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Whiten Your Teeth – Why You Need a Dentist to Help

There are many teeth-whitening options that claim they will whiten your teeth without ever having to visit the dentist. It’s as simple as making a trip to your local store, picking out the product you think will work best and then heading home to try it out. It seems so convenient. So why should you consult with your dentist before you whiten your teeth?

Your Dentist can Diagnose Underlying Issues

Your tooth discoloration may not be the result of all that coffee you drink. Sometimes teeth start to darken because of an underlying condition that will not only cause complications if left untreated, but will likely be unaffected by whitening agents. Even if you do get effective results, the American Dental Association (ADA) says,

“bleaching discolored teeth in which the color change is the only visible indication of an underlying abnormality may change tooth color, but will not remove any underlying abnormality. This masking effect can result in tooth loss or other complications depending on the underlying condition since the true cause of discoloration may go untreated.”

Your dentist will perform an examination to make sure your teeth do not have any underlying issues and will ensure that you receive an effective whitening treatment that addresses any underlying issues.

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Your Dentist will Help Whiten Your Teeth Safely

The second reason you should consult your dentist before beginning a teeth-whitening regimen is because your dentist will ensure that your gums, teeth, and the rest of your mouth can withstand the whitening process and are protected during the regimen. The ADA advises patients “to consult with their dentists to determine the most appropriate whitening treatment, particularly for those with tooth sensitivity, dental restorations, extremely dark stains, and single dark teeth.” Even though teeth-whitening methods are generally thought of as relatively safe procedures, they can cause issues in sensitive areas of the mouth if not done properly. Your dentist will help you whiten your teeth in a safe and effective way.

You Need a Dentist to Help You Achieve the Best Results

Dentists know teeth. Your dentist will help you find a method that best fits your needs and brings desired results. In the case of whitening trays, your dentist will custom-fit trays for your mouth so they fit evenly and comfortably. If the whitening procedure is performed in the office, your dentist may also use a ultraviolet (UV) light to help whiten your teeth even faster.

Whiten your Teeth Safely and Effectively

Consulting your dentist before beginning a whitening regimen ensures that the whitening process does not cause other issues later. Your dentist will also help you choose a method that will achieve the results you want in a safe way that fits your lifestyle.

So are you ready for whiter teeth? Schedule an appointment with your dentist today to discuss a solution that works for you.


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Different Types of Braces: What are They?

Choosing Between Different Types of Braces

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between traditional braces and Invisalign? When it comes to appearance, the thought of nearly invisible braces can certainly be appealing. Although both traditional metal braces and Invisalign straighten your teeth, Invisalign offers an invisible appearance, while other braces do not. You may want the option to remove the braces at times for social events or to eat your favorite foods. Different types of braces have to be kept on for different lengths of time. These are all things to consider when it comes to your personal comfort. There are pros and cons to both, so here is a comparison of traditional braces vs. Invisalign.

The Traditional Route: Metal Braces

Many people still prefer to have metal braces. There are both advantages and disadvantages of choosing to go the traditional route.

  • The material used is metal, usually silver in color. You can pay extra to have the metal match the color of your teeth.
  • You have to wear them 24/7 for about 2 years.
  • Certain foods should be avoided.
  • You must visit an orthodontist for treatment.
  • Some pain or discomfort from the metal brackets may occur.
  • You don’t have to worry about taking them on or off.
  • You are unable to brush and floss as you normally do.
  • They are better for more complex dental problems.
  • You have to visit your orthodontist about every 4 to 6 weeks to have the braces tightened.

A New Approach: Invisalign

More and more people are selecting Invisalign over traditional metal braces because the benefits seem to outweigh any disadvantages.

  • They are clear, making them nearly invisible.
  • They are removable. You only wear them for about a year and for at least 20 hours a day.
  • You do have to remove them while eating or drinking, but you don’t have to worry about missing out on your favorite foods or getting food stuck in them.
  • There is virtually no discomfort while the trays are in.
  • You must brush your teeth after meals to avoid discoloration of your teeth.
  • Your daily oral hygiene routine does not change. You can brush and floss like you normally do.
  • They are more effective for esthetic purposes and for less complex dental problems.
  • They are custom-made out of smooth plastic.
  • The cost may be higher than traditional metal braces.
  • You must put in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks.
  • You can get them in your local dental office.

And the Verdict Is…

Invisalign and metal braces have many differences, but they both serve the same purpose: to straighten your teeth. Both types of braces involve a change in your daily routine, and keep in mind that the success of Invisalign is completely up to you.

