Posts for: October, 2018

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
October 30, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  
GoodOralHygieneIsntJustforTeeth

In October, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association sponsors National Dental Hygiene Month to remind everyone that having good oral health is directly related to practicing good oral hygiene at home. This includes brushing twice each day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once per day. But sometimes we forget that dental hygiene applies not just to your teeth but also to anything you regularly wear in your mouth. This includes removable dentures (full or partial), clear aligners, nightguards, mouthguards and retainers. If you (or your kids, or seniors you know) wear any of these, please review the three appliance-care tips below.

1. CLEAN IT. Just like natural teeth, an oral appliance worn every day needs daily brushing. But toothpaste isn’t an appropriate cleanser for these devices; it’s too abrasive. The grainy particles it contains are great for scrubbing plaque and bits of food from the hard enamel coating of teeth—but they can actually leave little nicks in the plastic of your oral appliance, creating areas for bacteria to hide. This can eventually cause odors and stains. Instead, clean appliances with liquid dish soap or denture paste. Buy a separate brush for your appliance—don’t use the same one that you use on your teeth. It can be a very soft regular toothbrush, nail brush or denture brush.

2. RINSE IT. After cleaning your appliance, rinse it thoroughly. But don’t use hot water—and never boil an oral appliance to sterilize it! Your device was custom-made for your mouth, and it needs to fit precisely to do its job. Hot water can warp the appliance and change the fit, possibly rendering it useless or even harmful. For example, a warped orthodontic aligner might not move teeth into the correct position. Remember: the goal is to kill bacteria, not your appliance!

3. STORE IT. Keep your appliance in a safe place—away from curious pets and toddlers. When you are not wearing it or cleaning it, your device should be packed away in its case or soaking overnight in water or a cleaning solution according to your original instructions.

If you have any questions about oral appliance care or oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “10 Tips for Cleaning Your Oral Appliance” and “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home.”


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
October 23, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Porcelain VeneersMillions of people from around the world are turning to porcelain veneers as a hassle-free way to improve their smile. Dental veneers are thin, ceramic shells that fit over the teeth to make a dazzling smile. Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates, located in both Gaithersburg and Kensington, MD, offer a full range of dental services—the following information will help you determine if you're a good candidate for their veneers.

1. You want to whiten your smile. 

Tooth staining affects many patients. There are several causes of tooth staining including poor dental hygiene, beverages, foods, smoking, and certain medications. Several diseases that affect enamel can also lead to tooth discoloration. Porcelain veneers can give you the bright-white smile you've always wanted, and unlike real teeth, they resist dental stains remarkably well. 

2. You want to close a tooth gap.

Diastemas are gaps between teeth. These spaces can form anywhere in the mouth. This condition affects people of all ages and may be caused by missing teeth, under-sized, teeth, or bad oral habits such as thumb-sucking. Veneers are used to fix these gaps by being placed over your teeth to create an evenly-spaced smile. 

3. You want to restore a broken tooth.

Cracking or chipping a tooth is a common phenomenon, and veneers can restore these damages. If you have a broken tooth, a veneer can revitalize both its appearance and function by covering the tooth's front with a thick section porcelain, replacing the flawed parts. 

4. You want to fix your crooked teeth.

For some people, having a crooked smile can affect their self-esteem and self-confidence. Contrary to what you might think, you may not need orthodontic treatment to fix your crooked smile. Veneers can straighten your teeth without the discomfort and hassle of dental braces! Veneers are effective in covering up dental imperfections and giving patients the appearance of a perfect smile. 

5. You want to look years younger.

Our teeth play an important role in defining how old we look. If you want to look younger, getting veneers is a good place to start. Dental veneers will enhance your smile and instantly make you look younger—that's why it's such a popular cosmetic dentistry procedure among Hollywood stars!

Interested? Call our Kensington or Gaithersburg office today!
The best way to find out if you're a viable candidate for porcelain veneers is to consult with a dentist. Call Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates at (301) 933-1833 right now to schedule a dental consultation in Kensington, MD, or (240) 683-3833 for the Gaithersburg location. Porcelain veneers will do you and your smile a world of good!


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
October 20, 2018
Category: Oral Health
HowtoHelpYourKidsFormGoodOralHygieneHabits

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. It comes as no surprise that good dental hygiene habits are best acquired early in life—and with good reason, as tooth decay is the most common disease among children. In fact, a full 43 percent of U.S. children have cavities, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. So how do you start young children on the path to a lifetime of good oral health? Here are five tips for instilling good dental hygiene habits in your kids:

Set a good example. Good—and bad—habits often start at home. Research shows that when young children notice other family members brushing their teeth, they want to brush, too. So let your child see you brushing and flossing your teeth, and while you’re at it model good nutritional choices for optimal oral health and use positive language when talking about your own dental visits. The example you set is a powerful force in your child’s attitude toward oral care!

Start early. You can start teaching children brushing techniques around age two or three, using a toothbrush just their size with only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. If they want to brush by themselves, make sure you brush their teeth again after they have finished. Around age six, children should have the dexterity to brush on their own, but continue to keep an eye on their brushing skill.

Go shopping together. Kids who handpick their own oral hygiene supplies may be more likely to embrace the toothbrushing task. So shop together, and let them choose a toothbrush they can get excited about—one in their favorite color or with their favorite character. Characters also appear on toothpaste tubes, and toothpaste comes in many kid-friendly flavors.

Make dental self-care rewarding. Why should little ones care about good dental hygiene?  Young children may not be super motivated by the thought of a long-term payoff like being able to chew steak in their old age. A more tangible reward like a sticker or a star on a chart each time they brush may be more in line with what makes them tick.

Establish a dental home early on. Your child should start getting regular checkups around age one. Early positive experiences will reinforce the idea that the dental office is a friendly, non-threatening place. Children who get in the habit of taking care of their oral health from an early age have a much better chance of having healthy teeth into adulthood.

If you have questions about your child’s dental hygiene routine, call the office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Do Babies Get Tooth Decay?” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
October 10, 2018
Category: Oral Health
SteelyDanFoundersDeathHighlightsImportanceofEarlyCancerDetection

Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.

As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.

Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.

Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”