Marv Thomas, DDS

Marv Thomas, DDS is a member of many dental assocations including the American Dental Association.

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The Dental Spa

12351 Dillingham Square
Woodbridge, VA 22192
(703) 580-8288

 

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Posts for: December, 2014

PeriodontalFlapSurgeryAccessesHiddenInfectioninGumTissues

Periodontal gum disease is a relentless enemy to dental health that destroys gum tissue and the teeth’s attachment to the jaw. As it ravages these tissues it often creates periodontal pockets, hidden spaces between the teeth and bone that fill with infectious bacteria capable of accelerating damage to teeth and gums.

The primary treatment goal for gum disease is to create an environment that is cleansable below the gum tissues, in order to remove as much bacterial plaque from the tooth, gum and root surfaces as possible. Periodontal pockets pose a challenge to this goal as they are extremely difficult to access using standard cleaning and root planing techniques the deeper they become. Cleaning and treating these deep pockets, however, is made easier with a procedure known as periodontal flap surgery.

This procedure is not a cure, but rather a way to access the interior of a periodontal pocket to remove infection and diseased tissue. In effect, we create an opening — like the hinged flap of a letter envelope — to gain entry into the affected pocket. Not only does this opening enable us to clean out infection within the pocket, but it can also facilitate cleaning the tooth’s root surfaces.

It also provides an opening for us to insert grafting materials to regenerate lost bone and tissue. It’s nearly impossible for this tissue regeneration to occur if bacterial infection and inflammation persist in the affected area. Periodontal flap surgery provides us the critical access we need to effectively remove these contaminants that stymie healthy growth.

This procedure is normally performed with local anesthesia and usually results in little bleeding and minimal post-operative effects. Once we have finished any procedures to clean the pocket and other affected tissues, or installed grafts for future bone and tissue growth, we would then seal the flap back against the tooth using sutures and gentle pressure to promote blood clotting around the edges. We might also install a moldable dressing that re-secures the edges of the flap to their proper position and prevents food debris from interfering with healing.

Periodontal flap surgery is the result of years of research to find the best techniques for treating gum disease. It’s one of many weapons in our arsenal for winning the war against decay and gum disease, and helping you realize a healthier dental future.

If you would like more information on periodontal flap surgery, 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 “Periodontal Flap Surgery.”


DidYouKnowMajorLeagueBaseballPlayersHaveNewRestrictionsonChewingTobacco

Chewing tobacco is a known cause of oral cancer, yet many a Major League Baseball player has been seen walking onto the field with a round tin visibly poking out of his back pocket. That was before this year. Recognizing the influence big-leaguers have on their young fans, MLB players agreed to a new contract that limits their use of chewing tobacco and their ability to carry it around their fans. The 2012 season is the first to be played under the new rules, which were championed by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

One player who used smokeless tobacco heavily is Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The former Padres slugger earlier this year endured 14 hours of surgery to remove a cancerous growth from the inside of his right cheek and graft a nerve from his shoulder to replace a facial nerve damaged by the tumor. This was Gwynn's second cancer surgery in less than two years.

When it comes to oral cancer, the importance of early detection can't be stressed enough. Unfortunately, this form of cancer is not usually detected until a late stage so the overall survival rate is poor, with only 58% surviving five years after treatment. Yet when oral cancer is detected while a lesion is small, survival rate exceeds 80%. That's why an oral cancer screening is always part of your dental check-up or regular cleaning appointment at this office.

During this screening we will examine your face, neck, lips, mouth, tongue and the back of your throat for any suspicious lesions (sores or ulcers) or lumps. Of course, if you notice any unusual lesions, or color changes (white or red patches), anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two-three weeks, please come in to see us as soon as possible. And if you need help kicking a tobacco habit, we can advise you on how to get it.

If you would like more information about oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”


By The Dental Spa
December 19, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Anxiety  

For some people a normal dentist appointment can conjure fight or flight responses. People with this level of anxiety are classified as having dentophobia or odontophobia, commonly known just as dental phobia. The anxiety can be sparked by a fear for the sharp metallic dental equipment, loud noises, loss of control, or the fear of the unknown. Common signs that you are suffering from dental sedation dentistryphobia are

  • Thoughts of the dentist make you feel physically ill
  • Lack of sleep the night before a dentist appointment
  • Nervous while in the waiting room of the dental office
  • Uncomfortable with objects being placed in your mouth during examination
If you identify with any of the symptoms mentioned above, here are three great ways to reduce your dental anxiety or the dental anxiety of a loved one.
 
It is important to have open and free communication with your dentist. Talk to your dentist about your specific needs and phobias. If you do not feel at ease with your dentist then it is almost impossible to overcome your fears. Communication also means being involved in the dental procedure. Maybe you need to handle the instruments before they are used so they don't seem so foreign.
 
Another great way to deal with your fears is with developing your own coping methods, such as distracting yourself with counting, prayer, self-efficacy, and optimism. If you let your dentist know that you have dental phobias or anxiety, they will know to gradually introduce new things, take things slowly, and thoroughly explain what they are doing throughout your appointment.
 
Sedation is always an option in helping you feel more comfortable and relaxed at your dentist appointment. If your dentist recommends sedation for your appointment it is because they have seen it work wonders for others. There are different types of sedation that might be used for different circumstances or phobias to tailor just for your needs.
 
If the dentist you are seeing doesn't take your phobias seriously, then schedule an appointment with The Dental Spa of Virginia, where our caring dentists will go the extra mile to make you feel at ease. Call The Dental Spa of Virginia at either of our two Dillingham Square locations: Spa One at (703) 580-1443, and Spa Two at (703) 580-8288.

