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

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
February 11, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: teeth whitening  

Ready to get a significantly brighter smile in just one hour?

It’s amazing how things like what we eat and the natural aging process take a toll on our smile’s appearance. Over time, you may notice that your pearly whites are no longer as white as they used to be. Fortunately, your Westminster dentist Dr. Patrick Gallagher can teeth whiteningchange all that with professional teeth whitening.

How Teeth Whitening Works

What makes professional teeth whitening from your cosmetic dentist in Westminster so much more effective than commercial whitening products is that it contains a highly concentrated amount of hydrogen peroxide. While retail whitening kits may contain hydrogen peroxide it is nowhere near as strong or as effective. Hydrogen peroxide is used to lift stains that are trapped under the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth.

Whitening works best on stains that are caused by:

  • Certain foods like berries, tomato sauces and other dark condiments
  • Dark drinks like cola, tea, wine and coffee
  • Smoking
  • Natural aging

Teeth whitening isn’t always as effective on stains caused by injury or certain prescription medications. These stains tend to be internal in nature and teeth whitening is only designed to remove surface stains.

Getting Your Teeth Whitened

Your Westminster, MD dentist will be able to determine whether teeth whitening is the appropriate cosmetic treatment for you. If you’ve been deemed a great candidate you have two whitening options: at-home or in-office treatment.

If you choose in-office whitening it may be a bit more expensive but you’ll get a visibly whiter smile in just one hour. This is a great option for patients looking to get a smile up to eight shades whiter before a big event. When you come into the office for whitening we will thoroughly clean your teeth before applying the whitening gel. Then we will use a laser to activate the gel and speed up the whitening process. Most sessions involve three, 15-minute whitening gel applications.

If you choose to whiten from the convenience of your own home we will custom-fit you with whitening trays that will be filled with peroxide gel. These whitening trays will most likely be worn every day. We will tell you how long to wear them each day before starting to see results. It will take a couple weeks before you start to notice results but your smile can get several shades lighter with at-home whitening.

Patrick Gallagher III, DDS is ready to get your smile more radiant before your next big event. Call our Westminster dental office today and let us give you a smile you’ll be all too happy to show off.

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
February 05, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
NeilPatrickHarrisWhattheOscarsHostTreasuresMost

A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”

How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.

The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.

If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.

If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
January 06, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
ArianaGrandeBreaksFree-ofHerWisdomTeeth

Via a recent Instagram post, pop diva Ariana Grande became the latest young celebrity to publicly acknowledge a dental milestone: having her wisdom teeth removed. The singer of hits such as “Break Free” and “Problem” posted an after-surgery picture of herself (wearing her signature cat-eye eyeliner), with a caption addressed to her teeth: “Peace out, final three wisdom teeth. It’s been real.”

With the post, Grande joined several other celebs (including Lily Allen, Paris Hilton and Emile Hirsch) who have shared their dental surgery experience with fans. Will "wisdom teeth removal" become a new trending topic on social media? We aren’t sure — but we can explain a bit about the procedure, and why many younger adults may need it.

Technically called the “third molars,” wisdom teeth usually begin to emerge from the gums between the ages of 17 and 25 — presumably, around the same time that a certain amount of wisdom emerges. Most people have four of these big molars, which are located all the way in the back of the mouth, on the left and right sides of the upper and lower jaws.

But when wisdom teeth begin to appear, there’s often a problem: Many people don’t have enough space in their jaws to accommodate them. When these molars lack sufficient space to fully erupt (emerge), they are said to be “impacted.” Impacted teeth can cause a number of serious problems: These may include pain, an increased potential for bacterial infections, periodontal disease, and even the formation of cysts (pockets of infection below the gum line), which can eventually lead to tooth and bone loss.

In most cases, the best treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction (removal) of the problem teeth. Wisdom tooth extraction is a routine, in-office procedure that is usually performed under local anesthesia or “conscious sedation,” a type of anesthesia where the patient remains conscious (able to breathe normally and respond to stimuli), but is free from any pain or distress. Anti-anxiety medications may also be given, especially for those who are apprehensive about dental procedures.

