5 Common Dental Problems and Tooth Diseases

A healthy smile helps us move through the world with confidence. Maintaining good dental hygiene and attending regular check-ups with your dentist can help prevent common dental diseases. The earlier you build those good oral hygiene habits, the less likely it is that you’ll experience tooth disease. 

Here are some of the most common dental problems and tooth diseases – and how you can help prevent them. 

  1. Cavities and tooth decay. More than half of school-aged children and almost all adults have experienced a dental cavity. Cavities occur when bacteria form a plaque on your teeth, eating away at your dental enamel until the tooth is compromised. A healthy diet, fluoridated water, and regular brushing and flossing can help reduce the risk of cavities. 
  2. Cracked or damaged teeth. A fall, contact sports, chewing on something hard, or even grinding your teeth at night can cause teeth to crack or break. A cracked or broken tooth can count as a dental emergency – always contact your dentist if you suspect a cracked tooth. You can also prevent teeth conditions such as these by wearing a mouthguard when playing sports, being mindful when eating popcorn or nuts, or wearing a preventive mouthguard at night to prevent tooth grinding.
  3. Periodontitis. Also known as gum disease, periodontitis is a common dental disease. This disease is caused by the accumulation of bacteria on your teeth and gums. Over time, the bacteria damage the soft tissue of your gums, and even the bone supporting your teeth, potentially resulting in tooth loss. Factors such as smoking, diabetes, certain illnesses and poor oral hygiene can increase your risk for periodontal disease. Brushing, flossing, and attending regular dental checkups will help reduce the risk of periodontitis – or catch it in its early stages when it can be managed. 
  4. Tooth sensitivity. If your teeth hurt when you eat cold or hot food, you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity can happen after dental work, but can also indicate other teeth conditions such as gum disease or compromised fillings. Additionally, some people simply have naturally sensitive teeth. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, talk to your dentist. They will check for underlying issues and may suggest products such as toothpaste and mouthwash designed for sensitive teeth. 
  5. Oral cancer. Oral cancer is less common than other tooth diseases, but still affects millions of people every year. Symptoms include sores and lumps, changes to your bite, and difficulty chewing or eating. Smoking, drinking and HPV are key risk factors for oral cancer. If you are experiencing oral cancer symptoms, talk to your dentist. Many dentists will also screen for oral cancer as part of a routine checkup.

Whether you’re experiencing the signs of dental disease or simply want to prevent them, talk to the team at Optimal today. Our friendly dentists will help you manage existing conditions and help you develop a plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy well into the future. Contact us today to make your appointment!  

9 Things about Invisalign you Should be Aware of 

Invisalign aligners are a great way to achieve the smile of your dreams. If you’re considering Invisalign braces, here’s what to know.

Invisalign retainers are removable, but ideally you should strive to wear them as much as possible. Take them out only when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth – and definitely wear them at night. Using your aligners for less time than recommended will slow down (or even reverse) your progress.

Invisalign teeth alignment braces aren’t as obtrusive as traditional wire braces, but you will be able to feel them in your mouth. Expect to have a bit of a lip when you first get your aligners, and don’t be surprised if you feel some pressure or discomfort as your teeth move.

Invisalign retainers are customized to your unique bite and needs. Each set of trays is tailored to you, ensuring that you achieve the straight bite you’ve always longed for as quickly and effectively as possible.

While people with very minor crowding might only wear their retainers for as little as six months, generally treatment takes between one and two years. Keep wearing your retainers as recommended, and your teeth will improve bit by bit!

Unlike traditional braces, with Invisalign you don’t have to worry about food damaging your braces or staining the area around brackets. Simply take out your retainers when eating or drinking anything other than water – but be sure to pop them back in right after (and after you’ve rinsed, brushed and flossed). 

Invisalign makes it easier to brush and floss than traditional braces, but you still need to be vigilant about maintaining good dental hygiene. Eating or drinking while wearing your retainers (a no-no) can trap bacteria around your teeth. Rinse, brush and floss after eating or drinking to reduce the risk of the bacterial build-up that can lead to dental decay.

