Posts for: July, 2016

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
July 25, 2016
Category: Oral Health

While they're resilient, your child's teeth aren't invincible. Daily hygiene and regular dental visits are important, but you should also be alert for problems and take action when they arise.

Here are 4 areas that could cause problems for your child's teeth, and what you should do — or not do — if you encounter them.

Teething. This is a normal experience as your child's first teeth erupt through the gums. The gums become tender and painful, causing constant gnawing, drooling, disturbed sleep and similar symptoms. You can help relieve discomfort by letting them bite on a chilled (not frozen) teething ring or a cold, wet washcloth. Pain relievers like ibuprofen in appropriate dosages can also help — but don't apply ice, alcohol or numbing agents containing Benzocaine directly to the gums.

Toothache. Tooth pain could be a sign of decay, so you should see us for an examination. In the meantime you can help relieve pain with a warm-water rinse, a cold compress to the outside of the face, or appropriately-dosed pain relievers. If the pain is intense or persists overnight, see us no later than the next day if possible.

Swollen or bleeding gums. If you notice your child's gums are red and swollen or easily bleed during brushing, they could have periodontal (gum) disease. This is an infection caused by bacterial plaque, a thin film of food particles that build up on the teeth. You can stop plaque buildup by helping them practice effective, daily brushing and flossing. If they're showing symptoms, though, see us for an exam. In the meantime, be sure they continue to gently brush their teeth, even if their gums are irritated.

Chipped, cracked or knocked out tooth. If your child's teeth are injured, you should see us immediately. If part of the tooth has broken off, try to retrieve the broken pieces and bring them with you. If it's a permanent tooth that was knocked out, pick it up by the crown (not the root), rinse it with clean water and attempt to place it back in the socket. If you can't, bring the tooth with you in a container with clean water or milk. The sooner you see us, the better the chances for saving the tooth — minutes count.

If you would like more information on what to do when your child has dental problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
July 18, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Whether you’re heading into spring and summer sports with your children, or your children are fans of the beverage, sports drinks are everywhere! While sports drinks may seem like the healthy alternative to water, they can in actuality be quite damaging to your child’s teeth. 

How do sports drinks damage teeth?

While sports drinks do tend to have high amounts of sugar, that’s not what makes them detrimental to your child’s oral health. The real culprit behind sports drinks is the acidity that can cause irreversible damage to young teeth. The acid in sports drinks breaks down enamel, the shiny outer layer of your teeth, causing them to become overly sensitive to temperature changes, touch, and more susceptible to cavities. The General Dentistry Journal found that sports drinks contain such a significant amount of acid that they can begin destroying the teeth in as little as five days!

What can you do to prevent the negative affects of sports drinks? 

Water! H20 is the best way to quench thirst and keep teeth strong.

Eliminating sports drinks from your child’s diet completely may be impossible, so here are some tips that can help reduce the damage:

● Wait at least 30 minutes before having your child brush their teeth. Brushing immediately after drinking acidic drinks, i.e. sports drinks, can cause serious corrosion of dentin, the layer below a tooth’s enamel.

● Drink with a straw or in one sitting. Remember, “Sip all day, get decay!”

● Neutralize the effect of sports drinks by alternating sips of water with the drink.

● Chew sugar­free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of sports drinks


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
July 17, 2016
Category: Oral Health

For anyone else, having a tooth accidentally knocked out while practicing a dance routine would be a very big deal. But not for Dancing With The Stars contestant Noah Galloway. Galloway, an Iraq War veteran and a double amputee, took a kick to the face from his partner during a recent practice session, which knocked out a front tooth. As his horrified partner looked on, Galloway picked the missing tooth up from the floor, rinsed out his mouth, and quickly assessed his injury. “No big deal,” he told a cameraman capturing the scene.

Of course, not everyone would have the training — or the presence of mind — to do what Galloway did in that situation. But if you’re facing a serious dental trauma, such as a knocked out tooth, minutes count. Would you know what to do under those circumstances? Here’s a basic guide.

If a permanent tooth is completely knocked out of its socket, you need to act quickly. Once the injured person is stable, recover the tooth and gently clean it with water — but avoid grasping it by its roots! Next, if possible, place the tooth back in its socket in the jaw, making sure it is facing the correct way. Hold it in place with a damp cloth or gauze, and rush to the dental office, or to the emergency room if it’s after hours or if there appear to be other injuries.

