Ryan M. Buckwalter, DDS, FICOI
Thomas M. Starkey, DDS (ReTIRED)

1420 Greenbrier Place
Charlottesville, VA 22901

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The Benefits of Having Braces

Braces may be a daunting experience; however, the lasting effects will improve your overall oral and physical health. In addition to improving the aesthetics of your smile, the alignment of your teeth impacts several aspects of your health.

At Hillcrest Dental, we specialize in a variety of services including general dental care, oral surgery, and cosmetic dentistry services in Albemarle County. Our team is devoted to providing patients with everything they need to maintain a bright healthy smile. Our quality services are recognized as the most welcoming and comfortable. As you explore the many options you have regarding your orthodontic treatment, check out the ways braces will improve your overall lifestyle.

Reduce Your Chance of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

When your teeth are crowded or crooked, it creates tight spaces between your teeth where food can get trapped. Over time, food debris causes bacteria to form, called plaque, which places you at risk for developing cavities or losing your tooth’s enamel. This can occur even if you have impeccable oral hygiene due to having difficulty flossing from overcrowding. It is important to be able to remove all food debris from your teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease from forming. Fortunately, braces can help space your teeth out properly so you can have an easier time brushing and flossing in between your teeth.

Stop Bone Erosion

As you go throughout your day, you place pressure on your teeth when you eat and speak. This pressure is important for stimulating bone growth to hold your teeth in place. Over time, misaligned teeth can cause too much force to come down on certain teeth, which can slowly erode the bone. There may also not be enough pressure on certain areas that lead to a lack of stimulation. For this reason, professional care is necessary to move your teeth into the proper position, which will create the right amount of pressure to keep your jawbones healthy.

Improve Speech

Speech can be affected by your tongue’s movement against the top of your mouth and teeth, which helps to form the sounds that come out. If your teeth lie backward in your mouth or push too far forward, you may develop a lisp or other speech impediments. Moving teeth into alignment often improves speech impediments quickly after your braces are removed.

Encourage Nutrition with Proper Digestion

When your teeth do not align properly, it can also impact how you chew, which results in not acquiring essential vitamins and nutrients from each meal. This may lead to many health complications such as malnutrition, anemia, stomachaches, or other digestive issues.

Prevent Dental Injuries

Braces help to prevent future injuries, protruding upper teeth are especially vulnerable during accidents and can result in broken teeth or chipped teeth. It is also common for people with improperly aligned teeth to accidentally bite their cheeks and tongues while eating or talking. Having proper teeth alignment is another step you can take to protect yourself from future injuries. 

Correct Jaw Pain and Disorders

Your jaw joints may try to self-correct errors in how your teeth are aligned symptoms include chronic headaches, jaw popping, and pain. Over time, this can lead to serious jaw disorders. Braces will adjust your teeth in the best way to improve these symptoms after treatment. 

Hillcrest Dental: Cosmetic Dentistry Services in Albemarle County, VA

While you may be focusing on the beautiful smile awaiting you after treatment, your dental team can help you further understand and experience the additional benefits that come along with braces. Start orthodontic treatment that offers lifelong benefits at Hillcrest Dental for all of your dental and oral hygienic needs. Our experienced dentists provide excellent, quality cosmetic dentistry services through our welcoming staff, who care deeply for each of our patients, providing friendly service to the community. 

Make an appointment with us online or call us at 434-973-2224 and let us help you keep your smile bright and beautiful.

Four Differences Between A Manual Toothbrush & A Powered Toothbrush

The very first thing we do each morning and the last thing we do at night are often the same: performing our personal hygiene regimens. This involves using a variety of different tools, such as soaps, moisturizers, loofahs, hair dryers, and brushes. The most essential of them would likely be your toothbrush. With so many brands and kinds to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which one is the most effective. Learning about the differences between manual and powered toothbrushes can likely help you find which toothbrush is right for you.   