By The Dental Spa
December 11, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
TreatingGumDiseasewithLasers

Since their development in the laboratory over five decades ago, lasers have found increasing use in our everyday lives. In the field of medicine, it’s not uncommon to find lasers in the offices of dermatologists, ophthalmologists and surgeons, to name just a few. Now, some dentists are finding that lasers can offer an alternative means of treating gum disease — and one that may have advantages in certain situations.

You probably know that a laser produces a special kind of light — in fact, its name is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Essentially, a medical laser uses electrical energy to produce an intense and narrow beam of concentrated light. This light can be directed to a particular area, often via a fiber-optic channel. The laser’s precision allows a doctor or technician to focus the light energy exactly where it’s needed — to remove diseased tissue, seal off blood vessels, and sterilize a wound, for example.

For several years, periodontists — dentists who specialize in treating diseases of the gums — have been researching the use of lasers for treating certain types of gum disease. In standard clinical practice, hand-held instruments and ultrasonic cleaning tools are used at regular time intervals (3 – 6 months) to remove the sticky bacterial biofilm, as well as calculus (tartar), that forms in between teeth and gums. If that still isn't effective, gum surgery may be required to access the affected area, remove diseased tissue, and reduce pocket depth (the space below the gum line that gets larger as bone loss occurs) to prevent reinfection.

Recently, however, several new procedures have been developed that use lasers to accomplish some or all of these goals. One type of therapy uses a special laser that emits pulses of light with a specific wavelength (color) of 1064 nanometers. This light passes through healthy cells like a sunbeam through a window — but when it encounters darkly-pigmented bacteria, it vaporizes them instantly!

One of the potential advantages of laser treatment is its precision: focused directly on the area where trouble occurs, it targets diseased tissue but leaves healthy tissue alone. Another is that laser treatment is less invasive: It requires less tissue removal, and may cause less discomfort and tissue shrinkage (gum recession) than conventional periodontal surgery. And because it produces small amounts of heat, it can seal blood vessels and help control bleeding.

While lasers have long shown promise for treating gum disease, until recently it wasn’t clear if they offered any advantages over traditional methods. Now, several studies have shown that certain laser treatments can be just as effective as traditional gum surgery in many cases — with the potential benefit of being less invasive. In the future, the use of lasers for periodontal procedures is likely to increase.

It’s important to remember that no single treatment — not even a laser — can “zap” gum disease in one fell swoop. Controlling periodontal disease requires effective at-home oral hygiene combined with regular professional care. If you have questions about periodontal disease, please call our office to schedule a consultation.


By The Dental Spa
December 04, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dentist   Braces   Invisalign  
Braces ImageLearn about the types of braces and whether orthodontics could benefit your smile.
 
While we may think about childhood when we think about braces, it seems that braces aren’t just for kids anymore. People of all ages are reaping the benefits of orthodontic care because it’s never too late to get a straighter smile. If you’ve been contemplating getting braces in Woodbridge, then you may be wondering if you are a good candidate. Your Woodbridge dentists at The Dental Spa are here to let you know who will most likely benefit from braces.
 
As we mentioned before, you don’t have to be a child or teenager to get braces. In fact, according to Oral B, about 20 percent of braces wearers are actually adults. Here are some of the most common dental problems that have patients of all ages seeking orthodontic treatment:
  • Overcrowding
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crossbites, underbites and overbites
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Gaps between teeth
Braces can correct all of these issues; however, the most important factor is choosing the proper type of braces to straighten your smile.
 
We offer a variety of different braces for our patients to choose from:
 

Traditional metal braces

 
This is still the most commonly used orthodontic treatment and advanced technology has made it significantly more comfortable than you may remember from your childhood years. Plus, metal braces are often the better option for those with complicated dental problems.
 

Self-ligating braces

 
Self-ligating braces boast lighter wires and less friction to help move teeth into their proper place. Because of this, they tend to be more comfortable and also easier to clean than traditional braces. Plus, treatment times tend to be quicker than with metal braces.
 

Clear braces

 
These are similar to traditional braces; however, since the brackets are made from ceramics it’s less visible. This is a popular option for teenagers and adults looking to straighten their smiles with more aesthetically appealing qualities. However, one thing to keep in mind is that ceramics are not as strong a metal; therefore, you will need to be more careful with your braces and repairs may be more common than with traditional metal braces.
 

Lingual braces

 
These metal braces are just like traditional braces, but they are attached to the back of the teeth for discreet teeth straightening. The most important thing to consider before opting for lingual braces is your bite. Those with severely overlapped teeth could potentially put more pressure on these braces, causing them to fracture or break more often. However, the decision to opt for lingual braces is entirely up to you.
 

Invisalign

 
These clear removable aligners make it easy to hide the fact that you are wearing braces; however, not everyone is a good candidate. Invisalign can correct minor to moderate crookedness and misalignment, but will not be the best option when it comes to correcting more severely crooked smiles. Also those with underbites and children whose smiles are still developing, will not benefit from this type of orthodontics.
 
To truly find out what braces are right for you, you will need to come in for a thorough evaluation. We would be happy to set up your next appointment with The Dental Spa. Call our Woodbridge offices today - Spa One is available at (703) 580-1443, and Spa Two at (703) 580-8288.



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We encourage you to contact us whenever you have an interest or concern about our services.

Phone (703) 580-8288