Blog - The Floss Boss

1/27/2020 12:38:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Got a Cold Sore? Here’s How to Treat It Quickly...

Ugh. A cold sore appears a couple days before a party where you’ll be photographed as much as the Royal Couple. That smile that we’ve been working on together just went from hero to zero, right? Not necessarily. Finding which cold sore treatment works best for you can help speed along its healing. And that’s why we’re here.

Maybe It Isn’t a Cold Sore, Right?

Let’s clear the air about what a cold sore is and isn’t. Cold sores are contagious blisters that usually appear on your lips or around your mouth. Caused by a virus, cold sores usually start with a tingling sensation, evolve into numerous tiny, painful blisters, and later crust over. Canker sores, on the other hand, aren’t contagious, but they still sting. Unlike cold sores, they usually appear as white oval lesions inside your mouth, especially near or on your gums.

Remedies for Cold Sores
The key to treating a cold sore is acting fast. As soon as the first symptom appears, consider these steps to move the healing process along quickly:
• Apply Ice to the Cold Sore - At the first sign, grab an ice cube, wrap it in a paper towel, place it where you feel the cold sore coming on, and let it melt. Back-to-back applications can reduce the pain.
• Switch to a Cold-Sore-Fighting Diet - You can boost your immune system’s fight against this viral nuisance with the right foods. Fill your plate with cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, and avoid foods with arginine, a cold-sore-triggering amino acid found in nuts, chocolate, and oats.
• Dial Down the Stress - One of the most common causes of cold sores is, surprise, surprise, stress. Minimizing stress these days can get so complicated that it causes more stress, right? But try giving yourself some time for the restorative, restful activities that drop your heart rate and raise your smile.
• Reach for Aloe Vera or Even an Over-The-Counter Cream - Both natural and medicinal creams have shown promise as cold sore remedies. Some studies suggest that aloe vera can help the fever blister heal, and over-the-counter creams, like docosanol, also tout their ability to knock the sore out of cold sores. Prefer the medicinal route? Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before using it.
• Relieve Pain with Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen - Some cold sores can get really painful. For those intense ones, acetaminophen or iburprofen may provide well-needed relief. Just be sure that your healthcare provider’s on-board with that type of over-the-counter med.
Our office can also help rid you of that pesky cold sore with our WATERLASE LASER.

There you have it. You’re on the fast track to treating that cold sore quickly and living your best life at the party. Don’t forget to smile!

11/16/2019 10:42:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

While the current percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes is the lowest it’s been in decades, those who continue the habit remain at risk for heart and lung disease. Additionally, while we know smoking is also bad for our oral health, most don’t understand just how bad it is…

More Than Just Stained Teeth
From its seemingly mild side effects (bad breath, tooth discoloration, buildup of plaque and tartar), to the more sinister (increased risk of oral cancer, loss of bone within the jaw, gum disease and any number or resulting complications) - tobacco is indeed an oral health risk. Tobacco can cause serious health issues by breaking down the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. Because of this breakdown, the use of tobacco makes smokers much more susceptible to infection and diseases. In fact, 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth, throat or gums admit to using tobacco in some form.

Cigarettes, cigars and pipes aren’t the only culprits; smokeless tobacco can be just as detrimental to oral health, if not worse. In fact, there are twenty-eight chemicals found in chewing tobacco alone that are proven to increase the risk of cancer in the mouth, throat and esophagus. Chewing tobacco and snuff contain higher levels of nicotine than those found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, making it expose the roots, and ultimately makes teeth more susceptible to decay.

Help is Just Next Door
The only way to help eliminate these risks is to never start using tobacco products, or to quit if you do. In fact, simply reducing tobacco use is proven to help lower your risks. If you feel that it is time to reduce your risk of cancer, gum disease, infection and other oral complications, we can help you create a plan to help you quit using tobacco, along with prescribing certain medicines or programs to help you kick the habit.

Remember, it is never too late to quit. If you are interested in getting help to quit, let us know the next time you are in for an appointment.

8/2/2019 9:49:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

What a fun article we found in Prevention Online. Our doc doesn't necessarily agree with everything in the article, and it is a little dated...but still worth a read!

So we decided to ask our doc…”What on this list will you eat?”

Dr. Sclater
Soda (even diet)
Dr. Sclater thought about fibbing, but decided to fess up to drinking diet! LOL!
Hard Candy
Corn on the Cob
Red Pasta Sauce
White Wine
Bottled Water
Breath Mints
Chewy Candy
PB & J
Potato Chips
Dried Fruit
White Bread
Sports Drinks
Cough Drops
Citrus Fruits
Black Tea
Canned Fruit
Toasted Bread


7/31/2019 5:32:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

This information is courtesy of Koterwas Orthodontics... a preferred orthodontists in our referral network of trusted professionals. 

Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to properly take care of your braces throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.

Eating with Braces:
Don’t worry, you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! However, before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.

Foods to Avoid with Braces: 
  • Chewy foods – bagel, licorice
  • Crunchy foods – popcorn, chips, ice
  • Sticky foods – caramel candies, chewing gum
  • Hard foods – nuts, hard candies
  • Foods that require biting into – corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Foods You CAN Eat with Braces:
  • Dairy – soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads – soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Grains – pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Meats/poultry – soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Seafood – tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Vegetables – mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
  • Fruits – applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
  • Treats – ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Soreness Caused from Braces and Appliances:
When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.

Don't forget to maintain regular dental appointments and practice exceptional dental hygiene at home...your teeth will thank you for it when your braces come off!

7/11/2019 7:38:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Ouch! Chomp on something your tooth didn’t like? Or get hit in the mouth with a hockey puck? Did your child fall on the playground? If you think you may have a cracked tooth, or if you’re holding a piece of your tooth in your hand, follow these steps! 

1. Give us a call to schedule an appointment...let us know about your emergency and we will make our best effort to see you in a timely manner. You can request a appointment by:

 2. If there are tooth fragments that have fallen out, preserve them in a clean container with a moist solution (cold mik, water, saliva), and bring them in to your appointment. 

3. Apply a cold pack to your jaw to lessen any pain and swelling. Ibuprofen is recommended if you need a pain reliver.

4. If bleeding, bite down on a gauze pad until bleeding stops.

It is also possible to have a cracked tooth and not know it. What do we recommend doing when you have tooth pain, but aren't sure if your tooth is cracked? 
  • If you have any pain when biting down, or when eating something hot or cold, it’s best to get it checked out. 
In order to prevent further damage to the tooth or an infection, it’s very important to correct a cracked tooth immediately to keep your mouth healthy and happy! Handling dental issues quickly are the best way to save time and money...and don't we all want more of both?!

7/10/2019 10:11:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

4/30/2019 3:28:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And, that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and even the local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your children. There’s always a lot going on in that little mouth!

Stage One: White Spots In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended? As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. The spots we look for are bright white and chalky. If you notice these spots, Dr. Sclater recommends bringing them to the attention of your hygienist.

Stage Two: Enamel Decay Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and your child will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling.

Want to prevent stage 1 from turning into stage 2? Dr.  Sclater said with proper home care (brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, keeping sugar to a minimum, and using a toothpaste with fluoride and regular cleanings) she sees stage 1 slowed and/or halted 85% of the time. But proper home care is CRITICAL!

