Our Blog

Oral Cancer Screening Benefits Early Detection

June 15, 2023

Cancer is a devastating disease that can affect anyone at any point in their life. Oral cancer, in particular, can be difficult to detect, but early detection is key. That's where oral cancer screenings come in. In this post, we'll be discussing the importance of oral cancer screening and the benefits of early detection. We'll also dive into what an oral cancer screening entails and who should get one. From physical examinations to visual examinations, we'll cover all the different types of screening devices and techniques that are used to detect oral cancer. Additionally, we'll provide you with tips on how to prepare for an oral cancer screening and what to expect during one. Finally, we'll answer some frequently asked questions about oral cancer screening so you can feel fully informed about this important topic.

Importance Of Oral Cancer Screening

Regular screenings conducted by dental professionals can detect abnormalities like lumps, sores, or white patches in the oral cavity and oropharynx early on. This helps with early diagnosis and subsequent effective treatment of oral cancer. Most commonly occurring in smokers and heavy alcohol consumers, those infected with HPV also have an increased risk of developing this disease. If an abnormality is found during a screening, tested further to diagnose any malignant disorders. Maintaining good oral health is essential to prevent the onset of this disease.

Benefits Of Early Detection

Regular oral cancer screenings are important for early detection of abnormal tissue in the oral cavity, including lumps, sores, lesions, white patches, bumps, or swollen areas. These screenings can detect precancerous lesions caused by risk factors such as tobacco products and heavy alcohol consumption. Early diagnosis of oral cancer can also identify human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers in the oropharynx. Dental professionals use various screening techniques such as toluidine blue dye and special lights to examine the entire mouth including inner cheeks, gums, tongue, tonsils, palate, and floor of the mouth. Annual screenings recommended by the American Cancer Society can lead to early detection of oral cancer and a better prognosis.

What Is Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral Cancer Screening is a non-invasive examination of the mouth, throat, and tongue to identify any signs of cancer or abnormalities. It includes visual inspection and palpation and may involve additional tests like biopsy or imaging. Regular screening can improve treatment success through early detection.

Oral Cancer Screening Devices

Early detection of oral cancer is crucial for better health outcomes and quality of life. Oral cancer screening devices like visual examination, a tissue fluorescence, brush biopsy, and salivary diagnostics can detect precancerous lesions and abnormal tissues before they turn into malignant disorders. Detecting oral cancer in its early stages can lead to higher survival rates and less invasive treatment options. It is recommended that individuals get annual screenings for oral cancer, especially those who use tobacco products or consume alcohol heavily.

Physical Examination For Oral Cancer Screening

During oral cancer screening exams, dental professionals carefully examine the tongue and throat to identify any abnormal areas or lesions. They also use specialized tools to check for swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Regular screenings are essential for early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer. High-risk individuals should undergo annual screenings to detect abnormalities before they become malignant disorders.

Visual Examination For Oral Cancer Screening

Regular visual examination of the oral cavity is crucial for early diagnosis of oral cancer. Dental professionals recommend annual screenings, especially for individuals who use tobacco products or have a family history of malignant disorders. Abnormalities that may require further testing include lumps, bumps, sores, ulcers, white patches, lesions, swelling, abnormal tissue, and abnormalities in coloration. Early detection of oral cancer can lead to successful treatment outcomes and improved quality of life.

Who Should Get Oral Cancer Screenings?

While anyone can develop oral cancer, individuals who have a history of smoking or alcohol use have an increased risk. Regular screenings are recommended for those over 40 years old, with a family history of oral cancer or HPV diagnosis. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised to determine an appropriate screening schedule.

How To Prepare For An Oral Cancer Screening

Before an oral cancer screening, it is crucial to share with your dental professional any noticed symptoms or concerns while avoiding tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption. In addition to providing information regarding your medical history and lifestyle habits, a physical examination of the oral cavity − including the throat and neck − is also conducted. Further testing may be required if abnormalities are detected for greater accuracy in diagnosing malignant disorders.

What To Expect During An Oral Cancer Screening

During an oral cancer screening, a dental professional will visually inspect your entire mouth for signs of abnormalities such as lumps, sores, or lesions. They might also use special techniques like blue dye or toluidine to detect any abnormal tissue. This screening test is painless and usually takes just a few minutes. Early diagnosis of oral cancer increases the chance of successful treatment.


Oral cancer screening can save lives by detecting cancer early. It's important to prioritize your oral health and get regular screenings, especially if you have risk factors such as tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption. Early detection of oral cancer increases the chances of successful treatment and reduces the likelihood of complications. At our clinic, we offer a range of screening options, including physical and visual exams. If you have any questions about oral cancer screening or want to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us at Pike & Valega. Don't wait until it's too late - take charge of your oral health today.

The Ultimate Guide to Professional Teeth Whitening

May 15, 2023

A bright, white smile can do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem. However, with so many teeth whitening products available in the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to choose. In this post, we will delve into professional teeth whitening and why it matters. We will discuss the benefits of opting for a professional procedure over at-home treatments, the different types of procedures available, and what factors you should consider before getting one. We will also cover what happens during a professional teeth whitening procedure and how to care for your teeth afterward. Lastly, we will address some common myths about professional teeth whitening and provide answers to frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision when choosing a service provider.

Why Teeth Whitening Matters

A bright, white smile can make a significant impact on your self-confidence and appearance. Unfortunately, teeth can become discolored over time due to aging, lifestyle choices, and certain medications. This discoloration can leave you feeling self-conscious about your smile. Professional teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to combat this problem and achieve a brighter, more youthful-looking smile. By removing stains and discoloration caused by these factors, professional teeth whitening can help you feel confident in your smile again.

Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening

Achieving a bright, white smile can do wonders for your self-confidence and overall appearance. Professional teeth whitening provides numerous benefits that make it a popular choice among those seeking to enhance their smile. Firstly, professional teeth whitening offers more effective and long-lasting results as compared to at-home treatments. Additionally, the procedure is safe and supervised by a dental professional, ensuring minimal risks and maximum benefits. By removing stubborn stains caused by tobacco, coffee, and red wine, professional teeth whitening can help you look more youthful and improve your overall appearance. Ultimately, the confidence boost provided by a brighter smile is priceless!

Understanding Professional Teeth Whitening Procedures

Professional teeth whitening procedures can help you achieve a brighter smile. There are two types of professional teeth whitening treatments: in-office and take-home kits. In-office treatment involves the use of bleaching agents by a dental professional, while take-home kits consist of custom-made trays that hold the bleaching agent. Professional teeth whitening provides longer-lasting results compared to at-home treatments, as they are supervised by dental professionals who can customize the treatment plan based on your specific needs. Prior to undergoing a professional teeth whitening procedure, it is essential to discuss any concerns with your dentist and prepare for possible side effects such as tooth sensitivity.

In-Office Teeth Whitening

In-office teeth whitening is a popular and highly effective option for those looking to brighten their smile quickly. During the procedure, a powerful bleaching agent is applied to the teeth and activated with a special light. This process can provide immediate results, with teeth looking several shades lighter. While in-office teeth whitening is more expensive than at-home treatments, it provides more dramatic and longer-lasting results. It is essential to consult with a dental professional to determine if in-office teeth whitening is right for you based on your dental health and goals.

Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits

For those who want to whiten their teeth in the comfort of their own homes, take-home teeth whitening kits are a popular option. These kits usually come with custom-made trays that fit snugly over your teeth and a bleaching gel that is applied to the tray for a specified amount of time. While take-home kits may take longer to achieve desired results compared to in-office treatments, they can be more affordable and convenient for some individuals. However, it's essential to follow the instructions carefully and avoid overuse or misuse of the product, which can lead to tooth sensitivity or damage. Before using any whitening kit, it's important to consult with your dentist to ensure it's safe and effective for you.

Laser Teeth Whitening

Laser teeth whitening is a popular and highly effective professional teeth whitening method. This procedure involves using a laser to activate the whitening agent applied to the teeth, resulting in a brighter smile in just one session. Compared to other methods, laser teeth whitening provides quicker and longer-lasting results. While it may be more expensive, choosing a reputable dentist or dental clinic for this treatment ensures optimal results and safety. After the procedure, it's important to maintain good oral hygiene practices and avoid staining foods and beverages for long-lasting results.

