8/23/2018 12:24:00 PM |
Often, a family trip to the dentist will feature the use of an x-ray camera. The dental hygienists will cover you or your children with a heavy apron and make you chomp on some bitewings, while the camera moves and clicks around you. Of course, the images produced by the x-rays have a purpose: cavities, jawbone degradation, and other oral health issues are made easily visible, allowing the dentist to address these issues directly. However, x-rays are a form of radiation, and some people are concerned with that exposing someone to dental x-rays will cause cancer. These concerns are especially strong for parents taking their children to the dentist.
X-rays are a type of ionizing radiation, and ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, upon passing through the body, strip electrons from the atoms this energy passes. The resulting protons, known as free radicals, then can damage the cells of the body. While these cells return to normal most of the time, on rare occasions the cells will heal with some abnormalities. These abnormal cells, consequently, can grow into cancer. From this alone, people believe that dental x-rays will cause cancer.
However, you’re always exposed to ionizing radiation. On average, your body is exposed to 3.1 millisieverts (mSv) of natural radiation alone per year. At .005 mSv, the radiation you receive from the aforementioned dental x-ray is less than 1.6% of your daily background radiation exposure. You are exposed to the same level of radiation just from sunlight each day. Additionally, each x-ray is an individual dose rather than constant exposure, which is another factor in the cancer risks of radiation exposure. X-rays only increase the odds of dying of cancer by 1 in 2,000; compare this to the natural 1 in 5 chance you have of dying of cancer.
Moreover, there are precautions in place for younger patients to help minimize their exposure. Technically, children do have a higher risk of developing cancer from radiation than adults, so dentists make up for it with stricter safety measures. Lead aprons are almost ubiquitous, but many doctors will also reduce the amount of radiation emitted by the camera when taking x-ray images of pediatric patients. The same precautions can be given to pregnant women, as fetuses are assumed to be just as vulnerable as children. Your children could be receiving special considerations regarding radiation exposure risks already.
Ultimately, the benefits of detecting an oral health issue as early as possible far outweighs the negligible cancer risk. Not only are healthy teeth and gums alone something worth keeping, but many recent studies have shown connections between oral health and overall bodily health as well. Being able to detect and address these issues is paramount to your health and your children’s health. So, the next time your dentist readies the bitewings and camera, don’t be afraid. The benefits are high, the risk is low, and the dentist is likely being extra careful with your children anyways.
8/1/2018 4:33:00 PM |
How Pregnancy Can Affect Oral Health
When you’re expecting a child, it goes without saying that nearly every aspect of your life significantly changes. As the body adjusts to pregnancy, the state of the smile can fluctuate as well. Knowing what dental issues are common during this time and what symptoms to look out for helps lower the risks of complications.
Concerning Conditions When Expecting
When you do not properly practice dental hygiene, you are susceptible to oral health complications, but expectant mothers are even more vulnerable due to the level of hormonal changes throughout pregnancy.
To minimize health risks during pregnancy, here are some oral health issues to look out for:
Gingivitis- Some women will experience fluctuations in their gum health. The soft tissue can appear redder, be more sensitive, and bleed easily during brushing and flossing. These changes can start as early as the second month of pregnancy, and peak during the third trimester. The rapid increase in hormone and progesterone levels help bacteria grow, accelerating the development of gingivitis.
Tooth Erosion- Morning sickness is not only an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy but also contributes toward serious repercussions for a mother’s dental health. Frequent vomiting can erode the rear surfaces of teeth and weaken dental enamel.
Dry Mouth- Many expectant mothers complain about these symptoms which include frequent thirst, mouth sores, and a dry feeling in a smile. Constant changes throughout the body interrupt saliva production, impacting oral health significantly. Stress and certain medications are strong instigators of this condition as well.
How Mothers-To-Be can Protect Their Oral Health
Taking preventive steps utilizing effective dental care techniques not only benefits expectant mothers but ensures their baby’s health as well.
Brushing and flossing every day break up the food particles that feed plaque-causing bacteria, preventing periodontitis and tooth decay. It is especially important to schedule routine appointments with a dentist every three to six months while pregnant to guarantee the gums are disease free.
An infant’s teeth start developing between three to six months during pregnancy, making oral health an important factor to consider before they’re born. Mothers can support their child’s smile by implementing a diet rich in nutrients such as calcium, protein, vitamins A, C, and D.