 Stage Three: Dentin Decay If a cavity in your child’s mouth were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.

Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, a screaming child or moaning teenager will certainly let you know there is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction. [Here, you might wish to mention specialists you work with to treat teeth that have reached this stage. Something like: “Should you have a tooth that has reached this stage, we would work with our endodontist partners, Chesapeake Endodontics in Annapolis and Bay Dental Group in Prince Frederick.

Stage Five: Abscess Formation In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage. Need to see us? Request an appointment at or give a call at (410) 257-2424! As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of these dastardly little devils, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at pre-selected intervals. You can keep your kids far from stage five their whole lives, and if a little bit of prodding to get them to the dentist accomplishes that, you can rest easy despite the griping.

1/30/2019 8:43:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Our team is always on the lookout for the latest information about dental health, pathology and technology. Sam found this article...and Dr. Sclater thinks it is a great read! Check it out! 

Article is word for word from Science Magazine:

By Jocelyn Kaiser

Poor oral health is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. What’s not clear is whether gum disease causes the disorder or is merely a result—many patients with dementia can’t take care of their teeth, for example. Now, a privately sponsored study has confirmed that the bacteria that cause gum disease are present in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, not just in their mouths. The study also finds that in mice, the bacteria trigger brain changes typical of the disease.

The provocative findings are the latest in a wave of research suggesting microbial infections may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. But even some scientists who champion that once-fringy notion aren’t convinced that Porphyromonas gingivalis, the species fingered in the new study, is behind the disorder. “I'm fully on board with the idea that this microbe could be a contributing factor. I'm much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Harvard University–affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, whose work suggests the β-amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients is a protective response to microbial invaders.
The new study, published today in Science Advances, was sponsored by the biotech startup Cortexyme Inc. of South San Francisco, California. Co-founder Stephen Dominy is a psychiatrist who in the 1990s became intrigued by the idea that Alzheimer’s could have an infectious cause. At the time, he was treating people with HIV at the University of California, San Francisco. Some had HIV-related dementia that resolved after they got antiviral drugs. Dominy began a side project looking for P. gingivalis in brain tissue from deceased patients with Alzheimer’s, and—after his work found hints—started the company with entrepreneur Casey Lynch, who had studied Alzheimer’s as a graduate student.
Working with labs in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, the Cortexyme team confirmed earlier reports that P. gingivalis can be found in the brains of deceased people with Alzheimer’s, and they detected the microbe’s DNA in living patients’ spinal fluid. In more than 90% of the more than 50 Alzheimer’s brain samples, they also spotted toxic enzymes produced by the bacteria called gingipains. Brains with more gingipains had higher quantities of the Alzheimer’s-linked proteins tau and ubiquitin. Even the brains of roughly 50 deceased, apparently dementia-free elderly people selected as controls often had lower levels of both gingipains and the proteins indicating Alzheimer’s pathology. That early appearance is important, Lynch says, because “you would expect it to be there before the onset” of symptoms.
To explore whether the bacteria were causing disease, the team swabbed the gums of healthy mice with P. gingivalis every other day for 6 weeks to establish an infection. They later detected the bacteria in the animals’ brains, along with dying neurons and higher than normal levels of β-amyloid protein. In a lab dish, the gingipains—whose job is to chop up proteins—damaged tau, a regularly occurring brain protein that forms tangles in people with Alzheimer’s. In the brain, this protein damage may spur the formation of tangles, they say.

β-amyloid (green) and tooth bacteria toxins called gingipains (red) in brain tissue from an Alzheimer’s patient
Giving the mice a drug that binds gingipains cleared P. gingivalis from the brain better than a common antibiotic, and it reduced the β-amyloid production and resulting neurodegeneration. Targeting gingipains likely works by cutting off nutrients and other molecules that the enzyme supplies to the bacteria, Dominy says. In initial tests with human volunteers, a similar drug seemed safe and showed signs of improving cognition in nine participants with Alzheimer’s, the company says. A larger study is slated to start this year.
Although the paper refers to “evidence for causation,” Dominy goes a step further and says the experiments suggest “P. gingivalis is causing Alzheimer’s.” He and Lynch note that a study published in PLOS ONE in October 2018 by a team at the University of Illinois in Chicago also found that an oral infection with P. gingivalis can cause amyloid buildup and neurodegeneration in the brains of mice.
The Cortexyme study is “the largest to date” to find P. gingivalis in Alzheimer’s brains, and it “is clearly very comprehensively approached,” says neurologist James Noble of Columbia University, who has studied the link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s. “These are strange ideas, but they seem to be getting some traction.”
Other pathogens have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, including spirochete bacteria, which can cause Lyme disease, and some herpesviruses. Moir and Rudolph Tanzi at MGH have shown that β-amyloid in the brain appears to protect mice from bacterial and viral infections by trapping the invaders. Too much of this protective response to pathogens could trigger the buildup of the disease’s signature amyloid plaques, they suggest.
Moir thinks P. gingivalis is likely one of a variety of pathogens that contribute to the β-amyloid buildup and neuroinflammation. But he’s skeptical that the bacteria or its toxin directly cause Alzheimer’s. That’s partly because other recent studies that have explored the link with periodontal disease have not always found it in people with Alzheimer’s.
Howard Fillit, a neuroscientist and chief science officer at the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York City, is more impressed. “They did a lot of different experiments to build the case that gingipains are a drug target in Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “I think it’s worth pursuing, and I'm glad they're in a clinical trial.”
If the findings hold up, do they mean that everyone with gum disease—nearly 50% of the U.S. adult population—will develop Alzheimer’s? Not necessarily. But if healthy people want to stay on the safe side and potentially reduce their risk, Noble says, “the main conclusion we still have is: brush and floss.”

9/13/2018 11:46:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

This is one of our most frequently asked questions! Our answer? It’s not the brush that matters, it’s who’s doing the brushing. Let’s break that down. The goal of tooth brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth on a consistent (daily!) basis, so that we prevent the buildup of tartar which leads to tooth decay. 

A manual toothbrush is a great and inexpensive tool that helps us do just that. Make sure to brush two minutes per day, twice a day. Gently brush ALL surfaces and make sure to reach those back molars. For some people, it can be difficult to brush properly with a manual toothbrush. Those with some form of motor disability or arthritis may benefit from using an electric toothbrush. An electric brush can also be helpful for kids or anyone with braces. 

The same tooth brushing rules apply – two times per day, two minutes at a time. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that some have a built-in timer. If you’re one of those quick brushers who has a hard time making it to two minutes, consider using a timed electric brush, like the Oral-B . At your next dental visit, ask us whether we think you would do better with a manual or electric brush! And, as always, don’t forget to floss!

8/13/2018 1:20:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Wouldn't it be nice if we could ALL be this focused in our 20's? Take a peek at this little gem...we recently found Dr. Sclater's Applicant Essay for Dental School...

"My interest in dentistry was established through my own personal experiences. I began regular treatments with my dentist at the age of twelve. At that time, I had anterior crowding that was being modified through a retainer. As time went on and the retainer was not correcting my crowding, the dentist recommended that I have my twelve year molars removed. I had the oral surgery and then was recommended to an orthodontist. I enjoyed my visits to the dentist and looked forward to meeting my orthodontist. My orthodontist proceeded with treatment with braces which I wore for three years. My treatment was complete after the crowding was corrected and I was given two retainers to hold them in place.