Factors To Consider Before Getting a Professional Teeth Whitening

Before getting professional teeth whitening, it's important to consider several factors to ensure optimal results. Firstly, determine the type of stains on your teeth and whether professional teeth whitening is the right solution for you. This will help you understand the expected results and avoid disappointment. Secondly, ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy enough for professional teeth whitening by consulting with your dentist beforehand. It's also essential to consider the cost, duration of treatment, and maintenance required for long-lasting results. By keeping these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision about whether professional teeth whitening is right for you.


Teeth sensitivity is a common concern when it comes to professional teeth whitening. While some people experience minimal discomfort, others may find the treatment unbearable. It's important to communicate any concerns about sensitivity with your dentist before undergoing any whitening treatment. Dentists may recommend using a desensitizing gel or toothpaste before and after the treatment to reduce sensitivity. In-office whitening treatments can also be customized to your specific needs and may include added measures to reduce discomfort. By being proactive and communicating with your dentist, you can minimize the risk of sensitive teeth during and after your professional teeth whitening treatment.


When it comes to getting professional teeth whitening treatment, it's essential to have realistic expectations. The severity of discoloration and the type of treatment chosen can affect the results. While most treatments can whiten teeth by several shades, achieving the desired outcome may require multiple sessions. It's also important to maintain good oral hygiene and avoid foods and drinks that can cause staining to prolong the effects of the treatment. Consulting with a dental professional can help manage expectations and choose the best treatment option for optimal results.

Preparing For Professional Teeth Whitening

Before getting professional teeth whitening, it's recommended to consult with a dentist to determine whether it's the right option for you. Addressing any underlying dental problems beforehand is essential to ensure optimal results. It's also important to avoid consuming foods and drinks that can stain your teeth before treatment. Following all pre-treatment instructions provided by the dentist or teeth whitening professional can help you prepare for the procedure and achieve the best possible outcome.

Oral Health Checkup

Before proceeding with professional teeth whitening, it's crucial to have a comprehensive oral health checkup with your dentist. This step ensures that teeth whitening is safe and effective for you. During the checkup, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for any underlying dental problems such as cavities, gum disease or infection. If any of these issues are present, they must be treated before proceeding with teeth whitening to avoid complications. Additionally, your dentist may recommend specific products or treatments to improve your oral health before starting the procedure. Following these instructions can ensure that you get the best possible results from your teeth whitening treatment.

Oral Cleaning

Before undergoing professional teeth whitening, oral cleaning is an essential step to ensure the best results. Built-up plaque and tartar can affect the efficacy of the whitening process, so it's important to have a thorough cleaning done beforehand. Your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning or scaling and root planing to remove any accumulated debris from your teeth and gums. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits after the procedure will also help prolong the effects of the whitening. So, be sure to follow your dentist's instructions for optimal results.

Caring For Your Teeth After Professional Teeth Whitening

Maintaining the whiteness of your teeth is essential after getting a professional teeth whitening treatment. To ensure the longevity of your results, it's important to avoid consuming staining substances such as coffee, tea, and wine for at least 24 hours after the treatment. Brushing and flossing regularly will help maintain good oral hygiene and prevent stains from setting in. Consider using a whitening toothpaste to further maintain your newly-whitened teeth. Additionally, scheduling regular dental cleanings with your dentist or dental hygienist will not only keep your teeth healthy but also help preserve their newfound brightness. Following any additional instructions given by them for post-whitening care can also help maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.

Risks and Limitations of Professional Teeth Whitening

Achieving a brighter smile through professional teeth whitening is a popular choice, but it's essential to understand the potential risks and limitations. Tooth sensitivity and gum irritation are possible side effects of teeth whitening procedures, particularly with higher concentrations of bleaching agents. Additionally, certain types of stains or discoloration may not respond well to teeth whitening treatments, so it's important to consult with a dental professional to determine the best approach for your individual needs. By understanding these risks and limitations, you can make an informed decision about whether professional teeth whitening is right for you.

Choosing The Right Professional Teeth Whitening Service Provider

When choosing a professional teeth whitening service provider, it is crucial to do your research and consider multiple factors. Look for a provider with a good reputation and experience in the industry. Consider the type of whitening treatment offered and its effectiveness, as well as the safety of the materials used. Evaluate the cost of the service and any additional fees or packages offered. Reading reviews and testimonials from previous customers can also provide valuable insight into the quality of service provided. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you choose a professional teeth whitening service provider that meets your needs and provides safe, effective results.


In conclusion, professional teeth whitening is an effective and safe way to achieve a brighter smile. It offers numerous benefits, including boosting your confidence, improving your appearance, and enhancing your overall oral health. However, it's important to remember that not everyone is a suitable candidate for this procedure. Factors such as sensitivity and expectations need to be considered before making the decision to undergo professional teeth whitening. If you are thinking about getting your teeth professionally whitened, make sure to choose a reputable service provider with certified professionals who can guide you through the process. To learn more about professional teeth whitening and how it compares to at-home products, schedule an appointment with Pike and Valega today.

How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

April 15, 2023

Dental anxiety is a common condition that affects many people. It can cause severe nervousness, fear, and even panic when visiting the dentist. As a result, some people avoid going to the dentist altogether, which can lead to serious oral health problems. But dental anxiety can be managed with effective treatments and coping mechanisms. In this blog post, we will discuss what dental anxiety is, its symptoms, causes, and the impact it has on oral health. We will also explore various coping mechanisms to help. Additionally, we will discuss relief options like analgesia and anxiety-relieving medication, conscious sedation, and general anesthesia. Lastly, we will touch upon seeking professional help from certified professionals for dental anxiety management.

What is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a common fear that many people experience. It can manifest as fear, nervousness, and physical reactions such as sweating or trembling, which can prevent individuals from seeking necessary dental care. Strategies for overcoming this anxiety include deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and sedation options. It is important to develop a relationship with your dentist so that you can communicate your fears and have them understood. Additionally, taking steps to reduce anxiety before a dental visit can help make the experience less stressful. Remember, overcoming dental anxiety is possible with the right support and techniques.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

There are several symptoms of dental anxiety, including fear of pain, needles or injections, loss of control, and embarrassment. Many people associate dental procedures with pain, which can cause anxiety. Similarly, some people are afraid of needles and may feel anxious about receiving injections during dental procedures. People may also feel helpless or out of control during dental procedures, causing anxiety.

Moreover, people may feel self-conscious about their teeth or the state of their oral health, leading to anxiety about visiting the dentist. In some cases, anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. If you suffer from dental anxiety or know someone who does, it's essential to discuss your concerns with your dentist and explore ways to manage your fears effectively.

What to look Out for

Symptoms of dental anxiety can manifest in various ways and may include sweating, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. For some people, the thought of going to the dentist can trigger a sense of panic or terror while others may simply avoid dental appointments altogether due to their fear. It's important to recognize these symptoms and seek help if they are interfering with your oral health.

There are several techniques and treatments available to help overcome dental anxiety, including relaxation techniques, therapy, and sedation dentistry. It's important to find a treatment that works for you and work closely with your dentist or healthcare professional to create a plan that addresses your unique needs. By taking steps to manage your dental anxiety, you can ensure that you receive the proper care you need for optimal oral health.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors. Previous negative dental experiences can cause apprehension about future appointments. The fear of pain or discomfort during dental procedures is another common cause of dental anxiety. People may also feel embarrassed about the condition of their teeth or gums, leading to a reluctance to see a dentist.

In some cases, individuals may feel out of control or vulnerable while in the dentist's chair. Additionally, people who suffer from anxiety disorders or phobias related to medical procedures may experience heightened feelings of anxiety when visiting the dentist. It is essential to understand that dental anxiety is common and that there are ways to overcome it with proper care and support.

Identifying the root cause

When it comes to overcoming dental anxiety, it's essential to identify the root cause of your fear. Common causes of dental anxiety include a fear of pain, previous negative experiences, and feeling helpless or out of control. By discussing your fears with your dentist, you can work together to find ways to alleviate anxiety during procedures.

In addition to communicating with your dentist, there are several relaxation techniques that can help reduce dental anxiety. These techniques may include deep breathing exercises or meditation. For those who experience severe dental anxiety, seeking the assistance of a mental health professional can be beneficial in addressing the underlying causes and finding effective coping strategies. By taking steps to address dental anxiety, individuals can improve their oral health and overall well-being.

Understanding the impact on oral health

Dental anxiety can have significant consequences on a person's oral health. Avoiding necessary dental appointments and treatments due to fear can result in poorer oral health, which may lead to more serious health problems if left untreated. Untreated dental issues such as cavities and gum disease can also increase the risk of tooth loss and other complications.

