The Smiles Blog with Dr. Kaihara

What to Do When a Dental Restoration Has Run-Its-Course

Have you ever had a tooth that started bothering you for no good reason? Why would it start as a little pain, then progress to a nagging ache? What could it be?

How about a dental restoration that’s run-its-course. The implication is that it’s “old” and could have exceeded it’s effectiveness.

You’ll notice a few clues that a replacing your dental restoration is necessary to prevent additional dental issues.

The upside and what it means to your dental health

A dental check-up including a thorough examination is the place to begin. This under-the-hood maintenance check can spot what might already be somewhat obvious to you.

A toothache, teeth sensitivity, infection, and tooth decay are reasons for an examination. Any teeth that have an “old” restoration will be included.

Dental restorations are designed for durability. But over time they can weaken and lose their protective capability.

A restoration you’ve had for many years fits that category. Perhaps it was crafted from materials that are inferior to today’s new restorative materials. Or it has simply failed and now requires full replacement.

Adding years to your treatment

Placement skill and craftsmanship are important factors for long-lasting dental restorations. Even so, a replacement can be necessary to restore your tooth function and smile to a higher standard.

These days, your natural tooth color sets the standard for cosmetic dental restorations. Tooth-colored dental crowns and dental fillings are designed to blend and match your surrounding teeth.

You can improve the appeal of your smile by replacing “old” restorations. Any signs of wear should be diagnosed and evaluated for a replacement.

Until then keep an eye on your current and “older” restorations. Contact our Washington D.C. or McLean dental office if you notice wear, have painful symptoms, or if you’re interested in replacing a restoration with a new, more attractive alternative.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures that Improve Your Health and Your Social Confidence

There’s no doubt that looking and feeling your best is important. These days your social calendar often sets the precedent.

Cosmetic dentistry can help.

Not just for looks

Your appearance matters. And it’s more appealing when it’s supported by your health.

Healthy teeth and gums are synonymous with an attractive smile. That’s why some cosmetic dentistry procedures start with oral health improvements.

For example, tooth colored dental fillings are effective for replacing your old, worn silver (amalgam) fillings. The materials used improve your appearance and restore the damage caused by decay.

Dental inlays and onlays also have a cosmetic dentistry and a restorative dentistry benefit. The porcelain materials are effective for filling larger areas of decay with a natural looking restoration.

For your health (and your next social event)

A few cosmetic dentistry treatments can enhance your confidence for your upcoming important life events. Plan in advance ahead of a pending wedding, reunion, vacation, or other social function and schedule your consultation and treatment now.

Teeth whitening is a popular procedure for starters. A professional whitening treatment is fast and can brighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one in-office appointment.

Dental bonding is another treatment that focuses on the surface areas of your teeth. The procedure is an alternative to porcelain veneers and it can prevent cavities and decay by restoring your teeth that have been chipped or cracked.

Add cosmetic dentistry to your preparations for an upcoming life event. Your treatment decision can improve your health and your smile confidence.

Contact your dentist in Washington, DC or McLean, VA about available cosmetic dentistry treatment. Schedule an examination to discuss procedures and their impact on improving your oral health and your appearance.

About Aging and Your Teeth

Dr. Gary Kaihara and Jennifer Giannini presented yet another well received lecture on Aging And Your Teeth. This time we presented to The Dupont Circle Village.

The Dupont Circle Village is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that connects members to one another, provides information, cultural and social activities, services, and supports. Membership enables Villagers to maintain their health and homes as they embrace the benefits and challenges of aging.

The venue was an old historic 5 level home built in 1922, which is now home of The General Federation of Women's Clubs. It was very impressive.

Dr. Kaihara presented a plethora of information about common dental issues that we can acquire as we age. Jennifer added to the portion on the effects and potential causes of Xerostomia (dry mouth), while taking the lead on the discussion of the etiology, stages, treatment and potential systemic links with periodontal disease.

The members of the village were very enthusiastic with their comments and questions. Their questions were meaningful ones. Jennifer did some research after the lecture, on one of the questions that was asked, regarding inflammation vs. infection. Jennifer felt like elaborating on this subject and plans to get in touch with the inquirer to make sure her question was answered satisfactorily.

Gary & Jennifer:

We can't thank you enough for your helpful and informative presentation today! We truly appreciate your taking the time to prepare and deliver it to our group. Many attendees told me how valuable they thought it was and how impressed they were with your knowledge and approachability. You are a terrific example of a great team!

Also, thank you for the "goody bags." Attendees at our programs don't usually receive such generous takeaways and they were thrilled! How nice of you! As I mentioned to Jennifer, one of the attendees, who is a retired journalist, will write an article about today's presentation for our newsletter, which is circulated to 200+

Dupont Circle Village members and numerous friends of the Village. We want to make sure that those who weren't able to attend today's session will also have access to some of the information that you presented.

Again, a BIG and sincere THANK YOU!

Beth Merricks Live & Learn Committee Dupont Circle Village

What to Know When Comparing Dental Implants and a Dental Bridge

Tooth loss can prompt you to make a few decisions. The first one would of course be what tooth replacement to choose.

