Westminster, MD Dentist
Gallagher & Eden Family Dentistry
715 Baltimore Blvd.
Westminster, MD 21157
(410) 848-3866
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Posts for: October, 2016

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
October 26, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: mouth sores  
WecanMinimizeDiscomfortfromCankerSoreswithafewBasicTreatments

They seemingly pop up out of the blue inside your mouth: tiny sores that are sometimes painful — and always annoying. Then, in about a week to ten days these small, irritating lesions are gone.

They're known as canker sores: the most common break out in the linings of the mouth, including the cheeks, lips, under the tongue or even the back of the throat. Medically known as aphthous ulcers, you'll recognize these round lesions by their yellow-gray center surrounded by a red “halo.”

You might feel a tingling sensation a couple of days before an outbreak. Once they appear they usually last a week to ten days; during that time they can cause discomfort especially while eating or drinking.

We don't know fully what causes canker sores, but it's believed they're related to abnormalities in the immune system, the processes in the body that fight infection and disease. High stress or anxiety and certain acidic or spicy foods like citrus fruit or tomato sauce also seem to trigger them.

Most people experience canker sores that range in intensity from slight discomfort to sometimes severe pain. But about 20-25% of people, mostly women, have an acute form known as recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS). Thought to be hereditary, RAS produces clusters of ulcers that are almost always painful, and which come and go on a regular basis.

Our main treatment goal with canker sores is to decrease discomfort while the outbreak runs its course and promote rapid healing. There are over-the-counter ointments that often prove effective. For more resistant symptoms we can also prescribe topical or injectable steroids or other medications.

Canker sores are rarely concerning as a significant health issue. You should, however, take an outbreak seriously if it hasn't healed within two weeks, if the outbreaks seem to be increasing in frequency or severity, or you're never without a sore in your mouth. In these cases, we may need to take a tissue sample of the lesion to biopsy for signs of cancer, pre-cancer or some other skin disease.

More than likely, though, the canker sore will be benign albeit annoying. With effective treatment, though, you can get through the outbreak with only a minimal amount of discomfort.

If you would like more information on treating canker 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 “Mouth Sores.”


By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
October 25, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Find out how this simple tooth-shaped cap can breathe life back into a damaged smile.

Dealing with a cracked or damaged tooth can feel frustrating. After all, now everyone can see that you have a less-than-perfect smile. It dental crownsmight sound ridiculous but your smile’s appearance can certainly play a large role in how good you feel about the way you look. Let our Westminster, MD dentist, Dr. Patrick Gallagher, helps boost your self-confidence with dental crowns.

With so many different and new dental restorations on the market you may have forgotten about dental crowns, but they really are a classic. There is a reason that our Westminster general dentist has been using them for so long. They are an amazingly easy way to save a damaged tooth and improve the health of your smile for years to come. A dental crown is custom-made to fit over the damaged tooth to treat issues caused by infection, trauma or severe decay.

Dental crowns are often used if a tooth is cracked, broken, chipped or worn down enough that the structure is no longer stable. A crown is designed to restore the tooth back to its full strength so you don’t have to worry about damaging your tooth further. Plus, crowns are designed to look just like natural teeth so they can also be a great option for a tooth that is severely malformed or discolored. While dental crowns are usually used to restore smiles they can also be used for purely aesthetic reasons, too.

Of course, before getting a dental crown the tooth has to be shaped properly in order for the crown to fit over the tooth. This means that enamel will need to be removed from your natural tooth. This is performed under local anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing!

Then we will take impressions of your teeth. After all, the lab needs something from which to create your custom-made crown. Once your crown is made we will check the fit and your bite and then cement it into place. With the proper care a dental crown can last anywhere from 10-15 years (or more!).

Whether you have questions about dental crowns or you are dealing with dental pain, turn to the dental experts of Gallagher & Eden in Westminster, MD for the special, individualized care your smile deserves every time.


By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
October 11, 2016
Category: Oral Health
LifeIsSometimesaGrindforBrookeShields

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”