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By McLean Dental Care
July 27, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  

Finding out you have a cavity isn't the best of news. But finding out it's a root cavity is even worse: if not treated, the decay can spread more rapidly than a cavity occurring in the tooth's crown surfaces.

Our teeth are basically composed of two parts: the crown, the visible tooth above the gum line, and the roots, the hidden portion beneath the gums. The root in turn fits into a bony socket within the jaw to help hold the tooth in place (along with attached gum ligaments).

A tooth crown is covered by an ultra-hard layer of enamel, which ordinarily protects it from harmful bacteria. But when acid produced by bacteria comes into prolonged contact with enamel, it can soften and erode its mineral content and lead to a cavity.

In contrast to enamel, the roots have a thin layer of material called cementum. Although it offers some protection, it's not at the same performance level as enamel. But roots are also normally covered by the gums, which rounds out their protection.

But what happens when the gums shrink back or recede? This often occurs with gum disease and is more prevalent in older people (and why root cavities are also more common among seniors). The exposed area of the roots with only cementum standing in the way of bacteria and acid becomes more susceptible to cavity formation.

Root cavities can be treated in much the same way as those that occur in the crown. We first remove any decayed tooth structure with a drill and then place a filling. But there's also a scenario in which the cavity is below the gum line: In that case, we may need to gain access to the cavity surgically through the gums.

If you have exposed root areas, we can also treat these with fluoride to strengthen the area against cavity formation. And, as always, prevention is the best treatment: maintain a daily schedule of brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings to remove bacterial plaque.

Because decay can spread within a tooth, dealing with a root cavity should be done as promptly as possible. But if we diagnose and initiate treatment early, your chances of a good outcome are high.

If you would like more information on treating root cavities and other forms of tooth decay, 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 “Root Cavities.”


The red and puffy gums that sometimes accompany the onset of periodontal (gum) disease don't always catch your attention. You may not even get any symptoms at all, in fact, until the disease has become well advanced.

That's why regular dental visits are so important for gum health: For while you may not notice anything abnormal about your gums, we have a simple procedure known as periodontal probing that can help diagnose the condition of your gums.

Gum disease is a common bacterial infection that affects millions of people worldwide. It most often begins with plaque, a filmy, bacterial buildup on teeth. These bacteria feed and multiply on the remnant food particles in the film, increasing the chances for an infection.

As it grows—as well as the inflammation the body initiates to fight it—the infection weakens the gum attachment to teeth. This can cause the miniscule gap between gums and teeth at the gum line to widen, forming a void called a periodontal pocket. The deeper and wider the pocket, the more advanced the gum infection.

We may be able to verify the presence of a periodontal pocket by using a long, thin probing instrument with millimeter gradations. We gently insert the probe at various locations around a tooth as far as it will comfortably go. We then record the depth by reading the gradation measures lined up with the top of the gums, as well as observing how snug or loose the probe feels within the gum space.

One to three millimeters signifies a healthy attachment between the tooth and gums—anything more than that usually indicates gum disease. Measurements of 5mm indicates a problem, the higher the number, the more advanced is the periodontal disease.

We use these probe readings and other factors to guide our treatment approach in individual cases of gum disease. With a less-advanced infection we may only need to remove plaque and calculus adhering to the crown and just below the gum line. More advanced gum disease infecting the root area may require surgical access through the gums.

All in all, keeping up with regular dental visits can increase the chances of early diagnosis, when the disease is still in its initial stages. And daily oral hygiene to remove harmful plaque may help you avoid gum disease altogether.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, 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 “Understanding Periodontal Pockets.”

By McLean Dental Care
July 12, 2021
Category: Oral Health

Most people understand why brushing and flossing daily is an important step to caring for their teeth, but did you know that it’s equally important that you see your dentists for regular check-ups? Dr. Cecilia Gyllenhoff and Dr. Samuel Cappiello at McLean Dental Care in McLean, VA, need to be able to see you regularly so that they can keep your smile free of disease and looking healthy and bright for years to come.

