Dentist Bethesda Blog

Keeping Patients Educated with Your Dentist in Bethesda MD

Your Bethesda MD dentists want to ensure that all of our patients are getting the right amount of education that they desire when it comes to dentistry. That's why we've created these blogs, so our patients have the opportunity to increase their knowledge, whether they're at home or on the go. Check out our entries below and don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions! Call our office today at (301) 652-3997.


May 2024

Keeping Summer Smiles Bright


April 2024

What is a Root Canal?


March 2024

Tartar Tales: Protect Your Smile


February 2024

Avoid These Flossing Faux Pas!


January 2024

Dental Health Resolutions for the New Year


December 2023

Holiday Toothaches: Your Survival Guide


November 2023

Bright Smiles for Holiday Cheer!


October 2023

Beat Sugar Cravings for a Healthy Smile


September 2023

What Type of Toothbrush Is Best?


August 2023

Don't Delay, Smile Today: It's Never Too Late for a Teeth Cleaning


July 2023

Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis: What to Know


June 2023

How to Identify Cavities Early


May 2023

Banish Bad Breath: Uncover the Causes


April 2023

Ease Dental Anxiety: 5 Proven Methods


March 2023

What is Plaque – And Why Is It Harmful?


February 2023

Start Your Flossing Habit Today


January 2022

Twice-Yearly Dental Appointments Are Necessary!


December 2022

3 Easy Toothbrushing Techniques


November 2022

Overcome Dental Anxiety With These Top 3 Strategies


October 2022


September 2022

4 Tips to Make Flossing Easy and Comfortable


August 2022

Does Tongue Scraping Actually Improve Your Dental Hygiene?


July 2022

3 Ways Dental Hygiene Can Affect Your Overall Health


June 2022

How Do You Keep Your Teeth Healthy Over the Summer? 


May 2022

How to Have Sparkling Teeth Without a Toothbrush


April 2022

4 Easy Steps to Spring Clean Your Dental Routine


March 2022

5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Dental Hygiene Today


February 2022

4 Simple Ways to Treat Gingivitis


January 2022

Regular Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning: What Do You Need? 


December 2021

The Most Common Tooth Brushing Mistakes You're Making Today


November 2021

Fluoride Myths and Facts


October 2021

3 Things to know about Replacing your Toothbrush


September 2021

Dentures or Dental Implants?


August 2021

-How to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth


July 2021

-Summer Dental Tips on the Go


June 2021

-Benefits of Orthodontics for All Ages


May 2021

-Avoiding Dental Visits


April 2021

-Oral Cancer Awareness Month


March 2021

-Time for Your Spring Cleaning


February 2021

-What to Expect at Your Latest Dental Visit


January 2021

-Create Your New Years' Smile


December 2020

-Dental Safe Holiday Meals


November 2020

-Oral Health Care for Adults


October 2020

-The Importance of Choosing an Emergency Dentist


September 2020

-How to Avoid Snacking


August 2020

-Tips for Better Oral Hygiene


July 2020

-Flossing 101: Tips from the Pros


June 2020

-Summer Foods for Healthy Teeth


May 2020

-Smile Transformation Options


April 2020

-Keep Your Teeth Healthy at Home


March 2020

-Maintain Your Dental Care Routine at Home


February 2020

-Celebrate Children's Dental Health Month!


January 2020

-New Year, New Smile! This Year's Smile Goals


December 2019

-Dental Habits to Break in the New Year


November 2019

-Thanksgiving Food & Dental Health


October 2019

-Tips for a Healthy Smile This Halloween


September 2019

-Identify and Prevent Cavities


August 2019

-Back-to-School Dental Visits


July 2019

-Popular Foods that Stain Your Teeth


June 2019

-Dangerous Dental Habits


May 2019

-Share the Dangers on No Tobacco Day


April 2019

-Oral Cancer Awareness Month


March 2019

-Nutrition and Your Smile


February 2019


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018


June 2018


May 2018


April 2018


March 2018


February 2018


January 2018


December 2017


November 2017


October 2017


September 2017


August 2017


July 2017


June 2017


May 2017


April 2017


March 2017


February 2017


January 2017


December 2016


November 2016


October 2016


September 2016


August 2016


July 2016


June 2016


May 2016


January 2016








March 2014

Tips for Maximizing your Oral Health


How do you feel about a dental cleaning and exam? 

Some squirm.  

Some look forward to it... almost.

It's when a toothache comes along that many find new inspiration to get to the dentist fast.


