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Why choose an orthodontic specialist over a general dentist?

August 11th, 2017

Patients have so many choices for straightening their teeth nowadays — clear aligners, ceramic braces, lingual braces, self-ligating braces — but who is best suited to guide them through orthodontic treatment? Well, an orthodontist like Dr Deirdre Maull in McLean, VA of course!

This may seem obvious, but there’s misinformation circulating with regard to the roles dentists and orthodontists play in treating patients’ oral health.

Dentists are trained to clean teeth, fill cavities, perform certain dental surgeries, and examine overall oral health. Many dentists now offer braces to their patients, but according to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s better to consult an orthodontist if you need to straighten teeth or fix a bite.

Why an orthodontist? Because they are...

  • Specialists in straightening teeth and aligning jaws, even advanced cases
  • Required to study an additional two to three years after dental school
  • Trained to choose the correct treatment option because they have worked with all the available options
  • Trained to recognize the potential pitfalls with certain treatments and cases, which means there’s less chance of problems after treatment has started or been completed
  • Familiar with emerging treatments and technologies so they can make the best choice for a patient’s case

Some dentists claim to have taken enough continuing education or additional training to offer braces to their patients. But this can't compare to the advanced training an orthodontist receives during his or her education.

Ideally, dentists and orthodontists work hand in hand to make sure oral health and the alignment of teeth and jaws are the best they can be. Think of a dentist as the one who is there for a lifetime, to make sure teeth and gums are healthy.

In contrast, an orthodontist is the highly skilled teammate who helps the dentist by straightening teeth and aligning the jaws over the course of a few years. Instead of one replacing the other, they work together for the health and benefit of their patients.

What’s so great about an orthodontist?

August 4th, 2017

A lot of our patients are curious about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist. In fact, one of the most common questions we hear at Deirdre Maull DMD MS Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics is, “Dentists and orthodontists are all the same, right?”

A general dentist is your primary dental care provider. Dentists diagnose, treat, and manage your overall oral healthcare needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, and bridges.

Orthodontists, such as Dr Deirdre Maull, are more concerned with diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusion, or what we call “bad bite,” of the teeth. Orthodontists focus on tooth and jaw alignment and bite problems such as overbites and underbites, and are responsible for straightening teeth via bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective treatment options, like braces and clear aligners. Orthodontists treat children as well as adults who wish to improve the function of their bite and appearance of their smile.

Before becoming an orthodontist, doctors such as Dr Deirdre Maull start out in dental school and earn a dental degree, just like your general dentist. After dental school, those doctors who decide they are interested in the orthodontic field, stay in school for a few more years and become experts in orthodontia, which is one of nine specialties within the dental field.

Isn’t it nice to know we have orthodontic experts here at Deirdre Maull DMD MS Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics to help you through any type of treatment your teeth and jaw might need? To schedule your initial appointment at our McLean, VA office, please give us a call today!

Diet Soda vs. Regular Soda: Which is better for teeth?

July 28th, 2017

When most patients ask Dr Deirdre Maull this question, they're thinking strictly about sugar content — cut out the bacteria-feeding sugar that's present in regular soda by opting for a diet soda and it will be better for your teeth. That seems logical, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that. Let's take a closer look at how any kind of soda can affect your dental health.

Diet Soda – Why it can also lead to tooth decay

The main culprit in these drinks that leads to decay is the acid content. Diet sodas and other sugar-free drinks are usually highly acidic, which weakens the enamel on your teeth and makes them more susceptible to cavities and dental erosion. The level of phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid is usually high in sugar-free drinks so it's best to avoid them.

Some patients also enjoy drinking orange juice or other citrus juices. These drinks are high in citric acid and have the same effect on the enamel of your teeth.

So what about regular soda?

We know the acidity of diet sodas and sugar-free drinks contributes to tooth decay, so what about regular soda? Like we alluded to earlier, regular soda is high in sugar — a 12 ounce can contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar — and sugar feeds the decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. This also includes sports drinks and energy drinks, which are highly acidic and loaded with sugar too. So these drinks are a double-whammy of sugar and acidity your teeth and body simply don't need.

The problems caused by both diet and regular soda is exacerbated when you sip on them throughout the day. If you drink it all in one sitting, you won't be washing sugar and/or acids over your teeth all day long and your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the pH in your mouth.

The best beverages to drink and how to drink them

Drinking beverages that are lower in acid is a good step to take to keep your enamel strong. According to a study conducted by Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer at the University of Michigan, your best bets are plain water, black tea or coffee, and if you opt for a soda, root beer. These drinks dissolved the least amount of enamel when measured 14 days after consumption of the beverage.

If you still choose to drink soda, diet soda, sugar-free drinks, or juices here are some other tips to lessen tooth decay:

  • Drink your soda or acidic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  • Rinse with water immediately after consumption of the beverage
  • Avoid brushing your teeth between 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the beverage as this has been shown to spread the acids before your saliva can bring your mouth back to a neutral pH
  • Avoid drinks that have acids listed on the ingredients label

Still have questions about soda, sugar, and acid? Give our McLean, VA office a call and we’d be happy to help!

Find Out how Your Diet can Cause Cavities

July 21st, 2017

Sometimes food that’s good for your body isn’t necessarily the best for your teeth. Dr Deirdre Maull and our team want you to know which healthy foods can harm your teeth and gums, and what steps you can take to continue enjoying these foods, even when you’re dieting.

When you begin to substitute empty calories with whole foods, make sure you also remember to focus on your dental health. The majority of people tend to switch out sugary foods in favor of fruits and vegetables when they diet.

It’s worth knowing that most fruits are highly acidic and composed of natural sugars. Some of the highly acidic fruits to watch out for include apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, blueberries, oranges, and grapefruit. Moderation is key here, as with all other things. Fruits can be a great source of energy to help you through your day, but try not to overdo them.

Often, people also incorporate more leafy greens into their diets, which mean plenty of salads. Salad dressing is another item you’ll want to watch out for. Many dressings are filled with vinegars and sweeteners that include harmful acids, which change the pH of your mouth. When your mouth shifts from alkaline to acidic, your smile also turns to a higher risk for erosion and decay.

Rather than get rid of these foods altogether, simply change what you do after you eat them. Rinse your mouth out with water, brush your teeth, or eat alkalizing foods after consuming these acidic foods. Healthy alkalizing foods include dairy products such as eggs and yogurt, or any type of vegetable.

If you have questions regarding your current diet and its effect on your oral health, please contact our McLean, VA office and speak with a member of our staff. If you’ve begun to make changes in your diet toward a healthier lifestyle, we hope these tips can help your make positive changes to your oral health. Our team at Deirdre Maull DMD MS Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics wants a healthy lifestyle to be a top priority in your life.