Gettysburg Family Dentist Blog

Peter Samuels

Recent Posts

Chewing Kills

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, May 15, 2017 @ 17:05 PM




Chewing Tobacco -- it's been touted as a safer alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco for the long-term still causes many health problems and is a hard habit to break. But did you know that tobacco use can cause serious oral health problems as well? 

Just like smoking, tobacco contains the extremely addictive chemical known as nicotine. But in addition to nicotine, there are approximately 30 cancer-causing substances found in smokeless tobacco. So what kinds of problems can you run into with chewing tobacco?

Gum Disease

Users place chewing tobacco along the gum line and let it sit there for long periods of time. While it sits, it releases chemicals that irritate the gums, causing the gums to recede. This significantly increases your risk of gum disease potentially leading to serious infection (periodontitis) and tooth loss. 


Smokeless tobacco contains a lot of sugar. If you are placing it next to your teeth and just letting it sit there, the sugar feed bacateria that cause tooth decay. Chewing tobacco also has sand and grit in it that wears down tooth enamel, opening the door for even more cavities. 


It really should come as no surprise that chewing tobacco can also cause cancer anywhere in your mouth or throat. In particular, you can get small, white, pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakia in your mouth. The more you chew, the higher your chances of getting cancer. 

It may seem like a better idea to chew tobacco rather than smoke. But the reality is that smokeless tobacco can do just as much harm to your health as smoking. Quitting can be difficult, but with medications or help from a doctor you can kick the habit and look forward to a brighter future of oral health.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.       717-334-0555

Periodontal Disease 101

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

Diagnosed With Periodontal Disease: Now What?

 Gettysburg dentist

Being told by a dentist that you have periodontal disease can be a startling experience. Usually there is no pain and, until teeth become loose, there are few symptoms. Your dentist can make the diagnosis bases on dental x-rays which can show bone loss and clinically by looking for periodontal pockets between the gums and the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease cannot really be cured. Generally, once supporting jaw bone is lost, it will not grow back. There is a lot, however, that we can do to help stop the disease from progressing.

Schedule Your Root Planing and Scaling

The first step to managing your periodontal disease will often be a non-surgical gum treatment known as root planing and scaling. During this procedure, you will be numbed so that a hygienist, dentist, or periodontist can use special instruments to thoroughly clean underneath your gum line. The goal of root planing and scaling is to remove plaque and tartar that has built up and become inaccessible with just standard teeth-cleaning.

Often times, dentists will recommend that you complete your root planing and scaling in two sessions: one side of your mouth in one session and the other side during the next session. This way, you don't need to have your entire mouth numbed at once. Some patients elect to be sedated to have the entire procedure completed in one relaxing visit.

Follow Up With Regular Maintenance Cleanings

After your root planing and scaling procedure, you'll probably find that your gums look and feel a lot healthier. The swelling and redness should subside, and your gums probably won't bleed as easily as they used to--especially when brushing and/or flossing.

Your treatment doesn't end here, however. Even once root planing and scaling is over with, you will need to see your dentist for periodontal maintenance cleanings from this point on--and probably for the rest of your life. Generally, maintenance cleanings are recommended every three to four months and involve a deeper cleaning than your traditional teeth cleaning. Keeping up with these appointments will be key managing your periodontal disease, so make them a priority.

Focus on Your Overall Dental Health Habits

Finally, there are some steps you can take at home when it comes to managing your periodontitis. Specifically, if you weren't taking the time to floss regularly before your diagnosis, now is the time to start. In addition, flossing at least once a day and brushing your teeth at least twice a day will help to keep your gums nice and healthy. Are you a smoker? Time to stop! Smoking makes you more prone to periodontal disease. Be sure to replace your toothbrush with a new one at least once every few months.

Managing your periodontal disease will take some effort on your part, but it will be more than worth it when you have the best chance of being able to keep your teeth for a lifetime.


Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.   717-334-0555

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Topics: dentist

A Guide to the TMJ

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

gettysburg dentistTMJ: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

What is TMJ?

The TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint.  This is the sliding joint connection between the lower jaw and the skull.  If someone says they have “TMJ” really this doesn’t make sense.  It’s like saying “I have knee!”  The correct terminology would be TMD or temporomandibular disorder.

OK, then what is TMD?

Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds are sometimes indications of displacement or damage to the cartilage within the joint. Locking of the jaw on opening can indicate a displaced joint disc.   Pain can occur within the joint or in muscles surrounding the joint. Many people unconsciously grind their teeth at night.  Grinding, also called bruxing, can put tremendous stressing forces on the joints as well as the teeth.  This is especially the case if the occlusion, the way the teeth fit together, is not in good harmony with the position of the jaw joints. Joints can become inflamed. Arthritic changes can occur.  Muscles can tense and ache.  Headaches, muscles aches, and even neck aches, can result.

How Is TMD Treated?

Generally we try to treat TMJ problems conservatively.  A night-time, hard, acrylic splint appliance that is carefully adjusted to restore the proper harmony between the joints and the bite is often very effective at relieving pain and preventing headaches. The appliance should be custom made in a laboratory in such a way that the jaw condyles are properly positioned when the teeth bite on the appliance. This position tends to relax muscles activity and help prevent further joint damage. If a splint appliance proves effective, then the bite can often be adjusted, (equilibrated) to improve the bite even when the appliance is not in the mouth.  Sometimes medications such as pain relievers, tricyclic antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and sedatives are helpful. Botox injections of the jaw muscles can also provide relief. Physical therapy and jaw exercises can also help.


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Benefits of Dental Implants

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 @ 15:07 PM

Why Consider Dental Implants? Learn Five Important Benefits Here 
gettysburg dentist dental implants 
Many people suffer from tooth loss, typically due to tooth decay, gum disease, or injuries. If you're missing teeth, you might wonder how you can restore your smile. Today, dentures aren't the only option for those who suffer from tooth loss; dental implants are a viable treatment option for many.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
For many years, bridges and dentures were the primary options available to people who were missing teeth. Today, dental implants-- which are artificial tooth roots placed in the jaw-- serve as a foundation for permanent or removable replacement teeth. The benefits of using dental implants are numerous and include:
Improved confidence. Many people who suffer from tooth loss describe themselves as lacking in self-esteem. They often hesitate to smile and feel self-conscious about their appearance. With dental implants, patients can feel a renewed sense of confidence and smile without reservation.
Speech improvement. If dentures are not fitted properly, they can cause speech problems, including slurring of the words. With dental implants, patients never have to worry about their dentures slipping and causing them to have difficulty speaking.
Easier mealtimes. Denture wearers know that eating can sometimes feel like a chore. Dentures can slip, making mealtime a hassle instead of an enjoyable experience. Implants allow you to eat as you would with your natural teeth.
Improved smile. The vast majority of implant patients will agree that their smiles have improved as a result of their implants. In fact, many feel that their overall appearance improved after getting dental implants.
Ease of use. Dentures, while functional, are rarely described as convenient. After all, they're removable, and thus can slip out of place. They also require inconvenient adhesives. Because dental implants are treated as natural teeth, they are convenient and allow patients to bypass potentially embarrassing situations resulting from denture removal.
Caring for your dental implants
With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime. Fortunately, implants don't require special care; patients should care for them as they care for their natural teeth. This includes brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once a day, and visiting the dentist for regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings.
Questions about implants? Give us a call!
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.   737-334-0555

A Different Kind of Crown

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

gettysburg dentist crown
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.."  - Shakespeare
While most people likely do not look forward to getting a dental crown, it sometimes becomes necessary. However, not everyone is familiar with what a crown is-- or why they're needed. So, what exactly is a dental crown? A crown-- which is kind of like an artificial layer of enamel placed over a tooth-- serves a number of functions. A dental crown not only improves the appearance of a damaged tooth, it also strengthens the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Crowns are usually custom made for your particular tooth by a dental lab technician. Sometimes it is also possible to make an in -office, CADCAM designed Cerec crown. Let's discuss some more information about crowns below.
When is a crown needed?
If your dentist has recommended a crown to you, you might wonder why it's necessary. Crowns are typically recommended in the following situations:
  • Large filling replacement. If you have a large filling that needs replacement, your dentist might recommend a crown instead. This is particularly true if the filling is so large that there is very little tooth remaining.
  • Repair a fractured tooth. Sometimes, fractured teeth are restored by using dental crowns. The tooth-shaped cap is placed over the damaged tooth, helping to strengthen it.
  • Prevent fracture. Not only are crowns used to repair fractured teeth, they are also sometimes used to prevent fractures in weak and at-risk teeth.
  • Root canal. If you've had a root canal, your dentist will likely place a crown over the affected tooth.
  • Improve appearance. If you have a chipped, discolored, or otherwise damaged tooth, a crown is sometimes used to improve its appearance.
Caring for your dental crown
When cared for properly, a dental crown can last between five and fifteen years. It's important to maintain good oral hygiene and remember that your crown isn't immune to tooth decay or gum disease. Thus, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and daily flossing is essential. When flossing and brushing, take special care of the area around the crown, where the tooth and crown margins meet. Make sure to visit your dentist and hygienist for regular preventative care as well.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
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Topics: Cosmetic Dentistry

Prevention; The Cheapest Dental Insurance!