You can help avoid those quick trips to the dentist by visiting your dentist more often.  Go for cleanings and exams every six months.  Some people like to visit every three to four months to keep their oral hygiene at its best. Here are some tips to help you maximize your oral health:  


  • Get screened annually for oral cancer.  We use new, targeted technology to screen our patients thoroughly and comfortably.
  • Fluoride is an important ingredient for a healthy smile. Your teeth are more resistant to decay when they benefit from fluoride toothpaste.  
  • If you are 50 years or older, you will do better without alcohol in your mouthwash. Choose a fluoride-based mouthwash instead.
  • Brush your crowns, dentures, and veneers to keep them clean and bright.
  • Store your toothbrush with brush up in the air, so it can dry more easily.  Allow your toothbrush to dry after each use to prevent bacteria build-up.
  • Visit your dentist twice per year to promote your oral health and protect yourself from being surprised by serious problems. Bi-annual visits help prevent plaque build-up and gum disease.


We recommend asking friends and family for dentist referrals. Experience, patient treatment, technology, staff professionalism, office hours and location are all important factors to consider.



February 2014

Why See Your Dentist Annually?


Whether you are 3 or 93, your oral health is so important. Oral health reflects your overall health. But there are 100 million Americans among us who fail to see a dentist each year, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease. If you are 1 of the 100 million who do not go to your dentist annually, please reconsider! Take a look below at frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding dental visits:  

Question: Why do regular dental visits matter?
Answer: Regular dental visits are important with helping to identify oral health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many oral problems from developing. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

Here are 15 signs you should see a dentist:

  • It’s been over a year since you’ve seen your dentist
  • Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold
  • Your gums are puffy and/or they bleed when you brush or floss
  • You have fillings, crowns, dental implants, dentures, etc.
  • You don’t like the way your smile or teeth look
  • You have persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • You are pregnant
  • You have pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
  • You have difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • You have a family history of gum disease or tooth decay
  • You have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, or are HIV positive
  • Your mouth is often dry
  • You smoke or use other tobacco products
  • You are undergoing medical treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy
  • Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when opening and closing, chewing or when you first wake up; you have an uneven bite
  • You have a spot or sore that doesn’t look or feel right in your mouth and it isn’t going away.

Question: If I don’t have any of these symptoms, how often do I need to see the dentist?
  At least once annually. Twice is better, and if you use dental insurance, your 2 preventative /diagnostic visits per year are covered. Frequent visits are important because, unfortunately, you can still have oral health problems that only a dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan, and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your oral health.

Question: How do I find a dentist?
Answer: The American Dental Association offers these suggestions for finding a dentist:

  • Visit ADA Find-a-Dentist to search dentists in your area. 
  • Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations. 
  • Ask your family physician or local pharmacist.
  • If you're moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
  • Call or write your state dental society.

Question: What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
You may want to call or visit more than one dentist before making your decision. Dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good relationship between the dentist and the patient. During your first visit, you should be able to determine if this is the right dentist for you.

Things you’ll want to consider: 

  • Is the appointment schedule convenient for you? 
  • Is the office location easy to get to from your home or job? 
  • Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly?
  • Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?
  • Does the dentist explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems?
  • Does the staff provide dental health instruction?
  • Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.
  • Does the office provide information about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? 
  • Is the dentist a member of the ADA? All ADA member dentists voluntarily agree to abide by the high ethical standards reflected in the member code of conduct. You and your dentist are partners in maintaining your oral health. Take time to ask questions and take notes if that will help you remember your dentist's advice.

Tips to help you take care of your smile:

  • Healthy Habits - Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily are essential for everyone, no matter how unique your mouth is. It’s the best way to fight tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Continuity of care - An important part of any health plan and dental health is no exception. When you visit your dentist routinely, oral problems have the chance to be identified early. For example, catching gum disease when it is still reversible, or detecting cavities when they are small and more easily treated.
  • Maintenance - Keeping your mouth healthy is essential to your general health. It’s important to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your overall health.
  • Talk about it! Only your dentist can determine what the best treatment plan is for you. Have questions about your oral health or certain dental procedures? Start a conversation. Ask your dentist to explain step-by-step. Dentists love having satisfied, healthy patients.

Question: What is the difference between DDS and DMD?
If you’re looking to find a dentist you may notice that while most are listed with a “DDS”, some may be listed as “DMD”. They both mean the same thing—your dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same degrees. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. The level of education and clinical training required to earn a dental degree, and the high academic standards of dental schools are on par with those of medical schools. Upon completion of their training, dentists must pass both a rigorous national written exam and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. In order to keep their licenses, they must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder of their careers so that they may stay up to date on the latest scientific and clinical developments.