Regular cleanings and check-ups are crucial for maintaining good oral health, but individuals with dental anxiety may find it difficult to prioritize their oral care. It's important for these individuals to find ways to manage their fear so that they can still receive the necessary care. This could involve techniques such as deep breathing or seeking support from a therapist or counselor trained in helping people overcome dental anxiety. By finding ways to manage their fear, people with dental anxiety can take control of their oral health and prevent future complications.

Coping Mechanisms for Dental Anxiety

There are several coping mechanisms that can be used to overcome this fear. One of the most effective ways to reduce dental anxiety is by communicating with your dentist. Discussing your fears and concerns with the dentist will help them understand how to make you feel more comfortable.

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization, can also help in reducing anxiety. To further distract oneself, one can listen to music or watch TV shows during the procedure. In some cases, sedation options like nitrous oxide or oral sedatives may also be helpful in relaxing anxious patients.

Positive self-talk is another technique that can work wonders in reducing dental anxiety. Using positive affirmations and self-talk to build confidence and reduce anxiety can prove very beneficial for some people. With these coping mechanisms in place, dental anxiety can be greatly reduced, and individuals can get the dental care they need without any added stress or fear.

Communicating your concerns to your dentist

One important step is to communicate your concerns with your dentist before any treatment. Your dentist can help you understand the process and provide reassurance. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualization can also be effective in reducing anxiety levels during dental procedures. You may also find it helpful to distract yourself by listening to music or watching a movie during treatment. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help calm nerves.

Overall, it's important to remember that there are ways to overcome dental anxiety and make your experience at the dentist more comfortable. Communicating with your dentist and utilizing relaxation techniques are just a few of the methods that can help you manage your fears and receive the care you need for a healthy smile.

Seeking Professional Help for Dental Anxiety

Seeking professional help from a dentist who understands dental anxiety is a great place to start. Dentists can offer sedation options such as nitrous oxide or oral sedatives to help ease anxiety during dental procedures. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another effective method for managing dental anxiety. It involves identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones. Virtual reality technology is another innovative technique used in some dental practices to distract patients during procedures.

Communication with your dentist is also crucial in alleviating dental anxiety. Expressing your concerns and asking questions about the procedure can help calm your nerves. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can also prevent the need for more invasive procedures that may cause anxiety. Don't let dental anxiety stop you from getting the care you need - explore these options and find what works best for you.


In conclusion, dental anxiety is a common condition that affects many individuals. However, it should not prevent you from seeking essential dental procedures to maintain your oral health. There are various coping mechanisms and relief options available that can help manage your anxiety during dental appointments. It's important to communicate with your dentist about your concerns and seek professional help if needed. Remember, taking care of your oral health is crucial for your overall well-being. Don't let dental anxiety hold you back from achieving a healthy smile. If you or someone you know is struggling with dental anxiety, schedule an appointment with Pike and Valega today to learn more about what we can do to help.

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

March 15, 2023

A simple, painless procedure offered by the dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS could help you dramatically reduce your risk of developing tooth decay. Dental sealants, which are part of the preventative dental services offered at both our dental offices in Rockville and Poolesville, can do just that.

Continue reading to learn more about dental sealants, discover how they work, and see if you are a good candidate for this type of preventative dental treatment.

What are Dental Sealants?

Think of dental sealants as a type of protective shield for your teeth. Once they are applied, they create a strong barrier that makes it difficult for harmful bacteria, acids, plaque, and food particles to reach the enamel of your teeth. This reduces your risk of developing tooth decay and experiencing dental problems, such as gum disease and cavities.

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

Some of the teeth in your mouth have bumps, pits, grooves, and depressions on their surface. This creates an uneven surface that is difficult to keep clean with regular brushing and flossing. Dental sealants even the surface out by filling in the grooves and depressions.

Without all the pits, bumps, and grooves, harmful food particles, acids, plaque, and bacteria are less likely to get trapped. The surface is also easier to clean as it eliminates the nooks and crannies that are difficult, or nearly impossible, to reach with a toothbrush.

What Do Dental Sealants Look Like?

Dental sealants are practically invisible. In fact, after application, it is almost impossible to tell which teeth have dental sealants and which ones don’t.

You aren’t able to see dental sealants because they are made out of plastic resin. Plastic resin easily blends in with your natural teeth because it is white in color.

Do All Teeth Need Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are designed to provide protection for teeth which have multiple grooves, pits, and depressions that create an uneven surface. The teeth in the front of your mouth are relatively smooth and therefore do not need the extra protection from a dental sealant. However, the teeth in the back of your mouth, the premolars and molars, do need this protection.

Who is a Good Candidate for Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are commonly thought of as a treatment that is only for children and young adults. However, anyone, regardless of age, could benefit from dental sealants as long as they are a good candidate for this treatment.

A good candidate for dental sealants is:

  • Someone who has good oral health – teeth and gums should be healthy
  • Someone who has not had any previous treatments, such as fillings

Dr. D. Timothy Pike and Dr. Margaret A. Valega can help you determine if you are a good candidate for dental sealants.

Why are Dental Sealants Applied to Only Healthy Teeth?

Dental sealants are applied to healthy teeth because they are a preventative procedure. This means they are designed to prevent problems, not treat them. If a tooth has a cavity or is surrounded by gum disease, a dental sealant will not treat the problem. Without treatment, the problem will only get worse.

Another reason teeth need to be healthy is because dental sealants create a protective barrier around the tooth. If a sealant is applied when tooth decay is present, it will become trapped under the seal. The trapped tooth decay continues to grow and spread, leading to other more serious problems such as cavities, tooth loss, or infection.

Before placing dental sealants, our dental team conducts a thorough oral examination to make sure the teeth are healthy. Once it is determined the teeth are healthy and no decay is present, our dental team can proceed with the application process.

The Dental Sealant Application Process

The entire process of applying dental sealants is quick and painless. In fact, it takes only a few minutes to complete.

The following is a look at what happens during the dental sealant application process:

  • Teeth are thoroughly cleaned – Our dental team will thoroughly clean the teeth so no food particles or bacteria accidently get trapped under the sealant.
  • Teeth are dried
  • A protective covering is placed around the teeth to keep them dry until the sealant can be applied
  • A harmless acid solution is placed on the chewing surface – This helps roughen up the surface of the teeth making it easier for the sealants to bond to the teeth.
  • Teeth are then cleaned, rinsed and dried
  • The dental sealant, which comes in a thin liquid form, is painted onto the surface of the teeth
  • Dental sealant will harden – Dental sealants may naturally harden just by waiting or a special light may be used to help speed up the hardening process

How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?

Dental sealants are not permanent. Over time, they will start to wear away and need to be replaced.

On average, dental sealants can provide maximum protection from tooth decay for at least 5 years. However, there are some cases where dental sealants last for over 10 years. Practicing a good oral hygiene routine and scheduling regular exams/professional cleanings can help you prolong the life of your dental sealants.

To make sure you are getting maximum protection from your dental sealants, our dental team will inspect them as part of your routine hygiene examination. If we notice the sealants are worn, chipped or damaged, we may recommend having them reapplied.

Request an Appointment to See if Dental Sealants are Right for You

We encourage anyone interested in dental sealants to call our office and request an appointment. Our dental team will gladly help arrange an appointment for a hygiene exam and professional cleaning. During this time, you can inquire about dental sealants.

To request an appointment, call our office or fill out our “request an appointment” form. We look forward to meeting with you and welcoming you to our dental family.

The Causes and Consequences of Sleep Apnea

February 15, 2023

That old mattress you are sleeping on or loud noises might not be the reason why you never seem to get a good night’s sleep. It could be because you are suffering from sleep apnea.

Seeking treatment for sleep apnea will not only help you sleep better, but it will improve your overall health. Continue reading to learn more about sleep apnea and discover how our dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS in Rockville, Maryland can help you get proper treatment for this sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea causes your breathing to start and stop while you are sleeping.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Each type of sleep apnea occurs for different reasons.

With obstructive sleep apnea, a narrowing or closure of your airway causes your breathing to start and stop. While you are sleeping, the muscles located in the back of your throat start to relax. As these muscles relax, it causes a narrowing or closure of the airway. This prevents you from being able to get enough air.