If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back, you can place it between the cheek and gum, or in a plastic bag with the patient’s saliva, or in the special tooth-preserving liquid found in some first-aid kits. Either way, the sooner medical attention is received, the better the chances that the tooth can be saved.

When a tooth is loosened or displaced but not knocked out, you should receive dental attention within six hours of the accident. In the meantime, you can rinse the mouth with water and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) to ease pain. A cold pack temporarily applied to the outside of the face can also help relieve discomfort.

When teeth are broken or chipped, you have up to 12 hours to get dental treatment. Follow the guidelines above for pain relief, but don’t forget to come in to the office even if the pain isn’t severe. Of course, if you experience bleeding that can’t be controlled after five minutes, dizziness, loss of consciousness or intense pain, seek emergency medical help right away.

And as for Noah Galloway:  In an interview a few days later, he showed off his new smile, with the temporary bridge his dentist provided… and he even continued to dance with the same partner!

If you would like more information about dental trauma, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”

July 06, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Dear Friends,

I want to tell you about a wonderful patient of mine named Cathy.* Cathy is over 70 years old and has been a part of my dental family for many, many years. She knew all the staff and whenever she came in, she would always laugh and joke around with them. On each visit, she would bring in family photos and at times would even show us some souvenirs she collected on her travels. We loved seeing Cathy during her dental checkups and she was very much like a family member to us.  

When Cathy started to miss her last couple recare dental appointments, we became concerned. We called her family and sadly learned that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 and older. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

Although there is currently no cure for the disease, its onset can be prevented or delayed and the progress can be slowed down if we practice daily healthy habits.

Cathy’s story has motivated me to share with you some tips for staying healthy:

  • Drink fruit and vegetable juice at least 3 times a week; apple, mango, papaya, spinach, kale and tomato are good choices
  • Walk at least 3 times a week, each time at least 40 minutes
  • Spend time cooking; the ingredients in curry has been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms
  • Avoid aluminum cooking utensils
  • Eat less red meat
  • Treat yourself! Chocolate and coffee has shown to have heart­healthy and inflammation­fighting ingredients
  • Take B12 vitamin and Omega 3 fish oil
  • Incorporate green tea into your diet
  • Maintain good eyesight by playing games such as Sudoku, chess and reading
  • Partake in regular exercise like taichi and dancing

We care about our family of patient friends and wish you all a safe and healthful summer. See you at your next appointment!

Dr. Woo

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
July 02, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: sedation dentistry  

Visiting the dentist for cleanings, checkups and needed dental work is one of the pillars of dental health, along with daily hygiene and a nutritious diet. But an estimated 50% of people have some form of anxiety about dental visits — and around 15% actually avoid care because of it.

If you feel nervous about dental visits, there are ways to reduce your anxiety. First and foremost is to find a compassionate provider you trust and feel comfortable around, who listens non-judgmentally to your concerns.

But that's only the beginning: depending on your degree of anxiety, you could require more help to relax through sedation medication. The drugs and methods used can induce various degrees of consciousness ranging from mild relaxation to more sleep-like states.

The most basic is oral sedation. Typically, this involves taking the medication by mouth about an hour before an appointment. You can take it by itself to increase relaxation or along with other forms of sedation (like inhaling nitrous oxide gas) or local anesthesia.

Beyond inhalation, a higher level of sedation involves injecting the medication into the blood stream through an intravenous (IV) drip. This induces a deeper “semi-awake” level of consciousness, but differs from general anesthesia, which places a patient into unconsciousness to block pain during a major procedure. With IV sedation you may still be able to respond to verbal commands or touch; and although you're monitored for vital signs you won't need medical assistance to maintain breathing and heart function.

With today's advanced sedation drugs and methods, we can control dosages to achieve just the right level of sedation, as well as reduce the amount of time the drug may affect you afterward in recovery. Many drugs also have an amnesiac effect so that you'll remember little if any about the procedure afterward.

Whether by mouth, inhalation or with an IV, sedation therapy can make a difference no matter what your level of anxiety. And if your dental visits continue to be comfortable and pleasant ones, you're more likely to receive the care you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

If you would like more information on sedation methods during dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “IV Sedation in Dentistry.”