What to Do If You Get Your First Cavity

Did you know? Cavities are actually quite common. While we all strive to avoid them, the reality is that 91% of people between the ages of 20 and 64 in the U.S. have at least one cavity. In fact, cavities are the second most common health disorder in the world (right behind the common cold). So, if you think you may have your first cavity, know that you’re not alone. What’s important is that you identify and address your cavity with a dentist as soon as possible. Cavities that are left untreated can lead to a whole host of dental problems that you’d probably rather avoid.

Let’s start with the symptoms of cavities. While most dentists will identify a cavity during a routine visit, you may be able to detect one in-between appointments if a tooth becomes highly sensitive or you experience sharp pain when chewing food. You may also notice bad breath (the result of bacteria in the cavity), dark spots or discoloration. Sensitivity to hot or cold liquids specifically can also be a warning sign. If you suspect any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

If your dentist confirms you have a cavity, it’s probably time for a filling. Fillings – and dental work in general – are often characterized as unpleasant, sweat-inducing experiences; however, that’s truly not the case with a standard cavity filling. Here’s how it works. Your dentist will numb the area near the filling so that you don’t feel any pain (by applying what’s known as local anesthesia). Fillings can sometimes be done with a needle, but you will only feel a pinch. You may still feel some pressure as your dentist cleans out your cavity, but this action shouldn’t be accompanied by any pain since your local anesthesia will have set in.

To fill a cavity, your dentist will clean out the opening of the cavity and fill in the hole with a material. The filling will restore the natural shape of your teeth and close off the opening. That material (the filler) can be made of gold or silver – or more commonly today, porcelain or composite, so as to match the natural color of your tooth.  Most of these fillings will last between at least 5 to 15 years, though some may last even longer if they’re taken care of well.

In terms of time spent in the dentist’s office, a filling procedure shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes from start to finish! Your local anesthesia will wear off approximately one to three hours after your procedure, which means you’ll be back to your normal routine quickly.

Note that depending on the severity of your cavity, you may need a crown, which is a cap that’s placed over your entire tooth. The cap is a more comprehensive solution required when a cavity is fairly sizable. However, your dentist will be able to walk you through the solution that best fits your needs.

If you think you have a cavity or it’s time for another check-up, schedule an appointment with Allegiance Dental Associates, specializing in caring, comprehensive dentistry! Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!

Dentist 21015 | 3 Steps to a Healthy Smile

Dentist Bel Air, MD

Did you know that tooth decay is the single largest cause of school absences? The longer decay goes untreated, the worse it gets. Not only can this mean costlier expenses for you, but it also jeopardizes your child’s oral health and education. You can help your child have a healthy, happy smile by taking a few steps to defend against tooth decay. Here are three steps you can take at home.


  1. Reduce Excessive Sugar

Sugary foods feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Limit your child’s sugary intake by keeping candy, soft drinks, juices, and other sweets to a minimum. If your child does indulge in a sugary snack or treat, make sure they brush their teeth afterwards.


  1. Follow a Consistent Brushing Routine

One of the best steps you can take for your child is to help them establish a daily brushing routine. They should brush for at least two minutes both morning and night. Try brushing at the same times each day so that it becomes a habit. We also strongly recommend that parents monitor their children to make sure they are brushing correctly and safely. It’s important that children avoid swallowing toothpaste or mouthwash.


  1. Strengthen Teeth with Dairy Products

Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, particularly cheese, yogurt, and milk. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Increasing the amount of calcium in your child’s diet can help strengthen tooth enamel, one of the natural defenses against decay. If your child is lactose intolerant or cannot consume other dairy products, we suggest you talk to our team for additional solutions.


Healthy teeth start at home. Implement the three simple steps above with your child at home to ensure they have a happy, healthy smile. The single most important step you can take for your child is to bring them in to see our team. Regular oral health examinations for your child are essential to ensure that their teeth are healthy and growing properly.


Contact our team to schedule your child’s next examination today.


