Philadelphia Dentistry
Dr. Ken Cirka & Dr. Jessica Meier
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Philly Dentistry

Category: General Dentistry

July 17, 2017
1 week ago

There are many benefits to using floss and to using a WaterPik. Patients often ask me about which is better and if one replaces the other.

My answer to patients is always this: you should use what works best for you and what you feel most comfortable with. It really is a case by case basis depending on many factors that will be addressed below.

I do not believe that a WaterPik is a replacement for dental floss; however, for patients that admit to me that they hate flossing and won’t do it, I do tell them to invest in a WaterPik.41bC+NCHvrL

For patients that floss daily and are managing to keep their gum tissue healthy, I do not think a WaterPik is always needed. As long as the tissue remains healthy and I do not see changes, these patients can continue on with daily flossing.

There are things to consider when deciding whether to take up daily flossing or use of a WaterPik that I will review below:

Cost: Keep in mind that the WaterPik will be more expensive than floss. They range between $30-$100 and are easily purchased either in store or online. Ask your dental hygienist and doctor if they have a specific recommendation of which to use. It is important to note that the plug-in Waterpiks will have more power and better attachments to use than the battery-operated travel Waterpiks.

Ease and Dexterity: Though string floss is easy for some to use, it can take a long time to perform properly. There are also patients that have trouble positioning their fingers properly in order to reach each area of their mouths. For these patients I will often suggest trying a Waterpik to see if it is easier as an alternative solution.

Electric Outlet Availability: I think string floss is great because you do not need an electrical outlet. I keep my floss in my purse so that if I have a free moment I can easily grab it. It’s also great in case I’m out and have something stuck in between my teeth. For the WaterPik most require an electrical outlet to work. As mentioned above, there are travel ones available that are battery-operated; however, they are not as powerful and do not come with as many attachments.

46267108 - teeth with orthodontic brackets. dental health care.

Patients in Braces: For patients in braces a Waterpik is a great tool. Since it is difficult to floss while wearing braces, it is common for the gums to become inflamed as plaque and food debris stick to the wires, brackets, and can be tough to clean. The motion of the Waterpik dislodges much of the food debris and plaque around the gums and brackets which help keep patients in braces healthier throughout orthodontic treatment.

Flossing Quality: In order to get the full benefit of the string floss, it is important for patients to use it properly. Below I will go over some tips for flossing; however, make sure to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for flossing tips next time you are in for a check-up and cleaning.

Flossing Tips from a Pro:

While flossing I find it easiest to use satin floss called Glide which is made by Oral-B. This floss never shreds or tears and it is gentle so I am not damaging my gum tissue.

Be sure thousandoaksfamilydentistryto wrap each side of the tooth fully, making a “c-shape” with the floss. This will allow you to get the floss underneath the gum line which is where the plaque starts to build. By moving the floss string up with a rotating movement and steady pressure, the plaque can be dislodged and removed.

Keep in mind you do not want to move the floss directly down into the tissue. This can not only damage the tissue it can also shove food particles and plaque deeper under the gums, making it harder to reach and more of a problem.

Hopefully these tips help! If you have further questions come see myself and Dr. Cirka for a free consultation where we check the health of your teeth and your gums. Hope to see you soon!

-Dr. Jessica Meier, D.M.D.

July 7, 2017
3 weeks ago

Oil-pulling has become increasingly popular as homeopathic remedies are becoming more prevalent. While this trend is growing, it is certainly not a new exercise.

The practice of oil-pulling dates back over three thousand years ago to India with the practice of Ayurveda medicine. “Ayurveda” brings together the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (knowledge or science). Practiced in India, Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest known systems of medicine in the world.

Theoil typical way one performs oil-pulling is by swishing around one tablespoon of coconut oil in their mouth for twenty minutes and then spitting it out. Other common oils that can be used for oil pulling are sunflower oil and sesame oil.

Oil-pulling is not just lore based on stories; there is actual science behind it. Most of the microorganisms that live in our mouths are single-celled bacteria. Each of the cells that make up the bacteria is surrounded by a fatty membrane called a lipid layer. Think of this layer as the skin of the microorganism.

When the fat in the coconut oil comes into contact with the fatty lipid layer of the cell, they are attracted to one another and will stick to each other. This way when you spit out the oil you are also spitting out the microorganisms.

4 Tips for Beginners

Oil: Choose coconut oil. Although sesame and sunflower oil may be used, coconut oil has an ingredient, lauric acid, which the others lack. Lauric acid is known for helping the body fight harmful bacteria. There is also some new studies that argue coconuimagest oil can help fight against cavities.

