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

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By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
June 16, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sensitive teeth  
ThereareVariousWaystoTreatSensitivity-DependingonitsCause

You may be among the one in three Americans who suffer from the pain of tooth sensitivity. Before attempting treatment, though, we must first identify the cause.

Your teeth are made of layers of different organic tissue. The pulp at the center of the tooth contains nerves that transmit pain or pressure sensation to the brain. The pulp is encased by dentin, a layer of tissue composed of tiny tubules that conduct temperature and pressure changes from outside the tooth to the pulp nerves. The hard outer enamel shell shields the dentin from over-stimulation from these sensations.

There are, however, some instances where the dentin may become exposed and cause sensitivity in the tooth. This can occur when the gum tissue recedes and the root of the tooth is exposed to the oral environment. If the root loses its surface coating (referred to as cementum, a cement-like outer layer around the root surfaces) because of over-aggressive brushing (too hard for too long) or advanced periodontal (gum) disease, sensitivity is often the result.

Another instance is enamel erosion. Although made of the hardest substance in the human body, enamel has one major enemy — acid. A high oral acid level brought on by over-consuming acidic foods and beverages or as a symptom of gastric reflux disease dissolves (de-mineralizes) the enamel’s mineral content. Brushing just after eating actually contributes to de-mineralization because the enamel is in a softer state. It requires forty-five minutes to an hour for your saliva to neutralize acid and restore minerals to the enamel — you may actually be brushing away enamel with this practice.

Once we know the underlying cause, we can use an appropriate method to reduce sensitivity. One way is to reduce nerve sensitivity in the dentin’s tubules or block them altogether. There are several chemical products for both home and dental office application that can reduce sensitivity and encourage enamel re-mineralization (as can the fluoride added to toothpaste). We can also strengthen enamel and provide a mechanical barrier to acid through concentrated fluoride in a varnish applied to tooth and root surfaces. And, life-like restorations like crowns or veneers not only improve the appearance of your teeth, they can also provide coverage for exposed dentin.

If you are experiencing painful sensitivity, make an appointment to visit us. Once we know the source, we can treat the problem and reduce your discomfort.

If you would like more information on tooth sensitivity and how to treat it, 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 “Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
June 01, 2015
Category: Oral Health
NoGleeinToothGrinding

Sure, it’s big news when celebs tweet selfies from the dental office… if you’re still living in the 20th century. But in Hollywood today, it’s harder to say who hasn’t posted snaps of themselves in the dentist’s chair than who has. Yet the pictures recently uploaded to Twitter by Mark Salling, the actor and singer who regularly appears as Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the popular TV series Glee, made us sit up and take notice.

“Getting my chipped tooth fixed. Also, apparently, I’m a big grinder,” read the caption. The photo showed a set of upper front teeth with visible chips on the biting surface. What’s so special about this seemingly mundane tweet? It’s a great way of bringing attention to a relatively common, but often overlooked problem: teeth clenching and grinding, also called bruxism.

Although bruxism is a habit that affects scores of people, many don’t even realize they have it. That’s because the condition may only become active at night. When the teeth are unconsciously ground together, the forces they produce can wear down the enamel, cause chipping or damage to teeth or dental work (such as veneers or fillings), or even loosen a tooth! While it’s common in children under 11 years old, in adults it can be a cause for concern.

Sometimes, mouth pain, soreness and visible damage alert individuals to their grinding habits; other times, a dental professional will notice the evidence of bruxism during an exam or cleaning: tooth sensitivity and telltale wear and tear on the chewing surfaces. Either way, it’s time to act.

Bruxism is most often caused by stress, which can negatively impact the body in many ways. It may also result from bite problems, the overuse of stimulating substances (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs), and as a side effect of certain medications. Sometimes, simply becoming aware of the habit can help a person get it under control. Common methods of stress reduction include exercise, meditation, a warm bath or a quiet period before bedtime; these can be tried while we monitor the situation to see if the problem is going away.

If stress reduction alone doesn’t do the trick, several other methods can be effective. When bruxism is caused by a minor bite problem, we can sometimes do a minor “bite adjustment” in the office. This involves removing a tiny bit of enamel from an individual tooth that is out of position, bringing it in line with the others. If it’s a more serious malocclusion, orthodontic appliances or other procedures may be recommended.

When grinding is severe enough to damage teeth or dental work, we may also recommend a custom-made night guard (occlusal guard), which you put in your mouth at bedtime. Comfortable and secure, this appliance prevents your teeth from being damaged by contacting each other, and protects your jaw joints from stresses due to excessive grinding forces.

Whether or not you have to smile for a living, teeth grinding can be a big problem. If you would like more information about this condition, call our office to schedule a consultation for a consultation.

By Office of Dr. Patrick Gallagher
May 22, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: veneers  

Dental Veneers Find out in what ways getting dental veneers in Westminster could help you.

First impressions mean a lot. This can be unfortunate if you are dealing with a less-than-perfect smile. Those who have dental flaws may find themselves less comfortable in social situations or even avoid them altogether. If this sounds like you, then it might be time to talk to your Westminster dentist to find out if you’re a good candidate for dental veneers.