Allegiance Dental Associates of Bel Air
2021 Emmorton Rd., Ste. 222, Bel Air, MD 21015
(410) 670-3376

Suck it Up: Why Using a Straw Can Protect Your Teeth

If you’re a regular brusher, flosser, and rinser, but are still looking for additional ways to protect your teeth and avoid surface stains – we hear you. Try as you might, sometimes doing everything “right” doesn’t always lead to perfectly white teeth. That’s why many are adding another tactic to their oral hygiene routine: straws! Simple and effective, straws can help move you toward the bright, healthy smile you seek.

Drinking from a straw limits the contact between corrosive liquids and the surface of your teeth. Acidic drinks like coffee, orange juice, alcohol, and soda can all eat away at your teeth’s enamel. The impact of these sweet substances can be amplified when consumed too much or when paired with poor dental hygiene.

In addition to wearing down enamel (which increases sensitivity and risk of tooth decay), using a straw to minimize contact can also help prevent cavities (as corrosive materials come in less contact with your teeth). Those that drink from a straw also find that it helps reduce surface stains, as again, the straw minimizes contact with corrosive, acidic materials. The next time you’re enjoying that glass of red wine at home, reach for a straw and rest easy.

Silly as it may seem, there are best practices for using straws. One is that it’s important to keep a straw positioned toward the back of your mouth (as opposed to allowing the tip of the straw to rest on your teeth) and avoid taking big gulps that would lead to liquid resting in the back of your mouth for more than a second or two. You should also be mindful of chewing on straws if you’ve been using them to drink for an extended period of time. Excessive biting and chewing (as unconscious as it may be) can also damage your teeth.

If you’re going to switch to straws, consider using biodegradable versions that are more environmentally-friendly, or invest in a reusable straw made of thicker plastic or glass. Throwing away every straw used with a drink can add up over time, negatively impacting the environment if not made of biodegradable material. Opting for that sturdier, reusable straw can also save you money in the long run (no need to continuously restock).

You may also want to be conscious of when and for what reasons you’re using a straw. For example, it’s probably not necessary to use a straw when drinking something like a glass of water, which can actually be good for cleansing and re-mineralizing your teeth. A selective straw routine ensures your use is environmentally-friendly. Only use a straw when there’s a reason!

Pro-tip: If you’re at a coffee shop and in need of a straw, you can use a stirrer as a makeshift straw (trust us, it works!).

To determine if switching to straws is something that could positively impact the health of your teeth, consider reaching out to a dental professional. Allegiance Dental Associates is happy to speak with you about a variety of strategies for protecting and preserving your teeth. Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!

Teeth Whitening: The Best Gift for Mom, Dad and Grads

Flowers for mom, a watch for dad, an envelope of money for your recent grad…

This year, why not give a give a gift they’ll appreciate every time they look in the mirror? Teeth whitening can be a unique, unexpected way to treat your loved ones to something special.

Think about it. Who among us doesn’t want a bright, brilliant smile? Yet, even the most diligent brushers can deal with stained, discolored teeth as a result of age and genetic background. Not to mention, the formation of plaque can naturally build up over time, and because our teeth are porous, that film of bacteria can find its way into the structure of our teeth, causing stains and discoloration.

While inner beauty will always reign supreme, having a smile that your loved one is excited to show off can instantly heighten their sense of confidence! Don’t believe it? Research has found that your smile has a direct impact on your self-confidence. That self-confidence influences how you interact with others, how likely you are to take risks and try new things, as well as how approachable you are to others. Plus, studies have shown that smiling more frequently naturally improves your mood! Why not give mom or dad that kind of long-lasting pick-me-up?

Teeth whitening can also be impactful for recent graduates on the interview circuit. Healthy, bright smiles can be viewed more favorably by those conducting interviews. A whitening treatment can give your grad that extra boost they need to go into an interview confidently and encourage the interviewer to view them as the truly competent, qualified young professional they are.

At-home whitening solutions like teeth whitening strips or mouthwash can be helpful, but for the quickest, most noticeable results, gift a whitening treatment from a dental professional. This whitening technique is done right in-office and removes significantly more surface stains than at-home whitening strips. There are typically two types of professional whitening: those that involve the use of halogen lighting to activate the carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide base (which brightens teeth by eight shades) and those without halogen lighting (which brightens teeth by five to eight shades). Consider, too, that professional whitening delivers results much faster than at-home options. Results typically come after just one whitening session, which usually takes about 90 minutes as opposed to days or weeks.