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 08:06 AM

Prevention; the Cheapest Dental Insurance!


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Taking care of your teeth is an important part of your overall health, yet many people avoid going to the dentist altogether. One of the most commonly cited reasons for avoiding the dentist's office is the cost. If you don't properly manage your teeth, however, you're much more likely to spend a significant amount of money in restorative dental care down the road.

 Preventive dentistry emphasizes both at-home care and regular dental check-ups. By making a commitment to practice preventive dentistry, you can save yourself thousands of dollars!  Let's discuss five tips for saving money on dental treatment.

At-home care. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day, while so simple, is

 the most important first step in preventive dentistry. Remove the plaque from between your teeth and prevent 90 percent of all problems!

Fluoride treatments. After every dental cleaning, have your dentist or hygienist provide a fluor

ide treatment, which strengthens the teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay. Additionally, there are toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride that you can use at home. Don't hesitate to ask your dentist for recommendations.

Regular dental visits. Preventive dentistry means visiting your dentist at least every six months for regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings. Only a dentist or hygienist can remove hard tartar deposits from around the gumline. Remove it frequently and you avoid gum disease. Many dental conditions aren't initially painful, which means you're often unaware of their existence until they've progressed enough to cause significant--and costly-- damage. Regular check-ups help to ensure that any potential concerns are caught and treated early. Want to know a secret?  Most dentists I know have their teeth cleaned every 3 months!

Digital x-rays. Not all dental problems are visible to the naked eye. Digital x-rays allow dentists to catch problems-- such as cavities between the teeth or issues below the gum line-- before they become expensive. Special lasers can be used to detect cavities while they are still small and easy to restore. 

Healthy diet. What you eat has a significant impact not only on your physical health, but your oral health. Additionally, diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates can ultimately lead to tooth decay. This is because the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth that causes dental plaque, feasts on carbohydrates. Stop with the all day soda sipping habit! 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland Dental School.



Topics: dental habits

Information about Gum Disease and Diabetes

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 @ 13:06 PM

What You Should Know about Gum Disease and Diabetes

        If you are diabetic you are more likely to develop periodontal disease because of an increased susceptibility to infection. In fact, gum disease is frequently considered a complication of diabetes. If diabetes is not well controlled, there is an increase in your saliva’s glucose levels and this causes harmful bacteria to fester. These bacteria form a sticky film called plaque. According to diabetes research, the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is reciprocal. The findings suggesgettysburg dentistt that periodontal disease may make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

       While gum disease may not be painful, there are warning signs to watch for including: • Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth. This bleeding is a red flag and you should see a dentist.• Gums that are red, swollen, or tender. • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth. You may be able to see the roots of your teeth or they may look longer. • Pus appears when you press your gums. • Bad breath.Loose teeth. • Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite together. • Changes in the fit of partial dentures.

       Taking care of your teeth at home can help prevent gum disease. It’s important to brush and floss at least once every day. But professional dental care is also extremely important. Gum disease causes pockets that are deeper than the normal gaps between the teeth and gums. Only a professional cleaning can remove the bacteria from deep pockets. Often gum disease can be avoided or well controlled by cleanings three or 4 times a year. Your diabetes will be easier to control, you’ll be healthier, and you can avoid dentures and gum surgery.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.


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A Beginner's Guide to Gum Disease and Diabetes

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 15:05 PM

Gum Disease and Diabetes: What’s the Connection?


Diabetes is a common disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3% of the American population had diabetes in 2012. It’s also a serious disease being the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.

Diabetes is serious because it can lead to so many complications. It may increase your chances for heart disease. It can lead to blindness. Foot problems are a common complication. In 2010 complications from diabetes resulted in 73,000 amputations.

While the statistics seem depressing,Gum Disease and Diabetes the good news is that with the proper care many of these complications can be delayed or avoided altogether. Listen to your physician and do what he or she tells you.