Choosing between different types of braces can be overwhelming and should not be taken lightly. If you are having trouble deciding between traditional metal braces and Invisalign, please contact our office to learn more or receive a free consultation at our Invisalign Open House.


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How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign has been the buzz word in tooth alignment for a while now. If you’ve been looking for an innovative alternative to braces, you may have heard of this orthodontic marvel with ‘invisible’ and removable aligners. But just how well does Invisalign work? Well, a clinical study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) revealed a 41% mean accuracy of tooth movement with Invisalign. But what exactly does this product entail, what are its benefits, and how does Invisalign work? Here are the answers to some of the questions you may have.

What is Invisalign?

It’s beneficial to know what this product entails, for a better understanding on how it works. “Invisalign is removable, comfy, and practically invisible. Basically, it’s everything braces are not.” It comprises transparent aligners made of polyurethane plastic that resemble a tooth whitening tray.

Your dentist may recommend them if your teeth are crowded or crooked, and design a tray custom-made for your mouth. It’s also never too late to improve your smile with Invisalign, as it can be worn if you are a teen or an adult.

How does Invisalign work in comparison to braces?

Braces and Invisalign have a few common advantages. They both straighten your teeth. They can also both treat under bite, cross bite, overbite, crowding, and uneven spacing. However, the benefits of using Invisalign far outweighs the disadvantages of wearing braces. Here are some of them:

  • You can remove Invisalign for several hours. This is ideal if you need to attend a social event, or if you feel like allowing your teeth to ‘breathe’. Braces are non-removable.
  • Your oral hygiene routine need not be disrupted, as you’ll be able to floss and brush your teeth like you normally do. This is vital for optimal dental heath. You won’t be able to do this as effectively with braces.
  • Invisalign is virtually invisible. As the name suggests, this product is barely noticeable, in comparison to normal braces. This is a definite confidence booster, as you’re more likely to be self conscious when wearing metal in your mouth.
  • Invisalign is more comfortable than braces, as it’s derived from plastic. The metal in braces is likely to make usage uncomfortable.

How does Invisalign work with regards to application?

You’ve probably been curious about this procedure since considering Invisalign right? The application here is fairly straightforward. Orthodontists do offer this service, however dentists who are specially trained can offer you Invisalign as well. Even better is that you’ll be required to visit your dentist less often than an orthodontist with ordinary braces.

Your dentist will initiate the process with x-rays, bite registrations, and impressions of your gums and teeth. These are painless so don’t worry if you’re concerned about feeling any discomfort. With bite registrations, all you need to do is bite onto a sheet of foil paper, so your dentist can get an impression of your teeth in biting mode.

Your dentist will use state of the art software to decipher what the ideal movement projection for you is. The dentist will modify your transparent aligners before it’s sent away to be designed. The aligners are made via a CAD-CAM software program.

You may wear each aligner for about two weeks. They should be worn for 20 hours per day, and you are allowed to remove them for up to four hours. You’re advised to brush and floss upon removal.

You should remove your Invisalign when eating. However, you won’t be restricted from eating some of your favorite snacks like popcorn, as leftovers won’t get stuck with this removable product. You’ll be required to wear your Invisalign for slightly over a year, and may be advised to wear a retainer at night after treatment.


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History of The Toothbrush

It’s something you never think about. You’ve been using it since before you could talk. It’s just part of your life—your toothbrush.

But have you ever wondered what people did before the colorfully designed bristle-stick was invented? I mean, YUCK. To think about not having a toothbrush!

But, believe it or not, having a clean mouth has been a top concern for centuries. Let me take you back…

Some sources state that the first toothbrush can be dated back to 3000 BC. In Babylonia, 3500 BC, chew sticks were used as toothbrushes. Chew sticks are frayed on one end, for cleaning teeth, and pointed on the other end to use like a toothpick. In fact, these are still common in some parts of Africa and the rural southern United States. Greeks and Romans also used toothpicks and toothpick-like twigs.

First Modern Toothbrush

The first modern toothbrush was made of a bamboo or bone handle and a hog bristle head. According to the Library of Congress, this was invented in China in 1498.

Several centuries later, in 1780, William Addis invented the first massed-produced toothbrush. Addis, after causing a mass riot and being sent to prison, created this early design. He wanted to clean his teeth, and made a way to do just that. When he was released from prison, he sold his invention to the masses, and became a very rich man.

In 1857, U.S. citizen H.N. Wadsworth was the first to patent a toothbrush. His design was usually made of a bone handle (though sometimes wood or ivory) and boar hair bristles—just like those invented in China in the 15th century. Mass production of his brush did not begin until 1885.