I became interested in dentistry during my treatment and this was due to the positive experiences I encountered at my regular visits to both my dentist and orthodontist. The work that they performed intrigued me. Their dexterity and steadiness of hands was amazing. While I was in high school my reasoning for wanting to become a dentist were based on my own experiences. I wanted to help people enhance their dental hygiene and obtain a perfect smile. After graduation, I gained a better understanding of the profession and the preparation required to become a dentist by obtaining work experience and preparing academically for dental school.

My personal exploration has allowed me to gain experience in almost every aspect of the dental profession. I have spent the past three summers working at three different dental offices where I obtained valuable skills. My first summer, I was a dental assistant and a part time receptionist with two general dentists. I learned the basic skills of four-handed dentistry, writing in charts, scheduling patients, and completing insurance claims. The second summer, I was the office manager’s assistant in a solo general practice. I became proficient in completing insurance claims, reading charts, scheduling patients and working with dental computer programs. The third summer, I worked in the same office as the previous summer only this time I was a dental assistant. In addition, I gained experience with the pediatric population through working with a pediatric dentist as a dental assistant. Overall, working with patients has taught me interaction skills and empathy which I believe is necessary to becoming a successful dentist. These experiences have had a positive influence on my decision of becoming a dentist.

Another influence on my decision has been my academic preparation. Throughout my college career I have been able to maintain a competitive grade point average and have received recognition on the dean’s list and through induction into Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society. In my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Salisbury State University, I have developed strong leadership skills by being elected as the President of the Medical Careers Society and the Vice President of Alpha Omega Biological Society. The involvement in these clubs has allowed me to socialize with faculty and students and also to develop strong leadership skills which I had not been exposed to until Salisbury State University. I am qualified for admission into dental school because I have undergone rigorous course work and proven that I am capable to comprehending a large and diverse amount of information.

I am a person who sets goals and achieves them. My experiences have exposed me to both the advantages and disadvantages of dentistry, and I am strongly convinced that this is the profession that I wish to enter. As I continue with my studies, the skills which I have will help enable me to reach my goal of becoming a dentist."

4/23/2018 12:14:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

4/18/2018 2:43:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Blood Pressure Screening and the Oral Health Connection
Heart Health
Source: Calvert County Health Department

An estimated 75 million Americans have hypertension (high blood pressure). According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, of those with high blood pressure approximately 48% do not have their blood pressure under control and approximately 33% are not aware of the diagnosis.  

High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke and leaving it untreated often leads to further complications.

Oral health is an integral part of overall health and well-being. Most people see their dentist twice a year, making dentists an ideal partner in identifying high blood pressure in patients and referring to medical care for diagnosis and treatment.

With grant funding from the Maryland Department of Health Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, the Calvert County Health Department (CCHD) partnered with us and two additional dental care practices to pilot a hypertension screening project. Starting in May 2017, we began implementing blood pressure screening on all new patients. This is in addition to the blood pressure screenings we have always done before performing oral surgery.

For patients with potentially high blood pressure, a referral will be sent to their primary care provider for diagnosis and treatment. By identifying and treating undiagnosed hypertension through a collaboration between dental and medical care providers, Calvert County can significantly reduce heart disease death, disability, and associated risk factors.

Dr. Cynthia Sclater is the owner of Gentle Family Dentistry and is a huge advocate for early blood pressure intervention. “Partnering with the Calvert County Health Department is the perfect relationship in our eyes. High blood pressure directly results in systemic inflammation. This in turn leads to dental problems, such as an increased risk of periodontal disease and gingivitis,” according to Dr. Sclater.
There are steps you can take to control your high blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

 1.    Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers.
  • The first number, called systolic blood pressure, represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
  • The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. There are a number of resources in Calvert County to have your blood pressure checked, see HealthyGains Now flyer and Calvert Memorial Hospital Community Wellness. And you can also request to have your blood pressure taken when you visit us.

2. Make Lifestyle Changes
Heart-Healthy Diet:
  • Limit your salt (sodium intake). Common sources of salt in your diet may surprise you.  Take a look at the American Heart Association “The Salty Six” to see where salt may be hiding in your food.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Choose lean meats and fish
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Get Moving:
3. Control Diabetes
Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes. It is important to manage the diabetes to improve your overall health and reduce your risk for heart disease. 

Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to us at office@dunkirkdental.comor contact the Calvert County Health Department at the contact information below. In addition, feel free to ask your dental hygienist how your blood pressure affects your health next time you come in for your regular cleaning. Our hygiene team is educated about the effects of high blood pressure, inflammation and systemic health. And they are all natural teachers, so they would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Calvert County Health Department Contact Info:

Contact for Diabetes:
Jen Schindler
410-535-5400  459

Related Links:       American Heart Association     American Stroke Association         Mayo Clinic

4/11/2018 3:18:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

When it comes to tooth decay, it’s important to know the main culprit – ACID

Acid is what eats away at our enamel and causes cavities. Acid can enter our mouths in one of two ways: either directly through what we eat (citrus fruits, for example), or as a byproduct when oral bacteria consume the sugars that we eat. 

Ultimately, a simple way to identify foods that cause tooth decay is to ask whether it’s acidic or sweet/starchy. Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, kombucha and sour candy. Sweet/starchy foods include things like candy, soda or sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, bread, cereal, pasta and crackers. The longer these things interact with your teeth, the greater the chance for tooth decay to occur. For example, sipping on soda throughout the day, or chewing a gooey caramel treat, increases the amount of sugar that coat your teeth. Bacteria love to feast on this sugar, creating an acidic environment and putting your teeth at risk for decay.

To help protect your teeth against tooth decay: 
  1. Reduce your consumption of sweets and refined starches - Enjoy acidic foods in moderation or as part of a meal 
  2. Decrease or eliminate your consumption of soda or sugar-sweetened beverages 
  3. Swish with water after meals and snacks 
  4. Maintain good oral hygiene to brush away plaque buildup (floss at least once a day and brush twice a day) 
  5. And, as always, make sure to visit us regularly so we can remove tartar buildup and assess for early signs of decay
  6. Call us (410) 257-2424 or email us if you are having any sort of issue or are due for a cleaning. Catching tooth decay early is very important! It prevents small problems from getting larger and more expensive. Prevention is the magic formula for keeping your smile beautiful for years to come. 

3/9/2018 3:40:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

There is no doubt that a plant-based diet is optimal for health. Omnivores and vegans alike benefit from the nutrients present in plants. But how does what we eat relate to our dental health? Is a vegan diet better or worse for dental health? Well, it depends. There are some concerns for oral health when one consumes a vegan diet. Here are the main ones:

Vitamin B12 deficiency: A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Vegans should supplement with adequate B12, as plants do not provide this important nutrient.

Lack of remineralizing foods: Remineralization occurs when essential minerals that support hardened, healthy enamel are resup-plied to the tooth after loss caused by acid erosion. The best remineralizing foods include cheese, meat, and milk, but nuts and leafy greens can also help.