At Hillcrest Dental in Charlottesville, VA, we believe in using the right tools to sustain the natural health of your teeth. Dr. Buckwalter, our dentist, along with the rest of our staff, care deeply for each of our patients, providing friendly service and personalized family dental care. Here are some differences that we consider are key in choosing a manual or powered toothbrush:


Initially, a powered toothbrush would seem more expensive than a manual, considering the additional technology it is comprised of. However, as they have advanced over time, their range of prices has become more varied, now being almost as inexpensive as a traditional toothbrush. Depending on the number or lack of features you desire, a powered toothbrush can go from $5 to $200, while a regular toothbrush usually costs a few dollars. In terms of price, an electric toothbrush is somewhat at a disadvantage, yet makes up for it in significant ways.

Easier to Use

The basic action of using a manual toothbrush involves simply shifting the brush along your teeth. This can eventually cause pain and discomfort on your wrist, especially for those dealing with arthritis or other conditions affecting their dexterity. A powered toothbrush, on the other hand, only requires you to hold and place the brush against your teeth as it mechanically rotates and spins, allowing you to clean your teeth almost effortlessly.


Manual toothbrushes are usually simple in their design, with a plastic or rubber handle and a brush at the end. Some brands have a set of bristles on the opposite side of the brush that is meant for cleaning your tongue, which can help get rid of old food particles that causes bad breath. They do come in various shapes and sizes that are meant to reflect a difference that makes them more effective and easier to use, but their essential features are usually the same.


For powered or electric toothbrushes, there is a greater amount of variations in different models, each one with different advanced features resulting in a higher price tag. These features include built-in timers, pressure sensors, rechargeable batteries, multiple brushing modes, and many more. These help you brush your teeth faster and more effectively, as well as providing you with a teeth cleaning tool of greater longevity than manual toothbrushes.

Cleaning Effectiveness

The most vital part of a toothbrush is whether it does well at cleaning our teeth. Any experienced family dentist will tell you that the number of times you brush a day is fundamental in keeping your teeth clean and healthy. However, studies have shown that powered toothbrushes are more effective at ridding your teeth and gums of plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. This is likely because of the features they have to ensure users brush their teeth properly, such as pressure sensors that warn against brushing too hard, and timers that tell users how long they should brush.

Hillcrest Dental: Personalized, Dependable Family Dental Care in Charlottesville, VA

While some toothbrushes may be better than others, it’s best to remember you need to floss and brush your teeth daily to keep them healthy and glowing. For all of your dental and oral hygienic needs, come visit us at Hillcrest Dental. We provide excellent, individualized family dental care through our welcoming staff, who love to meet and grow strong bonds with our patients, all in the hopes of becoming a part of your community, and vice versa.

Make an appointment with us online or call us at 434-973-2224 and let us help you keep your smile bright and beautiful. 

What Causes Bad Breath?

As it’s unpleasant for someone to smell bad breath and even more so embarrassing for another person to have it, it’s crucial to provide your teeth with the proper care they need on a daily-basis to help prevent it. That’s why it is important to know the various ways bad breath develops, so that you know what to do in order to prevent it. At Hillcrest Dental, we not only desire to prevent bad breath but all dental hygiene issues that may arise for our patients.


Hillcrest Dental is known as the most professional family-friendly dentist practice in Charlottesville, Virginia that specializes in a variety of services including general dental care, cosmetic treatments, and oral surgery. Our team is devoted to providing our patients with everything they need to maintain a bright, healthy smile with quality service that is both welcoming and comfortable. Below, we list a few of the reasons that leads to bad breath:

Bad Hygiene

Going without flossing or brushing your teeth each day will result in bits of food building up within the gaps of your teeth, which creates a bad odor in your oral cavity. Also, plaque will start to form on your teeth, which damages your teeth creating an even worse smell in your mouth.

Dry Mouth

Some important facts to remember is that saliva is a natural cleanser for the inside of your mouth, and a dry mouth is a sign that you may have bad breath. Due to a lack of saliva this may mean a rise in the bacteria in your mouth, which leads to bad breath. To avoid this, always make sure you stay hydrated.

