Heritage Dental

Gum Disease

Do you have gum disease?

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and they don’t even know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. It is possible to have periodontal(gum) disease without noticeable symptoms, unlike tooth decay, which can cause discomfort.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a soft, sticky film of bacteria, food particles and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce acids that inflame the gums and slowly destroy bone.

There are many factors that may increase your risk for gum disease:

-Smoking or chewing tobacco

-Crowded teeth, defective fillings and loose fitting dental appliances

-Many medications- Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry

-Systemic disease-Diabetes, Blood cell disorders and HIV/AIDS

-Genetics can also play a role

Red and puffy gums, bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, new spacing between teeth, receding gums and tenderness and discomfort are all signs of periodontal(gum) disease.

Good oral hygiene, a proper diet, and regular dental visits can help lower your risk of developing periodontal(gum) disease

We take your health seriously at Heritage Dental. Call and schedule your dental cleaning today!!!

Insurance Concerns

Many of our patients and others who call to schedule new patient appointments have questions about insurance coverage. It is a benefit that many of employers offer as a part of their wellness plans. We participate with some insurance companies and are in the process of applying for others which we hope will encourage folks to contact our office. Even if your plan is not one with which we participate, we make sure to let you know what benefits you have and how to best use them.
It is important to understand that dental insurance is unlike medical insurance. There is a yearly limit to the amount available, and that amount is determined by the company offering the plan. Your benefit plan is meant to be a partial reimbursement for basic care, although it also helps with other necessary treatment. Because our office wants to offer the best care available, we plan treatment based on dental needs, however we always work to obtain your maximum coverage under your policy.
We make every effort to keep you informed with the fees for your treatment, the benefits available for coverage and the out of pocket costs. It is our desire that finances not be a reason to prevent you from having a quality dental experience.
Gail C. Payne
Financial Coordinator
Heritage Dental
John W. Willhide, DDS
121 Park Hill Drive, Suite A
Fredericksburg, VA  22401
Phone: 540-373-1660
Fax: 540-373-6830
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Willhide and the Heritage Family

Dr. Willhide and the Heritage Family – July 17, 2017

One of the wonderful perks of being a dentist is the relationship we establish with our patients. In April 2018, I will have been in practice in Fredericksburg for 50 years. One of the exciting things we are doing at Heritage Dental as we bring Dr. Kristen Edwards on as an associate is to reach back into our history and identify those patients who have been in the practice for decades.

Over that time these patients have brought their lives into mine. We have shared joys and sorrows with them, heard their laughter and the milestones in their lives. Their lives have become part of the fabric of my life and have enriched my life greatly.

I am very grateful for all of you, patients old and new, who have given me the privilege of serving you and being your doctor and friend. These relationships will go on for many years to come as I continue to practice with Dr. Edwards.

If any of you have any memories or experiences that bring a smile to your face and that you would like to share please submit them to [email protected], our Marketing and Social Media Director. Thank you.

State of the Office – April 2017


Hi This is Doctor Willhide. Along with my team at Heritage Dental, I would like to announce that spring has indeed sprung! Along with sunshine and flowers blossoming outdoors, we have wonderful blossoming news about our practice. 

And in the spirit of spring, we are also introducing many new wonderful service innovations!

1- We are very excited to be utilizing – the Cerec. Cerec gives us the capability of producing quality crowns in our office delivered the same day. This is state of the art technology which means that no second visit is necessary (saving you precious time), with no need for a temporary crown which also means less discomfort.

2- We will also soon be using laser technology in our practice for the treatment of periodontal disease. This will mean improved treatment for gum disease, also with less pain and better outcomes.

3- As many of you know I fabricate oral appliances for treatment of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. I am honored that I have been selected by the Veteran’s Administration as one of the dentists in our commonwealth to treat veterans for this very dangerous disease. Over forty million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. As a Veteran I am very excited to treat these former comrades in arms.

And finally, In order to keep and improve the quality of our personal service to our patients at its best we will travel to Sarasota, Florida in two weeks, stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and study with their staff. The Ritz Hotel chain is known for their high quality of services provided to their guests. We believe that learning from the best will give us exciting ideas about translating their superb service into skills that will serve our patients better.

As you can see we are excited and hard at work improving our care and service for you, part of our family of well-loved patients. Thank you for your continued patronage. We can’t wait to hear from you if our newest additions have exceeded your expectations and look forward to your feedback. Our greatest reward comes from your value and commitment to ideal oral health and your enthusiastic referral of friends, colleagues and family to our practice! Here’s to a healthy happy spring, summer and fall of 2017!

