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!

Dentist Owings Mills, MD | One Simple Treatment Can Save Your Child’s Smile

Dentist in Owings Mills, MD

Dentist Owings MillsOur dentist might suggest dental sealants for your child during a visit to our office. Sealants are a way to protect your teeth against decay. With any dental treatment, it helps to understand the procedure and how it can impact your child’s oral health.

Why Get Sealants?

Sealants help to prevent tooth decay. Sealants are applied on the back teeth, where decay is most likely to develop. Our dentist will often recommend sealants for children and teens, but adults may benefit from sealants, as well.

The further your teeth are in the back of your mouth, the more difficult it can be to maintain the proper hygiene needed to keep them healthy. Sealants can prevent up to 80% of decay within the first two years alone. After 4 years, sealants continue to prevent as much as 50% of decay. Children without sealants are more than three times as likely to develop tooth decay than those with sealants.

When Should You Get Them?

Your child’s first molars usually become visible around age 6, with the second set around age 12. You will want to talk to us about the best course of action for keeping molars healthy. Sealants are most effective when they are done as soon as the molars break through. Regular examinations with our dentist will determine the best time to have sealants applied.

What Should I Expect?

Sealants are one of the simplest treatments we perform in our office. There is generally no discomfort associated with this process. We will first thoroughly clean your child’s teeth, and then use a special gel. The gel is then cleaned off before the sealant is applied. A small blue light is used to harden the sealant in a matter of moments.

What Concerns Should I Have?

There are no side-effects from sealants, and allergic reactions are extremely rare. However, talk to our doctor about any allergies your child has so we can discuss the best possible course of action.

Next Steps

Sealants last for years before needing to be reapplied. It is important to schedule regular visits to our office so that our dentist can check the condition of the sealants and teeth on an ongoing basis. If your child had sealants several years ago and you are unsure if they should be reapplied, schedule an appointment with us.

For more tips on keeping teeth healthy and for questions about dental sealants, contact our office.

Dentist in Owings Mills, MD | Dental Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Dentist Owings Mills, MD

Owings Mills DentistIf you are a mother who is breastfeeding your baby, there are several important points to be aware of regarding your baby’s teeth. We suggest you talk with your doctor about your plans on feeding your baby, but there are some known benefits of breastfeeding. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breastfeeding can help reduce a child’s risk of developing asthma, diabetes, obesity, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and other disorders, but it also affects your child’s teeth – here’s how:

Shaping Your Child’s Bite

The first few months of your child’s life can dramatically shape their mouth for years to come. According to a 2015 study in Pediatrics, breastfeeding results in better development for your child’s mouth. The study found that babies who were breastfed for a period of six months were up to 72% less likely to develop crooked teeth. Overbites and underbites were also reduced. Your child might still need dental work later in life, especially due to other factors such as pacifiers and even genetics, but breastfeeding may lower their risk of requiring significant dental work.

Avoid Tooth Decay from Bottles

Babies fed by bottles are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay because they are exposed to sugar containing drinks. Feeding by bottle before bed can leave their teeth coated with decay-causing sugars. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of decay.

Don’t mistake this as a sign your baby’s teeth will be completely decay free. Breastmilk still contains sugar. We recommend gently wiping your child’s gums with a damp cloth. As their teeth begin to develop, begin brushing with rice-sized toothpaste on a small brush. Talk to our dentist about the best types of toothpaste to use for infants.

Keep Track of Your Medication Use

If you are receiving treatment that requires medication or take medication regularly, it is essential that you are aware of the effects the medication might have on the baby. Constant communication between you, your doctor, your dentist, and your baby’s pediatrician is key to staying healthy.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding your baby. Make sure you are keeping track of your own health in addition to your baby’s. Be sure to schedule regular appointments to keep up with your own oral health.

For more information about your baby’s teeth, contact our office.

Dentist Ownings Mills | Looking For Healthy And Easy New Year’s Resolutions?

Owings Mills MD Dentist

new-year-dentist-in-owings-mills-md2017 is right around the corner, and most of us are brainstorming ways to improve for the New Year! Common resolutions include: go to the gym, lose 10 pounds, drop a dress size, eat better, call your mother more often, save more money, work less, travel more etc., etc.…These resolutions are good, but of the 120 million Americans who ring in the New Year, 36 percent give up on their resolution by the end of January. The problem usually is the resolution itself. We want to give you ten “Dental Resolutions” which are easy to keep and will make you feel better about your overall health!

Toothbrushes should be replaced about every 3 months. The bristles should look almost brand new. If they look worn and flared, chances are the toothbrush is not cleaning your teeth effectively and it’s harboring lots of gross bacteria! Same goes for electric brush heads, they do need to be replaced every 3 months.

Speaking of electric brushes….If you are still using a manual toothbrush, then it’s time to treat yourself (and your teeth!) Electric toothbrushes do a much better job at removing plaque and food debris from the surfaces of your teeth. They also have timers which help you brush for the full amount of time you need in order to clean all those surfaces (2 minutes!). Ask one of the team members at Crossroads Dental Arts which brush would work best for you These are also GREAT Christmas presents for family members.

We know that most people don’t floss regularly, or at all. This is a big one that could really change the health of your gums. Flossing everyday helps to prevent gum disease. Not only will it help you to keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime but it will also decrease your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetic complications, and pre-term labor and low birth weight!
If you currently don’t floss, this is the perfect resolution. If you’re unsure of the best way to floss, please ask at your next visit. We love to demonstrate the correct technique to maximize your efforts!

