The Dentists at Houston Westchase

Tips For A Smile Friendly Thanksgiving


As you enjoy dinner this Thanksgiving, keep your teeth and gums healthy with smart food choices.

Skip the sugar
Whether it’s pumpkin pie or a marshmallow-topped yam casserole, Thanksgiving dinner can be a delight for your sweet tooth. But all that sugar also serves up a feast for cavity-causing bacteria. If you’re cooking, consider swapping sugar for substitutes like xylitol or erythritol. These sweeteners don’t cause decay. If you’re eating, limit your dessert portion and follow it with a glass of water.

Cut down on starches
Savory foods aren’t as well-known for causing decay, but the starch in sides like cornbread and stuffing can feed the same acid-producing bacteria as sugar. Mix up your plate to balance the starch with protein and fiber.

Avoid enamel stains
Brightly colored foods and drinks look great on the dinner table, but they can leave your enamel looking dull. Watch out for red wine, cranberry sauce, coffee and even white wine. Some pies, like cherry and blueberry, also pose a risk. Skip the wine and stain-causing foods – or book a cleaning with your dentist, afterward.

Guard against acid wear
Acid and enamel don’t mix. The acid in wine and cranberry juice can soften your enamel, leaving it more vulnerable to decay. Avoid acidic foods and drinks whenever possible. If you can’t skip them, lessen their impact with bites of other dishes and sips of water. Wait at least half an hour before brushing.

Load up on colorful vegetables
Fill your plate with an assortment of colorful veggies, full of smile-friendly vitamins and minerals. Red and orange veggies are usually high in vitamin C (good for gums), while leafy green vegetables are good sources of calcium (for strong teeth).

 

Don’t forget to schedule your routine checkup and cleaning after all the turkey is gone 🙂

 

 

October is Dental Hygiene Month!

Dental hygiene is always important. However, with October being labeled Dental Hygiene Month, oral health steps front and center.
We invite our patients and potential patients to read this brief blog regarding the importance of maintaining optimal oral care and the potential dangers of not adhering to such practices.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Actually achieving and maintaining solid dental health involves more than simply brushing one’s teeth once or twice per day. While brushing helps, dental care professionals recommend following most, if not all, of the following tips:

Use Toothpaste Containing Fluoride

The chemical known as fluoride is thought to strengthen the roots and enamel of teeth.

Clean Teeth With Floss

Individuals are encouraged to floss following meals and after brushing. Floss enables persons to loosen and remove food that becomes stuck between teeth that the bristles of a toothbrush might lack the capacity to extricate.

Avoid Or Limit Consumption Of Sugar-Laden Foods

Sugar is well-known as a potentially detrimental substance to teeth. When consumed in excess, the product can chip away at tooth enamel, which leaves tooth components like the pulp and roots exposed.

Eliminate Usage Of Tobacco Products

There are few vices potentially more detrimental to one’s oral health than cigarette smoking or the usage of other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco or snuff. Not only can these substances stain and harm the teeth and gums but could significantly increase a user’s risk of developing serious, possibly life-threatening illnesses like oral cancer.

Limit Intake Of Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol contains a high sugar content. Sugar is notorious for damaging teeth. Furthermore, consumption of alcoholic beverages could precipitate the development of dehydration. When dehydration ensues, the mouth’s saliva content can be significantly reduced. A dry mouth can be a breeding ground for potentially harmful tooth-damaging pathogens like bacteria to develop.

Be Mindful Of Medications

Certain medications might elicit dry mouth. In such circumstances, impacted individuals are encouraged to increase their water intake and chew sugarless gum.

Visit Dentist Frequently

Oral care professionals recommend that individuals see their dentists for regular checkups at least once or twice a year. During these visits, dental care providers can not only perform examinations to detect potential problems but execute cleanings that help keep teeth fresh and healthy.

Potential Health Problems Poor Oral Hygiene Can Cause
Poor dental hygiene has been linked to numerous health problems. The American Dental Association (ADA) opines that because the teeth and mouth provide entrance into the body, a lack of care in this region could precipitate the development of numerous diseases including:

Nutritional Deficiencies
Continual lack of oral hygiene could lead to serious dental issues like tooth decay or tooth loss. These problems might make food consumption difficult. Individuals who cannot properly chew or digest their foods could be susceptible to nutritional deficiencies that could exert a significantly adverse impact upon numerous bodily systems.