Swishing: Be sure that you are gently sucking and pushing and swishing. Do not work too aggressively and cause your jaw to ache. This is unnecessary work and can be harmful over time to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Spit it out: If it feels like you have to swallow the oil, you are using too much. You do not want to swallow the toxins that the oil pulled out. Also keep in mind that you should spit the oil into the garbage can. Too much of any oil down the drain can cause plumbing issues.

Daily Oral Hygiene: the practice of oil pulling is not meant to replace flossing and brushing and regular dental visits. While it can be an added adjunct therapy that helps improve your health, it is certainly not meant as a replacement. Continue to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings to stay healthy.

If you have questions about oil pulling or your oral health, call our office at 215.568.6222 to schedule a free consultation today. Dr. Cirka and Dr. Meier look forward to meeting you!

June 27, 2017
4 weeks ago

Tired of avoiding foods and beverages you like simply because of the temperature?  Read on to learn about 6 of the reasons your teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold, which is the first step to remedy!


If there are cavities growing inside of your teeth it can cause them to be sensitive. Often the temperature sensitivity is an indication that the bacteria have reached the nerve inside of the tooth which could mean that the tooth requires a root canal.shutterstock_215205235

Gum Infection

There is bacteria in everyone’s mouths that can lead to a gum infection in the mouth. This is why it is important to see your dentist and dental hygienist every 6 months so that the bacteria you cannot reach can be cleaned out which prevents the gum infection. Sometimes this bacteria will cause an abscess which might be sensitive to temperature.

Clenching and Grinding

Many patients clench and grind their teeth while they are asleep. This condition, bruxism, is not always something you are aware of. If you are clenching or grinding your teeth there will be indications in the mouth your dentist will be able to diagnose if it is happening. When you clench and grind your teeth it introduces stress fractures into the teeth that are sensitive to hot and to cold temperatures.

Erosion from Acidic Foods

When your diet consists of acidic drinks and acidic foods it can lead to the enamel eroding. The enamel layer of the teeth is built to protect from sensitivity therefore if it is eroded the teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold.

Cracked Tooth o67d2298ad1f995506d8918db5f6da942r Filling

If you have a tooth or filling that is cracked it can definitely cause sensitivity to hot and cold. Usually the sensitivity is most noticeable when the crack extends into the nerve of the tooth.

Gum Recession

If you have gum recession this means that the roots of your teeth are exposed. The roots do not have any enamel to protect from hot and cold sensitivity so temperature changes can affect them. Gum recession can happen from previous history of orthodontics or gum disease.

If you are concerned because of hot or cold sensitivity, call us so we can help you. Dr. Cirka and Dr. Meier can do a free consultation to evaluate your teeth and gums and see why the sensitivity is happening. Call us today at 215-568-6222. We look forward to hearing from you!

June 13, 2017
1 month ago

Patients will often ask Dr. Meier and Dr. Cirka, “Is chocolate bad for my teeth?” This question pops up even more often around the holiday seasons. Patients are many times surprised by the positive effects that chocolate will have on our health in general and the fact that it actually is a much better option for a sweet than sticky candies or sugary drinks.

There are a lot of positives effects of chocolate on your health overall, especially whenhappy-woman-taking-bite-of-chocolate-bar_y4f5qu considering how eating chocolate releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones specifically designed to help us feel good. Endorphins are released in times we are happy and doing things like exercising or eating things we enjoy.

Similar to the old adage, “everything in moderation,” chocolate is fine for the teeth and the body in general when eaten in moderation. A study released in May 2016, the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study, found that eating chocolate on a daily basis is proven to improve brain cognition. The research showed that over a period of eighteen years with close to one thousand participants, the group that ate chocolate daily had higher test scores than participants who did not.

Which chocolate is the best for my teeth… milk, white, or dark?

When considering which type of chocolate is best for your teeth the answer is simple. Dark chocolate is by far the better option. When we look at the sugar content of the three main types of chocolate, on average white chocolate has 17 grams per ounce, milk chocolate has 15 grams little baby eat cakeper ounce, and dark chocolate has 14 grams per ounce. While these numbers may not seem very different, as time goes by it adds up and the more sugar you have the more at risk you are for cavities and dental problems.


When you look into what the ingredients are for different types of chocolate you will find that milk chocolate and white chocolate both have more sugar, powdered milk, and harmful ingredients than dark chocolate. What’s more is that dark chocolate comes in different ways and the more raw and organic it is, the better it will be for your teeth and your health.

Believe it or not, some studies show dark chocolate to be a fighter against cavities. There is a compound in dark chocolate called a polyphenol. This compound has been shown to fight bacteria in the mouth by preventing sugars from turning into acids. This stops the process of the enamel breaking down the teeth which leads to cavities.