Invisalign retainers are strong, but they need to be cared for. They’re not designed for biting down on, so make sure you take them out when eating or drinking. Clean your aligners daily with a soft toothbrush to keep them free of buildup and discoloration. This will help protect your aligners – and your teeth! 

Invisalign braces are popular among adults of all ages and can be suitable for teenagers as well. They’re increasingly covered by insurance and can be used to treat mild to moderate cases of crowding. However, they might not be the right choice for very severe cases.

Just like traditional braces, expect to keep wearing your aligners even once your treatment is complete. This will help prevent your teeth from moving back to their original positions. This shifting can be very minor, and you might not notice it until the teeth have visibly moved. But your retainers might feel “tight” after just a few days of not wearing them! Avoid another round of treatment by wearing your retainers for as long as your dentist recommends. 

Ready to achieve the smile you’ve always longed for? Talk to the team at Optimal Dental about Invisalign teeth alignment braces today!

The 3 Ways Your Child’s Dentist Can Help Them Overcome Their Fears

To ensure that your child goes through life with good dental hygiene practices, it’s vital to create positive associations with dental check-ups. Children who are comfortable at the dentist are more likely to attend routine pediatric dentist visits – which means they’re more likely to have good overall dental health.

If your child is nervous about attending their first dental appointment, don’t worry. An experienced pediatric dentist will help them feel safe and relaxed in the dentist’s chair. Here’s how your child’s dentist helps your child overcome their fears.

1 They provide a child-friendly environment

Traditional clinical spaces may be scary for small children who are new to the dentist. That’s why great pediatric dentists make the effort to create a welcoming, kid-friendly environment that helps your child feel at home. Colorful design, a child-friendly waiting area, and treatment rooms full of entertainment and distractions are great ways to put kids at ease. When your child is surrounded by their favorite characters and animals – or distracted by an educational TV show they love – they’ll start to feel that this is a place they “belong”.  

2 They respect your child’s feelings

Early childhood dental visits are about getting your child used to the routine of visiting the dentist. Even showing up and sitting down in the chair is a great start when it comes to baby teeth care. Your pediatric dentist understands that it can take time for children to get used to the idea of visiting the dentist, so they’ll listen to your child and take their cues from the child and their reactions. If your child won’t sit still for a full exam or is uncomfortable in the chair, that’s okay. Your pediatric dentist will gently walk them through a routine visit, stopping if your child is uncomfortable, and offering alternatives such as tooth brushing demonstrations or roleplays. 

3 They use positive reinforcement

Quality baby teeth care is its own reward. When you look after your teeth, they stay healthy – and result in a smile you’re proud of. A critical part of this is attending regular check-ups. A great pediatric dentist will make every appointment a great experience by using positive reinforcement throughout your child’s visit. They might provide stickers or small prizes or offer smiles and verbal affirmations throughout the visit. They might even play games or offer ways to help child and parent get involved in the visit. This will help your child creative positive associations with the dentist – and will encourage repeat visits.

Book an appointment with the “Kid-friendly” dental team at Optimal Dental Center

At Optimal Dental, we know that quality baby teeth care translates into good adult dental health. Our expert pediatric dentists are here to help your child feel comfortable and confident in the dentist’s chair – so that your little one is prepared for a lifetime of healthy smiles. To book your appointment, contact our friendly team today!


Braces are a great way to achieve a smile you’re proud of. However, when wearing braces for orthodontic treatment, you must be mindful of maintaining a high level of dental hygiene. Those who don’t may be dismayed to find small white spots under or around the part of the tooth where your braces hardware was attached.

Here’s what to know about white spot decay, and how to prevent it.

What is white spot decay?

The white spots some former braces wearers find on their teeth are caused by demineralization. White spots occur when plaque builds up around the hardware areas, creating a film that can damage the enamel of your tooth. Braces make it harder to brush and floss, making plaque build-up more likely. White spots typically arise when your dental hygiene hasn’t been sufficient. White spots are an early sign of tooth decay. 

Preventing “white spot” decay

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent white spot decay when wearing braces. Your orthodontist might apply a re-mineralizing sealant to your teeth before adhering to your brackets in order to strengthen the enamel under and around your brackets. 