The Toothbrush We Know Today

The problem with boar bristles was that they held on to bacteria, did not dry well, and fell out easily. So, enter the modern-day toothbrush, made of a celluloid handle and nylon bristles. This recent design came from DuPont in 1938, with the first sale on February 24th of that year.

Along with the modern toothbrush came a modern concept of ‘dental hygiene.’ During WWII, soldiers were required to brush their teeth every day out of concern for their health. Thus, came the new ‘normal’ for caring for our teeth.

Happy modern-day brushing!

Celebrating 30 Years Young at the Smile Center

It takes a special kind of dedication to help a whole community smile, and for Dr. Cathie Hidalgo Seaman, this 30th year of practice is a special milestone.

A Journey of Service

In the 30 years of dental service to the Fredericksburg region, Dr. Seaman and her team have provided tens of thousands of dollars via charity dental care and were voted “Best Dentist” by Fredericksburg Guide Book (2004). Additionally, Dr. Seaman has been awarded the Woman of Distinction Award for Community Service by the Commonwealth Council of Girl Scouts. More than anything, it has been a 30-year investment in the health and vitality of our community.

We’re committed to the value of a smile, and the importance that dental health makes in the overall well-being of our community.

What’s changed in 30 years?

Much has changed in the last 30 years of dentistry, including the office location, which now offers a state-of–the-art dental suite complete with a designer lobby and a soothing environment. Along the way, many other dental offices have abandoned conscious sedation because of the complexity,  but the Smile Center continues to offer this service, which is important, especially for patients who live with a mental illness that makes dental care difficult, who suffer from dental anxiety, or those who simply need to get more than one dental procedure completed in one appointment.

In the early years of the practice, big changes were happening with dental care, which included the use of new tooth-colored restorative materials, as well as improvements and advances in whitening methods. Shortly after, tooth-colored dental implants ushered in a new era of aesthetic dentistry. While staying up to date on the best resources and techniques, the Smile Center has never forgotten its primary mission of empowering the community through innovation, diversity, and superior support.

Much more than great technology.

In 1987, shortly after the practice opened, the first rotary toothbrush was invented. Since then, a vast amount of new dental technology has been developed, but an effective dental practice has to do more than bring the latest technology—it has to provide quality and consistent service that keeps people coming back, while taking care of their dental health. Just having the tools doesn’t make a great dentist; it’s about connecting with people, giving them the right advice, and making them feel at ease about caring for their teeth.

Something you can’t live without.

In 2003, in an annual survey of adults and teens, the toothbrush was voted the number one invention people can’t live without, beating out the computer, cell phone, and automobile.   While the team at the Smile Center encourage effective dental care at home, they know that it’s more than just the toothbrush and floss that keeps teeth healthy—they work as a team with each patient to help them find the right solution for their dental needs.

Therapy dogs make the office feel like home.

Since visiting a dental office is a routine—something that patients need to do at least twice a year—it’s important to make this space as inviting and comfortable as possible. For those who love animals, and for some who just want a little reassurance during their dental care, the staff at the Smile Center introduced Diego and DJ, a pair of trained therapy dogs. Research shows that therapy dogs help bring calm and serenity to health care settings. For those who have enjoyed petting them, or even having them on their lap during a procedure, our team knows that it makes a real difference in the dental experience.

Ready for the next 30 years.

We are not stopping at 30! We will continue to bring the state of the art dentistry and our efforts to continuously improve. The family tradition will also continue, as Dr. Seaman’s son, Joel S. Butterworth, D.D.S. will join the practice in 2016. He is a graduate of the College of Charleston and the Howard University College of Dentistry. Currently, Dr. Butterworth is performing a General Dentistry Trauma Residency at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He will return to Fredericksburg in June of 2016, to join the exceptional team at the Smile Center.

If you are looking for a new dentist, are new to the area, want to take advantage of conscious sedation, or even the oral surgeon located here, the helpful team at the Smile Center invites the citizens of Fredericksburg region stop by or call to make an appointment. We’re conveniently located right off Plank and I95. If you are a long-standing patient of the office, Dr. Seaman and her staff would like to express their thanks to you for making the last 30 years great ones. The Smile Center is looking forward to many more years of serving our local community.

About the Dentist

Cathie Hidalgo Seaman, Smile Center FounderDr. Cathie Hidalgo Seaman received her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Medical College of Virginia. She attended dental hygiene school at Old Dominion University, and has been in private practice in Fredericksburg since 1985. She has extensive training and certification in all procedures of general dentistry. Dr. Hidalgo Seaman has two boys, Joel and Trent. She is committed to serve her community through the annual “Smiles With a Heart” program and various non-profit organizations.





