Posts for: August, 2015

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
August 29, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

It might seem that supermodels have a fairly easy life — except for the fact that they are expected to look perfect whenever they’re in front of a camera. Sometimes that’s easy — but other times, it can be pretty difficult. Just ask Chrissy Teigen: Recently, she was in Bangkok, Thailand, filming a restaurant scene for the TV travel series The Getaway, when some temporary restorations (bonding) on her teeth ended up in her food.

As she recounted in an interview, “I was… like, ‘Oh my god, is my tooth going to fall out on camera?’ This is going to be horrible.” Yet despite the mishap, Teigen managed to finish the scene — and to keep looking flawless. What caused her dental dilemma? “I had chipped my front tooth so I had temporaries in,” she explained. “I’m a grinder. I grind like crazy at night time. I had temporary teeth in that I actually ground off on the flight to Thailand.”

Like stress, teeth grinding is a problem that can affect anyone, supermodel or not. In fact, the two conditions are often related. Sometimes, the habit of bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) occurs during the day, when you’re trying to cope with a stressful situation. Other times, it can occur at night — even while you’re asleep, so you retain no memory of it in the morning. Either way, it’s a behavior that can seriously damage your teeth.

When teeth are constantly subjected to the extreme forces produced by clenching and grinding, their hard outer covering (enamel) can quickly start to wear away. In time, teeth can become chipped, worn down — even loose! Any dental work on those teeth, such as fillings, bonded areas and crowns, may also be damaged, start to crumble or fall out. Your teeth may become extremely sensitive to hot and cold because of the lack of sufficient enamel. Bruxism can also result in headaches and jaw pain, due in part to the stress placed on muscles of the jaw and face.

You may not be aware of your own teeth-grinding behavior — but if you notice these symptoms, you might have a grinding problem. Likewise, after your routine dental exam, we may alert you to the possibility that you’re a “bruxer.” So what can you do about teeth clenching and grinding?

We can suggest a number of treatments, ranging from lifestyle changes to dental appliances or procedures. Becoming aware of the behavior is a good first step; in some cases, that may be all that’s needed to start controlling the habit. Finding healthy ways to relieve stress — meditation, relaxation, a warm bath and a soothing environment — may also help. If nighttime grinding keeps occurring, an “occlusal guard” (nightguard) may be recommended. This comfortable device is worn in the mouth at night, to protect teeth from damage. If a minor bite problem exists, it can sometimes be remedied with a simple procedure; in more complex situations, orthodontic work might be recommended.

Teeth grinding at night can damage your smile — but you don’t have to take it lying down! If you have questions about bruxism, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Stress & Tooth Habits” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
August 14, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Children losing their primary (“baby”) teeth is both natural and necessary. So, is it really that much of a concern if they lose one early?

The answer is yes — premature primary tooth loss could have long-term consequences for the permanent teeth as they develop within the jaw before eruption. Primary teeth play a crucial role in this development: as the permanent teeth form and grow the primary teeth serve as placeholders until they’re ready to erupt. A natural process then takes place in which the primary tooth’s roots dissolve (resorb) to allow them to fall out. Once they’re out of the way, the permanent teeth can then erupt.

If, however, they’re lost before the permanent teeth are ready, it leaves a space in the child’s bite. The dynamic mechanism between teeth and the periodontal ligament causes adjacent teeth to move or “drift” into the space. This can crowd out the permanent tooth intended for the space, causing it to come in improperly forming a malocclusion (bad bite), or it may become impacted and remain partially or fully below the surface of the gums.

This poor dental development could lead to extensive orthodontic treatment later in life, which is why we seek to preserve even decayed primary teeth for their entire natural lifespan. If the tooth is lost, however, we need to take action to preserve the space for the permanent tooth and avoid costly treatment later.

This usually calls for a “space maintenance” appliance — a type of orthodontic “retainer” — worn by the child to prevent other teeth from drifting into the space. Designed by your orthodontist, the appliance can also perform a cosmetic and social function by causing the space to appear unnoticeable.

Maintaining that space requires monitoring — especially by an orthodontist — and continued dental hygiene and care both at home and at the dentist’s office. The extra care preserving the space caused by premature tooth loss will help to ensure your child’s dental structure develops properly and their future smile will be an attractive one.

If you would like more information on the care and treatment of primary teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Early Loss of Baby Teeth” and “Losing a Baby Tooth.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
August 12, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: veneers  

Find out how dental veneers can improve the look of your smile.

Do you want to get a smile that’s worthy of the red carpet or catwalk? You may assume that getting this kind of smile will require a Veneers budget of a movie star, or multiple, invasive procedures. But what if your Gaithersburg, MD dentist told you that you could have that perfect smile with only one non-invasive cosmetic procedure?

The answer you're looking for is dental veneers, or wafer-thin porcelain shells applied to the front of your teeth to hide problem areas. Read on to find out how dental veneers can give you the ideal smile.

How can dental veneers give me that Hollywood smile?

We’re so glad you asked! Say goodbye to these common dental imperfections when you say yes to dental veneers:

  • Stains and discolorations
  • Chips and cracks
  • Misshapen or oddly shaped teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Spaces between teeth
  • Overlapping teeth

Whether you are unhappy with the color, shape or overall look of your smile, your Gaithersburg, MD dentist can help you obtain the smile you want with dental veneers.

What should I expect when I get dental veneers in Gaithersburg, MD?

So what does the procedure entail? You’ll be happy to hear that it's simple and non-invasive. Some tooth preparation is required before we can apply your veneers, but this is minimal and painless. Though veneers are thin, you don’t want them to look bulky on your teeth; therefore, we need to remove a small amount of enamel from these teeth before application.

Once your teeth have been fully prepared, we will help you decide on the proper shade for your new veneers. Then we will measure your teeth to send the mold to a lab, where they will fabricate veneers to perfectly fit your smile. In the meantime, temporary veneers will be placed over your teeth.

After your veneers are complete, you will come back in for a second visit in which your Gaithersburg, MD dentist will remove the temporary veneers and replace them with your permanent ones. Veneers are applied to the front of the teeth using a special resin, which we then harden with a laser.

Two visits and you could get a smile that rivals that of the rich and famous. If you are ready to get a smile that others will envy, then schedule your consultation with Dr. Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates. Let one of our expert dentists give you the smile you want.