You can also minimize the likelihood of white spots by practicing good dental hygiene. Here’s how.

Treating white spot decay after braces orthodontic treatment

While prevention is better than cure, white spots can be dealt with. Teeth whitening, microabrasion and enamel infiltration may all help reduce the appearance of white spots and help your teeth regain their appropriate color. In severe cases, your dentist might discuss cosmetic bonding or veneers with you.   

Talk to the team at Optimal Dental about achieving a smile you love

At Optimal Dental, we help achieve patients of all ages and backgrounds achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. If you have questions about orthodontic treatment such as braces, or simply about achieving a bright, white smile, talk to our team today. 

Have you been putting off a root canal? Root canals might not be at the top of your favorite things to do, but booking your appointment is important to save your tooth and prevent further damage or infection.

If you’ve been delaying making an appointment for your root canal in Fairfax, VA, here’s what to know.

When is a root canal needed?

A root canal involves removing the infected soft tissue from inside a tooth, then sealing the tooth. Root canals are performed to prevent further damage to your tooth, and to prevent the spread of infection. 

If you delay your root canal, you risk the following:

A root canal is both treatment and prevention. It helps save your damaged tooth, and prevent further damage, infection or potentially life-threatening illness.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

A root canal is needed if you have severely cracked a tooth or if you have a deep cavity that has reached the tooth’s pulp. You will likely be experiencing symptoms including:

If you are experiencing these symptoms, don’t just try to wait them out. Make an appointment with your trusted dentist so that they can assess your tooth and recommend a course of treatment. 

What does a root canal in Fairfax, VA involve?

A root canal is performed in one or two visits, and involves the removal of infected pulp from the tooth, then the placement of a temporary or permanent crown. Depending on the complexity of the root canal, it may be performed by your dentist, or by an endodontist, a root canal specialist. 

While many people are scared of the idea of a root canal, there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll be numbed during treatment, and once your permanent crown is fitted you’ll be able to eat and drink as normal, and without the pain of a damaged tooth. 

Considering a root canal in Reston VA?

If you suspect you need a root canal, act quickly. Contact the team at Optimal Dental today for an assessment. We can determine whether a root canal is needed and refer you to an endodontist in Fairfax or Reston VA who can help restore your smile – and treat your pain. 

What is the Quickest Way to Straighten Teeth?

Longing for a more confident smile, and quickly? There are many teeth straightening options available to give you the dazzling smile you deserve. As an Invisalign dentist in Reston, we’re often asked about the quickest way to straighten teeth. Here’s what you need to know.

How quickly can my teeth be straightened?

The timeframe of your teeth straightening depends on how much your teeth need to be moved and the type of orthodontic treatment you choose. If your case is mild, you can achieve a straight smile in as little as six months. Even people with more severe cases who require a longer treatment duration will show improvement a few months into their treatment. Keep in mind that even after your treatment is completed, you’ll probably need to continue to wear a plate, wire or clear tray retainer to ensure that your teeth maintain their new position.

Quick teeth straightening options

There are several effective options for straightening your teeth. They include:

Have questions about Invisalign in Fairfax VA?

If you’re looking to improve your smile quickly, take a moment to talk to Optimal Dental about your treatment choices. We’ll perform an assessment to determine your needs, and will walk you through the best, most comfortable teeth straightening options for you.

For more information, contact us today!

Dentist Vs Orthodontist: Who Should I Go To?

Your goal is a great, healthy smile. Both dentists and orthodontists can be great for helping achieve that dream. As experts in dentistry and orthodontics in Fairfax, VA, we see patients seeking all types of dental care. 

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist, and when to choose which.

How are orthodontists and dentists different?

Dentists and orthodontists both specialize in patient smiles. Overall, dentists focus on general gum, tooth and overall dental health, while orthodontists are specialists in aligning your teeth and jaws to ensure a better, more aesthetically pleasing bite. 

Both dentists and orthodontists complete rigorous schooling including four years of dental school and licensing exams. Orthodontists attend an additional residency program and complete additional board certification. A general dentist can perform some orthodontic treatments, but cannot claim to be an orthodontist unless certified. 

