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Wisdom Teeth 101

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 11:05 AM




While few people likely look forward to having their wisdom teeth removed, it's become a rite of passage of sorts for people in their late teens and early twenties. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly wisdom teeth are, who needs to have them removed, and why they need to be removed. Let's attempt to clear up some of the confusion below.

What are wisdom teeth?

Although their name sounds somewhat mysterious, wisdom teeth are actually the third set of molars. Their name derives from the fact that they come in so late-- typically in the late teenage years or even in the early twenties. Thus, people are thought to be "wiser" by the time this third-- and final-- set of molars arrive.

Is removal really necessary?

Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary. In fact, these third molars can be beneficial if they're healthy and properly aligned. However, removal is quite common due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Misalignment. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth frequently come in at odd angles, damaging nearby teeth and potentially even damaging nerves.
  • Impacted teeth. Wisdom teeth are also commonly impacted, or embedded in the gums or jawbone. Impacted teeth can damage adjacent healthy teeth and can grow cysts.  Impacted teeth that are partially exposed through the gum often become infected and painful.
  • Limited space. Although a couple of extra teeth may seem like no big deal, some people simply don't have room in their mouths for wisdom teeth.

What's the removal procedure like?

Your oral surgeon will usually remove impacted wisdom teeth under general anesthesia so that you don't experience any pain. How complex the surgery is depends on how many wisdom teeth you need to have removed and whether or not they're impacted. When wisdom teeth are impacted, an incision must be made into the gums in order to reach the teeth. When the teeth have already erupted-- either partially or fully-- removal is sometimes relatively simple.

What if I Wait Till I’m Older?

If third molars should be removed, then generally the younger you are the easier it is.  Complications with healing go up significantly with age.

What can I expect during recovery?

During the recovery period, you should expect some swelling, which can minimized with the use of ice packs. You should also take any medication prescribed to you by your oral surgeon as directed. While your mouth recovers, stick to soft foods and make sure to stay hydrated. Stay away from hard or crunchy foods and avoid smoking during recovery.

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

717-334-0555  GettysburgFamilyDentist.com














Topics: Wisdom Teeth

Gettysburg Dentist and Dental Emergencies

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 3, 2016 @ 10:05 AM



Dental emergencies are urgent dental concerns that need to be taken care of immediately. Waiting a few weeks-- or even a few days-- can mean the difference between saving a tooth and losing a tooth. But what exactly is considered a dental emergency? Let's consider four examples below:

Missing filling. Sometimes, fillings-- and particularly old fillings-- fall out and need to be replaced. Most of the time they fall out for a reason.  Decay has occurred and the filling has failed.  When this happens, it's a good idea to contact your dental office immediately and let them know you lost a filling. Your dentist will usually be able to get you in right away to at least put something temporary on the tooth to prevent further damage and bacteria infiltration.

Lost crown. Occasionally, dental crowns can fall out. If possible, save the dislodged crown and bring it with you to your dentist's office. Often the old crown can be easily re-cemented.  But don’t wait too long!  Even a few days without the crown in place can mean the old crown no longer fitting properly. 

Dislodged tooth. If your tooth becomes dislodged-- either partially or completely-- contact your dental office and tell them you need to be seen immediately. If the tooth is replaced within an hour of becoming dislodged, it has the best chance of surviving.

Chipped tooth. It's not uncommon to chip or break a tooth; this frequently happens due to sports-related injuries or even chewing on hard candy. If possible, save all of the pieces of the damaged tooth and contact your dentist immediately.  The sooner a dentist can at least place something temporary on the broken tooth the better.   In the meantime, if the tooth chipped to trauma, try to minimize swelling by using an ice pack on the face immediately outside of the affected area.

Dental Infections. Swelling of the jaw or face due to a dental infection should never be taken lightly.  If left untreated it could potentially land you in the hospital.  If you cannot be seen immediately by a dentist it may be wise to go to an emergency room for evaluation.


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

717-334-0555        GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Ask Your Gettysburg Dentist about Abscessed Teeth

Posted by Peter Samuels on Sun, Apr 24, 2016 @ 15:04 PM



There are a number of causes of toothache, including decay, injury, sinus problems, and even clenching or grinding. An abscessed tooth-- which is an infection that occurs in the pulp of the tooth and can then spread to the bone and tissues surrounding the tooth root, can be a serious dental emergency that needs prompt treatment.


Could you possibly have an abscessed tooth? Only your dentist can tell you for sure, but consider the following symptoms:

  • Tooth pain If you have persistent, severe pain that wakes you up at night an abscessed tooth might be the cause.
  • Fever. An abscessed tooth is an infection, so the body may respond with a fever.
  • Swollen gums. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of gum discomfort. An abscessed tooth, however, can also cause swollen, red, and tender gums. Sometimes, an open, draining sore on the gums will also be present.
  • Foul-smelling breath. While there are many causes of halitosis, persistent, foul-smelling breath can be indicative of an abscessed tooth. Likewise, a bitter taste in the mouth should prompt further investigation.
  • No Symptoms. Surprisingly, many abscessed teeth do not hurt at all.  Pain from an abscessed tooth is caused by pressure building up in the bone. If the infection finds a place to drain or dissipate, there may be no pain.  Signs of an abscess can show up on a routine dental x-ray, usually as a dark shadow above the root tip.


