Posts for: April, 2018

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
April 23, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   braces   Invisalign  

If you have considered braces but are unsure of changing your look so drastically, you can now straighten your smile discreetly and invisaligneffectively. Invisalign allows you to correct your teeth and bite issues without all the hassle of permanently attached metal brackets and wires. But how can Invisalign benefit you and your teeth? Are you a candidate for this procedure? Find out with Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo, and Dr. Ho Kai Wang in Gaithersburg and Kensington, MD.

How does Invisalign work? 
Invisalign allows you to straighten your smile without all the metal brackets and wires required of traditional braces. Invisalign’s alternative design uses plastic aligner trays customized to your teeth to move them into new, straightened positions. The trays, created by Invisalign’s dental laboratory, come in a series and are worn in order for about two weeks at a time. Slowly, the trays push the teeth into their corrected positions. The length of the treatment depends on the patient, their teeth, the commitment they have to wearing their trays the recommended 22 hours a day, and how complex their treatment is.

The Benefits of Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are obvious, glued permanently onto the teeth during treatment. Invisalign’s clear design allows it to have a subtle, discreet appearance and appear almost invisible to those around you. This, in turn, allows you to straighten your teeth without compromising your look. Additionally, patients can simply Invisalign’s trays to eat the foods they love or brush their teeth as they would have before seeking out orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces require special flossers and avoiding certain foods to keep the teeth in top condition.

Invisalign Treatments in Gaithersburg and Kensington
If you think you can benefit from Invisalign, your dentist can help guide you towards the best treatment plan for you. A new, improved, and beautiful smile is just a phone call away. For more information on Invisalign, please contact Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo, and Dr. Ho Kai Wang in Gaithersburg, MD, and Kensington, MD. Call (240) 683-3833 to schedule your appointment in Gaithersburg, and (301) 933-1833 to schedule your appointment in Kensington today!

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
April 22, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   bruxism   night guard  

Lots of people don’t know that April is National Stress Awareness Month; don’t fret if you’re one of them. For many, stress is already a common feature of everyday life. According to the American Psychological Association, 62% of Americans are stressed at their jobs, and stress has been estimated to cause the loss of some 275 million working days every year.

In addition to its other negative physical and mental consequences, stress can also spell trouble for your oral health. It may lead to the problems of teeth clenching and grinding, which dentists call bruxism. A habitual behavior that can occur in the daytime or at night, bruxism is thought to affect perhaps one in ten adults. While the evidence that stress causes bruxism is not conclusive, there’s a strong case for the linkage.

Bruxism sometimes causes symptoms like headaches, soreness or pain in the jaw muscles or joints, and problems with fully opening the mouth. It can be detected in the dental office by excessive tooth wear, and/or damage to tooth surfaces or dental work. Grinding or tapping noises heard at night may indicate that someone is grinding their teeth while sleeping. In children, nighttime bruxism is common and not necessarily a reason for concern; in adults, it may be more troubling.

So what can you do if you’re experiencing this problem? If you find yourself clenching and grinding during the daytime, simply becoming more aware of the behavior and trying to limit it can help. A bit of clenching during times of stress isn’t abnormal, but excessive grinding may be reason for concern. Many of the same techniques used to relieve stress in other situations—such as taking a step back, talking out your issues, and creating a calmer and more soothing environment—may prove helpful here as well.

Occasionally, prescription drugs may cause bruxism as an unwanted side effect; in this case, a medical professional may recommend changing your medication. The use of stimulants like coffee and mood altering substances like alcohol and illicit drugs have also been associated with teeth grinding—so if you’re having this issue, consider foregoing these substances and making healthier lifestyle choices.

There are also a number of dental treatments that can help protect your teeth from excessive grinding. The most common is an occlusal guard or “night guard.” This is a custom-fabricated appliance made of plastic that fits comfortably over your teeth. Usually worn at night, it keeps your teeth from actually coming into contact with each other and being damaged. Occasionally, additional treatments such as bite adjustment or orthodontics may be recommended to help solve the problem.

If you would like more information about teeth clenching and grinding, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
April 12, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: pediatric dentistry   x-ray  

Your child’s dental care wouldn’t be the same without x-ray imaging. It’s one of our best tools for finding and treating tooth decay.

But since x-rays emit radiation, is your child in any danger when they’re exposed?

X-rays, an invisible form of electromagnetic energy, will form images on exposed film after passing through the body. Because it takes longer for x-rays to pass through dense tissue like teeth and bones, the corresponding areas appear lighter on the film than less dense tissue like the gums. We can detect decay because the diseased tooth structure is less dense and thus appears darker against healthier tooth structure.

The downside of x-rays, though, is the radiation they emit could potentially alter cell structure and increase the risk of future cancer, especially with children. That’s why we follow a principle known as ALARA when using x-ray imaging. ALARA is an acronym for “as low as reasonably achievable,” meaning the doses for an x-ray session will be as low as possible while still gaining the most benefit.

Advances in technology, particularly the development of digital processing, has helped reduce the amount of radiation exposure. We’re also careful with what types of x-rays we use. The most common type is the bitewing, a device with the film attached to a long piece of plastic that the child holds in their mouth while biting down.

Depending on the number of our patient’s teeth, we can usually get a comprehensive view with two to four bitewings.  A typical bitewing session exposes them to less radiation than what they’re receiving from natural environmental background sources each day.

Keeping the exposure as low and as less frequent as possible greatly reduces health risks while still getting the full benefit of early decay detection. Still, if you have concerns about your child’s x-ray exposure, we’ll be happy to discuss our approach and all the precautions we take using x-ray imaging.

If you would like more information on x-ray diagnostics and your child, 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 “X-Ray Safety for Children.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
April 06, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

Need a root canal? Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatment. A root canal is a treatment of the pulp of root canalthe tooth that is infected, inflamed, or dead. Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, offers a full range of dental services. Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo, and Dr. Ho Kai Wang are some of the top dentists in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD. Here are five signs you may need a root canal. 

1. You have a toothache.

Severe tooth pain is a sign you may need a root canal. The pain can range from mild to severe. A root canal is done to eliminate that pain. Root canals have the reputation of being painful. Root canals are not painful and can save teeth that might otherwise have to be extracted. Many patients have reported that the procedure is no more painful than getting a dental filling.

2. Cold and hot bother you.

If you pass on cold or hot foods and drinks because you know they'll make your tooth hurt, it may be time to talk to your dentist. Tooth pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food and beverages is a sign you may need a root canal. Your tooth will no longer be sensitive to cold and hot temperatures after root canal treatment. 

3. Your gums are swollen.

Swelling around one tooth is a sign that root canal treatment is needed. Gum inflammation is often associated with infection, although it does not always mean an infection is present.

4. You have a bump on your gum.

A swollen area or pimple-like bump on your gum is a sign that a root canal is needed. If you have a bump near the tooth, see a dentist as soon as possible for treatment. This bump is an accumulation of pus, which is associated with infection. Your dentist can treat this by performing a root canal. 

5. You have a discolored tooth.

Dark discoloration of one tooth is a sign that root canal treatment is needed. When the roots of the tooth that needs a root canal have died, the tooth may turn dark yellow, brown, gray, or black. Tooth discoloration is also related to severe tooth decay, trauma, or damaged fillings, so visiting a dentist for a checkup is recommended.

If you need a root canal, why wait? We can help you today! Call Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates today to schedule a dental consultation in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD. One of our dentists can get you out of pain and make your smile healthy again!