Posts for: October, 2017
As your mother used to say, “A moist mouth is a healthy mouth.” Well, maybe she didn't — but it's still true. Without the constant flow of saliva, your teeth and gums would be less healthy.
That's because among its many functions, saliva helps keep the mouth from becoming too acidic. Just after eating, your mouth's neutral pH level tips to the acidic side of the scale. Acid is enamel's number one enemy, and it takes little time for it to begin dissolving mineral content. But in thirty minutes to an hour, saliva neutralizes the acid; it also helps restore some of the enamel's minerals.
Without adequate saliva flow, acid quickly gets the upper hand. In time, this can greatly increase your risk for dental disease. And for many people, inadequate saliva — dry mouth — is a chronic problem.
There are a number of reasons why. Salivary glands may not produce as much in our later years. In addition, as we age, we may begin taking more medications, some of which can cause dry mouth. Treatments for certain kinds of systemic diseases, particularly cancer, can also inhibit saliva or even damage salivary glands.
If you feel your mouth is continuously dry, make an appointment to find out the cause, which will determine the best course of action to alleviate it. If it's related to your medication, we'll see if there's an alternative. If not, you may need to drink more water when you take your medication and more throughout the day.
There are other things you can do as well. Reduce your intake of acidic foods or caffeinated beverages. Run a cool-air humidifier at night to keep your mouth and nose membranes moist. And you can also try saliva stimulants available by prescription or even over the counter. Chewing gum with xylitol (an alcohol-based sugar) has also been shown to stimulate saliva flow.
Above all, be diligent about daily brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings and checkups. Keeping a watchful eye will help ensure dental disease doesn't take advantage of your dry mouth.
If you would like more information on managing dry mouth, 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 “Dry Mouth.”
2017 will soon be coming to a close, and so will your dental benefits. I wanted to write and remind you to schedule your cleaning, exam and any other dental procedures as soon as possible in order to fully utilize your 2017 insurance benefits. Your benefits, as well as healthcare flexible spending accounts, may expire at the end of December. Unlike medical insurance, healthcare flexible spending accounts and most dental insurance plans do not roll over to the following year. As such, any unused benefits dollars for 2017 will be lost.
Last year many patients took advantage of their flexible spending accounts to get started on implants.---a clear choice over dentures and even bridges!
We know how busy families are today, but by coming in for regular dental cleanings and exams you may avoid dental complications that may cause you to exceed future dental benefits. At our practice we are committed to the prevention of dental diseases, and regular exams and cleanings are essential in that effort.
As the end of the year approaches, calendars get busy and things get put off. Give us a call today so that we may book your appointment to best suit your schedule. We want to help you to maximize your benefits with the best dental treatment available. Remember, it is always best to catch any problems before they get too large!
We are looking forward to seeing you soon.
With best wishes for continued good health,
Dr. Woo and Team
P.S. Don’t forget that most dental insurance plans are “use it or lose it!” Don’t put it off any longer – call 301-933-1833 today!
It’s hard to avoid stress in the 21st Century. We’re all bombarded with stressors, from work to family — even our smart phones!
The problem really isn’t the stressors themselves but how we respond to them and try to relieve stress. This can often have a negative effect on our health. One example: bruxism, also known as teeth grinding or clenching.
These habits involve the rhythmic or spasmodic clenching, biting or grinding of the teeth, often involuntarily, beyond normal chewing function. It often occurs while we sleep — jaw soreness the next morning is a telltale sign. While there are other causes, stress is one of the most common for adults, bolstered by diet and lifestyle habits like tobacco or drug use, or excessive caffeine and alcohol.
Teeth grinding’s most serious consequence is the potential for dental problems. While teeth normally wear as we age, grinding or clenching habits can accelerate it. Wearing can become so extensive the enamel erodes, possibly leading to fractures or cracks in the tooth.
When dealing with this type of bruxism, we must address the root cause: your relationship to stress. For example, if you use tobacco, consider quitting the habit — not only for your overall health, but to remove it as a stress stimulant. The same goes for cutting back on your consumption of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.
Adopt an “unwinding” pattern at night before you sleep to better relax: for example, take a warm bath or keep work items or digital media out of the bedroom.Â Many people also report relaxation or stress-relief techniques like meditation, mindfulness or biofeedback helpful.
There’s another useful tool for easing the effects of nighttime teeth grinding: an occlusal guard. This custom-fitted appliance worn while you sleep prevents teeth from making solid contact with each other when you clench them. This can greatly reduce the adverse effects on your teeth while you’re working on other stress coping techniques.
Teeth grinding or clenching can prove harmful over time. The sooner you address this issue with your dentist or physician, the less likely you’ll experience these unwanted consequences.
If you would like more information on the causes and treatments for teeth grinding, 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 “Teeth Grinding: Causes and Therapies for a Potentially Troubling Behavior.”
Do you wish you could change some aspect of your smile? Whether you've never liked the look of one of your teeth or one or more teeth have become damaged, dental bonding offers a simple, inexpensive way to boost your smile. Gaithersburg and Kensington, MD, dentists Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo or Dr. Ho Kai Wang discuss how bonding can revitalize your smile.
What is bonding?
During bonding, a flexible composite resin is added to your teeth, hardened with a curing light, shaped, then polished. The bonded material is extremely tough and durable and looks like your own tooth enamel. Composite resin is one of the most versatile dental treatments, thanks to the unique properties of composite resin. The material is tinted to match common tooth shades and is soft enough to be manipulated into any shape. Once it hardens, it's just as strong as natural tooth enamel.
When is bonding recommended?
During a visit to our Gaithersburg or Kensington office, we may recommend bonding if:
- Your tooth is chipped or cracked. Bonding repairs chipped areas, covers cracks and can even be used to reattach broken pieces of teeth, in some cases. It's also a good choice if the surface of your tooth is pitted or uneven.
- Your tooth stands out for all the wrong reasons. Do you have a tooth that looks like it belongs in someone else's mouth? Improving the uniformity of your smile is as simple as using composite resin to change the shape or length of your tooth.
- Your tooth has become discolored. Teeth whitening isn't effective if your tooth has darkened due to a problem inside your tooth, such as staining from tetracycline use or a large filling. Covering the tooth with bonding material tinted to match the shade of surrounding teeth can help transform your smile.
- You don't like the gaps between your teeth. It only takes a small amount of composite resin to close slight gaps between teeth. (Larger gaps may require orthodontic treatment.)
Get the smile you deserve with bonding. Schedule an appointment with dentists Drs. Kenneth and Edmund Woo and Dr. Ho Kai Wang by calling (240) 683-3833 for the Gaithersburg, MD, office or (301) 933-1833 for the Kensington, MD, office.