Dentist Owings Mills | 5 Interesting Dental Facts

Cosmetic Dentist in Owings Mills, MD

dr. joanne block riefDid you know your oral health can impact your overall health? We’ve compiled a list of 5 tidbits about your teeth and oral health.

Say Cheese

Cheese has been found to promote dental health by helping prevent tooth decay. The calcium and phosphorus found in cheese help neutralizes acid in the mouth. Acid can create dental erosion, which can cause decay that may require filling. Cheese creates a protective film around teeth and helps remineralize the enamel.

Keep Smiling

Your smile can make a difference. Studies have found that 50% of people consider a smile the first facial feature they notice. One study found that 88% of us remember people with beautiful smiles whenever we meet new people. This means attractive smiles are key to being more noticeable and remembered.

Toothbrush Time

Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush at least once every three months. You should get a new toothbrush after recovering from any sort of viral infection, flu, or cold. You are more likely to be re-infected if these bacteria implant themselves on the bristles.

You’re Unique

In your lifetime, you only get two sets of teeth— baby teeth and permanent teeth. It is important to take proper care of your permanent teeth. Did you know that no two people have precisely the same set of teeth? Your teeth are as unique as a fingerprint. This is the reason teeth are used by investigators for identification. Your tongue also has a unique print, though it is not commonly recorded.

F.Y.I on Floss

Floss is a lot more useful than you may think. If you skip out on your daily flossing, you can miss cleaning up to 40% of your tooth surfaces. Flossing can also help prevent gum disease by removing plaque near the gum line. Floss has other alternative creative uses. The next time you are looking for a fun holiday project, grab some dental floss and a handful of cereal to string for the tree. Floss works well for repairing a bead necklace too!

Bonus Fact: Health professionals are rated among the most trusted people in the U.S. so make sure to call our dentist and make an appointment today!

BAD BREATH, A Topic That Can’t Be Ignored!

Dentist in Owings Mills MD

Bad breath can be socially debilitating. If we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we all know someone with it. It can be a very embarrassing condition. What’s important to know is that bad breath should be addressed as it can be a symptom of a health problem.

There are several causes of bad breath, also known as halitosis. Obvious causes include certain foods such as garlic or onions or smoking or chewing tobacco products. More serious conditions that can create bad breath include liver and kidney problems, pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, chronic acid reflux, postnasal drip, and diabetes.

At the dental office we see the most common causes of bad breath every day. Here are some:

  • Dry Mouth (this can be caused by several common medications, decrease in salivary flow with age, salivary gland problems, or mouth breathing)
  • Gum (Periodontal) Disease
  • Yeast infections of the mouth
  • Cavities
  • Ill-fitting dentures
  • Failing fillings or crowns
  • Poor homecare, including not properly brushing the tongue and palate

A comprehensive dental exam will allow us to identify any of these causes and discuss options for treatment. So if you or someone you care about has bad breath, even if only periodically, it certainly warrants a dental visit! Call our office today and we will help restore confidence in your breath and your smile!

Owings Mills Dentist | X-Rays: What You Need to Know When You Visit the Dentist

Dentist in Owings Mills

Dentist in 21117X-rays provide useful visual data for dentists to utilize when treating you. Occasionally, guests to our office ask about the radiation from x-rays and the dangers associated with high-exposure. Rest assured, a dental x-ray is one of the safest medical imaging procedures there is. Here’s what you need to know about getting a dental x-ray.

The Purpose of Oral X-Rays

X-ray imaging of the mouth can show our dental team damage to your teeth as well as disease. They can also show incoming teeth that could be problematic. X-rays allow our team to prevent problems by addressing them early. Rather than wait for excessive tooth damage to become visible, a simple x-ray procedure can identify it before it becomes painful.

Dangers of X-Ray Radiation

Excessive radiation exposure has been linked to increasing the risk of cancer. However, not all radiation sources are the same. It matters greatly where the radiation is coming from, how much you are exposed to, and for what length of time. X-rays have not been shown to present a significant increase in cancer development.

Comparing X-Ray Radiation

Dental x-rays are among the lowest dose of radiation producing procedures in medical imaging. It would take roughly 1,200 panoramic x-rays of your mouth to equal one CT Scan. Did you know that when you fly in an airplane you are exposed to a small amount of radiation? A panoramic x-ray of your mouth is only half of the radiation you’re exposed to on a 7-hour plane ride. The amount of radiation is even lower for a routine x-ray exam. A routine procedure including 4 intraoral images is about the same dose of radiation from a 1-2 hour plane ride. A dental x-ray provides less than the amount of radiation you are exposed to in the average day from natural radiation.