Make sure to visit your dentist as well!  One of the complications of diabetes is gingivitis or gum disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gum disease has been called the fifth complication of diabetes (after heart, nerve, kidney and eye disease).

What’s the link between gum disease and diabetes?  Diabetes results in a greater inflammatory response to the bacteria present around the teeth and gums. If left untreated, the resulting inflammation and infection can then develop into periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and, ultimately, tooth loss.

Conversly, gum disease can affect diabetes..  As periodontal infection progresses it can make it increasingly difficult for someone with diabetes to control his or her blood sugars. In other words, not only can diabetes lead to periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can then increase the severity of the diabetes.

There is a happy side to this, though. Periodontal disease can often be treated conservatively and without surgery.  If your gum disease is treated, it will make it easier, in the long run, to keep your blood sugar under control.

With the right care, today's diabetic can usually live a long and happy life. Your dentist has an important part to play in helping you stay healthy!

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.  334-0555

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Your Headaches and Your Teeth

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 14:05 PM


Did you know that your tension or stress headache maybe caused by teeth grinding or a malaligned bitegettysburg tmj dentist

The medical name, Bruxism, is the grinding, gnashing or clenching of your teeth. . This can occur during the day and, more commonly, while you sleep.  Many people are completely unaware of this activity, but your dentist can always tell!

Jaw muscles allow us to chew, close, and open our jaws. Every time you swallow, the upper and lower teeth come together to brace your lower jaw against the skull. If the teeth don’t meet properly the muscles can become painful. If the bite is off and you grind your teeth at night it’s a double wammy! Headaches, muscle aches, jaw pain and jaw popping may result. Additionally you may crack teeth and fillings or simply wear your teeth down to nubs.

Signs and Symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of bruxism and a misaligned bite may include:

  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • Flattened teeth, chipped, loose or fractured teeth
  • Worn enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Soreness in your face or jaw
  • Tight or tired jaw muscles
  • Earache
  • Dull headache in the temples
  • Waking up with a headache


A dentist may prescribe an oral, splint appliance (orthotic) made of acrylic to protect the teeth for severe and persistent bruxism. A well adjusted, custom made splint appliance can do much more than an over the counter night guard. It can be constructed in such a way that the harmony is restored between the jaw joints and the bite, thus reducing muscle strain and relieving pressure on the jaw joints.

Sometimes, after a period of splint wear, the bite can be adjusted to ideal. This is called equilibration. Your dentist can make tiny adjustments to teeth and fillings to restore the harmony between the jaw joints and the teeth.

Some headaches can be easily taken care of with the help of a dental professional. It is in the best interest of a headache sufferer to make an appointment with their family dentist, who may be able to diagnose the cause.Once again, harmony can be restored in the mouth and the headaches may dissappear!

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He is on the clinical faculty at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and treats TMJ problems.


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Topics: Cosmetic Dentistry, Bruxism, Dentist Gettysburg, headaches, tension, tmj pain

Snore Appliances "I can't tolerate my CPAP!"

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 6, 2015 @ 09:05 AM



Sleep therapies can be frustrating for those who suffer from severe snoring and sleep apnea. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50-70 million adults have some sort of sleep disorder that causes snoring, a major indicator of obstructive sleep problems. 

However, there is a distinction. Although many people snore, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. And, not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea, snores. 

How you feel during the day will tell you whether you have severe snoring problems or sleep apnea. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

If you are like most people who have severe snoring problems, snoring can get in the way of your partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health. 

It's likely a solution will include the prescription of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. It works by forcing a constant and steady air pressure into your body using a hose and wearing a mask or nose piece. Unfortunately there are problems with the device as it is not uncommon that the mask will leak, it's uncomfortable, cumbersome and many people have trouble falling asleep with something over the face. It is also a big problem for people with claustrophobia and can result in a dry mouth or nose.

Many people with severe snoring and sleep apnea ask the same question, "What if I can't tolerate my CPAP?"

There are alternative therapies that have proven to work well, such as the use of a dental sleep appliance. The appliance is designed to help control snoring and sleep apnea.  

It’s custom made to fit your particular mouth and bite and looks a lot like a sports mouth guard. It works by positioning the lower jaw down and forward thereby helping to keep the airway open and preventing problems in breathing. Your dentist is able to fit and adjust the appliance to optimally open the airway. 

Successful results from a study by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine showed that using the appliance significantly reduced sleep interruptions and snoring.

For more information about the dental sleep and snore appliances, please contact us. We are pleased to discuss this and any dental services from our office. 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.