Food & Drink

There are a plethora of foods that cause your breath to have a strong odor, such as meals with plenty of onion, garlic, or spices. Also, after eating a meal, there will be an increase of bacteria forming in your mouth due to the breakdown of food particles within your teeth, which is why it is important to brush and floss often. Drinks such as coffee or alcohol can also have a negative effect on how your breath smells. Both cause your mouth to produce less saliva, which means that more odor-causing bacteria will accumulate after consumed. Coffee also has a strong smell, which can remain in your breath long after you finish drinking your morning cup of joe.


There are specific medications and vitamin supplements which may cause your breath to smell badly, often because they either cause your mouth to dry up or create odors as the medicine breaks down in your system. If you are taking medication or vitamins often, schedule routine dental cleanings in addition to daily brushing and flossing to help combat bad breath.

Disease or Infection

There a number of diseases and infections that can cause bad breath, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, gum disease, mouth sores, or an infection caused by a recent dental surgery. Make sure that you receive regular check ups from your dentist to catch and treat these potential health issues sooner rather than later.


Regularly smoking is known as a common habit that develops bad breath along with using other tobacco-based products. It also causes users to develop gum disease, which is another well-known cause of bad breath. Try to limit the amount you smoke to keep bad breath at bay.

Hillcrest Dental: The Best Family Dentist in Charlottesville, VA

While these are the many habits and physical conditions that can cause our breath to smell foul, it is best to learn what you can do to change in order to avoid it. The best thing to do is to always brush and floss your teeth each day, stay hydrated, avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking large amounts of coffee. On top of that, if you live in Charlottesville, VA, always make sure that you frequently schedule routine dental check-ups with a professional family dentist practice like Hillcrest Dental. Our dentistry staff provides a number of dental services to help you maintain great oral health that ensures you have the best smile possible.

We look forward to your next visit with us! Contact us at 434-973-2224 to schedule an appointment or get a free consultation.

Top Foods & Drinks that Can Stain Your Teeth

While it is important to obtain a pearly white smile to keep your teeth in the best shape possible, maintaining great oral health can be challenging especially if our favorite foods are known to cause stains. Certain types of foods and beverages can allow stains to form on our enamel causing them to appear yellow and not as healthy. If your teeth are not as white as you would like them to be, consider a cosmetic dentistry smile makeover with a professional dentist!


At Hillcrest Dental, we support our clients’ mindfulness toward maintaining their dental health with quality Albemarle County cosmetic dentistry services. Cosmetic dentistry is available for those who would like to obtain a brighter smile, which will give them the confidence they need to lead a more successful life. Keep your smile in great health and avoid or limit this list of food and drink items below that can easily stain your teeth:

Common Beverages That Cause Stains on Your Teeth


  • Coffee


You may prevent coffee from staining your teeth by adding milk to lighten the color and sweeten its bitterness. However, keep in mind that drinking this highly acidic beverage regularly will result in stains on your teeth.


  • Tea


Although tea may seem like a milder alternative to coffee, tea contains a large amount of tannins, or chemical compounds that are mostly found in plants, which can cause staining on tooth enamel.


  • Soda


Aside from being substantially unhealthy for you in general, sodas or carbonated drinks are also increasingly bad for your teeth as its ingredients such as artificial sugars and acids will decay your tooth enamel. This makes it easier for them to stain, as well as further degrade your dental health.


  • Wine


When it comes to teeth stains, red wines commonly take the blame. However, white wine can be even more damaging to your oral health since it has a much higher acidity than red wine. We also advise against drinking both in a single sitting as the white wine would promote decay of the soft enamel, thus allowing red wine to easily dull and discolor your teeth.

Common Foods That Cause Stains on Your Teeth


  • Soy sauce


As soy sauce is a darkly-colored liquid with a high concentration of sodium, it will likely stain your teeth. Be sure to cut down on the amount you consume during a meal.  