Dentists vs. Orthodontists: What to expect

In general, your dentist is your first port of call, being the oral health expert you see for your regular dental checkups and cleanings. Your dentist is in charge of: 

In contrast, an orthodontist is a dentistry specialist who can assist with treatments such as:

While a dentist is someone you might see for life, you’ll generally only see your orthodontist for the duration of your treatment. 

When to see a dentist vs. an orthodontist in Reston, VA

Not sure who to make your appointment with? If you’re after a general dental exam, a filling, have a toothache, or are interested in straightforward cosmetic improvements such as teeth whitening, talk to your dentist. If you would like to have your bite corrected or your teeth aligned, or you’ve broken an existing piece of orthodontic hardware, an orthodontist is the person to call. However, if you’re not sure what your situation requires, your dentist will always be happy to refer you to the right specialist. 

At Optimal Dental Center, we offer both! Not only do we offer a variety of general dentistry but also offer orthodontic services to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. Whether you’re seeking a general dentist or an expert in orthodontics in the northern Virginia area, please reach out to us. We’ll help guide you towards the right choice for your needs.

If you’re planning a root canal in Fairfax, VA, you might be wondering what to expect from the healing process and how much time you need to take off work or school. Here’s what to know about the typical root canal healing timeline.

Root Canals are a Multi-Step Process

A factor in how long your root canal treatment takes to heal is whether the procedure is completed in a single appointment or over multiple appointments. This will depend on the complexity of your treatment. In some cases, the root canal only requires one single visit and a post and crown can be done in the same session, while in others the root canal treatment itself might take 2 visits before a post and crown can be started. The dentist or endodontist providing your root canal in Fairfax will be able to advise how long to expect the initial treatment process will take.

Initial Healing Takes a Few Days

Once your root canal has been completed, you can expect a few days of healing. The numbness from the anesthetic takes a few hours to subside, and some minor discomfort might be present after this. This soreness is usually caused by the cleaning process, the newly applied crown, or even some mild muscle stiffness from holding an open-mouthed position while in the chair. 

Over-the-counter pain medication can minimize any discomfort, and avoiding chewing on the affected side of your mouth can help reduce this further.

You Can Promptly Resume Your Regular Routine 

The side effects of routine root canals are generally minor, and many Fairfax VA root canal patients can return to work or their regular daily routine right after their appointment. You may experience minor swelling or discomfort, but in general you won’t need to adjust your typical schedule. If you have a temporary crown, take care of it so that it doesn’t get damaged while you’re waiting for your next appointment, and avoid chewing gum or hard or sticky foods. For best results, maintain good dental hygiene practices.

In Rare Cases Recovery May Take a Week or Two

While the majority of root canal cases heal in just a couple of days, some patients may experience complications such as infection. The extent of your treatment, overall health, dental hygiene habits, and the presence of any conditions that might affect healing can extend the root canal recovery period. Talk to your root canal dentist or endodontist about what kind of recovery timeframe to expect, and follow their advice. 

Signs of Root Canal Healing Problems

If you experience continued swelling or pain in your tooth, gums or jaw, your bite feels uncomfortable, or your temporary crown comes out, contact your dentist or our team at Optimal Dental Center. As experienced providers of root canals in Fairfax, we can assess your situation to recommend a course of treatment – or refer you to a trusted endodontist.  

For more information about root canals or general dentistry visit the services section of our website for more information.

As an experienced Invisalign® dentist in Reston and Fairfax, we often speak with patients who are weighing the choice between Invisalign® and traditional braces. Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of patients achieve a straighter, more confident smile using Invisalign®’s highly regarded clear aligners.

While both traditional braces and Invisalign® help you obtain a better bite and smile, there are specific benefits to choosing Invisalign®. Here’s what we tell patients considering Invisalign® in with our dental offices in Northern Virginia:

1. Brushing and flossing is easy with Invisalign®.

One of the challenges of traditional braces is maintaining your dental hygiene routine. Navigating around the brackets and wires of braces while brushing and flossing can be difficult, and dental hygiene can suffer. But Invisalign®’s removable clear trays allow you to brush and floss as usual. 