Dark chocolate also contains another compound known as a flavonoid. These flavonoidsgetty-519516157-woman-eating-chocolate-jose-luis-pelaez-inc are proven to slow down the process of tooth decay.

Antioxidants are also built into each piece of dark chocolate. These antioxidants are great for overall health in addition to oral health. They have been proven to help fight gum disease, a condition than causes people to lose their teeth..

Keep in mind that tooth decay does not happen overnight. Problems with cavities build cumulatively and it is important to cut down on sugar intake overall, make sure to brush and floss daily, and see the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.

Enjoy the dark chocolate and remember to keep moderation in mind. Call us at 215-568-6222 to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Cirka and Dr. Meier.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

May 16, 2017
2 months ago

If you have visited the dentist in the past, chances are you have had dental x-rays taken. These x-rays give the dental professionals a lot of information about your teeth, gums, and jaw bone that they may not have seen with their eyes.

Dental x-rays are very useful and safe. Nowadays digital x-rays are replacing traditional fimagesilm x-rays and we know they emit about 80% less radiation than the traditional film X-rays. This amount of radiation emitted by digital x-rays is extremely low and harmless.

It is important for patients to know that the amount of radiation from a series of digital x-rays is less than the amount that they are exposed to by the Earth, appliances, and the sun in one day naturally. Our office also records patient X-rays and has them saved in the chart so we never will unnecessary expose patients to x-rays that can be avoided.

Since the x-rays are digital they come up immediately on the screen. This saves loads of time for dental professionals as well as for patients. For these reasons, at Dr. Ken Cirka and Dr. Jessica Meier’s office, we are only using digital x-rays.

There are two different forms of x-rays, intraoral and extraoral. In one case, intraoral x-rays, the dental professional is looking at the health of the teeth, gums, roots, and the jaw bone holding the teeth in place. For the extraoral x-ray, theDigital x-ray focus is more on larger elements of the face and jaw bones.
This includes the temporomandibular joint “TMJ,” the sinus, impacted wisdom teeth, growth and development, jaw fractures, and more.

Depending on your health and dental history, the frequency of when we are taking x-rays may change. X-rays are a vital, important diagnostic tool that confirm whether or not there are harmful bacteria hiding in the teeth, under the gums, or even on the roots of the teeth. The earlier that the dental professional can identify a problem, the easier it will be to fix it for both you as the patient and for the dentist. Without dental x-rays, problems will get increasingly worse and tougher to treat. In some cases these problems will also negatively affect your complete health and well-being.

Be sure to talk to your dentist about dental x-rays if you have questions at your next check-up and cleaning. If you are searching for a dentist in the greater Philadelphia area you can call to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Ken Cirka and Dr. Jessica Meier at 215-568-6222 so they can help you. We look forward to meeting you soon!

April 17, 2017
3 months ago

Our teeth and sinus cavity have a connection that can affect patients in many ways.

Pressure in the sinus can be awful and cause pain in your eyes, ears, head, and even in your teeth.

The sinRagazza con mal di dentius cavity is the area of the skull where air passes through before moving to the lungs. It is here that the air first gets warm and wet. Our body usually can fight bacteria in this air that passes through by producing mucous. Sometimes the bacteria are too strong and when this occurs the bacteria cause infections by growing aggressively.

There are several different sinuses in the body. Only one of them, the maxillary sinus, can cause issues with your teeth. The maxillary sinus is located above your teeth and under your eyes.

The maxillary sinuses sit on either side of your nose. The roots of the upper teeth are located very close to them and there is a lot of communication between these teeth and your sinus.


Often patients come into the office with a horrible toothache that, believe it or not, is caused by a sinus infection. When pressure builds up in the sinus it can cause the teeth to ache, be sore, hurt upon biting down, and be temperature sensitive, especially to the cold.

Keep in mind this does work both ways, as a tooth can be the cause of a bad headache or sinus pressure. Chronic sinus problems may be the result of a serious dental infection that needs treatment.

It is important to contact your primary care physician and dentist if you are experiencing pain. The doctor will be able to determine whether the pain is coming from the sinus or from a tooth and treat as needed.

Call our office at 215-568-6222 so that Dr. Ken Cirka and Dr. Jessica Meier can do a free examination and help you.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

March 20, 2017
4 months ago

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. They are the last molars on the upper and lower teeth and usually erupt in late teen years or the early twenties.

Since the wisdom teeth come in last, sometimes there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate them. When there is not enough room it causes the wisdom teeth to become partially or fully impacted.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause major problems for patients. These issues may not necessarily show signs that you can see but they can definitely cause pain.