Systemic Infections

A chronic lack of dental care could precipitate the accumulation of increased bacteria levels. Said organisms could result in not only dental infections that could cause tooth damage or loss but could spread to other bodily regions causing serious, potentially life-threatening complications.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Bacteria emanating from the mouth can result in damage to blood vessels throughout the body. Said occurrences could eventually lead to blood clots or vessel constriction that increase one’s chances of developing potentially life-threatening health maladies like heart attacks and strokes.

Pregnancy Complications

Medical research has concluded that expecting women with dental diseases are at increased risk of events such as premature births, as well as newborns with dangerously low birth weights.

Symptoms Of Potential Dental Problems
There are many dental ailments individuals can encounter. Therefore, there are numerous manifestations individuals might experience that could indicate a problem’s presence. Specific symptoms include but are not necessarily limited to tooth or gum pain, sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages, bad breath, bleeding when brushing or after eating, loose teeth, spaces between teeth, red or swollen gums, frequent dry mouth or difficulty consuming food. Sometimes, the preceding symptoms could be accompanied by elevated body temperature.

Potential Treatment Options
The specific therapeutic protocol one’s dentist employs will depend upon several factors such as the symptoms being experienced, the exact underlying cause, as well as said condition’s severity. That said, individual treatment options might include:

Antibiotics

If an individual is diagnosed with a dental infection, said patient’s dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics. These drugs are designed to kill bacteria, which will eliminate the existing infection and prevent said invader from traveling to other bodily regions.

Dental Procedures

When a specific condition becomes severe enough or is producing significantly untoward symptoms, procedures like root canals, the installation of fillings, crowns or dental implants or gum surgery might be necessitated to fix or prevent any further damage or correct any underlying conditions.

Call our office to schedule a visit if you have concerns and to stay on top of your dental hygiene. We are here to help!

Back To School Dental Tips

Some of our kids are heading back for face to face instruction at school. Make sure they’re developing healthy dental routines that will keep their breath fresh, their smiles bright, and their teeth in great shape. School starting back is a great opportunity to start new habits, refine old ones, and change things up if they aren’t working for you. Start with some of these great tips for maintaining better back-to-school dental routines.

Set a Brushing Habit
Kids should be brushing their teeth at least twice a day–and brushing after every meal is even better. By making tooth-brushing a regular part of the morning routine, you encourage kids to get their teeth brushed every day before they head off to school. Even better, send them off to school with a travel toothbrush so they can take care of their teeth after lunch.

Discuss Lunch Habits
If you’ve been sending your child off to school with the assumption that they’re eating a nutritious school lunch every day, think again! Many kids skip straight past the healthier offerings in the school lunch line–and that’s assuming that their school isn’t counting ketchup as a vegetable. Sit down with your child and discuss whether or not they’re eating a healthy lunch at school. If the school lunch isn’t satisfying for your child, it might be time to change things up and pack your own. Good nutrition leads to healthy teeth and gums!

Schedule That Visit
Heading back to school is a great trigger for reminding you to schedule your child’s appointment with their dentist. If it’s been more than six months, it’s definitely time to get them in! Regular dental appointments are critical for maintaining oral hygiene and detecting small problems before they become more serious.

If you’re ready to make a dentist appointment for your child or are worried that your child has a problem that needs to be corrected, contact us today. We’ll help you get started with a great oral hygiene routine that will keep your child’s smile bright and healthy.


Straighten Your Smile- Metal Free!

Advances in cosmetic dentistry today have made it possible for dentists to offer faster, more comfortable solutions for attaining straighter teeth.

We offer effective procedures that can bring you a straighter, healthier smile faster and more discreetly than with traditional metal braces.

Invisalign
Invisalign is one of the newest and most popular methods for achieving a straighter smile. This method uses clear, discreet aligners that are replaced every few weeks to gradually shift your teeth to their desired position. Invisalign trays are removable, making it easy to eat and brush as normal. We love Invisalign because no one can tell you are undergoing treatment. Your new smile will look straighter with each series of aligners completed. Invisalign treatment can usually be completed in just a year.