At West Houston Dental, we believe that optimal oral health is essential in all stages of life. We encourage expectant mothers to call or visit our Houston, TX office today with any questions or concerns they may have. Dr. Tomy Nguyen and his experienced dental team will be happy to take care of you!
5/21/2018 12:51:00 PM |
Brushing everyday is one of the best ways to take care of your teeth. However, it's not just that simple. For optimal dental care, follow these six tips.
1. Pick the right brush - Not all brushes are the same, and you need to choose one that fits your mouth.
2. Brush the right way - You should hold your brush at a 45-F-degree angle to your gums and use an up-and-down motion with short strokes.
3. Take your time - While brushing twice a day is recommended, three times is probably best. Also, whenever you brush, make sure you do it for at least two minutes.
4. Don't overdo it - Conversely, don't brush too much or for too long, as this can wear down enamel and hurt your gums.
5. Keep it clean - Always rinse your brush, as germs can linger on it.
6. Let it go - Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or if the bristles are becoming frayed or broken.
2/6/2018 8:00:00 AM |
What It Is Periodontal disease, known as gum disease or periodontitis, is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. In the United States, it is estimated that half of Americans aged 30 or older have advanced gum disease. While highly prevalent, this dental condition is preventable with a good oral health regimen. Cause Periodontal disease symptoms become apparent as bacteria and debris accumulate around teeth and below the gum line and hardens into tartar. If not removed by a professional, tartar and bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums and weakening of teeth. There are variables that can increase your risk of periodontitis that range from genetic predisposition and underlying health conditions, to certain lifestyle habits. Diet, taking certain medications, decreased immunity, and hormonal changes can also increase your chances of developing gum disease. Stages Periodontitis begins with the onset of gingivitis. In this early stage, bacteria builds up, irritating the surrounding gums. As bacteria accumulate and plaque builds and hardens into tartar, there is a weakening of bone and connective tissue that keeps teeth in their sockets. As bacteria spreads, pockets that trap further bacteria begin to form around teeth and under soft tissue. In patients with advanced periodontal disease, teeth become loose and fall out. Symptoms One of the most difficult aspects of spotting periodontal disease without help from a dentist is that the condition can progress slowly in patients and may not always produce obvious signs. Patients may notice: - Gum tenderness - Gum recession - Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth - Loose teeth or a change in teeth alignment Diagnosis of gum disease typically involves visiting a dentist for a visual examination of your oral condition, as well as charting pocket depths and using X-Rays to check bone loss in areas with deeper periodontal pockets. Treatment Early diagnosis gives patients the greatest chance of reversing damage with nonsurgical treatments. These procedures include root scaling and planing, which removes tartar and bacteria from surfaces of teeth and beneath the gums and smooths root surfaces,. Antibiotics that are either taken orally or topically as a rinse, can also be used to reduce bacteria and inflammation. For patients with advanced periodontitis, dental surgery may be the most effective option to reduce pocket size and restore the healthy appearance and supportive structure of soft tissue. Prevention Periodontal disease is preventable by practicing consistent and good oral hygiene. As a rule of thumb, you should be taking between 3-5 minutes twice day to care for your teeth and gums by flossing first to loosen any food particles and bacteria, and brushing to clean all surfaces of teeth. You should also visit your dentist twice a year for thorough teeth cleanings. Patients displaying early signs of gum disease may require more frequent dental visits throughout the year. If are exhibiting signs and symptoms of gum disease, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you can receive treatment, the more likely you will be able to reverse any damage caused by periodontal disease.
5/16/2016 12:00:00 PM |
Root canal treatment includes the application of a tooth-colored crown to protect the structure of a treated tooth, once inner systems of teeth have been cleaned of bacteria. While effective root canal processes help prolong the life of your tooth and prevent extraction, the crown also plays an important part in making sure that your tooth is healthy and strong after treatment.
Preventing Re-Infection on Treated Teeth
During a root canal, the inner systems of a tooth are accessed through a small hole created in dental enamel. After damaged tissue inside teeth is removed and root systems are clean, your tooth can remain intact, but will be slightly more brittle, which is where a dental crown becomes important. After the access point is sealed, the crown helps to restore your treated tooth’s strength and durability, so you can still bite and chew with ease.