Your answer depends on the circumstances related to your missing tooth or teeth. There are factors to be considered.

Dental implants and a dental bridge are two leading tooth replacement solutions. There are advantages to both and one might have an edge on the other.

What a dental bridge does (and doesn’t do)

A dental bridge is a common option for restoring your tooth function and appearance. It uses the support of your surrounding teeth on either side of your tooth gap to create an attractive and functional tooth replacement.

There’s one disadvantage to be aware of when you’re considering a dental bridge. It has to do with an issue that can result from tooth loss if you’ve delayed treatment.

Bone loss can occur in your jaw following the loss of a tooth. Your bone tissue relies on a healthy, functional tooth root to stimulate its ongoing health.

Oral health problems can develop when your bone begins to deteriorate. Bone loss affects your decision between a dental bridge and dental implants for tooth replacement.

Some advantages to consider

The advantage would tip toward dental implants, especially when bone loss is in question. The anchoring effect of a dental implant gives it an edge over a dental bridge in this instance.

Dental implants are unique for keeping your bone tissue stimulated. Again, bone tissue health depends on a tooth root to occupy the space in your gums and jawbone.

Dental implants provide you an attractive new tooth on the surface. Your dental implant structure will match your surrounding teeth in appearance and function.

Dental implants support your adjoining teeth. The implant creates a new tooth root that’s anchored securely to your jawbone.

Dental implants have a long lifespan. In most cases, a dental implant exceeds a 95% success rate as a tooth replacement and can last more than 20 years without being replaced.

Contact your dentist in Washington, DC or McLean, VA to discuss your tooth loss circumstances. Schedule an oral examination to get more information about tooth replacement by comparing a dental bridge with dental implants.

A Dental Solution That Can Provide You Healthier and More Restful Sleep

No doubt a good night’s sleep is essential to your health and lifestyle. What happens when sleep is producing a risk to your health?

Interruptions to your normal, healthy sleep cycles require attention. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects over 18 million people and you could be among them if certain issues are occurring during a routine period of sleep.

Know your risks

Sleep apnea is about more than your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The bigger risk involves your breathing during sleep cycles.

The core problem of sleep apnea involves your breathing patterns throughout your sleep routine. Interrupted breathing disrupts your deep sleep cycles and places a strain on not only your required rest but also your health.

Risk to your overall health can result from sleep apnea. These conditions can include high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure.

What you don’t want to happen during sleep

It’s healthy to routinely fall asleep each night and stay asleep. The lowering of your energy levels allows your mind and body to receive proper rest and renewal.

Healthy sleep cycles accomplish this. Your throat and its connected muscles require relaxation too but this comes with an occasional downside.

Snoring is the common result when your throat muscles relax. Air passes over them as you breathe and the recognizable sound is produced.

There’s a greater concern. Your airway can become obstructed and air is not allowed to pass through as you sleep.

This prompts a gasping or choking reflex. When this occurs you will naturally awaken briefly before returning to sleep.

That momentary lapse in breathing is sleep apnea. It can occur many times throughout your sleep cycle causing you to feel unrested and fatigued during awake hours.

A solution to healthier and restful sleep

Sleep apnea is most often treated with a CPAP device. This treatment is known to be effective but can be cumbersome to many.

Sleep dentistry provides a solution without the use of CPAP equipment. A custom-designed oral appliance can be worn while you sleep to open your airway and reduce the snoring reflex.

The device advances your lower jaw and moves the tongue off the back of the throat. This increases airflow and improves your natural breathing technique.

The appliance is comfortable to wear and is custom-fitted to your bite and jaw alignment. You will breathe more effectively, reduce the health risks associated with lack of proper breathing, and experience a more restful, quiet sleep.

Contact our Washington, DC or McLean dental office about your sleep related issues. Schedule an appointment to discuss sleep apnea and how sleep dentistry can reduce your health risks and improve your sleep.

What You Need to Know About Dental Insurance Coverage

Seasons come and go. It’s common to say, “Wow, it seems like it was just that time of the year!”

Calendars keep you on-your-toes. That’s important especially when you need a reminder.

Your dental insurance benefits have a calendar cycle. Now’s a good time to be reminded about any coverage you haven’t used.

Is there a downside?

Your insurance cycles annual. That’s only a downside if you arrive at the end of the year and discover that you had coverage you didn’t use.

A standard insurance package, a Health Savings Account (HSA), and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are similar in their annual life cycle. You have twelve months to use your allowable benefits for treatment.


It doesn’t matter when you’re reading this. Consider it a heads-up to explore what coverage allowances you have available.

Schedule treatment now. This will help you get the most from your insurance package and reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Maximum benefit

Your treatment needs and the timing related can vary throughout the year. It’s important to communicate with our Washington D.C. or McLean dental office to determine how much insurance benefit you have available for use.

Preventive dentistry is an excellent place to maximize your unused benefits. For example, you’re provided up to two dental examinations and teeth cleanings per year.

