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

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
August 22, 2018
Category: Oral Health
SteelyDanFoundersDeathHighlightsImportanceofEarlyCancerDetection

Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.

As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.

Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.

Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome.┬áIf you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
August 12, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  
ProsandConsforFlossingBeforeBrushingandVice-Versa

For best results in cleaning your teeth of disease-causing plaque you need both the power of brushing open teeth surfaces and flossing in between them. But you may be wondering: should you perform one task before the other?

In general terms, no—there’s no solid evidence that flossing is better before brushing, or vice-versa. But that being said we do recognize each way has its own advantages.

If you floss before brushing, it’s possible you could loosen plaque that can then be easily brushed away when you perform your second hygiene task. Flossing first can also reveal areas that need a bit more attention from brushing if you suddenly encounter heavy particle debris or you notice a little bit of blood on the floss. And, by flossing first you may be able to clear away plaque from your tooth enamel so that it can more readily absorb the fluoride in toothpaste.

One last thing about flossing first: if it’s your least favorite task of the two and you’re of the “Do the Unpleasant Thing First” philosophy, you may want to perform it before brushing. You’re less likely to skip it if you’ve already brushed.

On the other hand, flossing first could get you into the middle of a lot sticky plaque that can gum up your floss. Brushing first removes a good portion of plaque, which can then make flossing a little easier. With the bulk of the plaque gone by the time you floss, you’ll not only avoid a sticky mess on your floss you’ll also have less chance of simply moving the plaque around with the floss if there’s a large mass of it present.

It really comes down to which way you prefer. So, brush first, floss last or vice-versa—but do perform both tasks. The one-two punch of these important hygiene habits will greatly increase your chances for maintaining a healthy mouth.

If you would like more information on effective oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
July 23, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  
YourDentalCareEffortsareJustasImportantasYourDentists

If you’re seeing your dentist regularly, that’s great. But if that’s all you’re doing to stay ahead of dental disease, it’s not enough. In fact, what you do daily to care for your teeth is often the primary factor in whether or not you’ll maintain a healthy mouth.

Top of your oral care to-do list, of course, is removing daily plaque buildup from teeth and gums. This sticky film of bacteria and food particles can cause both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. You do that with effective daily brushing and flossing.

Effective brushing starts with the right toothbrush—for most people a soft-bristled, multi-tufted brush—and fluoride toothpaste. As to technique, you should first avoid brushing too hard or too often (more than twice a day). This can damage your gums and cause them to recede, exposing the tooth roots to disease. Instead, use a gentle, scrubbing motion, being sure to thoroughly brush all tooth surfaces from the gumline to the top of the teeth, which usually takes about two minutes.

The other essential hygiene task, flossing, isn’t high on many people’s “favorite things to do list” due to frequent difficulties manipulating the floss. Your dentist can help you with technique, but if it still proves too difficult try some different tools: a floss threader to make it easier to pull floss through your teeth; or a water flosser, a handheld device that directs a pressurized water stream on tooth and gum surfaces to loosen and flush away plaque.

And don’t forget other tooth-friendly practices like avoiding sugary snacks between meals, drinking plenty of water to avoid dry mouth, and even waiting to brush or floss about an hour after eating. The latter is important because acid levels rise during eating and can temporarily soften enamel. The enzymes in saliva, though, can neutralize the acid and re-mineralize the enamel in about thirty minutes to an hour. Waiting to brush gives saliva a chance to do its job.

Lastly, keep alert for anything out of the ordinary: sores, lumps, spots on the teeth or reddened, swollen, bleeding gums. All these are potential signs of disease. The sooner you have them checked the better your chances of maintaining a healthy mouth.

If you would like more information on caring for your teeth at home, 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 “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
July 09, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

Keeping your smile clean and healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.oral hygiene

Having strong, healthy teeth and pink, happy gums are something that everyone wants; however, in order to have this, you have to put in a little work each and every day. So, how is your oral care routine? Our Westminster, MD, dentist Dr. Patrick Gallagher is here to provide some helpful tips for supporting a healthy smile for the long term.

Brushing

Remember that you should be brushing at least twice a day or after each meal (in an ideal world). Other brushing tips to follow include:

  • Always angle your toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle
  • Brush gently back and forth across the front surface of your teeth
  • Angle the toothbrush head vertically and brush up and down to clean the back of your teeth
  • Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months

Flossing

Don’t forget to floss your teeth every day. You only have to do it once, but when you do make it count by utilizing these helpful tips:

  • Make sure you have enough floss to work with. Be generous. About 18 inches is perfect!
  • Wrap the floss around your thumb and pointer finger and carefully move the floss down into the space between your teeth. Move the floss up and down against the side of the tooth and along the gums.
  • Be gentle when flossing and removing the floss, as not to damage sensitive gum tissue
  • Use a new, fresh section of floss for each space between teeth

Diet

Some people don’t realize that what they put in their bodies also impacts their oral health. If you are someone who enjoys sodas, sweetened beverages and sports drinks, you are increasing your chances of decay. Make sure you are drinking enough water, which will help reduce plaque buildup. Other healthy, smile-friendly diet tips to follow include:

  • Avoid sugar and starches, which increase your risk for cavities
  • Limit snacking to reduce the amount of plaque buildup on teeth
  • Enjoy lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, dairy (in moderation), and lots of fibrous veggies and fruits

Gallagher & Eden in Westminster, MD, is here to provide you with quality preventive, cosmetic and restorative dentistry for the whole family. Call us today to schedule your next dental cleaning.

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
June 23, 2018
Category: Oral Health
OfficeFluorideTreatmentsCanAddExtraProtectiontoYourChildsTeeth

Your family uses fluoride toothpaste and your drinking water is fluoridated too. So with the fluoride your child already takes in, is it really necessary for topical fluoride treatments during their regular dental visits?

The answer is most definitely. Fluoride has a unique ability to strengthen enamel, your teeth’s protective cover against decay and other diseases. It does this by infusing itself in the enamel structure and making it that much more resistant to acid attack and decay.

This infusion occurs in two ways. First, growing teeth obtain it through the bloodstream as they incorporate other minerals that make up the enamel structure. The very small amount of fluoride added to drinking water — as low as one part per million (ppm) — imparts sufficient fluoride to developing teeth. In the absence of fluoridated water, dietary fluoride supplements can achieve the same effect.

The second way is just after the teeth have erupted and are still quite young. In this case, fluoride coming in direct contact with the enamel surface is absorbed, resulting in changes to the enamel’s crystalline structure that will create added strength. This can occur to a limited degree through fluoride toothpaste or other dental products. The concentration of fluoride in these products, though, is relatively low (850-1500 ppm) as mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety.

Professional applications, on the other hand, are much higher — 12,300 to 22,600 ppm depending on their form. They’re applied, of course, under strict clinical guidelines to cleaned tooth surfaces, usually as a gel, foam or varnish. The latter form will often continue leaching fluoride into the enamel for a month or more.

These topical applications can greatly strengthen the teeth of children who don’t have the benefit of fluoridated water or may be at higher risk for dental disease because of socio-economic conditions. But they can still be helpful for children with adequate fluoride exposure and low risk factors for disease. At the very least, fluoride treatments can give your child an added boost of protection as their teeth continue to develop.

If you would like more information on topical fluoride treatments for children, 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 “Topical Fluoride.”