So if you find you need your wisdom teeth extracted, don’t be afraid to “Break Free” like Ariana Grande did; whether you post the results on social media is entirely up to you. If you would like more information about wisdom tooth extraction, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

By Patrick Gallagher DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
December 31, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Invisalign  

If you have crooked teeth, you've likely wondered how much better your smile would look if they were straight. The process of wearing metal braces might be somewhat of a deterrent, especially if you're an adult. But imagine having straight teeth without the discomfort of Invisalignmetal braces! With Invisalign from Dr. Patrick Gallagher, your Westminster, Maryland dentist, this is a reality! Invisalign is a process in which you wear clear plastic trays, called aligners, that gently place pressure on your teeth to move them into their proper place. Here's how it works:

What's involved in the Invisalign process?

The extent of your alignment issues will be evaluated by your Westminster dentist, Dr. Patrick Gallagher. Digital images, as well as a physical examination, will help determine the course of your Invisalign treatment. The images your Westminster dentist takes will be sent to a laboratory that specializes in creating aligners; those images will be used to craft a series of aligners that will fit against your teeth perfectly. As your teeth move, the aligner you're wearing will be swapped out for the next one in the series. If you wear your aligner for the prescribed amount of time (20 to 22 hours each day), you will change out aligners approximately every two weeks. For many adults, the average treatment time is about one year, although that varies with each case.

What happens after I'm finished with my last aligner?

In some cases, your teeth will still need some adjustment. Your Westminster dentist will take a new set of impressions and the Invisalign laboratory will craft one to three refinement aligners. This situation is worked into the cost of Invisalign and you will not be charged extra fees.

Once the Invisalign regimen is finished, retainers will need to be worn to maintain your new smile. The amount of time you wear your retainer will be determined by your Westminster dentist.

Ready for a comfortable and practically invisible approach to straighter teeth? Contact Dr. Patrick Gallagher's office in Westminster, MD for a consultation today!

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
December 29, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tmj disorders   tmd  
BeWaryWhenConsideringBotoxTreatmentforTMD

If you’ve suffered from problems with your jaw joints, known collectively as temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), then you know how uncomfortable and painful they can be. You may also have heard about the use of Botox injections to ease TMD discomfort.

Before you seek out Botox treatment for TMD, though, you should consider the current research on the matter. Far from a “miracle” treatment, the dental profession is still undecided on the effects of Botox to relieve TMD pain symptoms — and there are other risks to weigh as well.

Botox is an injectable drug with a poisonous substance called botulinum toxin type A derived from clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that causes muscle paralysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved small dose use for some medical and cosmetic procedures, like wrinkle augmentation. The idea behind its use for TMD is to relax the muscles connected to the joint by paralyzing them and thus relieve pain.

The FDA hasn’t yet approved Botox for TMD treatment, although there’s been some use for this purpose. There remain concerns about its effectiveness and possible complications. In the first place, Botox only relieves symptoms — it doesn’t address the underlying cause of the discomfort. Even in this regard, a number of research studies seem to indicate Botox has no appreciable effect on pain relief.

As to side effects or other complications, Botox injections have been known to cause pain in some cases rather than relieve it, as with some patients developing chronic headaches after treatment. A few may build up resistance to the toxin, so that increasingly higher dosages are needed to achieve the same effect from lower dosages. And, yes, Botox is a temporary measure that must be repeated to continue its effect, which could lead to permanent paralyzing effects on the facial muscles and cause muscle atrophy (wasting away) and even deformity.

It may be more prudent to stick with conventional approaches that have well-documented benefits: a diet of easier to chew foods; cold and heat applications; physical therapy and exercises; pain-relief medications and muscle relaxers; and appliances to help control grinding habits. Although these can take time to produce significant relief, the relief may be longer lasting without undesirable side effects.

If you would like more information on treatments for TMD including Botox injections, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.