Here are four indicators of problematic wisdom teeth that you should be aware of:

  • Pain in the Jaw: If you have jaw pain you may have a problem with your wisdom teeth. A commHow-to-decrease-pain-and-swelling-after-wisdom-tooth-removal-surgeryon sign is when the pain concentrates in the area around the gums.
  • Swelling: The area where the wisdom teeth are can become swollen and red. These swollen areas sometimes have heavy bleeding and can become very painful.
  • Bad Breath: Bad breath will often accompany infection in the wisdom teeth.
  • Headaches: Painful headaches are associated with problematic wisdom teeth. Especially if they arise at the same time as jaw pain and swelling, these headaches are also caused by the wisdom teeth.
  • Problems Chewing: If you feel that your bite has changed and the teeth are coming together differently while chewing, this can be caused by problematic wisdom teeth. Sometimes the mouth also will not open and close as much or as easily as it used to also.

If any of the symptoms are occurring you should let your dentist know right away. If there is infection present they will need to prescribe an antibiotic. Infections in the mouth affect your overall health and are important to address quickly.

If you or anyone you know would like their wisdom teeth evaluated, have them call 215-568-6222 to set up a free consultation with Dr. Ken Cirka and Dr. Jessica Meier. We look forward to meeting you soon!

March 6, 2017
5 months ago

Patients often come into the office complaining of dry mouth. Sometimes having a dry mouth can be so bad that it wakes patients up from their sleep and can be a constant struggle throughout the day.

Dry mouth is not only very uncomfortable; it can lead to serious health problems for you.

How do I know if I have Dry Mouth? What are the Symptoms?

  • A dry, almost sticky feel in your mouth8afb4ca8d87269e52d_skm6bh7td
  • Cracked lips
  • Trouble tasting
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble chewing and /or swallowing
  • Burning feeling in the mouth and throat
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • An infection in the mouth

Everyone can experience dry mouth from time to time. Dry mouth is only a problem if you have it very often or all of the time.

Dry mouth can be caused by:

  • Certain diseases– the salivary glands can be affected by some diseases including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, and Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Medical treatments– different therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can decrease salivary flow
  • Medications– as many as 400 different medications can affect the salivary glands and decrease saliva flow
  • Damage to nerve endings– trauma to the head and neck region can affect salivary flow

It is important to see your dentist and your primary care physician to let them know that you are experiencing dry mouth so that they can help you diagnose the underlying reason why it is happening.

When the mouth is dry you will not have enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. It is very important to generate enough saliva to be able to:

  • Properly digest food
  • Protect teeth from cavities
  • Prevent infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth and throat
  • Help you chew and swallow comfortably

What Can be Done About Dry Mouth?

Depending on what is causing the problem, dry mouth is treated in different ways. Be sure to see your dentist and your primary care doctor so that they can determine what is causing the dry mouth syndrome and treat accordingly.

Treatment modalities include but are not limited to:

  • Saliva Stimulate- If saliva is being produced just not up to high enough levels, your doctor or dentist might give you a medication or a rinse that will increase salivary flow
  • Saliva Substitute- Your doctor or dentist might prescribe artificial saliva to help you
  • Medication Adjustment- If your dry mouth is caused by medications(s), your doctor might change your medicine or adjust the dosage

What can I do at Home?

  • Nighttime use of a humidifier
  • Chewing sugarless gum and using sugarless candy to increase saliva flow.
  • Sipping on water during meals and often during the day
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Avoiding spicy and salty foods

Be sure to see your dentist and primary care physician regularly in order to help you if you are dealing with dry mouth. It is important not just for your oral health but for your overall heath as well.

Call us at 215.568.6222 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Cirka and Dr. Meier today!

February 20, 2017
5 months ago

Different scenarios call for different action in a dental emergency. It is important to see your dentist ASAP; however, we know that this is not always possible.

Here are some tips to help you in the event you or a loved one is in a dental emergency and unable to get right into a dental office.