Lack of important amino acids: One example is the amino acid arginine, which is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Arginine helps prevent cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. While arginine is found in higher quantities in meat, vegan sources of arginine include pumpkin seeds, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas.
Calcium concerns: Your body needs enough calcium to support healthy teeth and gums. Vegans need to supplement their diet with plenty of plant sources that contain calcium (almonds, leafy greens, beans, etc.) as well as fortified vegan milks (almond, soy, rice, etc.).

Frequent snacking: Continual snacking provides an environment for bacteria to thrive and attack your tooth’s enamel. Vegans may be more prone to frequent snacking in an effort to meet their body’s need for energy. You may find eating meals with a higher fat content helps you stay full for longer periods of time.

More sugars/starches in the diet: It can be easy as a vegan to eat a diet based on sweet/starchy foods like fruits and grains (cereal, bread, pasta, crackers, rice, etc.). But the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay thrive on sugar. Make sure to round out your diet with non-sugary foods, such as tofu, nuts, seeds, and plenty of vegetables.

If you’re a vegan, you already know you have to be mindful of certain key nutrients that you may need to focus on or supplement in your diet. Keep this list in mind to ensure your dental health is also in tip-top shape!

2/16/2018 11:59:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Most people have heard of the word “plaque,” and know it’s not something you want on your teeth. Yet, they don’t know what exactly plaque is or how it contributes to dental decay.

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that lives on the surface of your teeth and along the gumline. It accumulates from normal daily activities such as eating and drinking, especially if you’ve been consuming a lot of sugars and starches. Ever had that fuzzy feeling on your teeth that goes away after you give them a good brush? Yep, that’s plaque. Plaque is what contributes to dental decay because bacteria like to consume the sugars in your mouth and excrete acids that wear away at your tooth enamel.

When you don’t regularly brush and floss away plaque, it forms tartar. Tartar is the yellow-ish calcified substance on your teeth that only a professional cleaning can remove.  (We are very lucky to have an amazing team of hygienists to help you remove tartar. But their schedule fills quickly, so we recommend scheduling in advance.) You can schedule by calling (410)257-2424, emailing office@dunkirkdental.comor texting 39016.

To regularly remove plaque:

1. Brush thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.

2. Floss at least once a day to remove plaque that your brush can’t reach.

3. Visit us for your regular dental cleanings. 

12/5/2017 1:40:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

We all know drinking enough water is good for our health. And when you’re feeling parched, there’s nothing better than a tall drink of ice-cold water to dampen that dry mouth of yours. But what do you do when you find yourself constantly needing to wet your whistle? There are numerous reasons you could be suffering from dry mouth. Below are the top five…

Physiologic:  Sometimes having a dry mouth is just a normal part of life. Temporary anxiety, open-mouthed breathing, mild dehydration, menopause, pregnancy, and decreased saliva due to sleep are all normal causes of dry mouth.

Prescription medication: Sixty-three percent of the top 200 most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. are known to cause dry mouth. And the higher the number of medications a person takes, the higher the chance of dry mouth. That’s why as we age, we tend to experience more instances of dry mouth. It’s not necessarily age-related, but our consumption of medication may cause this side effect. 

Habitual use of alcohol and tobacco: Use of any of these products will dry out the oral cavity. Please drink in moderation, and make sure to up your water intake when you imbibe. As for tobacco, we always recommend quitting as soon as possible.

Chronic Disease: Diabetes, Sjogren’s disease, Sarcoidosis, Hepatitis C can all cause dry mouth.

Psychogenic or Idiopathic: When symptoms are present without an identifiable cause (idiopathic), or because of psychological causes (psychogenic), they can be difficult to diagnose. If you find yourself with a persistent, unidentifiable case of dry mouth, you should make an appointment by calling us at (410) 257-2424 or emailing us at 

Figuring out which one is causing your dry mouth is so important because a dry mouth has a big effect on your dental health. Saliva is incredibly important for swishing away bacteria. The dryer the mouth, the more prone you are to cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. We recommend visiting us for dry mouth remedy recommendations, or your doctor for a consultation on why you may be experiencing a dry mouth.

9/21/2017 2:32:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and your local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your children. There’s always a lot going on in that little mouth!

Stage One: White Spots
In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended? As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. This is why it is very important for Dr. Sclater, Dr. DeLeon and the GFD team to build a trusting relationship with your child so we can see inside their mouth for the doctor examination and cleaning. Some children, out of fear, will clamp their jaw shut to prevent an exam and/or cleaning...which prevents us from providing the dental care your child needs. So start preparing your child before their appointment and assure them that visiting the dentist is a good thing! If you have dental anxiety, it can easily be transferred onto your child, even if it is not intended. So try to keep the conversation positive and encouraging. Positive dental memories begin very early in childhood.

Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and your child will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling. This is why regular cleaning and exams are very important. It is always best to be proactive with dental care rather than reactive.

Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If a cavity in your child’s mouth were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.

Stage Four: Involvement of the Pulp
Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, a screaming child or moaning teenager will certainly let you know there is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction. We will do our best to treat you at our office, but there are instances where you may need to visit one of our trusted specialists for treatment.

Stage Five: Abscess Formation
In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage. It is incredibly important to call us right away if you suspect your child or teen has an infection in their tooth or mouth. The infection can rapidly spread, and in some instances could be fatal or cause long term damage to your physical health. If you are not able to reach us immediately, we suggest visiting your nearest Emergency Room if you have swelling in the jaw, face, neck and/or have trouble breathing or swallowing.

As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of these insidious enemies, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at pre-selected intervals. You can keep your kids far from stage five their whole lives, and if a little bit of prodding to get them to the dentist accomplishes that, you can rest easy that you are a good parent.

9/21/2017 11:00:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

You might’ve guessed that smiling can make you happier … but did you know it also helps you live longer?

It’s true!

Smiling also helps with attraction and happiness in more ways than you may have imagined. Looking for a romantic partner, or a new job this year? Then, get ready to flash those pearly whites!

More than a century ago, philosopher Charles Darwin and scientist William James suggested we might be able to adjust our mood simply by 
assuming the facial expressions representative of our goal. The first step to happiness is to start smiling!
Ever since Darwin and James proposed their theories, scientists have researched and discovered some interesting side effects to smiling along the way.

·         Smiling makes you more attractive: Research suggests we’re more attracted to people who smile than those who do not. While scientists aren’t exactly in agreement as to why this may be, there’s a perception that a smiling person makes others around them relaxed and happy. Basically, your smile is contagious … and therefore welcoming.

·         Smiles boost the immune system: It’s all about the neuropeptides, they say. Smiling (and also laughing) release these neuropeptides which help reduce stress. The result is less taxation on your immune system so you can remain healthy to combat any illness or stress that may come your way.

·         Smiling enhances your mood: Smile-science has a bit of a “chicken or the egg dilemma.” Does a smile make you happy, or do you smile because you’re happy? We can assume the latter is true, but what about the former? Recall those neuropeptides we mentioned earlier? Well, according to Psychology Today, when we smile, “feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released.” Your body relaxes, while your heart rate and blood pressure lower. This flood of feeling then places us in a better mood. Not bad for just crinkling up the corners of the mouth!