2. You don’t have to skip your favorite foods.

Sticky, crunchy or hard foods can bend wires, pop brackets off teeth, or become stuck in the hardware of traditional braces. Tea and coffee can also stain the enamel around brackets, resulting in teeth with uneven coloring. With Invisalign®, you can simply remove your trays while eating – minimizing the risk of damage or staining. 

3. Invisalign® is almost invisible!

While traditional braces have become less obtrusive over the years, some patients are self-conscious about the idea of braces hardware and prefer a “no-show” approach. One of the biggest benefits of Invisalign® is that the clear retainers you’ll wear over your teeth are subtle – giving you the confidence to smile away.

4. Invisalign® means greater comfort.

There have been significant advances in orthodontics over the years, with today’s braces being more lightweight than older products. But traditional braces can pinch and rub against gums and inner cheeks, and can feel uncomfortable after an adjustment. In contrast, clear aligner trays are formed from a single piece of plastic shaped precisely to your mouth, meaning discomfort will be minimal.

5. Invisalign® is great for on-the-go patients.

If your schedule is tight and you don’t have time for lengthy orthodontic appointments, Invisalign® can be the superior choice. Appointments are shorter and can even be less frequent. Additionally, you won’t find yourself back at the dentist for “emergency” adjustments caused by popping a bracket or damaging a wire.

6. Your insurance probably covers it

In its early days, Invisalign® wasn’t covered by most insurance plans. But now that it’s a popular, mature product, most insurance plans cover Invisalign® treatment, meaning that you can achieve a straighter, more confident smile without the price tag.

If you’re looking to transform your smile, talk to the team at Optimal Dental Center. As your local experts in Invisalign® in Reston, we’re here to help. Book your appointment today – and fast-track your way to a smile you’ll love.

Root canals treat teeth in cases where cracks or decay have reached the pulp of the tooth. This treatment helps ease pain and maintain the integrity of your tooth. With experience performing crown restorations and root canals in Fairfax and Reston, and a strong referral network of endodontic experts, the team at Optimal Dental can guide you towards the right treatment solution for your tooth.

Here’s what to know about caring for your tooth after a root canal. 

1. Expect more than one visit – and more than one doctor.

Once a root canal has been performed, a restorative crown is recommended to add strength and protection to the dead tooth. In some cases the crown might be added during the same visit. More often this step occurs during a subsequent visit. This is particularly the case when the root canal is being performed by an endodontist, and the crown by a general or family dentist. Endodontists are root canal experts who handle complex or retreat root canals. Your dentist will refer you to an endodontist if required.

2. Continue your regular dental hygiene routine.

Brushing and flossing are critical components of good dental health, and that remains true after a root canal. Continue to brush and floss, but be gentle around the recently treated area. Brush gently and in a circular motion, and avoid pulling floss up toward the crown area, especially if you have a temporary crown in place. 

3. Stick with soft, easy-to-chew foods.

Your tooth might be tender as you heal, so avoid hard, chewy or sugary items that can place pressure on the tooth. If you’re waiting on your permanent crown, avoid chewing on the tooth being treated until this is in place. This will help prevent damage to your temporary crown.

4. Use pain medication as recommended.

Mild soreness and discomfort is normal after a root canal. Depending on your situation, your dentist or endodontist might recommend OTC pain medication or prescribe pain medication. These will help manage pain and discomfort while your mouth heals. Always follow the dosage and instructions for use on any medications, and know that some medications may cause drowsiness.

5. Monitor for any unusual symptoms.

Your new tooth might feel a little strange as it heals, but severe pain, pressure, swelling or allergic reactions such as rashes or hives are not normal. Call your dentist or endodontist if you experience any of these symptoms. If your bite does not feel right, or the temporary crown comes out, contact your dentist to have a replacement crown made.

Contact us about a root canal in Northern Virginia 

If you are experiencing symptoms that you suspect that you might require a root canal, talk to the team at Optimal Dental Center today. As experts in crown restoration and root canal management, our expert team of doctors can talk to you about your tooth restoration options after the root canal treatment and perform the root canal or refer you to an endodontist in complex or retreat root canal situations.