Safety First

Even though dental x-rays are safe and expose you to a small amount of radiation, our office takes additional measures to keep you safe. First, state laws and regulations set the limit of radiation patients can be exposed to. We never exceed these restrictions. Our experienced team is also trained to use the x-ray equipment. Visitors are provided with a shield or bib that provides additional protection.

What You Can Do

Communication is key. If you are a new patient, please provide us with your medical records so that our team knows about any previous medical imaging you have had. Talk to our dentist about your concerns. Together we’ll work with you to ensure you are treated in a safe environment.

Dental x-rays are a safe and incredibly helpful procedure. They allow our dentist to detect problems and develop solutions specific to your mouth. Dental x-rays provide a significantly lower dose of radiation than other safe medical imaging methods. We strive to create an atmosphere where our guests are comfortable. If you have any concerns, please let us know.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule your next examination, please contact our office.

Composite or “White” Fillings

More recently, I’ve had patients asking questions about their fillings such as “what kind of filling am I getting?”, and “what is my filling made of?” and “how does it work?” I love when patients ask dental questions and I would imagine many people may be curious to know the answers.

At Crossroads Dental Arts, we place composite restorations. We are an amalgam free practice. Composite restorations or “white fillings” are used to fill decayed teeth and bond teeth for esthetic improvements. They are composed of a mixture of glass and plastic. This mixture of polymers is also referred to as resin. Many people prefer resins because they are tooth colored. We are able to match the shade of your tooth with the shade of composite for a natural looking blend. Additionally, many patients want to avoid the mercury from metal fillings, known as amalgams. Another advantage of composite over metal fillings is that they can bond to the tooth. This allows for a more conservative tooth preparation-less cutting of healthy tooth!

How does it work? After choosing the matching shade, the composite is bonded to the tooth and hardened with a blue light. It is added to the cavity preparation in layers, then shaped and polished. Composite resins are strong enough to withstand chewing forces in the back teeth. They generally last 10 years or more. Longevity depends on several factors including the patient’s homecare and diet, the dentist’s placement and choice of materials, and the patient’s caries risk (risk for decay).

At our practice, we choose the best quality dental materials and use modern technology including a special composite delivery system that is sonically activated. The SonicFill applies a specific amplitude and frequency of sonic energy to the composite material to achieve outstanding adaptation during filling placement.

Hopefully this sheds a little more light on the filling process. Please feel free to ask any and all questions you may have regarding any treatment options. We appreciate all of our patients and your trust in us! See you at your next visit!

Maintaining Your Oral Health During Cancer Treatments

Dentist in Owings Mills

owings mills dentistBefore, during, and after cancer treatment it is necessary to keep up with your oral health routine. Cancer and cancer treatments can impact your mouth, so talk to our dentist about your specific treatment and what you can do to keep up with your oral health. Here are a few points to consider.

Brush, Floss, and Come Visit Us

You should always brush for two minutes, twice each day, and floss regularly. This is your best defense against tooth decay. You should also be visiting our office for a routine examination regularly, however it is especially important to do so before starting cancer treatment. Our dentist can share recommendations about changes you can make to your brushing and flossing routine to help manage potential cancer treatment side effects.

Practice Healthy Habits

This is true for everyone. Eat healthy and avoid smoking, whether it is tobacco or electronic cigarettes. A balanced diet and regular exercise will keep your immune system working at its full potential. Make sure your diet is full of diverse fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Don’t skip out on getting protein through eggs, beans, and chicken.

Keep Your Mouth Clean & Moist

A common side effect of cancer treatments such as radiation is dry mouth. Our teeth depend on saliva to help keep the enamel on our teeth strong, but a dry mouth lacking saliva will leave you susceptible to decay and damage. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Rinse your mouth frequently, especially after vomiting, to wash away sugars and acids from collecting on your teeth.

After Treatments, Visit Us

Keep regularly scheduled visits to our office, particularly when you end treatment. Certain medications can weaken your teeth or leave you at a higher risk for developing oral health issues. Talk to our knowledgeable dental team about your treatment plans and how they can impact your teeth.

Cancer and cancer treatments and medications can have a significant impact on your oral health. Make our dental team part of your support group during your treatment, and inform us of the medications and treatments you are receiving. Together we can work towards solutions that keep your mouth healthy, and your teeth strong.

For more information on keeping your mouth healthy, please contact our office.

Oral Cancer Awareness

Did you know oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day of the year? It is currently estimated 50,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with oral cancer each year. April is oral cancer awareness month and we want to help educate people on the importance of routine screening to aid in early diagnosis.

The death rate associated with mouth and upper throat cancer is very high because it is usually not found until late in its development. Sadly, the 5 year survival rate is only 60%. Many survivors live with severe facial disfigurement and/or trouble eating and speaking. This is why early diagnosis is so important!