And, what about helping you live longer? Well, if the above three reasons aren’t enough for you, it seems, that, yes … smiling more can help you live a longer life. And the proof appears to be in the research. In 2010, a team of researchers aimed with an odd source material (The Sporting News Baseball Register), examined historical photographs of baseball players – tracking smile and life statistics throughout their lifetimes. From 1952 onward, these intrepid scientists crunched the numbers (and smiles), and discovered that, yes indeed, smiling did help these chaps live longer, healthier lives. They also remained married longer. Pretty neat, huh? You can check out a bit of the story on this fascinating study at Pacific Standard Magazine.

So, to wrap things up … we’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from cinema’s happiest of happy characters, Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the feel-good Christmas film, Elf.
“I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite. Go forth and smile!”

4/25/2017 3:41:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

When it comes to dental floss, what’s the best kind? Well, if you ask a dentist, they’ll tell you the best dental floss is the floss you’ll actually use. That could be Teflon floss, dental tape, nylon floss, waxed floss, and flosses with or without flavors – there are a lot of choices! There are also a number of ways to get your flossing done that don’t have you wrapping a long string of floss across your fingers and deftly maneuvering your hands in such an enclosed space. Enter the oral irrigator, the vibrating flosser, and the dental pick! Which might be best for you? 

Dental Pick: If you’re prone to ignore flossing, you may want to consider a good ol’ fashioned dental pick. You’ve no doubt seen these before (sometimes cast aside on the sidewalk!) … they look kinda’ like a plastic toothpick with a strand of dental floss strapped across a wide u-shaped tip. The simplicity and compact nature of these little portable floss “picks” seem to add to their convenience, and kids seem to love them when they’re first learning to floss. We’ll bet you can find at least one colleague in your office who has a few in their purse or desk for those moments when lunch lingers on the teeth a bit longer than appreciated! 

Electric Flossers: Depending on the brand, electric flossers are known by a variety of names, and searching for these handy little devices can be somewhat maddening online (trust us!). You may be best just wandering into the drug store or supermarket to explore in person! There are vibrating flossers, power flossers, and air flossers. Picking the one that’s right for you depends on the task at hand. Power flossers and air flossers seem best if you’re dealing with space concerns near the gumline, and may be a good substitute for an interproximal toothbrush. A vibrating flosser, on the other hand, looks much like a dental pick and because of its design, can cover the entire length of the tooth. The next time you're here at Gentle Family Dentistry ask which is best for you. “Ode to the tiny wonder…the interproximal brush. 

Oral Irrigator: An oral irrigator is a device that uses a pulsating stream of water to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth. There are a variety of instruments on the market, and we can recommend one based on the health of your gum tissue and budget. Oral irrigators are remarkably effective at keeping gum tissue healthy, and have been shown to reduce pocket depth due to periodontitis. “Pocket depth,” refers to the depth of the gum tissue that immediately surrounds your teeth. You may not know it, but that’s what your dentist or hygienist is testing for when they’re poking that instrument in your mouth during an exam and calling out numbers! We sell Waterpik brand oral irrigators at GFD…our hygienists LOVE the way a Waterpik can change the health of your We have had patients take their gums from bleeding to pink and healthy, and change their breath from loaded with unhealthy bacteria and debris to fresh and healthy when a Waterpik is used in conjunction with daily brushing and flossing! 

It’s worth noting that each of these devices, while recommended, should be considered as supplements to normal flossing, not a replacement – flossing is still your best choice. But, if you have dexterity concerns, are purchasing something for a youngster, or just want to ensure your teeth are the cleanest they can be, these tool are great options!

3/29/2017 7:58:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

The hard clack of cleats echo about as your “little” sports hero rushes to get out of the house … soon to be late for practice. Armed with all they’ll need for a day in the sun, their equipment bag is packed and slung awkwardly over one shoulder, bursting at the seams with untold numbers of pads and dirty gear. And after making a final beeline through the kitchen to raid your refrigerator for a 64oz bottle or two of rainbow-colored sustenance, they’re off for what will no doubt be another grueling practice session. You’re proud of your kids – they’re growing up. And yet you wonder as you stare at the door that just shut behind them….are those technicolor drinks they’re drinking every day hurting them?

The truth, unfortunately, is yes. While they may keep your children energized and awake for the next few hours, they are bad news, and they’re quietly eating away at their teeth - and fast.

Why Energy Drinks Are Such a Threat to Teeth

The crux of the problem is the double-whammy that comes from an exceedingly high sugar content and citric acid pH that can be as low as 2.9. We understand pH can be a tricky thing to understand, so to help put that number in perspective, consider this: battery acid has a pH of 0.0 (so, a lower number means a higher acid content). Stomach acid has a pH that fluctuates between 1.0 and 3.0. A lemon comes in at around 2.0, a grapefruit at 3.0, and tomato juice at 4.0.

The most important thing to know is that with each increase in numerical value, the acid intensity increases 10-fold. So, in the example above, a lemon ends up being 10 times more acidic than a grapefruit, and 100 times more acidic than tomato juice - a sensation you can certainly taste if you bite into one! In contrast, milk and water have a pH of 7.0, so, it's easy to see the difference in the numbers - they're huge.

The Science

You need to know what this means to your child’s teeth. Southern Illinois set out to discover how the acid in sports and energy drinks effect tooth enamel in 2012, and the results, which surprised even the research team, showed considerable damage to tooth enamel after only five days of steady consumption. FIVE DAYS.

To determine the effect of these drinks on our teeth, the research team looked at 22 popular sports and energy drinks, and exposed artificial tooth enamel to the beverages for 15 minutes at a time, four times daily. This schedule was chosen because it mirrors the consumption habits of many users who drink these beverages every few hours - a particularly common habit among those who consume sports drinks, particularly when your kids are involved in sports. After each 15-minute exposure, the enamel was then placed into an artificial saliva solution for two hours to mimic what would happen once consumption stopped. After only five days on this schedule, the enamel showed a 1.5% loss with sports drinks, and a shocking 3% loss with energy drinks.

The Critics

While critics in the beverage industry suggest the time used to expose the enamel to the drinks may have been excessive, it's widely known that snacking, as well as regular sipping of any beverage other than water, creates acidic activity in the mouth that promotes tooth decay. Of course, adults also need to be careful, and if you’re the weekend warrior type, or are pulling shifts and consuming these beverages throughout the day, the time of exposure might actually not be long enough.

There is no doubt that these beverages are not good for our teeth. They're also not good for our stomach and esophagus, and can be more bothersome if one is prone to acid reflux. The consumption sweet spot is in the middle-ground, and that's basically the advice we're going to offer today. We tell patients all the time, don’t sip on these drinks throughout the day. It’s the persistent exposure of the enamel to these high acid drinks that concerns us, and sipping on sports drinks and sodas should be avoided. Instead, drink your drink, then rinse your mouth with water.

The Middle Ground -- It's about being informed

We're not asking you to force your kids to give up their sports beverages and energy drinks. However, it is wise to know the risks, and to understand how you can help your kids combat some of their side-effects. Here are two quick tips that will help if they can't shake the habit:
Have them keep water nearby so they sip on it to dilute the acid covering their teeth. This also increases saliva production to help protect tooth enamel. Once done with the drink, swish with water really well.
We suggest that they don't brush immediately after consuming such beverages. Why? Because in the thirty minutes to an hour after consumption, tooth enamel will be slightly softer, and brushing in this window of time literally ends up spreading the acid around to other parts of the teeth. Not good. If brushing is desired, save it for an hour or so after. (This applies to wine drinkers as well!)

