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: July, 2015

By The Dental Spa
July 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’ve no doubt experienced red and swollen gums. If, however, you notice an especially inflamed area next to a tooth, you may have developed a gum abscess.

An abscess is a pus-filled sac that develops as a result of chronic (long-standing) gum disease, an infection caused by bacterial plaque that’s built up on tooth surfaces from inadequate oral hygiene or from a foreign body (food debris) getting stuck below the gums. The abscess, which typically develops between the tooth and gums, may be accompanied by pain but not always (the affected tooth may also be tender to bite on). Abscesses may grow larger, precipitated by stress or by a general infection like a common cold, and then abate for a time.

As with other abscesses in the body, a gum abscess is treated by relieving the pressure (after numbing the area with local anesthesia) and allowing it to drain. This is often followed by cleaning any infected root surfaces of bacterial plaque and then irrigating the area with a saline and/or antibacterial solution. We may also prescribe antibiotics afterward and some form of pain control (usually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen) to help with discomfort.

Although the results of this procedure can be dramatic, it’s just the first step in treating the overall gum disease. After a few days of healing, we continue with a complete examination and recommend further treatment, usually starting with removing bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), the underlying cause for the infection and inflammation, from all tooth and gum surfaces. This may take several sessions before we begin seeing the gum tissues return to a healthier state.

The key to preventing an abscess recurrence (or any symptom of gum disease) is to remove plaque everyday through proper brushing and flossing, and visiting us twice a year (or more if you’ve developed chronic gum disease) for cleanings and checkups. Doing so will raise your chances of avoiding an uncomfortable and often painful gum abscess in the future.

If you would like more information on gum abscesses, 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 (Gum) Abscesses.”

By The Dental Spa
July 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”

By The Dental Spa
July 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Implants  

Dental ImplantsFind out if dental implants are the right treatment option for your tooth loss.

Getting a dental implant can be such a wonderful and worthwhile investment for someone who is dealing with tooth loss. Even though nothing can truly replace your natural teeth a dental implant is certainly a close second. Before you get dental implants from your Woodbridge, VA dentist you may be wondering if they are right for you. Are dental implants always effective? Could my body reject the implant? If you’ve asked these questions before then it’s time you found out the answer.

Success Rates and Failures

The good news is if you properly care for your dental implants the success rate for this procedure is as high as 98 percent. Sometimes issues can still arise, but they are usually easily treatable and don’t affect the overall efficacy of the dental implant procedure. Unfortunately, there are some issues that can cause your mouth to reject the implant:

Osseointegration failed

What makes a dental implant so successful is that the tissue and bone surrounding the implant are able to fuse with the titanium. As they form around the implant, it keeps the implant permanently in place within the jawbone to act just like a tooth root. This process can take several months, and if the implant falls out or becomes loose then it’s often due to a fusion failure between the implant and the jawbone. If a jawbone doesn’t have the proper density or volume, this could cause osseointegration to fail.

Infection set in

If bacteria get into the gums and jawbone during surgery or you don’t properly care and clean your smile after your procedure then you could develop an infection known as peri-implantitis. This infection is a form of gum disease that causes inflammation of both the gums and jawbone. Peri-implantitis is a serious condition that could easily cause implant failure. This is particularly common in smokers who get dental implants.

Nerve and tissue damage

This is a very rare cause of dental implant failure, but sometimes the tissue or nerve near the implant becomes damaged during surgery. This nerve damage may only be temporary, but if it’s permanent your Woodbridge, VA dentist may need to remove the implant.

The only way to truly know whether your smile is right for dental implants is to schedule an appointment with your Woodbridge, VA dentist. Call The Dental Spa today to learn more.

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

Phone (703) 580-8288