The Purpose of Dental Veneers

There is a reason why dental veneers may become a popular cosmetic treatment option for many patients. These thin porcelain shells are permanently bonded to the front of the teeth to hide imperfections. Each veneer is custom-made to match the rest of your smile’s natural color, so no one will be able to tell that you are wearing veneers. Dental veneers are used to correct these aesthetic smile issues:

  • Stained or discolored teeth
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Spaces between teeth
  • Overlapping/overcrowding
  • Misshapen teeth

Candidates for Dental Veneers

Each set of veneers are custom-made to work with each patient’s treatment goals. The first step is for your Westminster dentist to evaluate the health of your smile and to talk about your expectations for treatment to make sure that dental veneers are the right fit for your lifestyle and needs. You could be great for porcelain veneers if you fit these criteria:

  • Your teeth are healthy and cavity-free
  • You don’t have gum disease
  • You don’t grind your teeth
  • You have an aligned bite
  • You have enough healthy tooth enamel

If you think dental veneers could finally give you back the smile you want, then it’s time to talk to your Westminster dentist, Dr. Patrick Gallagher. Call him today to schedule an evaluation. Take the necessary steps to get a more beautiful smile!

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
May 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns  
RoyalTreatmentforaDamagedTooth

If your tooth sustains damage that compromises its structure — typically through decay or trauma — you have several options depending on the extent of the damage: One of them is a crown. This method saves the tooth and its root and completely conceals the visible portion of the tooth, or crown, under a natural-looking cap made to mimic as closely as possible the size, shape and color of the original tooth.

Crowns also hide imperfections in the original tooth like discoloration, chipping, fractures, excessive wear (from bruxism, or tooth grinding, for example), or abnormalities in the way the tooth formed. And they’re used following root canal treatments, which treat infected pulp at the center (canal) of a tooth root by removing the pulp and replacing it with an inert, rubber-like material.

Saving the natural tooth has long been the goal of dentistry because normal micromovements of the tooth root, which is suspended in its jawbone socket by elastic ligaments, stimulate the surrounding bone to rejuvenate. Without that stimulation, the bone continues to lose old cells, but no longer replaces them. Crowns are also designed to restore tooth function.

The function and location of the damaged tooth can determine what material the crown will be made of. If the damaged tooth is clearly visible when you smile, porcelain, the most realistic-looking material, is almost always used. If the tooth receives significant bite force, a stronger material is considered — either, a gold/porcelain combination, or a high-strength ceramic. If you are restoring a second molar, an all-gold crown may be considered.

With the advent of dental implants, saving a damaged tooth is no longer the only option for preserving the health of the bone surrounding the tooth root. The implant — a tiny biocompatible, titanium screw-like artificial root — is placed in the jawbone and is then capped with a natural-looking crown of course!

If you would like more information about dental crowns, 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 “Crowns & Bridgework.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
April 30, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
MatthewLewissMetamorphosis

Remember Matthew Lewis? You've seen him in all of the Harry Potter movies, where he played the bumbling Neville Longbottom: a pudgy, teenage wizard-in-training whose teeth could best be described as... dodgy. We won't spoil the movie by telling you what happens to him in the end — but in real life, let's just say his awkward phase is over. Today, he looks more like a young Ryan Gosling. How did this transformation happen?

Well, in part it was some “Hollywood magic” that made his teeth look worse in the films than they really were. But Lewis acknowledges that he also had cosmetic dental work performed. If you've ever considered getting a smile makeover yourself, you may wonder: What kinds of “dental magic” might it take to change an awkward grin into a red-carpet smile? Here are a few of the treatments we might utilize.

Orthodontics
It's possible to correct tooth crowding, protrusion, gaps between teeth, and many other bite problems with orthodontic appliances like braces or clear aligners. While some may think orthodontics is just for teens, that isn't so — you're never too old to get the smile you've always wanted! In fact, right now about one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.

Teeth Whitening
This is a popular (and surprisingly affordable) option that can effectively lighten your teeth by six shades or more. We can do in-office whitening for the fastest results, or prepare a take-home whitening kit with a custom-made tray to fit your teeth perfectly and a supply of the proper bleaching solution. How well it will work for you (and how long it will last) depends on various factors, including the original cause of the discoloration, and your preferences for foods and beverages (such as coffee or red wine) that may cause stains.

Porcelain Veneers
Sometimes, even professional bleaching isn't enough to get the kind of permanent, “Hollywood white” smile you'd like; that's where porcelain veneers come in. By placing a fingernail-thin layer of ceramic over the tooth's enamel, veneers offer a permanent, pearly white finish that looks just like your natural teeth — only more dazzling! Veneers, long the first choice of celebrities, are gaining popularity with plenty of “regular” folks.

Tooth Restorations
This category covers a wide variety of different methods and materials — like cosmetic bonding, crowns, bridges, and dental implants — which we use to repair or replace teeth that are damaged or missing. Beginning with the simple repair of small chips or cracks with tooth-colored resins, we can progress to more permanent crown restorations when more of the tooth structure needs replacement. To restore missing teeth, we have the option of using the tried-and-true bridge — or, the current gold standard in tooth replacement: the lifelike, permanent dental implant.

Of course, this is just a bare outline of the many tools and techniques cosmetic dentistry offers. We would be happy to talk with you about which ones are right in your individual situation. Will a smile makeover land you a red-carpet role? Maybe... but one thing is for sure: It will help you get the smile you've always wanted.

If you would like more information about smile makeovers and options in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Cosmetic Dentistry,” “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers,” and “Dental Implants.”





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