The main culprit behind an abscessed tooth is severe tooth decay. Your best line of defense against developing an abscessed tooth is good oral hygiene, including:

  • Regular brushing. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, and more often if you've been indulging in sugary snacks or carb-loaded food.
  • Flossing. Brushing alone is not enough. Flossing is an important part of good oral hygiene; floss can reach the areas between the teeth where food particles and bacterial plaque get trapped.
  • Preventive care. Visiting your dentist for check-ups, professional cleanings and fluoride treatments is a vital part of maintaining a healthy smile. It’s the only way to catch cavities when they are small before the decay gets close to the pulp and can cause a dental abscess. 


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

717-334-0555   GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Topics: Dentist Gettysburg, Absessed tooth

Gettysburg Dentist Debunks Dental Myths

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 @ 17:04 PM



Millions of Americans have fear, stress, or anxiety associated with going to the dentist. In extreme cases, the fear is so profound that it's classified as dental phobia. Often, this fear is intensified by a belief in several common dental myths. Let's examine some of the most prevalent myths concerning dental care and the truth behind the misconceptions:

If I don't eat sugar, I won't get cavities. Cutting sugar from your diet isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it's also not a surefire guarantee that you'll live a cavity-free life. That's because cavities are caused by acid that's produced by harmful bacteria in the mouth. Any type of carb you eat provides fuel for the acid-producing bacteria. This doesn't mean that you have to live a carb-free life, either; it simply means that you should attempt to eat a balanced diet and make an effort to brush your teeth after a carb-filled meal. 

If I brush my teeth, I don't need to floss.  Many people believe that, as long as they're brushing their teeth twice a day, they're in the clear. That is simply not the case. Flossing is not an optional part of your oral hygiene routine; it's an essential part. Floss can reach between the teeth where the toothbrush misses, releasing food particles and bacterial plaque that could lead to decay.

I'll know if I have a cavity because it will hurt. Sometimes, people avoid the dentist for years, reasoning that they can't possibly have a cavity because their teeth don't hurt. While cavities can be painful, pain typically occurs after the cavity has grown and progressed. Thus, you can have a small cavity with no pain at all. That's why it's essential to visit the dentist every 6 months; small cavities can be caught and treated with conservative bonding before they become bigger concerns.

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

GettysburgFamilyDentist.com                   717-334-0555

Gum Disease, Diabetes and your Gettysburg Dentist

Posted by Peter Samuels on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 @ 19:03 PM



Periodontal disease starts with bacterial growth in your mouth and can lead to tooth loss. One of the main causes of periodontitis is dental plaque. Other factors are:

  • Illnesses
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medications
  • Smoking
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • A family history of the disease

Gum disease can progress slowly and painlessly without any warning signs. There are however, symptoms to look out for including bleeding gums, bad breath, and the formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums. A dentist can diagnose periodontal disease during a dental exam by checking for the following:

  • Gum swelling or bleeding
  • Teeth movement and sensitivity
  • Bone loss evident on x-rays
  • Pockets between the gums and teeth

There is a link between periodontal disease and diabetes. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non diabetics.  Diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections in general and gum disease is a form of infection. Patients with poor blood sugar control get gum disease more often and more severely. Their immune system may not function properly, thus creating the risk of developing gum problems. Another theory is that damage to capillaries in the gums of diabetics may reduce the blood supply  to the gums. Lack of a good blood supply may limit the gum tissue’s response to infection and the ability to heal.

It is imperative that people with diabetes visit a dentist regularly. Good blood glucose control is a key factor in controlling and preventing mouth problems. A dentist can detect and treat gum issues before they become extreme. Good oral hygiene is also important. Your routine should include brushing, flossing daily.


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


GettysburgFamilyDentist.com   334-0555

Topics: Gum Disease

Dental Crowns.  How do you know you might need one?

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 08:02 AM


 Gettysburg dentist Peter J. Samuels, DDS



No one likes to hear the news that one of their teeth has a crack or cavity. Small cavities can be bonded with composite, but from time to time a dentist will recommend restoring a damaged tooth with a dental crown. But, how do you know if you might need one?


A Cracked Tooth. A tooth can crack for a number of reasons: grinding the teeth, biting hard foods, an injury, and/or natural wear and tear. Indications of a possible crack are temperature sensitivity or pain while biting. Unfortunately, once a cracked tooth develops symptoms it can be much more difficult to save the tooth. It’s generally much better to restore a cracked tooth before sensitivity develops!  If the crack is a surface crack just within the enamel, then bonding the tooth to keep the crack from spreading can work, however, if the crack is more extensive, then a crown would be the best solution.


Decay and a Large Filling. Any tooth with a filling is at risk for cracking due to a weakened structure. The larger the filling required due to the amount of decay, the higher the risk. A dental crown can hold the cusps together to protect the remaining tooth from further damage. 


A back tooth that has had root canal treatment should usually have a crown to hold the weakened tooth together and help prevent cracking. 