  • Blueberries


While enormously healthy and tasty, eating blueberries also produces dark stains on your teeth. However, simply rinse your mouth with water after you eat them, so you can keep your smile clean.


  • Balsamic Vinegar


Much like soy sauce, balsamic vinegar’s rich, dark color as well as its high acidic content, means that it will weaken enamel and leave stains on your teeth. Putting a light portion of it in your salad can help prevent any discoloration from developing.


  • Tomato Sauce


Tomatoes are also highly acidic and can cause rather unappealing red-orange stains on your teeth, so be sure to thoroughly rinse, floss, and brush your teeth after a delicious pasta dinner.

Obtain A Bright Smile with Professional Cosmetic Dentistry in Albemarle County

Always be attentive with what you consume whenever you think about your dental health.  Our best advice: brush and floss your teeth regularly each day to avoid those bothersome stains, as well as any other dental issues such as toothaches, cavities, tooth fractures, and weak gums. Since 1953, Hillcrest Dental has been serving the most effective and personalized dental care to our close group of patients and clients. We are always happy to help you achieve the smile you deserve and provide services that suit your needs most.

To ensure that your teeth and gums are in the best of health, schedule a cosmetic dentistry service consultation at Hillcrest Dental! Book an appointment with our team, contact us at 434-973-2224.

New Year, New You! Things Your Dental Hygienist Wants You To Know

Dental hygiene is an important part of your overall health and making stellar dental care one of your resolutions for 2019 will lead to a great year and great future. Hillcrest Dental wants to make sure you remember a few important things about maintaining all your important dental health this coming year.

Daily Brushing

Brushing your teeth is the standard way to improve dental hygiene. It’s something most kids are taught to do every day in the morning and at night. As you eat, bits of food can get caught on and in between your teeth causing the bacteria in your mouth to break it down turning it into plaque. This plaque can cause serious long-term damage to your teeth if not properly dealt with. Brushing your teeth prevents a wide range of dental issues such as the following:

  • Bad Breath
  • Dental Cavities
  • Tooth Decay
  • Gum Disease

Even going just a few days without brushing your teeth can lead to many serious hygienic issues. It is important to remember to brush your teeth at least twice daily, once when you wake up, and again before going to sleep.


Flossing is another very important and an often neglected part of your dental hygiene routine. Food can get stuck in between your teeth, a place where your brush cannot reach, making brushing not enough to properly clean your teeth. Forgetting to floss can lead to the same issues as forgetting to brush as the areas between your teeth and along the gum lines are some of the most sensitive areas of your mouth.

Oral Rinsing

You’ve probably noticed a trend with each hygiene tip so far, being more and more thorough. Brushing and flossing isn’t a complete solution to proper dental hygiene. Even after brushing, there can be as much as a billion bacteria cells on the surface of each tooth. While routine brushing and flossing can remove the food particles remaining in your mouth, mouthwash can help further reduce the bacteria on your teeth, as well as wash any lingering food particles away that may have been missed. After brushing and flossing, you should rinse your mouth with mouthwash for about 30 seconds, then avoid eating any food for the next 3o minutes.

Choose Hillcrest Dental Near Blue Ridge, VA For Great Care This New Year!

Keeping up proper dental hygiene can pay off for years to come by improving your overall health and saving you money on future dental work. Don’t sour your 2019 with improper dental care. Start the new year right by choosing Hillcrest Dental for any and all dental concerns. At Hillcrest Dental, we provide many quality dental services ranging from general dental care to oral surgery. We understand that dental emergencies happen to individuals of all ages, which is why we provide emergency dental services to residents who reside in cities around the Charlottesville area as well!

When it comes to the health of your teeth, don’t wait till next year! Contact us at (434)-973-2224 to set up your dental appointment today or fill out a form and request an appointment!