Lastly, here is the breakdown of most caustic to least caustic drinks as found by the researchers.

Sports Drinks:
Filtered Ionized Alkaline H2O – pH: 10.0
Water – pH: 7.o
Odwalla Carrot juice – pH: 6.2
Odwalla Vanilla Monster – pH: 5.8
Unflavored Pedialyte – pH: 5.4
Vita coco – pH: 5.2
Aquafina,Dasani, Smart water – pH: 4.0
GU2O – pH: 4.29
Powerade – pH: 3.89
Accelerade – pH: 3.86
Gatorade Endurance – pH: 3.22
Monster – pH: 2.7

Energy Drinks:
Red Bull – pH: 3.3
AMP Energy – pH: 2.7
Monster Energy – pH: 2.7
Full Throttle - pH: 1.45
Rock Star – pH: 1.5

P.S. Don’t forget the mouth guard!

3/8/2017 7:12:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Imagine it’s still winter … you’re standing at the door, ready to brave the cold. You’re layered-up with three shirts and a sweatshirt, your heavy winter coat, and two layers of socks underneath your waterproof winter boots. Then you’ve got those awesome jeans with the flannel on the inside, your comfy hat, scarf, and gloves. You’re set! But wait. As you step toward the door, you suddenly realize you have an itch … and it’s deep down … buried beneath all those layers. And, try as you may, every attempt to reach that bugger-of-an-itch fails. Defeated, you realize the only relief you’re ever gonna’ get is to remove each one of those layers. Where are we going with this?!

The Tongue

We’re going inside your mouth, of course, to your tongue – this is a dental article, after all! Because whether you know it or not, like you in the wintertime, your tongue is also “all covered up” – buried beneath layers of bacteria, fungi, and food residue that can inhibit your ability to taste, let alone cause your tongue to appear various shades of yellow, white, or green! Remove the bacteria, though, and your food will once again directly interact with those taste buds, and return to its natural hue. So how does one do that? With a tongue scraper, of course!

WHAT is a tongue scraper?

A tongue scraper is a U-shaped device designed to “scrape” the top layer of scum from your tongue. They have been in use since ancient times, and have been made of everything from wood to whalebone. Nowadays, they are made of more hygienic material, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, designs and colors.

WHY use a tongue scraper?

The residue on your tongue includes things like the cavity-inducing Streptococcus mutans bacterium, fungi, rotting food (that’s not good), and what’s referred to as “volatile sulfur compounds.” In other words, sulfur – that “rotting egg smell.” Talk about ew! So, as you can see, there are several reasons why you’d want to get rid of this gunk in your mouth. Let’s tackle them one by one:

· Reduce bad breath: ‘nuff said! Dr. Sclater said she has absolutely had patients transform their breath by tongue scraping every day.
· Reduce your risk of periodontal disease and cavities: Bad bacteria contribute to plaque and tartar on teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities. Bacteria build-up can also lead to inflammation of gum tissue (gingivitis). If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, which means a more expensive dental visit (plus other unwanted consequences!). Speaking of avoiding an expensive dental visit, when was the last time you came in to see us? Come see us now if it’s been awhile, by calling in at (410) 257-2424.
· Make room for good bacteria: see our article here on probiotics for your mouth.
· Prevent heart disease? While the debate is still up in the air, some studies suggest there could be a correlation between gum disease and heart disease.

HOW does one use a tongue scraper?

In general, make sure to rinse your tongue scraper before and after use. Apply the tongue scraper to the back of your tongue and drag it forward. Then, rinse and repeat. Make sure to get the sides of your tongue as well, not just the center!

Make sure not to press too hard or you can cause yourself to bleed. And, if you’re wondering if you should scrape your tongue while recovering from a dental procedure, that’s a good question … ask your dentist for the best advice particular to your situation. Still not sure how this thing really works? The next time you’re in ask Barb, Jessica, Sandi or Emily for a quick tutorial!

WHERE do I buy one?

Your first choice is, believe it or not, us! We have sample tongue scrapers. And if you decide to purchase one, they are relatively inexpensive (usually the same cost as a toothbrush), and can also be found at any local drugstore. It doesn’t matter the material, color, or brand – just find the one you like and get scraping!

Need more convincing about just how great tongue scraping is? Just watch this video by The Singing Dentist:

3/2/2017 8:23:00 AM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Dr. Sclater just loves a list! This is such a wonderful and comprehensive list that we had to share. 

12 Things Your Dentist Knows About You Just By Looking In Your Mouth


While cavities and plaque build-up may be what's on your mind before a teeth cleaning, your dentist is looking for a whole lot more. "The mouth is the window to the body," says David Silverstrom, DDS, of The Silverstrom Group in Livingston, NJ. "Often, diseases like cancer, anemia and diabetes will first be identified by the dentist in a regular examination, and this saves lives." And it's not just diseases—dentists can discover everything from your bad habits to your favorite beverages simply by asking you to say, "Ahh!"

1. You flossed right before your appointment—and that's the only time.

Sorry, but you can't fool your dentist into thinking you floss daily by doing so the night before or morning of your visit. "The gums of people who only floss right before a visit are bleeding or look damaged," says Timothy Stirneman, DDS, of All Smiles Dental in Algonquin, IL, "whereas, healthy gums are nice and tight and pink," he says. Kenneth Wong, DDS, of Santa Monica adds, "When patients floss right before coming for a cleaning, I can see the slices where the floss cut at the gum because they were overzealous."

2. You're pregnant.

"Nearly 40% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy," says Glen Stephenson, DMD, of Prevention Dental in Boise, ID. "This is caused by increased progesterone, which facilitates the growth of bacteria, causing gingivitis. Some women will develop a deep red lump on their gums called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma." (This type of tumor is completely benign and will go away after the pregnancy is over.) Stirneman adds that most women are typically pretty far along before their gums start bleeding, so it's not as though a dentist will magically "discover" that a patient is pregnant.

3. You bite your nails.

Without looking at your hands, a dentist may be able to detect this habit. "Signs include chips and cracking of the teeth, plus wear and tear on the teeth from the constant stress on them," says Keith Arbeitman, DDS, of Arbeitman & Shein in New York City. "This can cause your teeth to become uneven and lead to jaw pain and discomfort." Kyle Stanley, DDS, of Helm, Nejad, Stanley in Beverly Hills adds, "Patients that bite their nails using their front teeth usually have leveled off, flat front teeth. The nails themselves are not what cause the damage, but rather the contact that occurs between the top and bottom teeth," he says.

4. You used to suck your thumb.

"Most children that suck their thumbs or a finger have no long-term effects from the habit," says Stephenson. "However, those who did so past the age of seven or eight may show significant changes to their bite or the position of their teeth. Much of that can be corrected through orthodontic treatment, but some telltale signs can remain." Alice Lee, DDS, of Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY, adds, "We can sometimes see protruding front teeth, and this can impact how kids' jaws are coming together and growing and can also impact their speech."