There are a number of risk factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer. Major risk factors include smoking and tobacco use and heavy consumption of alcohol, especially those people over the age of 50. Alarmingly, young, healthy non-smokers are the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients! This is due to HPV-the human papilloma virus. There are more than 150 types of HPV, and HPV 16 is the one linked to oral cancer. In fact, if you have HPV, you are 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer.

At Crossroads Dental Arts, we always perform a thorough oral cancer screening at all new patient visits and at every recall hygiene appointment (2-4 times per year). In addition to examining all the soft tissues of the mouth, we use an enhanced assessment system known as the Velscope. This technology uses natural tissue fluorescence that allows clinicians to view abnormalities that may not be visible to the naked eye. Our hygienists perform a Velscope screening regardless of insurance coverage and at no additional cost to the patient!

In between dental visits, it is important to check for any of the following and call their dentist if the symptoms persist for 2 weeks.

  • a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue

If you have not had a recent oral cancer screening, please call the office today 410-363-2121 and we would be happy to get you checked out right away!

Help! 5 Tips to Know When You Can’t Brush

Dentist Owings Mills

Occasionally you might find yourself in a situation where you won’t be able to brush your teeth, perhaps through a lack of time or your location. Though it is vital to brush twice each day, here are a few steps you can take if you find yourself in a bind.

Drink Water

When you are in a spot where you won’t be able to brush your teeth for a while, water can be your friend. Drink water to help wash away sugars and acids that are in your mouth and on your teeth. Water also helps your mouth produce more saliva, which works to keep enamel strong. Our doctor suggests drinking water regularly, not just when you can’t brush your teeth.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Try chewing some gum to help keep your teeth clean. The American Dental Association (ADA) approves certain chewing gum brands with their seal on the package. ADA approved gums are sugar-free and do not contain other decay causing sweeteners. Like drinking water, chewing gum is good for saliva production, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel.

Floss Your Teeth

We suggest always carrying dental floss; it’s usually small enough to fit almost anywhere. Flossing is not a replacement for brushing, just as brushing does not replace the need for flossing, however in a pinch it is essential that you remove any plaque and build up that you can. The ADA suggests flossing once a day. Flossing will help improve your gum health too.

Use a Disposable Toothbrush

If you know you might be out of the house for a while, perhaps because of a long day at work or an overnight stay, we recommend you consider a disposable toothbrush. Disposable brushes usually come with toothpaste already applied and are easy to store and carry. They are an excellent alternative that allow you to still thoroughly clean your teeth.

Avoid Sugary Foods

A helpful step you can take if you find yourself in a situation where brushing isn’t possible is to avoid eating or drinking sugary or acidic things. Acids and sugars are what contribute to decay, as they weaken your teeth’s enamel. If you cannot brush your teeth, then don’t eat foods that lead to decay. Avoid sugary soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, and energy drinks as these drinks will leave behind sugars and acids that sit on your teeth.

For more helpful tips on keeping your smile healthy, contact our office.

Owings Mills Dentist | 5 Tips for Denture Wearers

Dentist in Owings Mills, MD

dentist in owings millsTaking care of your dentures can seem like an added chore. Don’t worry, with a little effort your dentures can stay clean. Here are 5 tips for keeping your dentures clean and your smile healthy.

1. Rinse Thoroughly
Prior to brushing, it helps to rinse your dentures off. Run them through water to help wash away food and other small particles. Be extra careful when handling your fragile dentures. Avoid using hot or boiling water, as that could damage your dentures.

2. Clean Your Dentures
Just as you would brush your teeth, your dentures need to be brushed as well. Never use cleaning solutions while your dentures are in. Rather, remove your dentures and carefully brush using a soft toothbrush. Avoid using whitening toothpastes or harsh cleaning materials like bleach products. Talk to our dentist about the right type of cleaner for your dentures. Using too strong a solution can cause damage to your dentures.

3. Don’t Forget to Brush Your Teeth
You still need to take care of your natural teeth. Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush. Be gentle when brushing and cleaning your gums. Cleaning your gums will help you reduce your risk of developing an oral infection. If your toothbrush is too rough on your gums, an alternative is to use gauze. Be sure to come see us if you are experiencing gum pain and we can make recommendations.

4. Keep Them Covered
When you remove your dentures for bed, be sure to keep them in a covered container overnight. Use a denture-soaking solution to keep them clean overnight. Water works as a substitute, as your dentures need moisture to retain their shape. If you have any questions about storing your dentures, talk to us and we’ll help you.

5. Care with Adhesives
It can sometimes be difficult to remove your dentures with an adhesive. If you are having trouble, try swishing warm water or a mouthwash around your mouth. Never use any cleaning solution, tool, or foreign object to remove your dentures. Take special care to ensure the grooves of your dentures that attach to your gums are clean and free of adhesive.

