur, various foods and plant pollen. The effects are equally wide-ranging, anything from a mild rash to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening shutdown of the body's vital systems.

Approximately 5% of people are also allergic to various metals including nickel, cobalt, chromium and gold. Reactions to metal can occur when an allergic person comes in contact with items like jewelry, clothing or even mobile phones. There's even a chance of a metal allergy reaction from certain kinds of dental work.

It's unlikely, though, that you should be concerned if you're considering dental treatment or cosmetic work to upgrade your smile. Although allergic reactions like inflammation or a rash have been known to occur with amalgam “silver” fillings, it's quite rare. It's even less of a concern since “tooth-colored” materials for fillings are now outpacing the use of amalgam fillings, which are used in out-of-sight back teeth.

Of course, metal is used for other dental treatments besides fillings, including the most popular of tooth replacement systems, dental implants. An implant is essentially a metal post, usually made of pure titanium or a titanium alloy, which is imbedded into the jawbone. Even so, there's little chance you'll develop an allergic reaction to them.

For one thing, titanium is highly prized in both medical and dental treatments because of its biocompatibility. This means titanium devices like prosthetic joints and implants won't normally disrupt or cause reactions with human tissue. Titanium is also osteophilic: Bone cells readily grow and adhere to titanium surfaces, a major reason for dental implants' long-term durability.

That's not to say titanium allergies don't exist, but their occurrence is very low. One recent study detected a titanium allergy in only 0.6% of 1,500 implant patients who participated.

At worst, you may need to consider a different type of tooth replacement restoration in the rare chance you have a titanium allergy. More than likely, though, you'll be able obtain implants and enjoy the transformation they can bring to your smile.

If you would like more information on allergic reactions and dental restorations, 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 “Metal Allergies to Dental Implants.”

October 21, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Dental Fillings  

There is much to know about dental fillings. They strengthen teeth weakened by decay, prevent infection or decay from spreading, and restore normal biting and chewing functions. Several types of dental fillings are available to suit a wide variety of needs. Dr. Moutaz Abdeen, the exceptional dentist at Alexandria Smiles Dentistry in Alexandria, VA, can help you select the best dental filling for your needs and preferences.

When Dental Fillings are Needed

Dental fillings are needed when teeth have been compromised by infection or decay. When bacteria in the mouth breaks down tooth enamel and penetrates deeper layers of a tooth, cavities can form. These empty spaces leave teeth weaker, as well as more vulnerable to additional problems. Dental fillings are used to fill in cavities, which can strengthen teeth and restore normal functioning.

There are several signs of a possible cavity. See the experienced dentist at our office in Alexandria West if you develop any of these symptoms. Some of the signs that you might have a cavity and need a dental filling include:

  • Visible holes in a tooth
  • Pain when biting into food
  • A persistent toothache
  • A change in the color of a tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold items
  • Sensitivity to sweets

Types of Dental Fillings

Tooth-colored fillings are sometimes also referred to as white fillings. A major advantage of this type of filling is that it is extremely discreet since it blends in with the surrounding tooth. Tooth-colored fillings can be made from porcelain, glass ionomer, or a composite mixture of glass and plastic. One advantage of composite fillings is that the material bonds with the natural tooth. Consequently, more healthy tooth structure can be preserved.

Dental fillings are an extremely effective option for strengthening and restoring teeth that have been weakened by infection or decay. To learn more about the different types of dental fillings and which one is right for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Abdeen, our highly skilled dentist, by calling Alexandria Smiles Dentistry in Alexandria, VA and serving Alexandria West, Shirlington, & Bailey's Crossroads, VA at (703) 671-0626.

By Alexandria Smiles Dentistry
October 19, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: mouth sore  

As the old Fifties song goes, “Little things mean a lot.” They can also be the most irritating, like a hangnail, a papercut—or a certain kind of oral sore. Although rarely concerning to health, this particular kind of “bump” in the mouth can be unnerving.

Although known as a traumatic fibroma, it's not as dire as it sounds: It's simply a small wound created when your inside cheek gets in the “line of fire” between your teeth while biting or chewing. It's an experience most of us have had, and though it's a minor occurrence, it can make us wince with pain.

But the pain usually lasts only a few seconds—until the next time, which is a distinct possibility. The body creates a protective callous over the wound made of fibers (hence the name fibroma) of a protein called collagen. This creates a rise in the skin surface that increases the chances the area will again get in the way of the teeth and be bitten. Each bite leads to another layer of collagen, a more prominent rise and even greater probability of another bite.

Rather than let this irritating situation repeat itself, you can undergo a minor surgical procedure to remove the fibroma. Usually performed be an oral surgeon or periodontist, the area is numbed first with a local anesthetic and the fibroma removed with a scalpel; the resulting wound is then closed with a few stitches or a laser, in which case no stitches are necessary. As a result, the cheek surface flattens out and becomes less likely to get in between the teeth.

