Posts for: June, 2017

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
June 27, 2017
Category: Oral Care

Finding a strange, new lump in your mouth can be scary. Let us help you get the answers you need.bump in mouth

You just ran your tongue over a bump in your mouth that you know wasn’t there just a couple of days ago. Now you can’t seem to think about anything else. What is it and is this issue serious? Find out the common causes of oral bumps and when to visit one of our Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, dentists, Drs. Kenneth and Edmond Woo or Dr. Ho Kai Wang, for a diagnosis.

So, there could be a few things going on, which is why it’s a great idea to visit us to get a better idea. Here are some issues that could be the culprit behind that awkward lump or bump in your mouth:

Canker Sores

If you notice a few blisters in your mouth that are also sore or painful, then you could be dealing with canker sores. They can develop anywhere in the soft tissues of your mouth, from your gums and cheeks to your tongue. Most of them will go away on their own in a couple of weeks; however, if you have serious discomfort or if you develop canker sores often then it’s time to talk to our Kensington and Gaithersburg general dentists.

Mucous Cyst

This cyst, which is the result of blocked salivary glands, can develop anywhere in the mouth but is most commonly found on the lips. These cysts aren’t painful and, like canker sores, they will go away on their own. Why do these cysts forms? They are most often caused by repeatedly biting the lips or cheek.

An Abscess

If there is an injury or open wound in the gums or soft tissue of your mouth this easily allows bacteria to enter, which can lead to an infection. As a result, a pus-filled pocket forms on the gums. An abscess on the gums could also mean that you have an infection between your teeth and gums, which is more common in those with serious gum disease.

Oral Cancer

In rare instances, that abnormal new growth could be a sign of oral cancer. If the growth doesn’t go away in a couple weeks, if the growth gets worse, if the sore begins to bleed, if you notice a persistent sore throat or you also have trouble swallowing or chewing then it’s time to get yourself to the dentist right away for an evaluation.

Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, is here for all of your dental needs, whether an emergency arises or you just need to schedule your next cleaning. Get the dental care you deserve for a healthy smile.

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
June 22, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

There are a variety of methods for treating periodontal (gum) disease depending on its severity — from routine office cleanings to periodontal surgery. But the goal behind all of them remains the same: remove bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar), the root cause for gum disease, from all tooth and gum surfaces.

The traditional method for doing this is called scaling in which we use special hand instruments (scalers) to mechanically remove plaque and calculus. Scaling and a similar procedure called root planing (the root surfaces are “planed” smooth of plaque to aid tissue reattachment) require quite a bit of skill and experience. They're also time-consuming: full treatment can take several sessions, depending on how extensive the infection has spread.

In recent years, we've also seen a new method emerge for removing plaque: lasers. Commonly used in other aspects of healthcare, lasers utilize a focused beam of light to destroy and remove diseased or unhealthy tissue while, according to studies and firsthand accounts, minimizing healthy tissue destruction to a better degree than traditional techniques. Procedure and healing times are likewise reduced.

Because of these beneficial characteristics, we are seeing their use in gum disease treatment, especially for removing diseased and inflamed tissues below the gum line and decreasing sub-gingival (“below the gums”) bacteria.

Dentists who have used lasers in this way do report less tissue damage, bleeding and post-treatment discomfort than traditional treatments. But because research is just beginning, there's not enough evidence to say laser treatment is preferably better than conventional treatment for gum disease.

At this point, lasers can be an effective addition to conventional gum disease treatment for certain people, especially those in the early stages of the disease. As we continue to study this technology, though, the day may come when lasers are the preferred way to stop gum disease from ruining your dental health.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, 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 “Lasers Versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
June 07, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

In her decades-long career, renowned actress Kathy Bates has won Golden Globes, Emmys, and many other honors. Bates began acting in her twenties, but didn't achieve national recognition until she won the best actress Oscar for Misery — when she was 42 years old! “I was told early on that because of my physique and my look, I'd probably blossom more in my middle age,” she recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “[That] has certainly been true.” So if there's one lesson we can take from her success, it might be that persistence pays off.

When it comes to her smile, Kathy also recognizes the value of persistence. Now 67, the veteran actress had orthodontic treatment in her 50's to straighten her teeth. Yet she is still conscientious about wearing her retainer. “I wear a retainer every night,” she said. “I got lazy about it once, and then it was very difficult to put the retainer back in. So I was aware that the teeth really do move.”

Indeed they do. In fact, the ability to move teeth is what makes orthodontic treatment work. By applying consistent and gentle forces, the teeth can be shifted into better positions in the smile. That's called the active stage of orthodontic treatment. Once that stage is over, another begins: the retention stage. The purpose of retention is to keep that straightened smile looking as good as it did when the braces came off. And that's where the retainer comes in.

There are several different kinds of retainers, but all have the same purpose: To hold the teeth in their new positions and keep them from shifting back to where they were. We sometimes say teeth have a “memory” — not literally, but in the sense that if left alone, teeth tend to migrate back to their former locations. And if you've worn orthodontic appliances, like braces or aligners, that means right back where you started before treatment.

By holding the teeth in place, retainers help stabilize them in their new positions. They allow new bone and ligaments to re-form and mature around them, and give the gums time to remodel themselves. This process can take months to years to be complete. But you may not need to wear a retainer all the time: Often, removable retainers are worn 24 hours a day at first; later they are worn only at night. We will let you know what's best in your individual situation.

So take a tip from Kathy Bates, star of the hit TV series American Horror Story, and wear your retainer as instructed. That's the best way to keep your straight new smile from changing back to the way it was — and to keep a bad dream from coming true.

If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Why Orthodontic Retainers?” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.” The interview with Kathy Bates appears in the latest issue of Dear Doctor.