This procedure improves the health of your teeth and gums. It also gives you an advanced notice of any necessary treatment you might need.

You can also reduce your costs on other treatment by using your remaining benefits when applicable. Procedures include dental crowns, dental implants, dental fillings, orthodontics, dental sealants and other general dentistry and restorative dentistry.

Use what's yours. Contact our Washington, DC or McLean dental office about your dental insurance coverage and the treatment you desire or that's pending.

Don’t Ignore This! Your Dental Implant Treatment Counts On It

It’s a leading solution for your tooth loss problem. And there’s a reason that it creates substantial results.

Dental implants deserve top billing as a cosmetic dentistry superstar. Because it’s an oral surgery procedure the healing period plays a major role in your outcomes.

Time on your side

Implants rely on the health and quality of your gum and bone tissue. Your dental implant creates a solid, new tooth root and anchor point for your functional tooth on the surface.

Your available bone tissue is a key factor in your treatment success. This makes it necessary to allow for healing to occur following the placement of your implant.

The healing time frame can be extended if you require a bone graft. Otherwise count on your healing period (post-placement) to require an average of two to four months.

The health of your dental implant and ongoing function relies on its adapting to your bone and gum tissue. This process (ossiointegration) assures that the implant securely forms a new tooth root.

Benefits that outweigh the risks

A fully restored and functional tooth is the major benefit of your dental implant treatment. The healing period allows your implant to become the new root structure to support a dental crown on the surface (above your gum line).

It’s also essential to monitor your gum tissue during the healing period. Any gum inflammation could form an infection and impact the bone tissue that supports your implant.

Periodontal (gum) disease is a threat to your gum and bone tissue. Weakened, diseased bone tissue will also weaken your dental implant.

You can reduce or eliminate that risk by keeping your dental implant healthy along with your bone and gum tissue. Regular dental checkups help monitor your implant, gum, and bone health.

Teeth cleanings are also recommended every six months. This oral health priority keeps your surrounding teeth and gums healthy and supportive of your dental implant.

Contact our Washington, DC or McLean dental office about your tooth loss. Schedule an examination to discuss dental implant treatment as a missing tooth solution.

Let’s Talk Flossing and Why It’s a Good Idea to Hear What Your Dentist and Dental Hygienist Have to Say

Preventive dentistry answers many questions and concerns about your dental health. Remember that some action is better than no action.

Your risk for cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease significantly increases when you do nothing. Why not prioritize preventive dental care and reduce your risk?

Take responsibility for your oral health. The upside is much better than leaving your teeth and gums to chance.

Two Preventive Dentistry Priorities to Help You Take Charge of Your Oral Health

At-home dental care

Brushing and flossing remain as your go-to oral hygiene habits. Each are effective for removing the sugars and other build-up from your tooth surfaces.

Oral bacteria are a primary threat to your teeth. Your tooth surfaces, the areas between your teeth, and the tooth portions below your gum line are vulnerable to bacteria.

Plaque and tartar on your tooth surfaces allow bacteria to thrive. Plaque hardens into tartar and creates a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply.

Tartar that remains on your teeth can creep down under your gum tissue. This can result in gum disease if it’s not effectively removed.

Your dentist and dental hygienist

It’s vital that you support your at-home dental care with professional preventive dentistry. Schedule an appointment with your dentist and dental hygienist a minimum of two times per year.

Problems with your teeth are not always visible or painful. Missed or ignored symptoms can produce tooth damage and more costly dental treatment.

A dental examination and teeth cleaning is recommended every six months. This preventive dental care solution supports your at-home dental care routine.

Your dentist and dental hygienist have the expertise and equipment to remove dental plaque and the hardened tartar from your teeth. When necessary, dental x-rays provide a deeper perspective to spot decay and other threats to your teeth and gums.

Take charge of your dental health. Some action is better than no action for protecting your teeth and gums.

Contact our Washington, DC or McLean dental office about preventive dentistry. Schedule you and your family’s next dental examination and teeth cleaning to support your at-home dental hygiene.

For more information about Flossing, see this helpful Article


Our long time patient, Mary, is a member of the Foggy Bottom West End village.

Foggy Bottom West End Village is a new nonprofit membership organization that provides services for its members to help them comfortably age in their community by supplying social events, health support, and many other offerings. The Village’s work goes beyond just neighbors helping neighbors, as members get to know one another and enhance and enrich each other’s lives.

When we saw Mary for a cleaning one day she said her village was looking for dental professionals to give a talk to their members about Aging and your teeth. She asked if Dr. Kaihara and Jennifer Giannini would be interested.

Fast forward to last Thursday evening (7/28/16), Dr. Kaihara and Jennifer put together a very nice presentation. It was very well received. We have since spoken to our patient and she said some of the members had mentioned this was the best presentation they've ever had. We also believe we will be able to serve a few new patients from this volunteer effort. We are thankful to Mary for making the arrangements for us to be able to make a presentation on Aging and Your Teeth.

Please feel free to contact our Washington, DC or McLean dental office about teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry solutions. Schedule a consultation to discuss your treatment options.