Posts for: March, 2019

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
March 19, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
TomHanksAbscessedToothGetsCastAway

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
March 18, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Invisalign  

Your smile is one of the first things that people notice about you, and this can be frustrating if your teeth aren't as good looking as you'd likeinvisalign them to be. Luckily, you can correct misalignments and bite issues with Invisalign! Learn more about this orthodontic option by reading below, and for personal treatment, contact the office of Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo, and Dr. Ho Kai Wang in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD!

What is Invisalign?
In contrast to the metal components used by other orthodontic options, Invisalign uses clear plastic aligner trays to move the teeth into new, straightened positions. The trays come in a series, with patients wearing one after another, spending two weeks on each pair. Each tray is slightly different from the last and slowly move the teeth into their corrected positions.

Benefits of Invisalign
Invisalign gives you the freedom to undergo orthodontic care without complicating your daily routine or compromising your look. Invisalign’s trays are totally removable, allowing you to clean your teeth as you always have. Additionally, traditional braces require special flossers and an extended oral care plan, both of which Invisalign avoids. Furthermore, unlike traditional metal braces, the aligner trays are virtually invisible and blend right into your smile!

Invisalign Treatments in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD
If you think Invisalign may be the best treatment for your smile, you should consult with your dentist to ensure that you are a good candidate. A good candidate for Invisalign has a strong at-home oral care routine and the discipline to reliably wear the trays for at least 22 hours a day. Additionally, candidates must be in their late teens or be adults, for the treatment requires a mature jawbone.

For more information on Invisalign, please contact Dr. Kenneth Woo, Dr. Edmond Woo, and Dr. Ho Kai Wang in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD. Call (240) 683-3833 today to schedule your consultation!


By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
March 09, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
HeresWhatyouNeedtoKnowaboutaRootCanalTreatment

A root canal treatment is a common procedure performed by dentists and endodontists (specialists for inner tooth problems). If you're about to undergo this tooth-saving procedure, here's what you need to know.

The goal of a root canal treatment is to stop tooth decay within a tooth's interior and minimize any damage to the tooth and underlying bone. This is done by accessing the tooth's pulp and root canals (tiny passageways traveling through the tooth roots to the bone) by drilling into the biting surface of a back tooth or the "tongue" side of a front tooth.

First, though, we numb the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia so you won't feel any pain during the procedure.  We'll also place a small sheet of vinyl or rubber called a dental dam that isolates the affected tooth from other teeth to minimize the spread of infection.

After gaining access inside the tooth we use special instruments to remove all of the diseased tissue, often with the help of a dental microscope to view the interior of tiny root canals. Once the pulp and root canals have been cleared, we'll flush the empty spaces with an antibacterial solution.

After any required reshaping, we'll fill the pulp chamber and root canals with a special filling called gutta-percha. This rubberlike, biocompatible substance conforms easily to the shape of these inner tooth structures. The filling preserves the tooth from future infection, with the added protection of adhesive cement to seal it in.

Afterward, you may have a few days of soreness that's often manageable with mild pain relievers. You'll return for a follow-up visit and possibly a more permanent filling for the access hole. It's also likely you'll receive a permanent crown for the tooth to restore it and further protect it from future fracture.

Without this vital treatment, you could very well lose your tooth to the ravages of decay. The time and any minor discomfort you may experience are well worth the outcome.

If you would like more information on treating tooth decay, 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 “Root Canal Treatment: What You Need to Know.”