Why You Should Visit Your Dentist This Year

An important part of dental hygiene is visiting your dentists in McLean, VA, every six months to rid your smile of any hidden bacteria or plaque. Your dentist will perform professional teeth cleaning and get rid of any built-up tartar or plaque that is hidden in areas that you may have missed or aren’t able to reach without the specialty tools that your dentist uses. This will help stop bacteria from spreading throughout your mouth and damaging your smile. When plaque is left in your smile, it can eat away at your enamel and cause issues like gum disease or cavities to form in your mouth.

Your dentist can also keep an eye out for any signs of disease or any bigger issues that you may not have noticed in your smile. When you have an extra set of eyes on your smile, you can catch problems before they become more serious and harder to treat. This helps keep your smile strong and bright.

Contact Your Dentist Today!

It’s important that you stay up to date on your dental hygiene by visiting your dentist regularly. If you’re due for a checkup, be sure to contact Dr. Gyllenhoff and Dr. Cappiello at McLean Dental Care in McLean, VA, today at (703) 734-0100.

By McLean Dental Care
July 09, 2021
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: porcelain veneers   veneers  

If you’ve ever seen a celebrity with a perfect-looking smile and wondered how their smile was so nice, the answer is most likely veneers. Porcelain veneers can give you the dazzling smile that you’ve always wanted and can help give you confidence in your smile. Dr. Cecilia Gyllenhoff and Dr. Samuel Cappiello at McLean Dental Care in McLean, VA, can inform you of the benefits of porcelain veneers and how they can improve your smile.

How Porcelain Veneers Can Renew Your Smile

Veneers from your dentists in McLean, VA, are shells made from porcelain material that are placed over your teeth to give you a nearly perfect smile. Veneers are designed to cover up any issues such as misalignment, dental staining, shape, or crooked teeth.

Since veneers are made from porcelain, they will look completely natural, and no one will ever know that you have veneers at all. This material is also good for resisting any further staining. Porcelain helps repel stains and doesn’t absorb stains like natural tooth enamel does.

If you properly care for your dental veneers, they can last for years without adjustment or damage. Luckily, caring for your veneers is easy and won’t take any additional work outside of your normal routine. As long as you brush and floss your smile daily and visit your dentist for regular check-ups, your veneers should last for years and stay bright and shining. You should also be sure to avoid things like opening packages or biting straight into hard foods, which isn’t good for your natural teeth!

Contact Your Dentist Today!

Give yourself the perfect smile that you’ve always deserved! Call Dr. Gyllenhoff and Dr. Cappiello of McLean Dental Care in McLean, VA, at (703) 734-0100 today to learn more about veneers and how they can benefit you.

By McLean Dental Care
July 07, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth pain  

Not all toothaches are alike: Some are sharp and last only a second or two; others throb continuously. You might feel the pain in one tooth, or it could be more generalized.

Because there are as many causes as there are kinds of dental pain, you can expect a few questions on specifics when you come to us with a toothache. Understanding first what kind of pain you have will help us more accurately diagnose the cause and determine the type of treatment you need.

Here are a few examples of dental pain and what could be causing it.

Temperature sensitivity. People sometimes experience a sudden jolt of pain when they eat or drink something cold or hot. If it only lasts for a moment or two, this could mean you have a small area of tooth decay, a loose filling, or an exposed root surface due to gum recession. If the pain lingers, though, you may have internal decay or the nerve tissue within the tooth has died. If so, you may require a root canal treatment.

Sharp pain when chewing. Problems like decay, a loose filling or a cracked tooth could cause pain when you bite down. We may be able to solve the problem with a filling (or repair an older one), or you may need more extensive treatment like a root canal. In any event, if you notice this as a recurring problem, don't wait on seeing us—the condition could worsen.

Dull pain near the jaw and sinuses. Because both the jaws and sinuses share the same nerve network, it's often hard to tell where the pain or pressure originates—it could be either. You may first want to see us or an endodontist to rule out tooth decay or another dental problem. If your teeth are healthy, your next step may be a visit with a physician to examine your sinuses.

As you can see, tooth pain can be a sign of a number of problems, both big and small. That's why it's important to see us as soon as possible for an examination and diagnosis. The sooner we can treat whatever is causing the pain, the sooner your discomfort will end.

If you would like more information on treating dental pain, 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 “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!

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