5. Your bad breath may mean something.

"General bad breath can be categorized as halitosis," says Arbeitman. But dentists are also trained to identify "fruity" smells and "fishy" smells, which can mean numerous things. " 'Fruity' breath could indicate uncontrolled diabetes or a dietary fast that has gone too far, while 'fishy' breath could be a sign of kidney or liver failure," he explains. If the smell is "very foul," says Arbeitman, it could be anything from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) to an underlying lung abscess and bronchitis to a tonsil stone. Timothy Chase, DMD, of SmilesNY in New York City, adds, "The first thing the dentist should do is rule out the odor coming from the teeth and gums. After that, he should recommend that the patient see an ENT to rule out sinus issues, and a GI doc to rule out reflux issues."

6. You may have an eating disorder.

"Many patients are surprised that their dentist is the first one to ask about eating disorders," says Chase, "but bulimia exhibits a very distinct pattern of tooth wear that your dentist can easily identify." Stephenson notes that, "This erosion happens almost exclusively on the tongue-side of the front teeth and can contribute to increased cavities." But Silverstrom is quick to point out that acid erosion on the back of a patient's teeth does not always indicate an eating disorder. He says other possibilities include acid reflux and the use of antidepressants or mood-elevating drugs, both of which reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, thereby upping the odds of acid damage.

7. You have a sinus infection.

"Often patients will call saying that they need a root canal," explains Ira Handschuh, DDS, of The Dental Design Center in NY, "when in fact it's actually a sinus infection and not a tooth problem at all." The reason, he explains, is because the roots of the top teeth are positioned in the same area as the floor of the sinuses. And both sinus infections and toothaches can show symptoms of pressure. "A simple home test is to have a patient bend over to touch their toes. If the pressure or pain increases just by doing this, the pain is most likely not tooth-related and he should see his ENT or primary care physician before coming to the dentist," he advises.

8. You have a vitamin deficiency.

"A deficiency of vitamins and minerals can cause many oral conditions, like burning tongue syndrome, tissue sloughing off, increased infections, delayed healing, bone infections, and easy-to-bleed gums," explains John P. Dougherty, DDS, MAGD, of Artistic Dental at the Biltmore in Phoenix, AZ. Stephenson adds, "Surprisingly, iron deficiencies show up in many ways in your mouth. It can give some patients severe sores in the corners of their mouth while others have changes in their tongues. Some may experience a painful burning sensation, or all the small papillae fall off their tongue leaving it glossy and smooth. Getting more iron will solve these problems."

9. You have diabetes.

"Many times, imbalances in sugar will show a rapid change in the health of your gums, including increased swelling, bleeding, and sensitivity," says Handschuh. "In conjunction, the consistency of saliva may change, and there may be increased decay. These may all be signs of sugar levels that are out of control, so dentists can alert patients to see their doctor to check for diabetes."

10. You have a drinking problem.

"Alcoholic patients are cavity-prone because alcohol tends to dry the mouth out," says David Tarica, DMD, of 34th Street Dental in New York City. "A dry mouth will lead to cavities, because saliva neutralizes the damage-causing acid in our mouths. In addition, alcoholics have 'chipmunk red cheeks,' and the smell alone is usually a giveaway."

11. You have oral cancer.

"The first signs of oral cancer can be seen from the following: unexplained bleeding in the mouth, white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth, a change in the way your teeth fit together, swellings, thickenings, lumps or bumps or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth," explains Michael Apa, DDS, of Rosenthal Apa Group in New York City. "An oral surgeon should be consulted for a biopsy of any suspicious tissue."

12. You love Gatorade.

You may know why you chipped your tooth, but Hugh Flax, DDS, of Flax Dental in Atlanta says that even though the cause may be apparent, "there could be underlying factors that weakened the tooth and made it susceptible to being chipped in the first place." He explains that teeth can be softened by sodas and other sugary beverages over time, which may make a tooth more susceptible to chipping. Energy drinks, which tend to be even more acidic than soft drinks, may cause even more damage to tooth enamel, he says.

11/29/2016 5:49:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

By Patty Krisko, Office Manager

I am not what most would consider a city girl so when my family received our orders to the "D.C. area" back in 2012, I can tell you that I was not exactly jumping for joy. We always try to look at new assignments as new adventures, so we were definitely up for the challenge, but for some reason I had this idea in my head that D.C., Virginia and Maryland were just one giant city and we would spend 3-4 years stuck on the beltway. Funny enough, I was not that far off on my assessment of the traffic, but I was definitely far off in terms of my view of the area. We were still in Germany when a friend of mine told me to look for homes in Calvert County and I am thankful every single day for her advice. The minute I saw barns, rolling hills and horses, I knew we hit the jackpot. We truly fell in love instantly and the 40-minute drive to Andrews Air Force Base became a breeze! Fast forward 4 years and we are living in a home we had built, my children are thriving in a great school system, awesome extracurricular activities, and my husband and I are both retired from the service.

As I transitioned out of the military this past spring, I honestly felt like I was losing a piece of my soul. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but when you devote 22 years to a certain way of life and a certain mindset, it can be a little unnerving when preparing to close that door. Fortunately for me, I found a new work family with Gentle Family Dentistry and quickly realized that a life of service doesn't end when you get out of the military. I get to serve the awesome residents of Calvert County (and beyond) every day, just wearing a different outfit. As an added bonus, seeing the veterans and military families that walk through our doors gives me a sense of gratitude that I can still serve them and maintain that connection. Life is good!

11/17/2016 3:46:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Jackie Miller, President of End Hunger in Calvert County

Interview with the President of End Hunger in Calvert County, Jacqueline Miller

In case you didn't know, there's an amazing non-profit in Calvert County called End Hunger in Calvert County. We recently had the privilege of being a collection site for End Hunger's October Food Drive. Along with being a collection site, we wanted to learn more about the organization that does so much for the community. End Hunger solely exists to serve the community and bring relief to those in need. Quite often, the people that receive help are your neighbors, friends or local business owners. Please take a moment to read our blog post. Chances are, you may discover how to help the community in a way you never imagined!

Jacqueline Miller Age: 30 Job Title: President of End Hunger In Calvert County

Where did you grow up?
Huntingtown, Maryland

When did your family come to Calvert County?
My family moved to Calvert County in 1989 – I was 2 years old.
Was your father a Reverend before Chesapeake Church? How did Chesapeake Church begin?
• Before being a pastor at Chesapeake – my father worked for the EPA – Chesapeake Church is the only church he has pastored.
• Chesapeake began because a group of people believed that full devotion to Jesus Christ was normal and that we could learn to live and grow within a biblical community. The way the people in the bible lived – that was not lost but we could actually do life the way Jesus intended us to.

What year was End Hunger established?
End Hunger was established in 2008 when we realized that food pantry clients in Calvert County were not the stereotypical face of hunger. These folks held full-time jobs, sometimes two. But because of the high cost of living or other obstacles in their lives, they had a hard time keeping food on the table. We realized that this was a hunger problem we could actually tackle and end!

You have so many events that spread awareness and community involvement for End Hunger. Which event was first and how did you come up with the idea?
The first event we did was the annual County-wide Food Drive. We came up with the idea as a way to get the entire community rallied behind the problem of hungry and empower them to realize that together we are the solution.

