Posts for: February, 2017

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
February 14, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
February 09, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canals  

Are you getting a root canal procedure? If you have questions about it, we have answers.root canal

Sure, you’ve heard a lot of negative talk when it comes to getting a root canal, but our Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, dentists, Drs. Kenneth and Edmond Woo and Dr. Ho Kai Wang, are here to give you the skinny on this common procedure to calm your nerves and help you realize that root canal therapy really isn’t anything to be scared of.

Q. What is a root canal?

A. The purpose of this endodontic procedure is to remove the dental pulp, or inside of the tooth, when it has become infected or damaged. Once the dental pulp has become damaged the only option is to get a root canal to remove it from the tooth. A root canal will save the tooth and prevent the need to have the tooth pulled in the future.

Q. Why is it necessary?

A. If you are dealing with dental pain, pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night, pain that makes it difficult to eat or tooth sensitivity to hot or cold then chances are pretty good that you’ll want to visit our Kensington and Gaithersburg general dentists. A toothache should never be ignored, as it’s your tooth’s only way of communicating that something is wrong. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may need a root canal.

Q. What is root canal therapy like?

A. We will first need to x-ray the tooth to determine the extent of the damage. Then a local anesthetic will be injected into the area to numb it. Once the tooth is numb we will make an opening at the crown of the tooth and then carefully remove the dental pulp. We will also need to clean out the inside of the tooth to remove bacteria, pus and other signs of infection.

Once the tooth is clean, we will need to fill the root canals with a special material to prevent another infection in the future. Once the tooth has been rebuilt we will decide whether a dental crown will need to be placed over the tooth.

Q. Will a root canal hurt?

A. Contrary to popular belief, getting root canal therapy won’t hurt. Those dealing with a damaged dental pulp are already experiencing pain. The point of this procedure is to eliminate the pain. Getting a root canal is really no more different than getting a dental filling.

Kenneth Woo, DSS And Associates in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, is always dedicated to protecting your smile. If you are experiencing a toothache or other symptoms that could indicate that you need a root canal, give us a call today.