What IS the Oral Systemic Connection?

Did you know that the health of your mouth can affect the health of the rest of your body? It can! Recent scientific research suggests a very strong correlation between chronic oral infections from periodontal (gum) disease and systemic (overall) health. Research at major universities and medical centers strongly supports an oral systemic connection.

Mouth_Body_Connection_VisualAccording to published statistics, more than 60 million Americans show signs of periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, bacterial enzymes break down the gum tissue, allowing bacteria to enter the circulatory system. These circulating bacteria initiate a systemic inflammatory response. To “at risk” patients, this added burden could have a complicating effect on their pre-existing medical conditions. Treatment for numerous medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, orthopedic replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy may be complicated by bacteria from the mouth.

Cardiovascular Disease

New research shows a strong correlation between oral bacteria found in periodontal (gum) disease and many heart-related problems. Scientific studies suggest that an inflammatory response to oral bacteria contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. This may cause cardiovascular disease; heart attacks or strokes. Bacteria originating from the mouth may also adhere to the inner lining, and may cause infective endocarditis.

Pulmonary Disease

According to the Centers For Disease Control, people with chronic periodontal disease (10% of the general population and 50% of all seniors) are most affected by pneumonia. Therefore, improving the state of poor oral health may reduce the number of pneumonia cases and decrease patient mortality.


Almost 1/3 of all people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease. Current evidence shows that oral bacteria found in untreated chronic periodontal disease can disrupt diabetic control, which may cause many serious health complications. Periodontal disease may be considered a complication of diabetes.

Orthopedic Implants

Joint prosthesis infections that originate from oral bacteria may lead to failure of the prosthesis, resulting in the need for additional surgery. Dental evaluations and clearance prior to replacement surgery may minimize the potential risk of infection due to bacteria originating from the mouth. Cancer Recent evidence implicates periodontal disease in certain types of cancer. The elimination of all dental disease prior to cancer therapy, most critically for head and neck cancer, may minimize or prevent the potential complicating effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It is important to have a periodontal evaluation before any cancer treatment.

Fetal Development

Case-controlled studies show the risk of pre-term birth was 3 to 8 times greater for mothers with periodontal disease. Preterm babies have more significant and numerous health problems.

Periodontal Disease Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a progressive inflammatory condition which affects the tissues and bone supporting the teeth. There are well known warning signs of periodontal disease. However, periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms. Gingival inflammation and bone destruction are often painless, and many individuals experience little or no discomfort in the early stages of periodontal disease. Often the disease has progressed significantly before an individual realizes there is a problem or seeks treatment. Periodontal disease can exist as mild, moderate, or severe. As the severity of periodontitis increases, so does its suspected contribution to the conditions mentioned above.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:

 Bleeding gums

 Sore or swollen gums

 Loose teeth

 Gum recession

 Chronic bad breath

 Pus around teeth

 Pain upon chewing

 Recent bite change

 Spaces between teeth

 Food accumulation in gums

Important Information About the Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health

The dental and medical professions are aggressively researching the links between oral periodontal (gum) disease and systemic health.

Reports show that 3 out of 4 Americans have signs of gum disease, and 30% of these have severe disease, called periodontitis. Findings show that bacteria and inflammation associated with periodontal disease travel to other parts of the body contributing to infection and systemic inflammatory response. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, orthopedic implant failure, and kidney disease may have an inflammatory origin resembling gum disease, thus it is in every patient’s best interest to maintain his or her mouth in an optimum state of health.

A new paradigm between dentistry and medicine is now developing regarding patient care. As the oral systemic connection is more clearly understood, dentists who are trained in diagnosing oral and periodontal disease will play a greater role in the overall health of their patients. Many times, the first signs of unnatural systemic health conditions reveal themselves in changes within the oral cavity. Medical histories should be carefully reviewed when “at risk” patients are identified. A comprehensive Periodontal Risk Evaluation should be performed and results should be sent to the patient’s treating physician(s).

Physicians will play a more active role in the oral systemic connection. They will screen at risk patients for the common signs of periodontal disease, which include bleeding gums, swollen gums, pus, shifting teeth, chronic bad breath, and family history of periodontal disease. When appropriate, they will refer them to dentists and periodontists who are uniquely qualified to evaluate and treat their patient’s oral conditions. This new era of interdisciplinary dental/medical cooperation will undoubtedly result in improved patient health, as well as an improvement in overall patient longevity.