Worried that a whitening treatment might damage enamel? While there can be a risk of damage when using DIY solutions and applying them on for too long, a dentist’s professional service will safely conduct the whitening treatment. Professional practices can also minimize the risk of sensitivity by applying a protective layer before treatment begins.

Note that gums and teeth need to be healthy enough for whitening and that a whitening treatment won’t work on caps, crowns or veneers (which should already be white!).

To learn more about giving the gift of a professional teeth whitening treatment, reach out to the friendly folks at Allegiance Dental Associates today to set up a consultation for your loved one. Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Care for Your Teeth

When it comes to making environmentally-friendly choices, every little bit helps. Oral hygiene is a significant part of our daily routine, which is why thinking about ways to make brushing our teeth more sustainable and positive for the planet can make a substantial impact over time! Here are a few of our favorite ways to go green when caring for our teeth.

1)    Choose a toothbrush made of recycled material.

There are an increasing number of options for toothbrushes that are made from products like recycled plastic, yogurt containers, or cardboard. Consider brands like Preserve and Toms of Maine. These recycled toothbrushes do as good of a job as any other brand, yet have a significantly less harmful footprint on the environment!

2)    Choose a toothbrush that’s biodegradable.

Toothbrushes don’t last forever (you should be changing them out twice a year or when the bristles start to fray). However, instead of throwing them out and consigning them to eternity in a landfill, consider a biodegradable toothbrush, made from natural materials like bamboo. Though their bristles do have to be removed before they can be composted, this option ensures that the toothbrush will naturally break down over time without leaving any harmful substances behind.

3)    Buy toothpaste made from natural ingredients.

Being more discerning with your toothpaste selection is another way to make a difference. Many traditional kinds of toothpaste are made from ingredients that are taxing on the environment or which, because they’re not natural, contribute to harmful traces found in our water system (a problem shared with many synthetic prescriptions and ingredients).

4)    Turn the water off when you’re brushing.

Here’s a simple tactic that doesn’t require any extra effort: turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. This one’s easy to forget, but its impact can be huge over time. If you’re brushing your teeth for the recommended full two minutes with your faucet running, you’re wasting approximately five gallons of water! Multiply that by thirty days, and you could be misusing up to 150 gallons of water, in just one month! Instead, the only times you need to wet your toothbrush is upon initially running the water and re-rinse as you near the end of brushing.

5)    Use biodegradable dental floss.

Did you know? Most dental floss is made from nylon – derived from crude oil. Not only does its source have a massive carbon footprint, but this type of dental floss takes about 50 to 80 years to decompose. For an alternative, consider silk dental floss (which is sometimes sold coated in beeswax). This type of floss does an equally good job of getting into the nooks and crannies of your teeth, yet decomposes within 60-90 days.

6)    Keep an eye out for recyclable packaging.

Everything comes in a package, and more often than not, those packages are made from materials like plastic that aren’t sustainably sourced or easily broken down. Check the labels on the packaging of your toothpaste box, mouthwash bottle, or dental floss holder for indications that they’re made from recyclable materials or that they can be recycled.

If you are looking for environmentally-friendly habits to tie into your daily oral care routine, Allegiance Dental Associates is happy to speak with you about a variety of strategies for protecting and preserving your teeth and the planet! Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!

Make Flossing a Habit Today

Most people know how important it is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, but many people seem to dismiss flossing as an unnecessary extra step. Whether you think brushing your teeth is enough, or you just don’t feel like taking the time to floss, here’s a few reason why you should reconsider your oral hygiene routine.

Plaque Builds Up Everywhere

While brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the flat  surfaces of your teeth, it can only reach minimally between your teeth. Flossing allows you to effectively remove particles of food and plaque that get stuck in between your teeth that brushing cannot reach.

Plaque and bacteria stuck in between your teeth can cause tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and many other unpleasant side effects. If you want to avoid painful procedures at the dentist, take the time each day to floss and clean out those hard to reach areas.