Proper application of your dental crowns is vital to how it is able to protect tooth structure. The margins, or area around the dental prosthetic, should be properly sealed so that bacteria cannot access your natural tooth and cause additional damage. When crowns are placed correctly, your treated tooth can remain in place for years and is protected against re-infection.
Root Canal Retreatment: Do I Need a New Crown?
While it is less common with Dr. Nguyen’s advanced endodontic tools, it’s possible for a tooth that has been treated with a root canal to become re-infected. As mentioned, improperly sealed margins on a crown could be the culprit, or it’s possible for inner systems of teeth to have been inefficiently treated, leaving bacteria behind. It’s possible to re-treat teeth with a second root canal without removing a crown, but if the crown is the issue, root canal re-treatment and a new dental prosthetic are necessary.
Comprehensive Root Canal Therapy and Re-Treatment with Dr. Nguyen
Our unique approach to root canals incorporates the use of effective equipment that allows Dr. Nguyen to thoroughly treat inner systems of teeth and reduces the need for re-treatment in the future. We also incorporate strong and durable zirconia crowns, planned with 3D technology to ensure proper fit and lasting treatment results.
If you have questions about the root canal process or how Dr. Nguyen can help protect your smile with root canal therapy and zirconia crowns, contact our Houston dental office today.
5/2/2016 12:00:00 PM |
Most patients who have had braces in their lifetimes know what it takes to maintain their orthodontic appliances and their oral health during treatment. However, clear braces can be a totally new experience for some that comes with different considerations for daily use and upkeep. Knowing what’s in store as a patient who chooses clear braces is an important part of enjoying treatment success and making an informed decision.
Invisalign® patients should consider the following:
Initial Soreness – When switching out your current aligner tray for a new clear aligner, you may experience some soreness during the first few days. This is normal, however, and dissipates fairly quickly. Most patients find that, with over-the-counter pain medication, switching to new aligners is a comfortable process that is more convenient than having traditional metal braces tightened.
Cleaning Teeth and Aligners – During the course of treatment, it’s important to make sure that both your teeth and your aligner trays are clean and free of debris. Failing to keep your smile and orthodontics appliances fresh can trap bacteria and food particles, which can elevate your risk for tooth decay or soft tissue infection. As Invisalign® is removable, you can brush and floss your teeth according to your normal routine. Your clear aligners can be cleaned with cool water and or by gentle scrubbing with a soft bristled tooth brush. However, it’s important to not use toothpaste on your aligners, as toothpaste is too abrasive for the plastic and may cloud or discolor the trays.
Storing Aligners During Meals –Invisalign® can be stained or damaged while eating food, which is why your aligners are removed during meals, but they should also be kept safe in a container and stored in a personal bag, to avoid being tossed out with your leftovers or forgotten at the table. After each meal, be sure to give your teeth a quick brush and rinse to avoid trapping food particles on teeth for the rest of the day.
Creating a Habit –Invisalign®’s most significant advantage, its removability, can also be difficult for some patients who do not stick to a daily routine of removing and replacing their aligners at the appropriate times. Patients who take their aligners out for lunch, forget to wear them for the rest of the day, and pop them back in at bed time are less likely to see the results they want. Getting in the practice of wearing your aligners at every moment other than meal times helps you achieve the straight smile you want.
While there are responsibilities and routines required for both traditional braces and clear aligners, Invisalign® makes your daily routine with braces much easier and is nearly invisible when worn. For more information about Invisalign® in Houston at West Houston Dental, contact Dr. Nguyen and his team today.
4/18/2016 12:00:00 PM |
While removable dentures in general can prove to be a hassle for patients with a lack of natural teeth, the most troublesome are lower dentures. Patients choose dentures first, however, because they are more economical up-front and appear to be the most cost-effective choice for replacing missing teeth.
However, full lower dentures can create more issues they fix and contribute to a reduced quality of life or even reduced nutritional intake, as healthy fibrous foods are tougher to chew and eat with unstable or uncomfortable dental prosthetics.
What Makes Lower Dentures Uncomfortable?
Bone Loss - After teeth are lost or extracted, bone becomes thinner over time, as there are no natural tooth roots to stimulate bone density after jaw arches heal from the extraction process. This bone resorption is actually accelerated in the lower jaw, creating significantly diminished bone quality than with extracted teeth in the upper jaw. If lower dentures are placed soon after teeth are extracted, they can quickly become loose and bothersome as bone quality and shape change.