There are a number of causes of obstructive sleep apnea. Some of the most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Anatomically small airways
  • Chronic nasal congestion or narrowing of the sinuses
  • Excessive weight
  • Smoking
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Deviated septum or other structural problems with the nose
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Allergies
  • Medical conditions that can cause the upper airways to constrict or narrow

Central sleep apnea is more of a neurological disorder and is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs as a result of your brain’s inability to send the right signals to the muscles responsible for helping you breathe. Without the brain telling these muscles to work, you will suddenly stop breathing for a short period of time.

Central sleep apnea is usually caused by other medical conditions. Some examples of medical conditions that may cause central sleep apnea include:

  • Heart failure
  • Strokes
  • Neurological disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and ALS
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypothyroidism

It is possible for a person to suffer from both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

For this blog, we will focus on obstructive sleep apnea because that is the type of sleep apnea that can be treated with the help of the dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Some of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring – Snoring with obstructive sleep apnea tends to be louder than “regular” snoring
  • Suddenly being woken up in the middle of the night feeling out of breath or as if you can’t breathe
  • Suddenly stopping or starting breathing while sleeping
  • Gasping for breath while sleeping
  • Extreme dry mouth
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating or experiencing memory issues
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Never feeling fully rested
  • Mood changes – feeling extremely anxious, depressed or irritable

Many of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea occur while you are sleeping. This makes it difficult to know if you suffer from this condition as you may be unaware that you are experiencing these symptoms.

The Dangers of Not Treating Sleep Apnea

At first glance, sleep apnea might not seem to be that dangerous. After all, it is just a few brief seconds that you stop breathing and you usually wake yourself up. However, if sleep apnea isn’t treated, it increases your risk of experiencing severe, potentially life-threatening health problems.

Some of the problems that could occur if sleep apnea is left untreated include:

  • Diabetes
  • Sudden cardiac event – heart attacks or strokes
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Difficulty with memory or concentration
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as atrial fibrillation and heart failure
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe daytime drowsiness

Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are a number of treatment options available for people who suffer from sleep apnea. The most popular treatment option is one you can get with the help of your dentist: an oral dental appliance.

An oral dental appliance looks like an athletic mouthguard or a nightguard. When it is worn, it carefully repositions your lower jaw. With your lower jaw in its proper position, the airways may not narrow or close.

Oral dental appliances are a popular treatment option for sleep apnea for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons include:

  • Cost effective
  • No loud noises or bulky machines
  • Comfortable – oral dental appliances are custom-made

For severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, you may need to use a CPAP machine instead of an oral dental appliance. Our dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS can discuss treatment options with you to help you determine the best course of treatment for you.

Sometimes a CPAP machine and an oral dental appliance can be used together to treat your sleep apnea. In these types of situations, our dental team will work with sleep specialists to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Proper Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea is Necessary to Find the Best Treatment

In some situations, our dentists may be able to diagnose sleep apnea with just a regular dental exam or some simple x-rays of the neck and jaw. However, a sleep study is often the most accurate and reliable method of testing for sleep apnea. If our dentists feel a sleep study is necessary, we can provide appropriate referrals to local sleep specialists who will conduct this type of testing.

How your sleep apnea is treated will depend on a number of factors including the type of sleep apnea you have, what is causing it, and how severe it is. In order to find the best treatment for your sleep apnea, the dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS work closely with local sleep specialists who can conduct additional testing to help determine that cause and severity of your sleep apnea.

A Better Night’s Sleep is Waiting for You in the Future

Pike & Valega, DDS has experience helping patients find the best treatment for sleep apnea. If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, we encourage you to call our office to schedule an appointment to discuss treatment options.

How Long Does the Implant Surgery Take?

January 15, 2023

Once you have decided to replace your missing teeth with dental implants, you might be eager to show off your smile, but you are going to have to wait a while. Learn more about how long the dental implant process will take.

The Different Phases of the Dental Implant Process

There are multiple steps involved with getting dental implants. Each step must be successfully completed, before you can advance to the next step.

How long it takes to advance through the different phases of the dental implant process will vary depending upon the following factors:

  • Number of dental implants that are being placed
  • The need for a bone graft or sinus augmentation
  • Length of time teeth have been missing – placing dental implants at the time of dental extraction can speed up the process, but if teeth have been missing for a while, that is no longer an option and the process will take longer to complete
  • The speed at which it takes to heal from the extraction, bone graft/sinus augmentation, and dental implant placement

For some people, the dental implant process can be completed in three to six months. For others who may require more procedures or be slower to heal, it may take closer to nine months or even a year.

Dr. D. Timothy Pike at Pike & Valega, DDS in Rockville, Maryland will discuss with you during your consultation how long you can expect the dental implant process will take. He will break down the entire process into phases and explain how long each phase will take to complete.

Taking a Closer Look at the Dental Implant Surgery Phase

The surgery phase is often the most complex and nerve-wrecking part of the dental implant process. To help you feel more comfortable with the process, we will explain what occurs and how long you can expect it to take.

Surgery Length Depends on When the Dental Implants are Being Placed

When the dental implants are being placed will determine how long your surgery takes. If you are having the dental implants – the posts which will hold the crown in place – placed at the same time as a tooth extraction, the surgical process may take longer as the teeth not only need to be completely removed, but the posts have to be properly placed.

In situations where the dental implants are being placed at the same time as the teeth are being extracted, the surgical procedure can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. It depends upon how many implants are being placed and how many teeth are being extracted. The more implants that are placed, the longer the surgical procedure will take. The more teeth that are removed, the longer the procedure will take.

Needing a Bone Graft or Sinus Augmentation Adds Time to the Dental Implant Process

Bone grafts and sinus augmentations are additional surgical procedures that may need to be performed in order to make you a good candidate for dental implants. If you need these procedures, more time will be needed for you to complete the dental implant process.

The dental implant process takes longer because you not only need additional surgical procedures, but you need to wait for those procedures to fully heal before you can proceed with the next oral surgery.

The bone graft or sinus augmentation must fully heal before the dental implants can be placed. Failing to wait until the area has fully healed can cause the dental implants to fail. The dental implants fail because the bone doesn’t have the strength or stability to support the implant post. Over time, the dental implant may loosen and eventually fall out.

The actual procedure for bone grafts or sinus augmentations takes just over an hour to complete. In some cases, where only a small amount of bone needs to be grafted, the entire procedure could take just 20 minutes. It can take an hour to an hour and half for the surgery to be completed in situations where more bone is needed or the location of the graft placement is more complex.

Healing from Bone Grafts and Sinus Augmentations Takes Months

Expect it to take anywhere from three to six months for the bone to fully heal after a bone graft or sinus augmentation. Our dentist will schedule regular visits with you to monitor the healing process. If we notice you are healing faster than expected, we may be able to proceed to the implant placement stage earlier than planned.

Placement of Dental Implants

The lengthiest part of the surgical procedure is the placement of dental implants. It is estimated that it can take an hour to two hours to place just a single dental implant. However, the time varies depending upon the experience of your dentist.

To speed up the surgical process, Dr. Timothy Pike uses advanced digital images to map out exactly where the dental implants need to be placed. Doing this type of advanced planning, helps to speed up the surgical process as our dentist doesn’t have to spend time figuring out the best areas to place the dental implants. All of that had been decided before the day of the surgery.

Dental Implants Take Time but The Final Results are Amazing

From start to finish, the entire dental implant process can take months or even up to a year. However, the way your smile looks when the entire process is complete will have made it worth the wait.

Interested in getting dental implants? Schedule an appointment for a dental implant consultation with Dr. Timothy Pike at Pike & Valega, DDS. Dr. D. Timothy Pike can help you determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants and explain the process to you. Consultations can be scheduled by calling our dental office or by submitting our contact us form.

What is the difference between veneers and crowns?

December 14, 2022

Glancing through our cosmetic dentistry services, you may notice two services – veneers and crowns – that appear to be very similar. While both of these cosmetic dentistry treatments have some of the same benefits, they are completely different.

Understanding the difference between veneers and crowns can help you determine which dental restoration treatment is right for your unique situation.

Taking a Closer Look at Veneers and Dental Crowns

Veneers and dental crowns are both cosmetic dental treatments that are used to improve or restore your smile. However, they differ in what they are and how they work.

Think of a dental veneer as a type of costume for your teeth. It is a small, thick layer of dental porcelain that is securely bonded to the front of your teeth. The thin layer of porcelain, which is custom designed, changes the outward appearance of your teeth. It can make teeth look whiter and brighter, longer and even correct minor imperfections like chips and cracks.

A dental crown, on the other hand, is more like a replacement tooth. It is a fitted cap that usually covers the entire outer surface of your teeth. The dental crown is customized to look and feel like your natural teeth.