Your Gums Won’t Bleed Anymore

The fact that flossing more will lead to your gums bleeding less may seem counterintuitive considering that flossing can cause your gums to bleed. However, the more you floss, the less likely your gums are to bleed because you’re removing the bacteria that actually causes inflammation from increased blood flow to the gums.

You may have to endure occasional bloody gums if you are first starting to floss, but over time, your mouth will bleed less and be much healthier.

Your Overall Health Will Be Better

Gum disease affects more than just your mouth when it comes to your health. By maintaining your gum health, you reduce the risk of a number of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even respiratory disease.

Increase the Effectiveness of Toothpaste

When brushing your teeth, you’re using the bristles of the toothbrush and the fluoride in the toothpaste to remove plaque from your teeth. By clearing away plaque by flossing, you’re allowing for the fluoride from the toothbrush to reach more places on the teeth, increasing its effectiveness.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Need help forming a healthy oral routine in your daily life? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Handling Pediatric Dental Anxiety

The mention of the dentist can strike fear into children of all ages.


Pediatric dental anxiety is a fairly common occurrence, ranging from mild concern to extreme panic that can actually affect the way your child thinks about the dentist and their oral health for the rest of their life. Since it is so important to visit the dentist regularly throughout  life, it is important to teach children that the dentist office is nothing to be worried about and the dental office helps teeth stay clean and strong. Here are a few tips to help your child cope with dental visits.

Start Dental Visits at a Young Age

Starting dental visits as early in your child’s life as possible is not only good for their oral hygiene, but it helps establish familiarity with the concept of dentist appointments. Most dentists recommend bringing kids in as soon as their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. Starting routine visits at a young age can help your child build trust in their dentist and feel more comfortable.

Read Dental Storybooks to Your Children

With colorful illustrations, easy to understand language, and a positive story regarding a dental visit, dental-related children’s books are a perfect tool to demonstrate to your child that there really isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to visiting the dentist.

Communicate Effectively

Give your child plenty of advanced notice when letting them know they have a dentist appointment coming up. Telling your child  at the last minute about a dental appointment can increase stress and anxiety, and may cause them more fear than if they have time to mentally prepare.

If they have any questions about what will be done at the dentist, answer them honestly and specifically, avoiding vague statements along the lines of “everything will be fine”. Use words like “clean”, “strong”, and “healthy” in regards to their teeth to convey the reason behind the dental visits.

Lead by Example

Show your kids what it takes to keep a healthy mouth at home. Encouraging brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, and showing them the proper way to do each one will help them develop positive oral hygiene habits. Let them know that the more they do to keep their teeth clean at home, the easier and smoother the dentist visits will go.

Go to a Family Dentist

Going to a family dentist for your children is usually the best option. Family-focused dental clinics are prepared and experienced at dealing with children and making sure they have a positive dentist experience. Family dentists can have colorfully decorated walls with pictures of popular cartoon characters, children’s books and toys to read and play with in the waiting room, and a toy chest with prizes to be given out for a well-behaved visit.

Looking for a great family dentist for your children? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.



Look 10 Years Younger

dentist bel airYour smile is one of the first things a person will notice when you meet.  If you would like to improve your smile with a simple procedure, teeth whitening may be a great option for you, especially if you have stained, dull or discolored teeth. Our dental office is providing teeth whitening services to new and existing patients.

Regardless of how well you care for your teeth, over time, discoloration will occur.  The main causes of stained teeth are genetics, antibiotics, tobacco and certain foods. As we age, our teeth darken as well. While preventing tooth discoloration is nearly impossible, our experienced team can help reverse the effects of discoloration by helping to create a whiter and brighter smile.

Whether it’s an in-office treatment or at-home treatment, the principles of teeth whitening are the same.  A special whitening agent is applied to the teeth in order to bleach the stains and brighten your smile. Our expert dentist will discuss your whitening needs and goals with you to determine which option is best for you.

In-office teeth whitening is the quickest method to a brighter, whiter smile.  With the supervision of an experienced dental professional, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than with at-home kits. Optimal results are achieved much faster with the professional whitening treatment, and in many ways the results are much better given the nature of the bleaching agents that are used. On average, patients find they appear up to ten years younger just by restoring the bright, white smile of their youth.