Displacement - In everyday dental function, your tongue moves against teeth to help you speak, chew, and eat. With the tongue seated in your lower jaw arch, lower dentures are more easily moved out of place throughout the day, which creates problems for doing these simple but essential tasks.
Lack of Suction - It’s important to note that upper dentures cover more physical space in your mouth and include a section that covers your palate and provides for suction that firmly holds the prosthetic in place. Lower dentures, however, cover a lesser amount of space and are not able to hold suction as adequately, even with the assistance of denture paste. In addition to normal tongue movement, this lack of suction makes lower dentures a real problem for patients with total tooth loss in their lower jaw.
Stabilizing Permanent New Teeth with Minimal Implants
Some patients believe that they need an entire arch of implants, or prosthetic tooth roots, to permanently stabilize a full arch of teeth, which is a costly treatment -- but this is not the case. Advances in implant technology and treatment methodology have made finding stable and comfortable dentures solutions possible. New approaches to implant stabilization are also more affordable, with the use of few rather than full arches of implants.
While as few as two dental implants can be used to attach a full lower prosthesis, four dental implants can be used to permanently attach your lower denture. At West Houston Dental, we provide the revolutionary All on 4 treatment from Nobel BioCare, which utilizes only four implant posts, thereby cutting down on treatment costs, and holds your full arch of lower teeth in place -- no popping your teeth in and out each day.
For more information about solving lower denture problems with All on 4 treatment, please call our office today for your consultation.
4/5/2016 12:00:00 PM |
While some patients put off their routine dental cleanings because of inconvenient timing or a busy schedule, there are others who avoid dental care entirely, to their detriment, because of extreme dental phobia. Even events like loose teeth, decay, and pain aren’t even enough to get patients in the door of a dental office because of their anxiety over treatment.
For these patients, sedation dentistry is an essential tool in the fight to preserve your oral health and restore total body wellness. By offering dental sedation, West Houston Dental can do all of the following:
Help Patients Access Dental Care – In instances where you feel so anxious about dental procedures that you cannot even fathom picking the phone or entering a dental office’s waiting room, sedation is the equalizer that can get you in the door. With the promise of a worry-free dental office visit, anxious patients can feel comforted knowing that all parts of their visit will be less worrisome. Sedation makes visiting the dental office much more accessible, so you can more easily get the care you need.
Calms Gag Reflex – For other patients, issues like a sensitive gag reflex could be what triggers dental anxiety. Patients with this reflex find it hard to tolerate X-rays and many other parts of their routine dental visits. While sedation can be utilized for more advanced procedures, patients who need sedation to minimize a gag reflex can benefit as well. Sedation makes diagnostic X-ray taking and teeth cleaning far more tolerable for patients who struggle with the discomfort of a strong gag reflex.
Protects Total Body Health – It may not be something that patients think about, but your mouth is not a separate entity from the rest of your body. By neglecting dental care, problems like infections and bacteria can create secondary health issues that affect more than just your smile. Patients who let their dental conditions go for fear of treatment are setting themselves up for risk of total-body medical issues. Sedation dentistry can therefore be an important part of what keeps you healthy overall, by making dental care less intimidating.
Discuss Your Anxieties and Options with our Dental Office
The first step in combating dental anxiety is speaking to our Houston dentist about your fears and concerns, so that we may create a treatment plan that helps to minimize triggers. We can also discuss recommendations for sedation, depending on your anxiety level, dental needs, and the treatment plan we prescribe to care for your smile. We have options available that ensure you feel peaceful and relaxed during your treatment. If you have questions about sedation dentistry, we encourage you to call our office to see what we can in helping to protect your health and to make dentistry a more welcoming process.
3/21/2016 12:00:00 PM |
Positive dental experiences at an early age are part of what sets the stage for better health through the course of patients’ lifetimes. Children who practice good oral health habits at home and keep up with routine dental visits are less likely to encounter serious dental issues caused by lack of preventive attention as they grow into adulthood.