Now that you understand what veneers and dental crowns are, we can now take a closer look at their similarities and differences.

Similarities Between Veneers and Dental Crowns

Some of the similarities between veneers and dental crowns include:

  • Use for improving smiles – both treatments can be used to change the outward appearance of your smile
  • Use for restoring the function of your teeth – both treatments can, depending upon the damage to your teeth, restore their strength and function
  • Customized to match the look and appearance of your surrounding teeth – veneers and dental crowns are custom-made to blend in with your surrounding teeth.
  • Used to correct the same dental problems – both treatments are commonly used to correct teeth discoloration, chips, cracks, severe decay, and broken or fractured teeth.
  • Similar care – veneers and dental crowns are both cared for the same way after treatment. You brush and floss them like you would your natural teeth.

Exploring the Differences Between Veneers and Dental Crowns

Veneers and dental crowns differ in a number of ways ranging from how much of the tooth needs to be removed to how long they last. It is important to understand the differences between veneers and dental crowns as it will help you choose which treatment is right for you.

Difference #1 – Veneers are More Aesthetically Pleasing

How veneers and dental crowns are fitted to your teeth affects your outward appearance. With a dental crown, your gums may be more noticeable. This is because there needs to be enough room for the crown, which fits over the top of your tooth, to transition to your natural tooth.

With a veneer, it is placed directly onto the surface of your teeth. The smaller, thinner size of the veneer means it will show less gum.

Difference #2 – Dental Crowns Help Restore Teeth that are Damaged from Severe Decay

The health of your teeth will factor into which treatment option is right for you. With veneers, only a small portion of the surface of your teeth is removed during treatment. The rest of your tooth is left intact and provides the support the veneer needs to stay in place. If the tooth is severely damaged or its structural integrity is compromised, the veneer is unable to provide additional support and stability.

A dental crown is larger, stronger and sturdier than a veneer. This makes it ideal for correcting teeth that have been severely damaged by tooth decay. The dental crown provides additional support and stability that the damaged tooth may need.

Difference #3 – Lifespan of Veneers and Dental Crowns

With proper at-home dental care and regular professional cleanings, a dental crown can last decades. In some cases, people have dental crowns that last a lifetime.

Veneers, even with proper at-home dental care and professional cleanings, will need to be replaced every few years. On average, veneers can last approximately 5 years before needing to be replaced, but it depends upon the health of your teeth and whether there are other factors, such as teeth grinding, which can cause damage to your veneers.

Schedule a Consultation to See Which Dental Treatment is Right for You

If you are considering improving your smile with cosmetic dentistry, but are unsure if veneers or dental crowns are the right treatment for you, call our office to schedule a consultation with our experienced dental team.

It is important to us here at Pike & Valega, DDS that you will choose the dental treatment that will not only give you the smile you want, but one that corrects any dental problems that may be present. During your consultation, we will conduct an oral exam and may even take x-rays and other imaging. This gives us a better understanding of your oral health and any clinical needs, such as cavities or gum disease, which may need to be addressed before undergoing treatment.

After your exam, we will speak with you to better understand your smile goals. We want to better understand what you like about your smile, what you don’t like and what you would like to correct. We will use the information you provide to determine which dental treatments to recommend.

Once we understand your smile goals and have a better understanding of your oral health, we will provide you with customized treatment plans. We will explain our treatment plans and help you understand the pros and cons of each treatment option. It is important to us that our patients make informed decisions regarding their dental care, so we encourage our patients to ask any and all questions they may have about cosmetic dentistry and their treatment plans.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our Rockville dental office or our Poolesville dental office. We look forward to helping you find the right dental treatment that will allow you to achieve your smile goals.

Can I Go to My Normal Dentist for Cosmetic Dentistry?

November 16, 2022

Who should you trust to perform cosmetic dental procedures that will help you achieve smile goals? The answer may surprise you.

Your general dentist, the one who cleans your teeth, fills cavities and helps you improve your oral health, may be able to help you transform your smile. It all depends upon how you want to change your smile, the procedures that need to be performed and whether your general dentist has undergone specialized training in cosmetic dentistry.

We will provide you with the information you need to help you determine if you should visit your general dentist for cosmetic dentistry.

Specialized Training in Cosmetic Dentistry

General dentists can, and often do, perform certain procedures that are considered cosmetic. For example, teeth whitening, correcting cavities with tooth-colored dental fillings, and placing dental crowns on severely damaged teeth or those that have recently undergone a root canal. No additional training or education is needed for these procedures.

However, for other cosmetic dental procedures, such as dental implants, Invisalign and full mouth restoration, specialized training is needed.

A dentist can gain additional experience and training in cosmetic dentistry in the following ways:

  • Through fellowships – specialized medical/dental training that focuses on developing skills and knowledge needed to offer cosmetic dentistry
  • Residencies – training that your dentist took part in after they have completed their medical/dental school. Residencies allow your dentist to gain hands-on experience working in specialized fields, such as cosmetic dentistry.
  • Advanced courses – advanced training and educational courses are often necessary for dentists who wish to offer oral surgery, surgical tooth extractions, dental implant placement, dental implant restoration and bone grafts.
  • Attending courses offered by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD)

Specific Dental Procedures Performed by Cosmetic Dentists

A number of different cosmetic dental procedures may be needed to help you achieve your smile goals. Some of the dental procedures, such as fillings or basic tooth extractions, may be able to be performed by both a general dentist and a cosmetic dentist. However, some procedures may require the experience and knowledge of a specialized cosmetic dentist.

Dental procedures that both general dentists and cosmetic dentists can perform to improve your smile include:

  • Dental fillings
  • Dental crowns
  • Basic tooth extractions
  • Professional cleanings
  • Teeth whitening

Procedures that are often performed by a dentist with additional or specialized training include:

  • Dental implants
  • Dental bridges
  • Porcelain crowns
  • Veneers
  • Teeth bonding
  • Some types of professional teeth whitening
  • Dentures

Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Determine if You Should See Your General Dentist for Cosmetic Dentistry

Whether or not you choose to use your general dentist for cosmetic dental services will depend upon your own personal comfort level. To help you determine if you should use your general dentist for cosmetic dentistry or instead visit a dentist with specialized training, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How comfortable are you with your dentist? – You want to feel comfortable and at ease with your dentist who is performing the cosmetic dental procedures. You should feel able to ask questions and voice concerns.
  • Are dental procedures explained to you in a way you can understand?
  • Do you feel welcomed at the dental office? – You may be visiting the dental office several times while undergoing a smile transformation. You will want to feel welcome at the dental office as you will be spending a lot of time there.
  • Are you able to see before and after pictures of your dentist’s work? – Ask to see before and after pictures of your dentist’s work. This will help you get a better idea of what type of results you can expect to experience.
  • Do you know what type of results you expect to see from your dental procedures? – Most experienced cosmetic dentists use a smile simulator to help patients visualize what their smile will look like after completing treatment. The use of a smile simulator allows patients to see how their smile will change with treatment. If any problems arise or results aren’t as expected, patients and their dentist can work together to find a treatment option that will procedure the desired results.
  • Does your dentist work together with you as a team? – It takes teamwork to achieve your smile goals. Find a dentist listens to you, asks questions and creates a customized treatment plan so both your clinical dental needs and aesthetic goals are being met.

Let Our Rockville Dentists Help You Reach Your Smile Goals

Whether you are looking to make minor adjustments to your smile or whiten your teeth or you want a full smile makeover, our team at Pike & Valega, DDS is there to help. We offer a wide variety of general, cosmetic and restorative dental services that can not only transform and change your smile, but improve your overall oral health.

One of the benefits of choosing Pike & Valega, DDS to help with your smile transformation is we rarely have to send you out to a specialist. Our dentists have experience performing various general and cosmetic dental procedures that range from dental fillings and root canals to veneers and dental crowns.

In the event that you need surgical tooth extractions or placement of dental implants as part of your smile transformation, you won’t have to be sent out to a separate dental office for these procedures. Dr. D. Timothy Pike has extensive experience with implant dentistry, oral surgery procedures such as bone grafts and sinus augmentations, and surgical tooth extractions.

Curious to see how we can help you improve your smile? Call us to schedule a consultation. During your consultation, we will discuss your aesthetic goals and help you explore various treatment options that will help you improve your smile. We take the time to answer questions and help you make informed decisions regarding your dental care.