During a professional teeth whitening treatment, we will first clean the teeth.  They will apply a whitening agent to your teeth, carefully avoiding your gums and soft tissue.  Once applied, a laser light will be directed at the teeth to expedite the process.  For maximum results, the process may be repeated more than once.

If a visit to our office for professional whitening isn’t an option for you, at-home treatment may provide the whitening you need. While you will find a vast variety of at-home teeth whitening products on the market, including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays and more, we can fit you with custom-made whitening trays that will more accurately fit to your teeth for a more even whitening result.

At-home teeth whitening results are less dramatic compared to those achieved at the dentist. While at-home teeth whitening is easy to use, it is not recommended if your teeth or gums are sensitive.

If you are looking to brighten your smile and look ten years younger, contact our office for more information or to schedule a consultation today.

Dental Crowns vs. Fillings

Many people are  familiar with dental crowns and fillings because of experience with fractures, tooth decay, or other similar problems. Crowns and fillings offer a solution to restore the form and function of teeth to health.  

Dental Restorations

The broad term used to describe the various options to restore the cosmetic appearance and structure of the teeth is “dental restorations.” There are different kinds of dental restorations available that are typically used for varying degrees of tooth decay and damage.

In general, the traditional dental filling is the least invasive dental restoration and is used for more minor tooth decay, such as small cavities. Dental crowns are a better option when there is major tooth decay or damage to the teeth.


As mentioned earlier, dental fillings are primarily used to fill cavities. Most people, even those who take great care of their teeth, will receive some type of filling in their life. Even if you brush and floss regularly, cavities can still appear if you eat sweet foods more regularly or even just from food generally becoming stuck in your teeth.

The procedure for a filling involves preparation of the tooth, often in the form of excavating into the tooth  to remove damaged or decayed tooth material. After removing the decayed material, the fillings is inserted and set into place.

Metal  fillings were more common in the past, but nowadays, most fillings are white, which provides better cosmetic appearance for the smile. White (or composite) fillings are also better for dental health, given that less tooth structure needs to be removed  and they don’t contain mercury like metal fillings.


Dental crowns are mostly used for major tooth decay and damage. A dental crown is essentially a cap that fits right over the tooth. After removing the damaged tooth structure, an impression is made of the tooth and used to set the dental crown on the tooth. The crown acts as a protective barrier, protecting it from further damage, while eliminating pain or discomfort associated with sensitivity.

Overall, fillings and crowns are both viable options for cosmetic and structural restoration after work has been done for tooth decay. Fillings are best used for minor tooth decay, while crowns are best for major tooth problems.

Are you in need of dental restoration and looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Connected Health: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

For decades, scientists have been studying the links between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease. Over the years, research has continued to find strong correlations between these two inflammatory conditions. While there is work yet to be done, we have already discovered connections that may influence how we approach health care in the future. Consider a few key components of the gum disease – heart disease relationship.

Gum disease and heart disease share many of the same risk factors. Some of these include smoking, obesity, stress, nutrition, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of Americans aged 65 and older currently have periodontitis – the most advanced form of gum disease. Recent studies have suggested that patients with heart disease may have increased likelihood of developing gum disease as well.

Likewise, gum disease increases your risk of heart disease. This may be due to the higher rates of inflammation in your body that occur with gum disease. If you already have a heart condition, gum disease may worsen your illness. One study published in 2015 noted an increase in the severity of heart attacks in patients with gum disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

Treating gum disease may decrease your odds of contracting or worsening heart disease. A study published in 2014 found that patients who were treated for gum disease had fewer hospitalizations and lower health care costs related to heart disease. While more research is needed to determine the exact nature of this connection, it is clear that avoiding or treating gum disease can be considered an important part of prevention and treatment for heart disease, as well.

You can reduce your risk of serious health complications from heart disease or gum disease. Healthy diet, regular exercise, good dental hygiene, and avoiding tobacco can all help reduce to your risk of developing one or both of these conditions. See your doctor and our dentist regularly for preventive care and treatment.

To schedule your periodontal screening, contact our office today.