We are also involved with medicine in providing oral appliances for sleep apnea, which affects 40 million Americans, contributing to problems like high blood pressure and cardiac disease.

We have also begun the use of a new technology, the Identafi® Oral Cancer Screening Device, to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Studies show that approximately one American dies every hour from oral cancer. Early detection is a critical weapon against this disease.

The bottom line is our goal to keep our patients aware, and to contribute to a long and healthy life for each of you.

Worth a Look – La Petite Auberge

I have been privileged to treat patients in our community for many years.  As all of you know, I am a huge supporter of Historic Downtown Fredericksburg and its shops and restaurants.

Over the years, my favorite downtown restaurant is La Petite Auberge at 311 William Street.  Owner/Chef Christian Renault and his son Chef Raymond Renault have created a fine dining oasis serving traditional French cuisine combined with a diverse wine list.  Both the menu and the atmosphere embrace the “savoir-vivre” of great food, amazing atmosphere, and good friends.

Not only is the food outstanding, but the ambiance is warm and the staff and service wonderful.  Among my personal favorite dishes are the Herb Crusted Salmon with Wild Mushroom Risotto, Veal Scallopines Cordon Bleu, Tournedos aux Champignons, and Tournedos au Poivre Vert.

The dining room is beautiful and features ever-changing displays of local artists.  The less formal lounge is furnished with checkered tablecloths, a beautiful bar and posters featuring everyone from the Beatles to Christian playing guitar.  Music – usually a trio with Christian on guitar – is in the lounge most Wednesday evenings.  You will love the restaurant! Talk to Sherry, the hostess, and tell them Dr. Willhide sent you.  Their phone # is 540-371-2727, or you may visit them on the web at:  www.lapetiteaubergefred.com  Enjoy!

la petite aubergela petite auberge 2


Enjoy the treats, but mind your teeth!

This article featuring a recent interview the Free Lance-Star did with Dr. Willhide, appeared in the Healthy Life section of The Free Lance-Star on October 27, 2013.



Trick Or Treat Halloween BucketEnjoy the treats, but mind your teeth!

By Bridget Balch


The chance that you and your little ones are going to keep your teeth from touching any sour or sweet treats this Halloween is pretty slim.

But that’s okay.

“Halloween is a part of our culture, and a dentist should not keep kids from enjoying Halloween,” said John Willhide, a Fredericksburg dentist. “But also I think it’s an opportunity to educate parents on what they can do to minimize the detrimental effects of candy.”

Try following these tips to have a tooth-healthy day, without sucking the sweetness out of the celebration.

  • Savor sugar-free lollipops and hard candies, which can increase saliva production and help prevent plaque build-up.
  • Chocoholics, rejoice! Plain dark, milk and white chocolate—no nuts or caramel—are not so bad for your teeth.
  • Chew on some sugar-free gum. It can actually help ward off cavities.
  • Eat a real meal. It may be tempting to save up calories to gorge on sweets, but eating a healthy meal will help limit sugar intake. Plus, eating causes saliva production, which—you guessed it!—helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Eat your heart out! No, really. Halloween comes once a year, and one day of sugar overload isn’t that bad for your teeth.

Even Dr. Willhide admitted to indulging in his share of Heath and Toblerone candy bars.


Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that feed on sugar and produce acid.

Acidity is determined by the pH scale, which ranges from water, at 7.0, to battery acid, at 1.0. Loss of tooth enamel occurs at 4.0, making most sour candies the worst Halloween offenders.

Some Halloween favorites are shockingly close to the low, battery-acid end of the pH scale, with SweeTarts and Sour Gummi Bears at 3.0, Sour Skittles at 2.2 and Pixy Stix at 1.9, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

If foregoing the sour candies is too tough, be sure to wait 30 minutes after eating them before brushing to avoid spreading the acid around your teeth. Instead, let your saliva restore the natural balance of acid in the mouth.

Chewy and sticky sweets also are a big threat to oral health. Caramels, gummies, taffy, candy corn and even dried fruit stick to the teeth, especially in the hard-to-clean crevices. The prolonged exposure of sugar to the teeth increases the risk of cavities.

The Halloween season, when Americans buy 600 million pounds of candy, is a good time to remember to take care of your teeth all year. Regular dentist visits, brushing, flossing and fluoride treatments are the best ways to ensure that smile stays intact.