Call our Rockville dental office or Poolesville dental office to schedule a complimentary consultation. We look forward to meeting with you and seeing how we can help you get the smile you have always wanted.

How Sleep Apnea Affects the Way You Look and Feel

October 12, 2022

Sleep apnea does more than just cause you to feel tired throughout the day and snore loudly at night. It can also affect the way that you look and feel.

Continue reading to find out how exactly sleep apnea affects you and learn how the dentists at Pike & Valega, DDS, located in Rockville and Poolesville, Maryland, may be able to help you if you suffer from this condition.

What is Sleep Apnea?

When you sleep, your airways are relaxed and you are able to breathe freely and easily throughout the night. For people with sleep apnea that doesn’t happen.

People with sleep apnea experience an extremely narrowing or complete closure of the airways while they sleep. The narrowing or closure of the airways causes you to stop breathing which results in an interruption in your sleep.

Diminished Quality of Sleep from Sleep Apnea Affects How You Look and Feel

Constantly being woken in the middle of the night from sleep apnea diminishes your quality of sleep. Not getting a proper night’s sleep can cause a number of problems, such problems with cell rejuvenation and immune function, which can affect how you look and feel.

Examples of How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Physical Appearance

Everyone’s experience with sleep apnea is different. However, the following are some examples of how sleep apnea may affect your physical appearance.

Sleep apnea may cause you to experience:

  • Facial swelling
  • Appearance of dark circles under your eyes
  • Dropping or floppy eyelids
  • Skin around the facial area may appear thinner and have less volume
  • Facial skin can appear redder or discolored
  • Reduce the appearance of front jaw prominence
  • Dry skin which appears red, irritated or duller

Examples of How Sleep Apnea Affects How You Feel

Sleep apnea doesn’t just cause changes to your physical appearance. It can affect your emotional and physical health.

Some examples of how sleep apnea affects your emotional and physical health include:

  • Overall feeling of fatigue – you may often feel as if you lack energy all the time and feel tired
  • Increased anxiety – the constant interruption of your sleep can cause you to feel jittery or anxious throughout the day
  • Increased forgetfulness or feeling as if you are in a fog – you may feel as if your thoughts are foggy or vague or you may notice you seem more forgetful
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Increased feelings of depression
  • Increase in the number of colds and infections you experience – a lack of quality sleep impacts your immune system which can make you more susceptible to colds and other infections
  • Weight gain or weight loss

Just because you experience these problems, doesn’t mean it is caused by sleep apnea. Other medical problems could be causing these emotional and physical changes.

If you experience any of these changes, it is best you discuss them with your doctor. A doctor can order additional testing and help you determine if the changes you are experiencing are from sleep apnea or another medical condition.

How can a Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?

At Pike & Valega, DDS, we provide dental sleep medicine services to our patients. Dental sleep medicine is a very specific area of dentistry that focuses on helping to treat or correct sleep-disordered breathing issues caused by obstructive sleep apnea or snoring with the use of oral dental appliances.

Patients who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing disorders may benefit from wearing a customized mouth guard at night. The customized mouthguard will shift the position of the jaw so it is less likely that your airways collapse or narrow while sleeping.

If our dental team at Pike & Valega, DDS suspects you may be suffering from sleep apnea or other sleep-related disorders, we may recommend you undergo a sleep study. The sleep study can help us determine what if any sleep-related disorders you are suffering from and the severity of the issues. Once that is determined, we can determine what treatment options are right for you.

The dental team at Pike & Valega, DDS has experience in creating customized mouth guards for individuals who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea. We use a combination of digital impressions and imaging to create a mouth guard that is specifically designed to help treat your sleep apnea.

Schedule an Appointment with Our Dentists to Discuss Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Many of the problems you experience from sleep apnea go away once you have started treatment. If you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea, we encourage you to schedule an appointment to discuss this issue with our dentists.

Our dentists will be able to assess your situation and determine if you may be suffering from sleep apnea. We can help you explore possible treatment options, such as creating a customized mouth guard, and even provide recommendations or referrals to a sleep specialist who can conduct a sleep study.

Call us today to schedule an appointment to speak with our dental team and learn more about how we may be able to help you if you suffer from sleep apnea.


How to Decide if a Dental Bridge is Right for You

September 14, 2022

It is recommended that you replace missing teeth as soon as possible to avoid experiencing additional dental problems. Fixed dental bridges are a popular tooth restoration option that many of our patients at Pike & Valega, DDS, located in Rockville and Poolesville, MD, choose to use to fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth.

While fixed dental bridges are a great option for tooth restoration, not everyone is a good candidate for this type of procedure. To help you decide if a fixed dental bridge is right for you, take the following things into consideration.

The Health of Your Teeth

The health of your teeth, especially the teeth on both sides of the area where the teeth are missing, is extremely important if you are thinking of getting a dental bridge. The teeth need to be healthy in order to support the fixed dental bridge. If the supporting teeth are weak, a fixed dental bridge will eventually fail.

If the surrounding teeth aren't healthy, you may still be able to get a dental bridge. An implant-supported dental bridge may be an option if you have healthy gums and bone.

At Pike & Valega, DDS, we offer both fixed dental bridges and implant-supported dental bridges as part of our dental services.

Number of Teeth Missing

Fixed dental bridges can be used to replace anywhere from one to three teeth. If you are replacing more than one tooth, all the missing teeth need to be consecutive if you are to be a good candidate for a fixed dental bridge.

While a fixed dental bridge could replace more than three teeth, other dental restorations, such as partial dentures or full dentures, may be a better option for your situation. The dental team at Pike & Valega, DDS can help you explore all treatment options so you can make a well-informed decision regarding which treatment option is best for you.

Non-Surgical Option for Tooth Replacement

Many of our patients choose a fixed dental bridge because it produces natural looking results without the need for oral surgery. Other tooth replacement options, such as dental implants, require oral surgery. If you are reluctant to undergo oral surgery, a fixed dental bridge is a non-surgical option for tooth restoration.

Healthy gums are needed to provide a strong, sturdy foundation for a fixed dental bridge. If you suffer from gum disease, you may need to undergo treatment for it before you can get a fixed dental bridge.

Commitment to Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

Good candidates for this tooth restoration procedure are committed to practicing good oral hygiene in order to prevent plaque and tartar from building up around the fixed dental bridge. If plaque and tartar are left to accumulate around the edges of the dental bridge or around the healthy teeth that support the bridge, it could cause the entire dental restoration to fail.

A good candidate for a fixed dental bridge is someone who is committed to daily brushing and flossing as well as scheduling regular dental exams and professional cleanings.

Understand that the Dental Bridge Will Need to be Replaced

Fixed dental bridges are strong and sturdy, but they aren't built to last forever. With good oral hygiene, regular dental exams and professional cleanings, a fixed dental bridge can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or even more before needing to be replaced.

A good candidate for a fixed dental bridge is someone who understands that this dental restoration is not permanent. They understand that the dental bridge will need to be replaced sometime in the future so as to avoid any dental problems, such as additional tooth loss, teeth shifting or bone loss.

Number of Appointments Need to Complete the Procedure

Fixed dental bridges are a great option for individuals who want to quickly replace missing teeth. Other restoration options, such as dental implants, can require multiple appointments and it could take up to a year to complete the entire procedure. Our patients often choose a fixed dental bridge because they can get natural-looking results in a fraction of the time it would take for other dental restorations.

With a fixed dental bridge, multiple office appointments will be needed, but the entire procedure can usually be completed in just a few weeks.

During the first appointment, your teeth will be prepared for the dental bridge. This requires our dentist to shave down the surrounding teeth to prepare them for the crowns that will support the fixed dental bridge. Impressions are then taken to be used for the creation of the dental bridge. A temporary bridge is placed until the permanent bridge has been completed.

The second appointment is when the permanent bridge is placed. Our dentist will remove the temporary bridge and clean the area. The permanent bridge is then placed in the area and adjustments may be made to make it fit properly. Once all adjustments have been made, the fixed dental bridge is cemented into place.

Schedule a Consultation and Explore Treatment Options

So many different factors need to be considered to determine if a fixed dental bridge is right for you. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with the dental team at Pike & Valega, DDS to discuss the best treatment options for your unique situation.

At your scheduled consultation, Dr. D. Timothy Pike or Dr. Margaret A. Valega will conduct a thorough examination to assess the health of your teeth and gums. Additional imaging may be taken, such as digital x-rays, to determine what, if any, bone loss has occurred.