The dentist may also preserve some of the removed tissue and submit it for a biopsy to check for any cancer cells or other abnormalities. You shouldn't be concerned about this: Examining excised tissue is a routine step performed for a variety of surgical procedures. It's used to verify the tissue in question is benign, which in this case is the vast majority of the time.

After the procedure, you might experience some minor discomfort for a few days, usually manageable with a mild pain reliever like aspirin or ibuprofen. The procedure itself only takes about fifteen minutes, but it can provide you lasting relief from that bedeviling little sore in your mouth.

If you would like more information on treating mouth sores, 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 “Common Lumps and Bumps in the Mouth.”

October 09, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal   Infection  

Could that nagging pain in your tooth be related to an infection in the pulp? Your dentist in Alexandria, VA, Dr. Moutaz Abdeen of Alexandria Smiles Dentistry, can diagnose the source of your pain and recommend root canal therapy if you happen to have an infection.

Why infections are so dangerous

The bacteria in your pulp won't necessarily remain in your tooth if you have an infection. Infections also lead to tooth loss if they're not treated. Once the tooth dies, it's no longer nourished by your bloodstream and may eventually fall out.

How can you tell if you have an infection?

Severe, throbbing pain often accompanies an infection, but it's possible to have an infection even if you only have moderate pain. Did your severe pain suddenly go away? Although that may seem like a good sign, you may still have an infection. The pain may have simply stopped because the nerves in the pulp died.

A tooth infection, just like any other infection, can make you feel sick. In addition to feeling miserable, you may notice that the lower half of your face is swollen or your gum is sore and inflamed. Other symptoms of an infection can include a pimple-like bump on the gum, pus around the tooth and swollen lymph nodes. If you have any of these symptoms, call the dentist immediately.

How do root canals treat tooth infections?

During root canal therapy at our Alexandria dental office, your dentist removes the pulp, eliminating the source of your pain. The tooth and the root canals are cleaned and shaped, and antibiotics are added to the interior of the tooth to kill lingering bacteria. After the tooth drains, a permanent filling made of gutta-percha, a durable, rubber-based filling will be added to restore it.

You'll also need to take antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent the infection from spreading.

Prompt root canal treatment can help you avoid tooth loss due to an infection. If you're concerned about a painful tooth, call your Alexandria, VA, dentist, Dr. Abdeen of Alexandria Smiles Dentistry, at (703) 671-0626 to schedule your appointment.


Dorit Kemsley isn't shy. Best known to fans as an outspoken and sometimes outrageous cast member of the reality show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kemsley is never reticent about “mixing it up” with fellow castmates or their significant others. Recently, though, she confessed to something that left her less than confident: her smile.

Kemsley has been self-conscious about her smile because her teeth looked noticeably short, worn down from an unconscious habit of grinding her teeth. Although teeth grinding is more common among children (who normally grow out of it by adolescence), it can persist into adulthood, usually from difficulties managing high stress (a likely component in the fashion designer/reality show star's busy life).

Stress-induced teeth grinding can occur during waking hours or, more likely, during deep sleep. The accumulating, long-term effects from the habit can lead not only to worn teeth but to weakened gum support, a high risk of tooth fracture or jaw pain and dysfunction.

So, how do you know if you grind your teeth, especially if it's only happening at night? Typical signs include sore jaws after awaking from sleep, increased tooth pain or sensitivity or, like Kemsley, a noticeable difference in your tooth length. Your family or sleeping partner may also complain about the “skin-crawling” noise you make during the night.

There are ways to lessen the effects of teeth grinding. The first step is to have us verify the underlying cause for the habit. If it's tension from stress, then you might reduce the habit's occurrences by learning better stress management or relaxation techniques through individual counseling, group support or biofeedback therapy. We can also fit you with a mouth guard to wear at night or through the day that reduces the force generated during teeth grinding.

And if you've already experienced accelerated tooth wear like Kemsley with a resultant “small teeth” smile, you might pursue the same solution as the RHOBH star: dental veneers. These thin, life-like wafers of porcelain are custom-made to mask imperfections like chips, staining, slight tooth gaps and, yes, worn teeth.

Veneers are often less expensive and invasive than other cosmetic techniques, yet they can have a transformative effect, as Kemsley's Instagram followers have seen. In conjunction with other dental treatments needed to repair any underlying damage caused by a grinding habit, veneers are an effective fix for the smile you present to the world.

If you suspect you may have a grinding habit, see us for a complete examination. From there, we'll help you protect your teeth and your smile.

If you would like more information on teeth grinding habits and their effects, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Grinding.”