Colin Powell’s 13 Rules

I have long been an admirer of Colin Powell, and have read two of his books.  General Powell has been an outstanding leader as a combat officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Secretary of State.  He has shared 13 rules that guide his life and I submit them to you to as possible rules to consider for your own life. Let me know what you think.

Colin Powell’s 13 Rules:

  1.  It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.


Treatment Options Expanding For Sleep Apnea Patients – Oral Devices An Alternative To Clunky CPAP Machine


February 9, 2013

Treatment Options Expanding for Sleep Apnea Patients – Oral Devices an alternative to clunky CPAP machine

By Jim Hall

The most common treatment for those with sleep apnea is a forced-air machine which aids in breathing, called the CPAP.

But a second option, a custom-made device that fits inside the mouth, is increasingly used by some apnea patients.

Called the oral appliance, the device resembles a sports mouth guard and is available for those with mild to moderate forms of the sleep disorder.

“I think it’s important for a person who has sleep apnea to know of their options, not to think that they’re stuck with CPAP,” said Dr. Maha Alattar, a Fredericksburg sleep specialist.

More than 18 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation.  For them, sleep is not a welcome respite at the end of a busy day.

Instead, their airway becomes blocked, and their sleep is interrupted, often dozens of times a night.

The interruptions are usually caused when the tongue falls backward in the mouth, preventing air from reaching the lungs.  This continues until sufferers rouse themselves, often with a snort or choking sound.

Snoring is one of the hallmarks of the condition, though not all snorers have sleep apnea.

Kip Yost, a Spotsylvania County resident and apnea sufferer, said his fiancée complained about his loud snoring.

“I think she said, in her words, ‘I was ripping the paint off the walls’ ” Yost said.

Sufferers also complain of morning headaches and daytime sleepiness.

“We have a couple of patients who have fallen asleep at stoplights.  They’re so tired,“ said Dr. John W.Willhide, a Fredericksburg dentist who treats apnea patients.

In addition to drowsiness, patients experience a drop in the oxygen level of their blood, which puts them at risk for medical problems, such as stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack.

In the past, most apnea sufferers either ignored their condition and lived with the complications or used a continuous positive airway pressure machine, better known as the CPAP.

CPAP sits on the user’s nightstand and forces a stream of room air through a tube into the nose and mouth.

Clinical studies have shown that this forced air is effective at opening the airway and eliminating the nighttime disturbances that define sleep apnea.

Despite its effectiveness, however, the CPAP is a difficult machine to love.

Users dislike having the mask of their face.  They also complain that it’s uncomfortable, because of the dry mouth they experience and the air leaks.

“I travel for work so it’s a little cumbersome to lug it through the airport,” said Jan Clarke, a fundraiser at the University of Mary Washington and a former CPAP user.

In recent years, however, sleep specialists like Alattar have offered a subset of their patients the oral appliance as an alternative to the CPAP.

“It’s well-established,” Alattar said.  “We have almost 10 years of data to show that the oral appliance works.”

At least 60 oral appliances are now marketed for sleep apnea.  Some have been available for 30 years.

Typically, the devices are custom-made by dentists and cost from $1500 to $3000.  Insurance coverage can be hit-or-miss.

Alattar refers many of her patients to Willhide for their appliances.  He creates two impressions for the patient’s teeth, one for the upper teeth and another for the lower.

Willhide uses a lab in Texas to make the device, which consists of a hard plastic shell and a softer liner.  Patients return to his office to adjust the device in their mouths.

“It’s a fairly simple solution to a serious problem,” he said.

The appliance works by moving the lower jaw forward and opening the airway.

“Your tongue is attached to the bottom jaw.  So if you’re pulling the whole jaw forward, the tongue has to move forward,” said Dr. B. Gail Demko, president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Demko said that as dentists heat about the appliances, more want to learn how to make them.  Membership in the Dental Sleep Medicine academy has gone from 300 members 10 years ago to 3,000 members now, she said.

Yost, 42, went for a sleep study last year when Robin Sterling, his fiancée, complained about his snoring and described how he stopped breathing during the night.

“When I would go to bed before the appliance, I recognized that I was waking up through the night,” he said.  “Now it’s very rare that I wake up.”

Clarke, like Yost, learned that he had sleep apnea after someone commented about his snoring.

He used a CPAP for about 10 years, before switching to the oral appliance.

“Compared to the CPAP, it is a whole lot easier,” he said.