Mouth injuries are very common from sports and can cause major problems, especially to your precious smile. Who wants to deal with a chipped, broken or even worse, lost front tooth for the rest of their lives!? Give us a call and we will fit you or your child (and the whole team!) with a well-fitting custom mouthguard.

Substituting soda and juice for water will benefit you in more ways than one! The excessive amounts of sugar and the acidic nature of the soda and juice are very destructive to your teeth. Soda and juice not only cause cavities and tooth erosion, but also contribute to obesity, diarrhea, and other stomach problems such as excessive gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Lastly, switching to water will save you money!

You only have one set of (adult) teeth, so take care of them! Avoid using your teeth to open bottles, bite your nails, or chew on pen caps!! They should only be used to chew and bite food, speak, and of course, SMILE

What better way to reward yourself? Who doesn’t want a bright smile? Professional whitening is the best way to whiten your teeth. Ask us for the details, it is super easy!

Now this is a more popular resolution, but it’s worth including in our dental list because it is SO important! As if cancer, heart disease, emphysema, pregnancy complications and a host of chronic illnesses are enough of a reason to quit smoking, it’s important to know smoking is bad for your mouth and teeth as well! Smoking causes mouth cancer, increases your risk for gum disease, stains your teeth, and gives you stinky breath!

If you are clenching or grinding your teeth, or have been told you are (many people don’t know if they are doing it while they sleep), then you should wear a night guard. Clenching and grinding damage your teeth by wearing away the enamel. This enamel is irreplaceable! It can also cause loose fillings and broken teeth, resulting in the need for crowns or root canals. What’s worse is that you are also causing damage to your TMJ and facial muscles, as well as tooth sensitivity and headaches.

Whether it’s been 8 months or 8 years, don’t put off your dental visit! Keeping regular visits and maintaining a great relationship with your dental provider is key to excellent oral and overall health! At Crossroads Dental Arts we practice preventative dentistry in an effort to avoid problems before they start. This will keep you pain free and is less costly in the long run. Everyone deserves a healthy and beautiful smile.

Owings Mills Dentist | 7 Ways to Get Your Calcium Dairy-Free

Dentist Owings Mills

Dentist Owings MillsCalcium is an important mineral for building strong, healthy teeth, but not everyone can tolerate the lactose found in dairy. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. About 65% of people have reduced ability to process lactose past infancy.

If you have difficulty with lactose but want to ensure you are getting the calcium you need, consider one of these non-dairy sources of natural calcium.

  1. Canned seafood, such as sardines and salmon, can be a good source of calcium. These inexpensive options actually contain more calcium than their fresh counterparts. Canned seafood contains small, soft, edible bones that are generally unnoticeable but can be a great way to add calcium to a salad or other dish.
  2. Calcium-fortified juices are available in both orange and cranberry varieties. These juices taste the same as non-fortified options, but contain a substantial amount of calcium. Check the label to ensure it is a calcium-fortified juice.
  3. Soy, rice, and almond milks offer added calcium and can be used as a milk substitute for many dishes. Experiment with different varieties to determine which flavor you like the most for each use. Try one of these milk alternatives on cereal or use in a cooked dish in place of regular milk. Soy, rice, and almond milks are available in a variety of flavors, including plain, sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla, and other options.
  4. Beans are a calcium-rich food. Black-eyed peas and baked beans are particularly high in calcium.
  5. Green vegetables are a good source of natural calcium. Collard, mustard, turnip, and dandelion greens, Chinese cabbage, spinach, kale, okra, and broccoli are all great choices for adding calcium to your diet.
  6. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or Brazil nuts are strong sources of calcium. Flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are a great snack or salad additive with calcium. Almond butter, cashew butter, and pumpkin seed butter are a fun and calcium-rich alternative to peanut butter.
  7. Breakfast cereals are highly fortified with several vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Old-fashioned rolled oatmeal adds calcium to your breakfast as well.

Calcium is important for developing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. If you have trouble with dairy, don’t let that stop you from consuming your recommended amount of daily calcium.

For more information that can improve your oral health, contact our office.

Owings Mills, MD Dentist | Happy Thanksgiving!

Owings Mills Dentist

Dr. Rief and her team are thankful for many things in their lives. Besides health, happiness, family, and friends, we are thankful to have you as one of our patients. If you are a potential new patient, we would love the opportunity to meet and serve you also. Here are some dental related facts that we hope you are thankful for!

Your Overall Health

Since we now know that diseases of the mouth, particularly periodontal (gum)disease, can be related to heart disease, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and others, we hope you are visiting us regularly to help improve your overall health.

Your Teeth

Studies show that people with healthy teeth live longer. Teeth enable us to bite and chew and enjoy food. Having straight teeth help us to speak clearly. We can always help recommend the best treatments to replace missing teeth and straighten teeth so you can show off your pearly whites!

Your Smile

Studies have shown that a person’s smile is the first thing that people notice. Don’t hide your smile, it can be your most important asset, especially when looking for a new job and meeting members of the opposite sex. Let us help you smile with confidence.

Your Dental Team

Dr. Rief is so proud of the dental team she has created. Our associate dentist, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and front desk team have all had extensive training and love what they do each day. We take pride in our office and are here to serve you in any way we can. Hope to see you soon!

Contact our office for more information.