Are these the events you still currently do? Any I missed?
Yes that is them!
· Dragon Boat Races
· Bike Ride
· Obstacle Race
· Food Drive in October

Which event is most near and dear to your heart and why?
I love them all for all different reasons. But to answer your question, the Obstacle Run is near and dear to me because this is the event that entire families can come out and participate in together. The event is also born out of tragedy. My friend and co-worker lost her son and this event not only raises awareness about the reality of hunger in the community, it is done in memory of Matt.

Which event raises the most funds for End Hunger? Which event is a labor of love?
The Dragon Boat Festival technically raises the most money but it also costs the most to put on. All three events are designed to serve different purposes and each one of them accomplishes its goal.

The Annual Food Drive is not designed to make money – that is our labor of love event.
How are the cooking program and café doing?
Fantastic! We have graduated close to 100 students – 70% of them are now working. Many of them work at The Lobby Coffee Bar, which is a full service Coffee Bar that directly supports End Hunger In Calvert County. We are having the time of our lives growing The Lobby into a place for Calvert County to connect and foster relationships.

You have brought End Hunger awareness to Calvert County in waives – to what can you attribute your success?
I attribute it to two things …
1. My team. I work alongside the most talented people I have ever met. They use their passion and gifts to change lives in Calvert County and we do it all because we desire to be obedient to Christ. We feed the hungry because that is what we have been called to do.
2. We do hunger and only hunger. There are so many worthy non-profit organizations and causes but for us, our call is to feed the hungry. So that is what we do. We feed the hungry with excellence and we give it everything we’ve got. Not because we are great, but because our God is so great.
A great team, plus our focus is what I accredit End Hunger’s success to.

How has your role at End Hunger changed since becoming a mother?
Becoming a mom hasn’t necessarily changed my role in End Hunger but is has changed my perspective. Forty percent of food pantry clients in Calvert County are children. I’ve known that statistic for years, eight years to be exact. But that statistic didn’t truly grip my heart until becoming a mom – before becoming mom I didn’t understand the weightiness of what that 40% represents.

I now understand full well the fierceness with which moms love their babies – we would do absolutely anything to protect them, provide for them, and care for them.

Knowing that so many moms, right here in Calvert County, receive support to feed their families both breaks my heart and fills me with joy. It breaks my heart because as a mom, I could not imagine not being able to provide for my family. Making that choice must be the hardest choice they make – and they make it every week.

It fills me with joy because I am so proud of every mom who comes through the doors of our food pantries. I am so proud of our community that we have stepped in to fill the gap for these moms and families. I am most proud that we not only provide a meal for families, but we are restoring dignity back into families.

There are a lot of things that we moms can disagree on, but I think each and every one of us can agree that no child – our own or another's – should go to bed hungry. And the reality is one day it could be us walking through the doors of a food pantry for the first time.

What about End Hunger makes you most proud?
What makes me most proud about End Hunger In Calvert County is the way our community continually steps up to provide for the needy in our community. In the last eight years that End Hunger has been around, we have never once run out of food – not even close. I am continually amazed year after year they way our community meets the needs of community. Together, we are now distributing nearly 1 MILLION pounds of food back into Calvert County every year. Every year we do that, and we do it together.

What do you like to do in your spare time to recharge your batteries?
In my spare time to recharge, I love spending time with my husband. We love going into the city and finding new coffee shops and hole-in-the wall places to eat. There is so much richness in Washington DC that any chance that Chris and I get to be in the city we take advantage of it.

Now, more frequently, the way I recharge is a bubble bath and a good book! 

10/6/2016 4:19:00 PM | Gentle Family Dentistry

Why Do I Run?

By Cynthia Sclater, D.M.D.

I often get the "Why do you run?" question from people. And to be honest, sometimes I don't know! I know the logical reasons I run, but when you are running 13 miles in a row (as opposed to it being over 2 or 3 workouts), I really begin to doubt my sanity and endurance.

I would call running a love/hate relationship. I truly feel better after I run, but sometimes during a race I question the "great adventure" I have undertaken.

I recently entered the world of half marathons. Around mile seven, the endorphin high usually wears off, and the reality of six more miles begins to set in.... 6 more miles. Six miles is almost a 10k! I have now completed two half marathons, and my most recent one was the Mighty Niagara Half in Niagara Falls, NY in September. Not bad for a girl that could barely do a push-up in her 20's.

The benefits of running are well documented. The benefits range from improved body function to improved focus and sleep. I run first thing in the morning and have a much better day when I get my run done early in the morning...even though I get a little weepy when the alarm goes off at 5am. But it is totally worth the sacrifice. For me, morning runs lead to a better day because I get more accomplished, I eat healthier and I sleep better. Overall, the benefits outweigh the pain of waking up at 5am.

I wasn't an athlete in school. Actually, I hated exercise. I was naturally small and could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. Thus, exercise never really entered my mind. Later, I went to undergrad college and perpetuated the lifestyle I adopted in high school. Sporadically, I would workout with my husband, but nothing ever stuck. After undergrad, I was commissioned into the Army while in dental school. I did not have to take a fitness test until basic training after graduation. Had I been smart, I would have trained for the fitness test. But the pressure of having a small child, husband and dental school took its toll, and exercise was pushed to the back burner again. Basic training was my first experience with running. It was miserable for me and it reinforced my hatred of running and working out.

I hate to say it, but my vanity (like many men and women in their 30's and 40's) was finally my motivating factor to run. In my late 30's, my metabolism changed. All the yummy things I could eat in my teens and 20's was beginning to pack on the pounds in my 30's. I began a cross-training program, but I just wasn't seeing the results I had envisioned. I didn't know what to do. I was still gaining weight and my scrubs were getting tight!

My life-changing moment was when a patient of mine (who is in her 50's), came in for a visit. I was amazed at her transformation...she had lost so much weight! She said she lost the weight by running, and that was my "ah-ha" moment. My patient invited me to run with her, so I went. And I went again. And then I went again and again. And before long, I really began to enjoy running! I usually run on the North Beach Pier. I love the quiet, the fresh air, the view of the bay, the stunning sunrise, and all the locals I see fitting in their early workout. If you have never been, I really encourage you to visit the town of North's one of my favorite parts of Calvert County.

These days, I wholeheartedly recommend physical exercise as a part of your lifestyle for longevity and a better quality of life. It has improved my life in so many ways. My dental philosophy is about the mouth/whole body connection. Eliminate the processed foods and drinks, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, brush twice a day and floss once a day. With a little consistency (which is incredibly hard for most people until it becomes a habit), you will reap positive results that compound over time. Quality of life is the most important thing, and I want to encourage all my patients to live their best life!

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3150 West Ward Road, Suite 304|Dunkirk, MD 20754|Map & Directions|Call: 410-257-2424

Dr. Cynthia Sclater is a dental care professional dedicated to providing patients with painless and gentle cosmetic, family and general dentistry. Located in Dunkirk, Maryland the office serves Calvert County, Southern Anne Arundel County and neighboring cities such as Huntingtown, Owings, Sunderland, North Beach, Chesapeake Beach, Prince Frederick, Lothian, Harwood, Friendship, Tracys Landing, Deale, Churchton, West River and Shady Side.


Hours of Operation: Monday 8:00-7:00
Tuesday 8:00-7:00
Wednesday 8:00-7:00
Thursday 8:00-1:00
Friday Closed

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