At West Houston Dental, we take care to treat children in a way that allows them to learn about the dentist and become confident visiting our office for treatment. When families bring in young children for first appointments, or during their own visits, we typically take the following steps:
Meeting the Team and Getting to Know the Office
As a child, coming into an unfamiliar situation with people who are new to you can be intimidating. We understand that fear of the unknown is powerful, which is why we give children the opportunity to get to know us and familiarize themselves with our staff and our office. Children can meet members of our team and take a tour around the office so there is never a point where they feel they are walking into a situation that is scary.
Sitting in Treatment Chairs
When they are feeling confident, children can take a seat in one of the dental chairs to get an idea for what teeth cleaning or other treatments are like. As a part of our efforts to familiarize children with the setting of a dental office, gradual introduction to sitting in the chair can help set the right expectations for treatment and minimize anxiety.
Seeing Dental Tools in Action
For patients who grow up with dental anxiety, the sights and sounds of certain dental tools can be something that triggers fear. However, patients who grow up with positive experiences understand that these tools are part of what keeps your teeth healthy and allows your dentist to care for your smile. While children are sitting in the dental chair, we can turn on the suction so they know what certain tools sound like and can show or answer any questions about what other equipment does to help clean their teeth.
Setting an Example
If children come in with their older siblings or their parents, we welcome them to come back into operatories with their family members to see what actual treatment is like. Children can watch their parent’s teeth get cleaned to help gain an understanding about what it’s like to complete a routine dental visit.
Dr. Nguyen welcomes children for preventive dental care. For more information on dentistry for kids in Houston, contact our office to speak to a member of our team.
3/7/2016 12:00:00 PM |
Tools like dental picks, suction, and drills have long been standard parts of the treatment process at a dental office, depending on your needs. However, some of these tools can make patients feel anxious about care. Modern digital dentistry has provided dentists with new and effective ways to preserve patient comfort and improve treatment results. At West Houston Dental, we’re proud to incorporate many of these cutting-edge technologies into our processes for care, so patents can access worry-free dentistry.
With digital dental technology, we are able to offer:
Prosthetics that Fit Just Right – Prosthetics, such as bridges, crowns, and veneers that are created by lab technicians based off of impression molds can be hit-or-miss. The quality of the mold, a patient’s comfort with having impressions taken, and the skill of the technician in interpreting impressions all play a hand in the final quality of restorative dental prosthetics. With digital work flows and digital impressions, however, patient information is captured with improved precision and greatly reduces margin of error. Our dental lab technicians work off of digital workflows, so our patients can enjoy restorations that are made to fit more comfortably and provide improved aesthetics.
Precise Surgical Care – Certain complex procedures, like dental implant placement, require positioning prosthetics in just the right spot, to ensure lasting results. Our 3D guided implant surgery treatments allow Dr. Nguyen to locate the best position and angle for placing your implant, helping to ensure that your implants integrate successfully with surrounding bone. While many dentists use educated guesses in placing implants, our implant surgical processes are precise and guided by detailed images of oral structures.
Better Treatment Outcomes – When it comes to treating infected teeth with root canal therapy, cleaning out all root systems and ensuring that there is no infected dentin left behind is an important component in successful care. When providing root canal therapy for patients with severely damaged teeth, our advanced endodontic tools allow us to thoroughly target inner systems of teeth. Patients enjoy faster, more efficient and gentle care with these treatment aids.
Comfortable Procedures – Laser dentistry offers an improved way to treat soft tissue while maximizing patient comfort and promoting faster healing times. For procedures that once required incisions and stiches, laser dentistry allows cosmetic gum re-contouring and frenectomies to be completed with the pass of a laser beam, which treats and seals simultaneously. Patients find their laser soft tissue procedures to be pain-free and efficient.
Questions about Digital Dentistry?
We can make digital dental tools part of your next treatment. For more information about comfortable care with advanced treatment aids, contact our Houston dental office.
11/19/2015 2:59:00 PM |
Hello, and welcome! We're excited to announce the official launch of our West Houston Dental blog.
We'll be posting helpful dental tips, news from the dental industry, news from our practice, and more about the latest in dentistry. We built our practice on the notion that we're there for our patients when they need us, and we want our online presence to be a reflection of that principle. We hope this blog provides an extra level of service to our current and future patients.
If you would like to stay up to date on the latest from West Houston Dental, simply click the RSS “Subscribe to feed” link located on our website and subscribe. Our subscribers will be updated when we make a new blog post.
Here's to your best oral health ever!