When taken care of properly, your dentures will provide you with a lasting smile. Be vigilant in keeping up with cleaning your dentures. If you have any questions about caring for your dentures, get in touch with our office. We would be happy to work with you to figure out a solution for your denture concerns.

For more tips on keeping your mouth healthy or to schedule your next appointment, contact us today.


Owings Mills Dentist

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, we wanted to discuss some ways to improve your dental health and avoid dental problems, therefore increasing your “dental luck.” These are easy, everyday changes and improvements that can make a big difference in the long run.

  1. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing any pain, discomfort, sensitivity or swelling, don’t ignore it in the hopes it will just go away. Best to have it checked out!
  2. Don’t base health care decisions solely on insurance coverage. Our goal for all of our patients is to offer the best treatment possible, in an affordable manner. Dental insurance can help with the cost of your care but it should never dictate your treatment. As your healthcare providers, we get to know YOU and your mouth better than anyone else. We have an ethical obligation to make you aware of the condition of your mouth and what your treatment options are, regardless of what the insurance will cover. We will work with you to maximize your insurance benefits and make comfortable financial arrangements.
  3. Don’t avoid the dentist because you no longer have dental insurance. This tip ties in with our last point. If you don’t have dental coverage, you can call or visit our website and learn about our in-office plan. The CDA plan is a great alternative to traditional dental insurance.
  4. Keep your hygiene visits! We can’t emphasize this point enough. Delaying your routine cleaning and exam puts your mouth at risk. Professional cleanings keep your gums healthy and check-up x-rays and exams allow for early diagnose and conservative treatment options.
  5. Floss correctly. This has been a somewhat hot topic in the media recently…do yourself a favor and please take the advice of dental professionals when we recommend flossing! It only takes a few minutes of your day and the more you do it, the faster and more effective your flossing will be. Also important…ask your hygienist to show you the best technique!
  6. Use your teeth for what they were designed to do. Biting into bottle caps, chewing on your pen or nails, biting tags off…if this sounds familiar, then this tip is for you! Teeth are to be used for chewing and biting food, smiling, and to aid in speech. If you use them for other things, you are pressing your luck! Your precious teeth may chip or break resulting in poor esthetics and the need for dental treatment like bonding or crowns.
  7. Straighten your teeth. Crowding or spacing issues can put you at higher risk for plaque and tartar build up, gums problems, and cavities. Consider orthodontics to correct these concerns and improve your smile! We’d be happy to offer you a complimentary Invisalign consult!
  8. Find quality care and the right provider for you. When choosing a dentist, do you homework and follow your instincts. At Crossroads Dental Arts we provide the highest quality care using only the best materials and modern technology. Our office is a clean, comfortable and friendly environment where you can feel at east knowing you‘re in good hands!

Dentist in Owings Mills | What’s your excuse?

Owings Mills Dentist

Sadly, there are way too many people who do not visit the dentist at all, or not as often as they should. We want to take a look at the most common reasons people put off their dental check-ups and discuss why they may be poor excuses.

The dentist is TOO EXPENSIVE!
Prevention is key to saving money on dental care. We understand high quality care can be costly but if you invest in preventive procedures such as exams, x-rays and cleanings you could save yourself thousands of dollars. Ignoring your mouth allows for disease to progress and worsen. That disease results in the need for more extensive and costly treatment. Procedures such as root canals, crowns, and extractions (to name a few) cost patients the most in the long run. The goal is to prevent the need for them! If you have dental insurance, most plans cover 100% of preventative care. That’s one more BIG reason to call and schedule your appointment today!

NOTHING HURTS, so why go?
Very simply, if you wait until it hurts, you’ve waited too long. Small cavities and early gum disease are painless. That means the only way for you to know if trouble is starting is to have an exam and x-rays. At your visit, we thoroughly examine your entire mouth, checking for any cavities and monitoring the health of your gums, as well as performing an oral cancer screening. This way we can treat disease early…which makes for painless treatment and avoids toothaches. Most importantly, it will help keep your mouth and body healthy!

I’m so SCARED of the dentist!
We understand the dental chair is not everyone’s favorite place to be. Some people have had bad experiences in the past and that keeps them from returning until they have an emergency. The emergency only perpetuates their bad experiences with the dentist!

If you are fearful of the dentist we can help you conquer your anxiety and take steps to make you feel more comfortable. Let us know your concerns and we will discuss ways to put you more at ease. Excellent communication and a gentle touch, only with modern techniques and improved anesthetics can make your dental visit much more comfortable than you could imagine. We are only here to help!

At Crossroads Dental Arts we want to provide you with the highest quality of care in the most CARING and COMFORTABLE manner possible. We value our patients and take pride in treating them like family!