After gathering all the necessary information, our dental team will discuss your treatment options. If you aren't a good candidate for a fixed dental bridge, we can recommend other treatment options that may work better for you.

Call us to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you explore your treatment options and finding the right one for you.


7 Benefits of Having A Dentist Treat Your Sleep Apnea

August 6, 2022

Ensuring your body gets enough sleep these days can be challenging, but even moreso if you experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) at night. This sleep disturbance can wreak havoc not only on how you feel but also negatively impact your physical and mental well-being.

Fortunately, your trusted dentist can provide you with the beneficial treatments you need to manage the OSA and get a better night’s rest.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where you stop breathing periodically during the night. The common cause for the pauses in breath is a physical blockage of the anatomical airway. This blockage is usually the result of the soft tissues located in the back of your throat collapsing or the tongue sliding back.

Each time this blockage happens, it results in a lack of oxygen which alerts your brain that something is wrong, and you temporarily awaken in order to restart your breathing.

Signs that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Insomnia

  • Loud snoring

  • Snorting or making choking sounds during the night (as breathing restarts)

  • Waking up and feeling a shortness of breath

  • Morning headaches

  • Dry mouth

  • Extreme drowsiness during the day

While your dentist can treat OSA, you’ll first need a diagnosis by a physician, who is usually a sleep medicine specialist.

7 Benefits of Having a Dentist Treat Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can vary depending upon severity. However, oral devices are often prescribed by your dentist to help position the mouth as you sleep, preventing the airway from becoming blocked.

There are numerous benefits for having a dentist treat your obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with oral appliance therapy, including the following seven.

1. Customized Oral Appliance Selection and Fit

Your dentist will conduct thorough examinations of your current dental and periodontal health and also your throat anatomy. Since dentists specialize in oral health, they know what to look for and can easily identify whether or not you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy.

Once it’s determined that an oral device will be helpful to you, one of the following types will most likely be selected and fitted.

  • Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD): Similar in appearance to mouth guards, MADs slip over your upper and lower teeth with a hinge in the center to keep the two trays connected. Once in place, the device positions the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward as you sleep. This forward positioning prevents the soft tissues in the back of your mouth from moving to block the airway as you relax.

  • Tongue-Retaining Mouthpiece: A tongue-retaining mouthpiece fits over and around your tongue, holding it in place with light suction. It keeps the tongue from slipping back into your airway while you sleep.

2. Regularly Scheduled Follow-Ups

Once fitted with your oral appliance, you’ll return periodically for a check-up. During these follow-up appointments, your dentist will check the device to make sure it remains effective and may need to readjust the fitting inside your mouth.

You’ll also receive a dental and periodontal exam to ensure they both remain healthy and there are no adverse effects to the treatment.

You can also expect your dentist to frequently communicate with the diagnosing physician so your overall health is monitored as well.

3. More Restful Sleep

With a well-fitting oral device, you can more easily adjust to wearing it at nighttime. As it works to keep your airway open, you’ll receive a more restful sleep, which can make a positive impact on your quality of life.

You’ll begin to notice you feel less drowsy during the day. The morning headache may disappear, and your partner may tell you you no longer snore as you sleep.

4. An Increase in Bodily Well-Being

Sleep is medicine to the body, and without it your well-being can deteriorate. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea interferes with your ability to enter deep sleep, and it is this stage of the sleep cycle that benefits your body’s well-being the most.

With treatment, you’re more likely to enter that deep sleep, allowing your body to naturally go to work restoring your energy, generating new cells, and increasing blood flow to muscles to increase your well-being.

5. Lower Risk of Developing Certain Health Conditions

Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can negatively impact the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, and nervous systems of the body.

Treatment overseen by your dentist and collaborated with your diagnosing physician can lead to less sleep disturbances and better rest. In turn, you lower your risk for developing certain health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and cancer.

6. Enhanced Memory, Focus, and Productivity

As your treatment continues, you will notice a change in your abilities when it comes to memory, focus, and productivity. With more restful sleep and the ability to reach those deeper levels of the sleep cycle, your brain has a chance to relax and repair itself in ways that contribute to having a better memory and focus. In turn, your productivity can soar.

7. Better Managing of Diabetes

With sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. With treatment, you experience enhanced insulin resistance which lowers that risk considerably.

If you already have diabetes, sleep apnea left untreated can worsen blood sugar control, making it more difficult to manage effectively. Once you begin treatment, however, you should find your diabetes much more manageable.

As you can see, having your dentist treat your obstructive sleep apnea is highly beneficial in numerous ways, both to your comfort, convenience, and overall health.

Contact Pike & Valega, DDS Today to Discuss Treatment for Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference, and when obstructive sleep apnea is interfering, we might be able to help. If you already have a diagnosis or need a referral to a sleep apnea specialist, our team can work with you to determine if oral appliance therapy is an option. Contact Pike & Valega, DDS today and schedule a treatment consultation.

When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?

July 7, 2022

One of the best ways to ensure good oral health is daily brushing and flossing. This habit not only helps your teeth remain attractive when you smile but also keeps them strong and functioning so you can enjoy all your favorite foods. Yet, when sudden pain develops or teeth become sensitive, you may be left wondering what could possibly be wrong.

Symptoms such as these can result from different things, but if severe and persistent, you might need a root canal treatment. While this can create anxiety or concern, it may help to understand more about what a root canal treatment is and when it is needed.

What is Root Canal Treatment Exactly?

A root canal treatment is a specific procedure to address an infected tooth and involves a thorough clearing out of the inflamed inner pulp. It is essential to prevent the spread of infection into the nearby teeth, gums, jaw, and also into the bloodstream.

Your dentist will numb the area of the tooth first, or, if you choose, you can undergo sedation during the procedure. After creating a small incision in the top part of your tooth to gain access to the pulp, your dentist will gently remove the infected tissue inside.

Once cleaned, a resin material is used to fill the inner tooth to help keep the tooth structure intact. The last step then is to seal the small hole made to reach the tooth’s root.

At some point following the treatment, you most likely will need a dental crown or other restoration fitted over your natural tooth for stronger protection.

While root canal treatments fall under the specialty known as endodontics, many dentists today offer them right in their office, making it more convenient for patients.

Signs a Root Canal Treatment May Be Needed

Confusion often surrounds knowing whether or not a root canal treatment is needed. If you are concerned, look for the following signs and discuss them with your dentist.

Sharp, Severe Persistent Pain

If you have severe pain in a tooth that doesn’t go away, it’s a sign that something is seriously wrong. It may be a throbbing pain or only worsen as pressure is applied, such as when you bite down on that tooth or lay on that side of your face. The pain can be persistent or come and go at times. It may also radiate outwards to your other teeth, jaw, or face.

Tooth Sensitivity

Your tooth becomes increasingly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, such as when sipping coffee or eating ice cream. This sensitivity may feel like a sharp, sudden pain or a dull ache and is often a sign that the nerves and blood vessels in a tooth are damaged or infected.

Cracks or Chips in Tooth

Cracks or chips can form in teeth as a result of some type of trauma, often occurring during contact sports, falls, and when chewing ice or biting into nuts or hard candies. They can also occur due to unattended decay or infection inside the tooth.

Tooth Appears Discolored (Grayish black appearance)

Discoloration or darkening of the tooth can indicate an infection in the pulp. As the pulp dies inside the tooth, the blood supply reaching it is inadequate. Such damage to the roots can make the tooth appear grayish-black as a result.

Swollen, Tender, or Discolored Gums

Changes to your gums surrounding a tooth can also indicate that you have an infected tooth. If they are swollen, feel tender, and become slightly painful to your touch, it may be a sign that a root canal is indeed necessary. A darkening color to the gums can also indicate that the tooth is dying, and the gums may decay as well.

Fistula or Abscess

When bumps, called fistulas, develop on the gums, it can also be a sign that the tooth is infected and needs a root canal. Another sign is an abscess forming, usually at the base of the tooth or hidden from view and only detectable by X-ray.

When Is a Root Canal Treatment Needed?

Certain circumstances can confirm that a root canal is needed. These include:

  • A tooth has undergone several dental procedures already, such as fillings or crown replacements, deteriorating the structure of the tooth itself and exposing the inner pulp.
  • A cavity or tooth decay reaches deep within the tooth, breaking into its pulp and allowing harmful bacteria to enter. If not treated, it can destroy the remaining tooth, and the infection itself can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.
  • Severe trauma occurs to the tooth and results in nerve tissue damage.
  • You sustain a tooth injury that causes major chips, cracks, and breaks of the tooth’s structure.
  • There are unseen injuries to the tooth’s interior, found during an X-ray by your dentist.