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January 2014

You need a Dental Crown. Here’s why you WANT one:


A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a tooth to cover and restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. The crown is cemented into place to fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth. Crowns can have a long life, lasting 15 years. They and offer a quick and easy fix for a troubled tooth. 


Why do I need a Dental Crown?


1. To protect a weak tooth (e.g. from decay) from breaking or to hold a cracked tooth together


2. To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down


3. To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn't a lot of teeth left


4. To cover misshaped or severely discolored teeth


5. To cover a dental implant


6. To hold a dental bridge in place


7. To make a cosmetic modification


For children, a crown may be used on primary (baby) teeth to:


• Save a tooth that has been damaged by decay to the point that it can't support a filling


• Protect the teeth of a child at high risk for tooth decay, especially when a child has difficulty keeping up with daily oral hygiene.


• Decrease the frequency of sedation and general anesthesia for children unable because of age, behavior, or medical history to fully cooperate with the requirements of proper dental care. In such cases, a pediatric dentist is likely to recommend a stainless steel crown.


Permanent and Temporary Crowns

Dr. Hunsinger prefers using ceramic for permanent crowns for several reasons:


• Ceramic crowns provide a most natural color match to other teeth

  • Ceramic crowns work well for people with metal allergies
  • Ceramic crowns have depth of color and shape to look most natural as front teeth


• Temporary vs. permanent crowns: Temporary crowns can be made in your dentist's office, whereas permanent crowns are made in a dental laboratory. Temporary crowns are made of acrylic or stainless steel and can be used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is constructed by a lab.


What Steps Are Involved in Preparing a Tooth for a Crown?


Preparing a tooth for a crown usually requires two visits to the dentist. The first visit involves examining and preparing the tooth, the second visit involves placing the permanent crown.


First Visit: Examining and preparing the tooth.

During your first visit, your dentist may take some X-rays to view the roots of the tooth receiving the crown, and view the surrounding bone. If the tooth has extensive decay or if there is a risk of infection or injury to the tooth's pulp, a root canal treatment may be recommended. If the roots and bone look fine, your dentist will anesthetize (numb) the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue before filing down the tooth to make room for the crown. If a large area of the tooth is missing due to decay or damage, your dentist will use the filling material to "build up" the tooth to support the crown. After reshaping the tooth, your dentist will use a paste or putty to make an impression of the tooth to receive the crown. Impressions of surrounding teeth will also be made to ensure the crown will fit your bite. The impressions may be sent to a dental lab where the crown will be manufactured. The permanent crown is typically returned to your dentist's office within two weeks. Don't worry, you won't have to wait without a tooth for two weeks!  Your dentist will make you a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is prepared. Temporary crowns are often made of acrylic and held in place using temporary cement.


Second Visit: Receiving the permanent dental crown.

During your second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown, and check the fit and color of the permanent crown. Dr. Hunsinger wants every detail to look and feel its best. If he is satisfied, he will anesthetize the area and cement the new permanent crown into place. He will advise taking it easy on the crown over the next day or so, avoiding hard crunchy sticky foods.


How Long do Dental Crowns Last?


On average, dental crowns last between five and 15 years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of ‘wear and tear’ on the crown, how well you follow good oral hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits. For example, you may give your crown a longer life by avoiding grinding or clenching teeth, chewing ice, biting fingernails, and using teeth as tools ( open packaging – don’t do it!).


Does a Crowned Tooth Require Special Care?


While a crowned tooth does not require special care, remember that the crown does not protect the underlying tooth from decay or gum disease. You must continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day -- especially around the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Antibacterial mouth rinse can also help.


How Much do Crowns Cost?


Costs of crowns vary depending on what part of the country you live in and on the type of crown selected. For example, porcelain crowns typically cost more than gold crowns, and gold crowns tend to cost more than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. A crown may range in cost from $950 to $1,600. A portion of the cost is covered by many dental insurance companies. In Dr. Hunsinger's office, we often see insurance coverage of crowns at 50%. To find out whether your insurance covers some of the cost, you may call the number on your dental insurance card.


What Problems Could Develop with a Crown?