How to Protect Your Teeth From Cavities

The holiday season is full of food, friends, family and fun. You will probably have multiple feasts during this time of celebration with a multitude of food and sweets. While you may not be very focused on clean eating, you should still be wary about the possible dental problems you may face during the holidays such as cavities. There are many ways to avoid these, and our team of professional family dentists at Hillcrest Dental in Albemarle County, VA is there for you if one creeps up on you.


Here are some smart ways you can avoid cavities this holiday season!

1. Eat Sugary Foods with Your Meals

As you will be eating a lot during this holiday season, watching what you eat can help prevent dental problems. Saliva production increases while you eat your meals, which help wash away unwanted food particles and balances out production of acid in your mouth. This way when you eat sugary foods with your meals to prevent cavities, you will still be able to enjoy holiday sweets.

2. Avoid Sticky Candy

Food debris that remains in your teeth can combine with saliva, bacteria, and acid to form plaque, which leads to cavities if unattended to. Sticky sweets like gummies, taffy, or even dried fruit will stay in your teeth longer. This will increase your chances for cavities to form, so stay away from those as much as possible to avoid a dentist trip.

3. Watch Your Hard Candy Intake

The holiday season is for enjoying quality time with family and taking a break from all the craziness in your life. The last thing you want, especially during the holidays, is a chipped tooth or cavity, resulting in a long visit with the dentist. Watch your consumption of hard candy, so you can avoid any unpleasant dental problems.

4. Limit Alcohol

Many of the adult drinks during the holidays are very sugary, such as eggnog and the many delicious celebratory cocktails. Be careful of how many sugary beverages you drink, even if they’re non alcoholic. Alcohol can also dry out your mouth, so limit your intake as much as possible.


5. Be Aware of Starchy Desserts

Similar to sticky sweets, starchy foods can also get strapped in your teeth if you don’t pay attention. It’s important to make sure you floss after eating during the holidays to remove the food particles that can lead to plaque buildup and cavities. This is especially important if you tend to eat large amounts of starchy food during these holiday feasts.

6. Water and Gum

Another way you can wash out unwanted particles from your mouth is simply by drinking more water or by chewing sugarless gum. Doing this is a way to continue increasing your saliva production in between meals, so you can avoid tooth decay.

Hillcrest Dental: There for You Through all Your Holiday Dental Needs

Preventing cavities can be easy if you watch what you consume and brush your teeth regularly. Hillcrest Dental ensures you keep smiling through the holidays with our professional general dentistry services and highly experienced dentists. With free consultations for cosmetic dentistry services in Albemarle County, our dedicated team will be able to personally serve all your needs. Contact us at (434) 973-2224 to schedule an appointment before this holiday season arrives and don’t forget to floss!

Four Oral Hygiene Tips for the Holidays

It’s that time of the year again! The holidays have arrived and what comes with the holidays? Continuing a healthy dental care routine, of course! We know it’s a time everyone looks forward to as we have been waiting for those special desserts and drinks that we love so much. However, we must be careful in regards to portion sizes and types of foods and drinks we consume.


Hillcrest Dental professionals are highly-trained to understand your dental situation and provide the proper dental health care services you need to maintain a healthy smile. Our team is dedicated to providing the best general dentistry services to residents around the Charlottesville, VA area. We know everyone’s pearly whites need care year-round, so while you are thinking about what you would like to eat or drink, keep in mind how it might affect your teeth. To help you with this task, we have compiled a list of tips so that you can enjoy your holidays and still have a great dental visit!

1. Make Use of Travel Items

Whenever you are traveling away from home, pack a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and mouthwash with you. We recommend packing those items first as most people tend to pack their toothbrush last. This way, if you pack the toothbrush you use daily, you’ll still need it the day that you have to travel so it will end up in your suitcase last. If you have travel items, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your toothbrush or skipping your daily dental routine.