Contact Pike & Valega, DDS Today for All Your Dental Needs

Concern about a dental issue or particular tooth can create anxiety and even apprehension when it comes to seeking treatment. The compassionate team at Pike & Valega, DDS understands this and is here to help you through the process, whether it requires a root canal treatment or other beneficial procedure. Contact our office today and make an appointment to find out more or to help solve any of your dental needs.

Are dental implants painful? What You Need to Know

April 22nd, 2020

Whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease, or injury, millions of people suffer tooth loss. Dental implants provide a strong replacement tooth root for fixed replacement teeth that are designed to match your natural teeth. Of course, there is one question all patients have about dental implants: are they painful?

Dental implant placement is performed under local or general anesthesia and is not considered a painful procedure. However, if the surgery is more complicated and involves bone or tissue grafts, there may be slightly more discomfort and swelling. At the same time, every patient has a different threshold for pain, so what may bother one person may not bother another. If you experience any pain from dental implants, there are several things can do to relive it.

Relieving Pain from Dental Implants

1. The initial healing phase can last up to seven to ten days. Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Motrin work well to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience. However, only take these if instructed to by Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega.

2. Once you leave our Poolesville and Rockville MD office, you can reduce inflammation and any swelling to your cheek or lip by holding an ice-pack on your face over the implant area.

3. Your gum will be tender for the first few days. We often recommended that you bathe your gums with warm salt water.

4. Steer clear of crusty or hard foods for the first day or two. Ice cream, yogurt, and other soft foods are ideal as your gums will be tender.

5. Dental implants are a relatively straightforward oral procedure. Many people take time off from work to have dental implant surgery, and then return to regular activities. However, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, there is nothing wrong with taking the day off, relaxing, and putting your feet up.

There is typically no severe post-operative pain with dental implants. When most people return for a follow-up appointment about two weeks later, they often say that getting a dental implant was one of the least painful procedures they’ve experienced.

The History of Dental Implants

April 15th, 2020

The earliest endeavors for dental implant tooth substitutes on record dates back to the Mayan civilization, to 600 AD. Archeologists recovered primeval skulls in which the teeth had been replaced with materials the ranged from wood, stones, and jewels to small pieces of seashells.

Like most scientific progresses, the finding of what makes todays dental implants so successful was unexpected. In 1952, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, named Dr. Branemark, placed a very small titanium cylinder into a bone to learn how the bone would heal. What he discovered was that the titanium cylinder had fused (melded to the bone.) Out of this experiment dental implants would be born within two decades.

In 1970s, modern dental implants made their first appearance. Of course, over the past four decades, the original dental implant has undergone several improvements in both structure and design, but has always been based on the original theme.

Dental implants were first made available to individuals who had lost all of their teeth and had difficulty wearing dentures, mainly because they had lost of much of their jawbone were dentures set. Today, most dental implants are used in place of dentures, for multiple teeth that are missing, or to replace a single tooth.

When dental implants were first designed, they were a one size fits all. The original dental implants were all the same circumference, while the length of each tooth varied depending on the type of tooth it was replacing. The dental implants were smoothed out and polished by a machine, but still did not produce the natural looking dental implants we have today.

Now, with the help of state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology, implants come in a wide variety of sizes and shape to match the teeth that are missing. The surfaces of today’s dental implants give them a more natural look and feel. In addition, the surface of the dental implant also attaches to the bone much easier and for a longer period of time.

Dr. Branemark's discovery has left an impression on dental professionals, all over the world, including Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega. If you are considering dental implants to improve your smile’s health, beauty, and function, be sure to contact our Poolesville and Rockville MD office to schedule an appointment.

How do I care for my dental implant?

April 8th, 2020

Dental implants are designed to be strong and durable, able to withstand the everyday rigors of chewing and biting, but to keep them functioning the way they should and looking their best, you need to care for them properly. Luckily, dental implant care is fairly straightforward; in fact, your implants can be cared for the same way you care for your natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing performed correctly, as well as regular visits with Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega to ensure your implants, the neighboring teeth, and your gums are as healthy as possible.

Before the actual replacement tooth is attached to the implant post, you may want to avoid harshly abrasive toothpastes, such as those with baking soda or those designed to get rid of significant staining. These abrasives may damage the threads of the posts or irritate the gum and soft tissue surrounding the posts, causing inflammation or bleeding.

As the implant heals and “settles in,” a special kind of protective tissue called “keratinized” tissue will form where the implant meet the gum. This natural development in healing helps ensure the implant post and the soft tissue beneath the gum line are protected from bacteria.

As you care for your implants, always look for signs of infection, like swollen, tender, or bleeding gums – just as you would with your normal teeth. If you're nervous about caring for your implants or you feel you may be reluctant to floss around them, ask our team to provide you with care tips and walk you through the process of flossing.

Your implants represent a considerable investment both in time and money, so it's only natural you'd want to be sure you're doing all you can to keep them in top shape. Remember: dental implants are designed to replace your natural teeth, and they're also designed to be cared for in much the same way as you care for your natural teeth. Although you may be a little nervous at first, you'll soon become as used to your new implants as you are to your natural teeth, and caring for them will become second nature.

More questions? Simply as at your next visit to our Poolesville and Rockville MD office!

This April, Let’s Celebrate National Facial Protection Month!

April 1st, 2020

Poor April. While other months celebrate romance, or giving thanks, or costumes and candy, April has—April Fool’s Day and a tax deadline. We might be forgiven for thinking these two dates seem more like warnings than celebrations.

So here’s a new topic for the April calendar: National Facial Protection Month! Take the opportunity this month to review your safety practices while you’re enjoying your favorite activities.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! In any activity or sport where humans come into contact with solid objects (including other humans) tooth injury is possible. A mouthguard will help protect you from dental injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And it’s not just your teeth—mouthguards protect your lips, tongue, and jaw as well.

You can buy mouthguards in stock sizes or shape-to-fit options, or you can have a guard custom made especially for you at our Poolesville and Rockville MD office. Custom mouthguards fit perfectly and are designed to make breathing and speaking easy and comfortable. And if you wear braces or have fixed dental work such as a bridge, a custom mouthguard can protect your smile and your appliances. Talk to Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega about mouthguards for some great advice on how to protect your teeth and mouth.

As long as we’re discussing facial protection, let’s look at some other ways to keep safe as you keep active.

  • Helmets

If there’s a helmet available for your sport, use it! Helmets are especially important for protecting athletes from brain injury and concussion, and they help protect the face and jaw as well.

  • Face Guards

If you’ve experienced a puck speeding toward you, or a defensive tackle hurtling your way, or a fast ball coming in at 90 miles an hour, you know the importance of wearing a face guard. These guards can help protect your eyes, face, teeth, and jaws. Many sports now recommend using face guards—it’s worth checking to see if your sport is one of them.

  • Eye Protection

And let’s not forget eye protection. Whether it’s safety glasses or a visor, protecting your eyes and the bones around them is extremely important. You can even get sports goggles or protective sports glasses with prescription lenses to keep you safe and seeing clearly.

We have the training and experience to help treat and restore injured teeth. But we will be the first to tell you, the very best treatment is prevention!

So here are a few suggestions for your calendar this month:

  • If you haven’t gotten a mouthguard yet, now’s the time. Tooth and mouth injuries occur in sports beyond hockey and football. If you play basketball, ski, skateboard, ride a bike—in fact, almost any sport where you can fall or make contact with a person or object—a mouthguard is a must.
  • If you need to replace an ill-fitting or damaged helmet and face guard, do it before your next game. And do replace a bike helmet if you’ve been in a crash—most likely it won’t be as protective, even if damage isn’t visible.
  • Talk to your eye doctor about protective eyewear if off-the-rack products don’t work for you.
  • If you are a parent or caregiver, make sure your child athlete has the proper facial protection—and uses it.
  • If you are a coach, make sure your athletes have the right protective gear—and wear it.
  • It’s also a great time to commit to using your protective gear every single time you’re active.

But, wait—these reminders are helpful and important, but weren’t we promised something to celebrate this April? Good catch! The great news is, using facial protection for sports and athletic activities gives you rewards you can celebrate all year: fewer injuries, fewer visits to the emergency room, and a beautiful, healthy, intact smile. Suit up!

Receive Our Free DVD

Fill out the form below or call:
301-770-4210 (Rockville) or 301-972-7000 (Poolesville)