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Important Habits During the School-Year Rush

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the difference.

It’s easy to skip good dental care when we are rushed. We’re tempted to think no one will notice. But, over time, good dental care can make a huge difference in our child’s health. With school back in session, being rushed is inevitable.

Here are some important things to remember.

  1. Protecting against cavities is worth the effort. A cavity is a hole that is formed when bacteria (germs) in your mouth use the sugar in food to make acid. This acid eats away at the tooth, forming the cavity.
  2. Diet makes a difference. When your child eats sugary food and then goes hours without brushing their teeth, that acid (as described above) will form. Keep sweets at a minimum and feed them more fruit and vegetables.
  3. What they drink makes a difference, too. Don’t give your children sugary drinks such as soda. And, try to limit fruit juice.
  4. Brushing twice a day is a must. Once in the morning and again before bed with a soft bristle toothbrush is genuinely important.
  5. And of course, regular check-ups at the Smile Center. Trained professionals can see things that the average eye can’t.

As with all good habits we teach our children, these will not go without a pay-off. Less time in the dentist’s chair and a beautiful smile on their face will give us the satisfaction of knowing all our efforts were well worth it.


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Our Little Lovable Therapy Dogs

For our team, having dogs is just a way of life. With all the research surrounding therapy dogs and the well-known fact that they decrease patient anxiety, we decided that dogs should be a part of our work, too.

Friendly and gentle pups.

Research has shown that therapy animals can improve a patient’s mental and emotional state — which helps them to engage and participate in the treatment process. We like our environment to be calming and serene. Our pups Diego and DJ make all the difference!

As trained therapy animals, our dogs are friendly but gentle. They put everyone at ease — especially children that are less-than-sure about the dentist. Diego and DJ are often used to lead children to their appointment, or are placed on their lap during procedures to decrease anxiety.

Our little heroes can…

  • Decrease stress and anxiety
  • Decrease aggressive behaviors
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increase the feeling of acceptance
  • Increase verbal interactions
  • Increase self-esteem

Diego and DJ love visitors. Bring your children in to meet our dogs, and take a spin around the office. We’ll show them just how fun a dental visit can be!

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Always Super to Me and My Family

Everyone is always super to me and my family. But Robert in particular has been, continues to be, and will always be our family’s brother from another mother!


Professional and Extremely Friendly

“Everyone I came in contact with at the Smile Center was highly professional and extremely friendly. They seemed to go out of their way to ensure my comfort.”


Conscious Sedation Dentistry

We use a number of effective techniques to make your dental experience a calm and relaxing one, and conscious sedation is a a preferred alternative for those who are nervous about dental care or those who want to have multiple dental procedures accomplished in one visit. You don’t find this approach everywhere, because it requires special attention and equipment– it’s one of the things that makes The Smile Center unique.

If any of the following issues are a concern for you, then this approach may be helpful:

  • Dental Anxiety
  • Difficulty Getting Numb
  • Very Sensitive Teeth
  • Extensive Dental Needs
  • No need to be intimidated by going to the dentist any longer.

Taking the Fear out of Dental Visits

For those who know that a local anesthetic won’t be enough to make their visit comfortable, conscious sedation provides a state of relaxation that is deeper, but still allows you to stay awake during the procedure. With this approach, you won’t feel any pain, and you’ll be able to respond to your dentist’s questions and commands. Since communication is important in the dentist-patient relationship, conscious sedation is an excellent option for those who have a little extra anxiety about dental work.

Conscious sedation is often called “sleep dentistry,” this is a term that can be misleading, since you are conscious rather than asleep while the dental work is completed.  The relaxing feeling that the sedation provides has the same effect as a calming sleep, but you can still respond to questions and verbal queues.

Facilities Designed for Conscious Sedation

At the Fredericksburg Smile Center we have a room designed especially for conscious sedation. Our qualified professionals use this room to provide several different types of sedatives and you can be confident that we maintain this important part of our practice with both high standards and your comfort in mind.

Many of our patients have discovered that Conscious sedation allows them to maintain their commute schedule and schedule more than one procedure at a time, without a sense of anxiety.  Those who have avoided the dentist altogether find this approach allows them to keep their regular care schedule with putting it off due to concerns about how nervous they might feel about the visit.

With conscious sedation at the Smile Center, you’ll be surprised just how relaxing a visit to the dentist can be.


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