2. Avoid Sugar and Eat in Moderation!

Consuming an excessive amount of sugary foods is harmful to your teeth. We know it’s the holidays and that there will definitely be desserts — we’re not stopping you from devouring that delicious pie — but you should be aware of what you’re eating. If you are going to be eating sugary, chewy, sticky, or hard foods, you should eat them in moderation. You wouldn’t want to interrupt your holiday vacation for emergency dental services because of this. If it’s hard to say no, we recommend looking at what foods you plan to eat and visit the dentist right after the holidays have passed. Maybe even trying to make a few substitutions to your desserts such as carrots and cheese. Cheese helps with balancing acid from drinks while carrots help strengthen your tooth enamel.

3. Drink Water Often

Not only does water help our skin and bodies, but our teeth can experience the benefits from it too! While it’s easy to drink sodas and sugary juices, they aren’t the best for our teeth as it can leave stains on them. The acid from those drinks can also slowly break down the enamel on our teeth. If you do eat of drink anything sweet or acidic, it’s best in moderation. Drinking water more often will help reduce the risk of cavities, staining, and bad breath.

4. Go to the Dentist Regularly

Visiting your general family dentistry routinely is a task that usually needs constant reminders. There are many people who do not see the dentist unless they are already experiencing a lot of pain, at which point there is often major dental damage already done. Seeing the dentist regularly will ensure that any tooth and gum issues are taken care of. If you go a while without seeing a dentist for a checkup, it’s more likely that small problems will go unnoticed and become worse down the road. While emergency dental services are an option, we want to help you avoid that by providing general dental care services to keep your mouth healthy!

Make Plans to Visit Hillcrest Dental Near Blue Ridge, VA This Holiday Season!

Don’t let a dental emergency interrupt your holiday fun. At Hillcrest Dental, we provide many quality dental services ranging from general dental care to oral surgery. We understand that dental emergencies happen to individuals of all ages, which is why we provide emergency dental  services to residents who reside in cities around the Charlottesville area as well!


When it comes to the health of your teeth, don’t delay! Contact us at (434)-973-2224 to set up your dental appointment today or fill out a form and request an appointment!


Dentistry From The Heart is an outreach program passionate about reaching patients with oral health needs, giving them smile makeovers including: exams, cleanings, fillings, etc. is just the beginning.

A day could begin with people waiting in line as early as 12:10am, eager to meet a doctor as soon as the facility doors open – knowing that it would also open the doors to better health and restored teeth.


It was a first come, first serve basis, however, when anyone sat in the chair, they were first and foremost.

Among the 257 patients treated, some found themselves reconnected with each other and their volunteers, one remarking, “It’s sort of like a family…everyone’s so nice.” A post-procedure interview with another individual who had four free dental procedures shared, “Y’all are nicer, more gentle and overall better than any dental work I’ve had to pay for in the past. I love you guys! I’m getting back in line now to get a filing!”

During one year, thanks to Dr. Ryan Buckwalter and all the doctors who volunteered their time, they were able to perform over 913 dental services. With people coming as from as far as New Jersey and many locals, all left with a big, healthy smile!

3rd Annual Dentistry From the Heart Event Serves 261 Members of Our Community

Dentistry From the Heart for Those Who Need It

  • "I am very pleased with how my appointment went yesterday. Everyone was really friendly. They explained everything to me about the procedure and stayed late to assure I was comfortable with the work I had done. Dr Ryan Buckwalter and his assistants were awesome. I highly recommend them for any dental work. Thank you."

    Donnette M.

  • "I was having toothache pain in my lower jaw. I called the next day to make an appointment and was given an appointment time for the very next day. I saw Dr. Ryan, who is knowledgeable, caring and has great people skills with his patients. I made another appointment to come back and have the work done."

    Denise K.

  • “Dr. Buckwalter and his assistant did a wonderful job with our 8 year old today. While they were busy talking teeth, my 3 year old was enjoying his new lip balm and balloon! Finished up with a treat from Starbucks with our gift card. So glad our kiddos don’t fear the dentist. More like they want to keep stopping in."

    Logan D.

  • “Unbelievable experience with Dr. Ryan Buckwalter. Night and Day difference from my last dental experience with another dentist. I no longer fear the dentist!”

    David S.