Dental crowns have come a long way. Today, with modern all porcelain crowns, almost anyone can have a beautiful smile. These are not your grandfather's caps!



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

Tips for Finding a Dentist in Gettysburg

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 @ 15:02 PM


Gettysburg Dentist Peter J. Samuels, DDS

Three Tips for Finding a Dentist in the Gettysburg Area

The relationship between oral health and the body's overall health is well-documented. In fact, poor oral hygiene is linked to a number of health concerns, ranging from diabetes to heart disease. When it comes to your oral health, brushing and flossing at home isn't sufficient preventive care. Visiting a dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings is also essential. Equally important is finding the right dentist for your unique needs. If you're in the market for a new dentist, consider the following tips:

Ask for recommendations. When it comes to choosing a dentist, simply doing a quick internet search isn't typically effective. Instead, consider asking friends, family members, and even co-workers where they receive their dental care. Your family doctor is also a good resource for recommendations.

Do your research. Once you've gathered some recommendations, do your own research. Where should you start? Check out the websites of the practices you're considering. Review their business hours and look over the dentist's education and training. Then, look for patient reviews. If the website doesn't have a page reserved for testimonials, check online review sites for more information.

Ask questions. If you can't find the answers to the questions you're looking for on the company website, give the office a call. You might consider asking the following questions:

  • What is your policy for handling dental emergencies? Unfortunately, dental emergencies don't always occur during standard office hours, so it's important to make sure that any practice you're considering has a plan in place for handling after-hours emergencies.
  • What is involved in preventive care at your office? Besides a cleaning and check-up, what else is involved in preventive care? How often are X-rays taken?


  • If you're looking for a dentist in Gettysburg, contact us today. We'd love to help you achieve your healthiest smile!


Topics: Gettysburg dentist, Dentist Gettysburg

How to Handle Dental Phobia Gettysburg Dentist

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 @ 13:02 PM



Millions of Americans avoid going to the dentist for one surprising reason: dental phobia. While it's normal to feel some anxiety associated with visiting your dentist, true dental phobia goes far beyond nervousness. In fact, it can be truly debilitating, resulting in an avoidance of seeking dental care for years. But good oral hygiene is important-- not only to the health of your mouth, but to the health of your entire body. Thus, finding ways to cope with dental phobia is essential. Consider the following tips to help alleviate your fear of the dentist:

Be honest about your concerns. Tell your dentist upfront about your anxiety and what specifically causes it. For example, some people fear pain while others fear a loss of control during treatment. Be honest about your fears so that your dentist can help you develop a plan for comfortable treatment.

Ask what to expect. For many people, dental phobia stems from a fear of not being able to control the situation. In order to help combat this fear, ask your dentist to walk you through the entire procedure before he starts. Knowing what to expect in advance will eliminate any surprises and help alleviate anxiety.

Use a sign. Before treatment begins, establish a signal that you'll use to let your dentist know when you need a break. The signal can be something as simple as raising one hand into the air. This will let your dentist know that you need a break to calm down and focus on your breathing.

Bring your favorite music along. Distraction is often a useful tool for combating anxiety. Consider bringing along some of your favorite relaxing music to play during your treatment. Focus on the music instead of the procedure.

Discuss sedation dentistry: IV sedation anesthesia can dramatically reduce or eliminate anxiety.  If you need a lot of catch-up dental treatment, often it can all be accomplished in one comfortable visit with sedation anesthesia.

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


GettysburgCosmeticDental.com     717-334-0555

Topics: Sedation dentist Gettysburg

TMJ treatment discussed by Gettysburg dentist

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 07:05 AM


The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull in front of each ear. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side. This is part of the anatomy of your head that makes it possible to talk, yawn and chew. 

Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). 

The TMJ is both a critical part of functioning but it can also be a source of pain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of TMJ disorders can include:

  • Aching around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Facial pain
  • Locking of the joint
  • Pain in your jaw

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain in the TMJ joint specifically
  • Bruxing, (teeth grinding), and joint popping
  • Difficulty opening the mouth without pain
  • Joint popping or clicking
  • Headaches

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, (NIDCR), recommends a conservative approach to TMJ pain. Surgery should be a last resort.  Treatments that do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth have proven to be effective and reliable. 

Steps to Relieve TMJ Pain You Can do for Yourself

  • Eat soft foods.
  • Apply ice packs.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements.
  • Practice reducing stress and relaxing techniques. 
  • Gentle jaw stretching.

Pain medication

For some people with TMJ disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief. 

Jaw Splints

Your dentist may recommend  a stabilization jaw splint (oral appliance), or orthotic appliance  that fits over the upper or lower teeth. A well adjusted splint can often relax tense muscles, relieve muscle tension headaches and help protect the jaw joints. Often the splint appliance is adjusted to the optimum bite over a period of weeks or months and often it is only worn at night when bruxing, (tooth grinding) often occurs.

If you suffer from TMJ pain or muscle tension headaches talk with your dentist.  A well adjusted appliance you wear at night may help.


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


717-334-0555   GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Sleep and 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.

334-0555  GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

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