• Discomfort or sensitivity. Your newly crowned tooth may be sensitive immediately after the procedure as the anesthesia begins to wear off. If the tooth that has been crowned still has a nerve in it, you may experience some heat and cold sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend that you brush teeth with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Pain or sensitivity that occurs when you bite down usually means that the crown is too high on the tooth. If this is the case, call your dentist. He or she can easily fix the problem.


• Chipped crown. Crowns made of all porcelain can sometimes chip. If the chip is small, a composite resin can be used to repair the chip with the crown remaining in your mouth. If the chipping is extensive, the crown may need to be replaced.


• Loose crown. Sometimes the cement washes out from under the crown. Not only does this allow the crown to become loose, it allows bacteria to leak in and cause decay to the tooth that remains. If a crown feels loose, contact your dentist's office.


• Crown falls off. Sometimes crowns fall off. Usually this is due to an improper fit, a lack of cement, or a very small amount of tooth structure remaining that the crown can hold on to. If this happens, clean the crown and the front of the tooth. You can replace the crown temporarily using dental adhesive or temporary tooth cement that is sold in stores for this purpose. Contact your dentist's office immediately. He or she will give you specific instructions on how to care for the tooth and crown for the day or so until you can be seen for an evaluation. Your dentist may be able to re-cement the crown in place; if not, a new crown will need to be made.


• Allergic reaction. Because the metals used to make crowns are usually a mixture of metals, an allergic reaction to the metals or porcelain used in crowns can occur, but this is extremely rare.


• Dark line on crowned tooth next to the gum line. A dark line next to the gum line of your crowned tooth is normal, particularly if you have a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown. This dark line is the metal of the crown showing through after gums recede.



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Choosing a Dental Plan Under the ACA


The health of your teeth and gums impacts your long-term, overall health. Dental disease can adversely affect your general health, so it’s important that you and your children see a dentist regularly to stay healthy. The Affordable Care Act (also commonly referred to as Obamacare) requires that the new health insurance exchanges offer dental plans for your children. Although the new act does not require dental coverage for adults, most state marketplaces will also offer dental coverage for adults. Visit to find out what plans you can purchase to help you with the cost of going to the dentist.


When considering which dental plan to purchase, consider the following questions to help you make your decision:


□ Will you and your children be able to see the dentist you want to see?


□ How far do you have to travel to see a dentist that accepts the dental plan?


□ What is the monthly cost for dental coverage?


□ Are your children eligible for help with the cost of going to the dentist under the ACA through tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies from the federal government?


□ Is there an annual limit to what the plan will pay for your adult coverage? (There is no limit for children’s coverage.)


□ How much of the cost does the plan cover for routine visits that may include dental cleanings, sealants, X-rays, and fluoride treatments?


□ How much of the cost does the plan cover for fillings, root canals, oral surgery (such as extractions), and treatment of gum disease?


□ How much of the cost does the plan cover for major dental care (such as crowns, dentures, fixed bridges, implants or treatment for disease of the jaw joint)?


□ Is there a waiting period before the plan covers certain care?


□ Does the plan cover the cost of braces?


□ How does the plan treat referrals to dentists who are specialists for things like root canals or gum disease treatment?


If you have questions or need additional assistance, you may call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Hotline at 1-800-318-2596. Even if you choose not to purchase a plan, we recommend visiting your dentist and asking about flexible payment options.


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December 2013

T'is the season for enjoying delicious foods!


Along with keeping your teeth clean by brushing and flossing daily, there are foods that help promote healthy teeth and gums. Try these 5 foods to give your mouth an advantage:


1. Cranberries - It’s cranberry season, dig in! Cranberries contain polyphenols that help keep plaque from sticking to teeth, lowering the risk of eventual tooth decay and cavities. Watch out for the sugar-sweetened cranberry products to avoid inviting cavities.


2. Crunchy foods - Natural foods like carrots and apples are loaded with antioxidants and help clean your teeth. They can break up dental plaque like your toothbrush, and give you health-boosting vitamins and nutrients.


3. Raisins - Naturally sweet without added sugar, raisins can suppress sugar cravings. They also contain phytochemicals, which kill bacteria in the mouth. Some reports suggest that raisins also affect the growth of certain bacteria associated with gum disease.


4. Tea - Like cranberries, tea contains polyphenols that can slow the growth of bacteria and plaque development. Black tea, in particular, has been shown to stop bacteria growth.


5. High-Calcium Greens - Calcium, along with phosphate, helps redeposit minerals into tiny lesions on teeth. These lesions are often caused by acidic foods. High-calcium greens include kale, broccoli, and spinach, which also offer other health benefits.


Read more:

January 2017

January 2017