  • Rinse your mouth vigorously with warm waterurl-1
  • Use floss to remove any food particles stuck between the teeth. If there happens to be swelling present then apply cold pressure on the outside of the cheek
  • Do no place aspirin on the aching teeth or gums because it will burn the tissue
  • See your dentist as soon as possible


  • Use dental floss to try and remove the object
  • Guide the floss carefully so you do not cut the gums or wedge the object further down into the tissue
  • Do not use a sharp or pointed instrument as it may cause more harm than good


  • Take medication for pain relief
  • If there is bleeding then apply direct pressure to the area
  • To relieve swelling use ice every 10-15 minutes
  • If the bleeding persists then call your dentist or go to the emergency room

missing-teethKNOCKED-OUT TOOTH

  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area for about 20-30 minutes
  • If the bleeding still does not stop, call your dentist immediately or visit the emergency room
  • Gently rinse the tooth with warm water, do not scrub it
  • If it is a baby tooth do not try and insert it back into the socket
  • If it is a permanent tooth you can try to gently insert the tooth back into the socket. If this is not possible then place the tooth in a container of milk or cool water
  • Go to your dentist immediately and bring the tooth with you


  • If the broken piece is easy to remove then go ahead and do so
  • Use a clean cloth to apply direct pressure to the area
  • Use cold pressure on the face to minimize swelling in the area of the broken tooth
  • Clean the area gently if needed with warm water
  • If the edges are sharp use chewing gum or soft wax to cover these edges
  • Go to your dentist immediately

In dentistry it is important to act fast to avoid problems getting even worse. For example, although your broken tooth may not hurt, it is important to have a dentist evaluate it as soon as possible because there still may be an issue although it is not causing you pain.dental-visit-300x200

In dentistry prevention is key. Even if you are not experiencing discomfort or problems it is very important to see your dentist regularly for six month check-ups. By going for regular check-ups it is possible to avoid many emergencies that can arise.

Schedule your free consultation with Dr. Ken Cirka and Dr. Jessica Meier to see if you are at risk for any dental emergencies and learn what you can do to prevent them from happening.

February 6, 2017
6 months ago

Invest in a Good Electric Toothbrush

A good electric toothbrush will immediately improve your dental health. While at the store you will likely be able to tell which electric toothbrushes are superior. Look for brands “Sonicare” and “Oral-B” when in the dental aisle. They will cost more but they will do a much better job and last you longer. Your dentist may even have already slipped you a coupon for $10 off one of these at a recent check-up.11-electric-toothbrushes1

The key to these is that they are guaranteed to improve your brushing and oral health. And they will do this quite quickly too. Another benefit is that they have a timer which sets the toothbrush to work for 2 minutes. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing for 2 minutes twice daily, so this will help keep you honest with timing for brushing.

Ask your dentist and dental hygienist for tips on which electric toothbrush to purchase based on your oral health and also ask them specifics on how to use them.


Floss Every Single Day

Never skip a day of flossing. No if’s, and’s, or but’s.

Flossing helps to prevent gum disease, to freshen your breath, and also will prevent cavities too.

For most people it is a matter of finding a convenient time to floss because in order to do it properly it requires some attention to detail. I often tell patients that in the morning you may be in a hurry, and at night you might be too tired.

The time that works for me is right after I eat lunch. Maybe that could also work for you, but see what works with your schedule,floss and just do that.
Patients will often ask if they should floss then brush, or brush first then floss. According to the ADA this actually does not even matter!  The most important thing is that you are flossing every day and brushing twice a day, and doing this with the proper technique.

Crooked or crowded teeth can often make flossing difficult.  Treatments like Invisalign are a huge help in resolving this issue.

Ask your dentist and dental hygienist for tips on how to floss properly. You could even watch a YouTube video on flossing if you are unsure if you are doing it the right way.

Also, avoid using the flossers that are disposable. These ones you usually see on checkout lines at the grocery store and convenience store. These end up costing patients more money and also do not do as good of a job as traditional floss.

Brush your Tongue

Make sure to brush your tongue each time that you are brushing your teeth. The same bacteria that causes gum disease and cavities will start to build-up on your tongue in addition to your teeth and your gums. Not only is this gross, but this is the number one cause of bad breath.

By brushing your tongue you can get rid of bad breath. The tricky part is that the bacteria like to hide on the most posterior aspect of the tongue so it will usually stimulate the gag reflex. Here are some tips to help you brush your tongue and avoid gagging:

  • urlUse your left hand and make a fist and grip the toothbrush tightly. For some reason by doing this, the gag reflex is suppressed. We aren’t sure why but if it helps, use it.
  • While brushing your tongue, concentrate on exhaling out of your mouth
  • Use motions that go side to side rather than back and forth with the brush

These tips will help you brush your tongue with your tooth brush. Keep in mind that at the convenience store they also sell a tool known as a tongue scraper. You will find it in the dental aisle and many patients find that using them works and they avoid the gag reflex entirely. Another tool you can try is a piece of dental floss to scrape the bacteria off.  Use whatever tool works, as long as you are doing it daily.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!  If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to ask us.

Try us out at no risk by scheduling your FREE first visit! 215-568-6222

or contact us today for a free consultation with Dr. Cirka or Dr. Meier in our Center City, Philadelphia office.


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