Veneers
Looking for a fast way to make your teeth look straighter without actually straightening your teeth? Veneers can instantly mask dental imperfections, giving the illusion of a perfectly aligned smile. This procedure involves applying durable, porcelain shells to the front of teeth to cover orthodontic problems. The added bonus is that you can improve the coloring and shape of your teeth at the same time- the ultimate smile makeover.

Cosmetic Contouring
Cosmetic contouring, also known as dental reshaping, is performed to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or overlapping teeth in as little as one appointment. By making subtle changes to your teeth- just a few millimeters of reduction- your dentist can alter the length, shape or position of your teeth to create the perfect smile. This method is pain-free and is most commonly used on upper teeth.

Today, straightening your teeth without traditional orthodontic braces is possible. For severe malocclusion, Invisalign, veneers and contouring may not be the best solutions and traditional braces may be recommended. We can help you determine the best choice based on the degree of straightening needed. Give us a call/text at 832 830-8226 to discuss your options!

Your Safety Is Our Priority

We trust you are healthy and well during this time. As summer is upon us, we wanted to reach out and remind you the importance of scheduling your routine dental visit. We have always been equipped and trained for decades in the best infection control outside of a hospital operating room. This is why dentistry has never been a source of respiratory infection or other viral spread. Safety and comfort are critical more than ever. Here’s a brief synopsis of some key measures for you:

1) We have introduced a new state-of-the-art medical-grade air purification system, Surgically Clean Air, which includes six stages of technology including a UV-C light that kills 99% of bacteria, mold, viruses (including 0.1 microns at coronavirus level) and reduces airborne particulates such as dust, dander, pollen, and mold.

2) We have provided hand sanitizers and masks upon check-in.

3) Patients are screened prior to their appointment to keep those high-risk patients and/or those with flu-like symptoms safely at home.

5) We record the temperature of all team members and patients before coming into the office.

6) At the beginning of every appointment, you will be asked to pre-rinse with a Peroxyl Mouth Rinse that has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

7) We routinely use CaviCide™ throughout our office after each patient, as we always have prior to this pandemic. It is a powerful sanitizing agent available for eliminating germs, bacteria, and viruses.

This high level of service is just one of the many ways that we are supporting our community and you. As you can see our office is “cleaner” than our homes with our established measures.

To that end, again we want to stress the importance of not delaying or putting off your dental care as your immune system needs to be at it’s strongest during this time. Remember untreated dental disease gets exponentially worse over time. Insidious germs in the mouth take hold and build toward more significant problems such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The oral-medical connection has been proven for years.

If it’s been a while since we’ve seen you please contact us at 832-830-8226 and let’s get you back in for your check-up.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Dr. McRay, Dr.Robbins and the Team at The Dentists at Houston Westchase

We Are Back, We Are Safe, We Are Here For You!

As we have returned to our routine hours you will discover the same great care along with some additional precautions we have implemented to ensure our your safety and comfort.

New safety approaches:

1. Patients are screened via phone call before appointment

2. Only patients are allowed in the building (unless family assistance is needed by patient)

3. No vendors or other non-patient visitors allowed

4. Prescreening at our front check-in, including temperature checks

5. All staff are also prescreened and temperatures taken before allowed entry into the treatment areas

6. Masks are required by all entering our practice

7. Schedules are sequentially spaced to maintain less waiting room time

8. Maximizing cleaning of common touchpoint areas such as doorknobs, waiting area furniture, restroom facilities, and patient exam rooms.

9. Providing hand sanitizer disinfectant at the front desk.

10. Eliminating paper from our practice and offer digital check-in and consent forms.

Reinforced safety approaches:

1. Cleaning of all contact surfaces with disinfectant after each patient encounter

2. Daily cleaning of entire clinic with disinfectant solutions

3. Handwashing and hand sanitizer use

4. Glove use with patient contact

5. All team-members are wearing new PPE

6. We have implemented a new surgically clean filtration system along with medical grade hepa purifiers to continuously purge our air 24/7 making our office cleaner and healthier to breathe than our homes.

We appreciate your understanding of our new policies and look forward to serving your dental needs. Please reach out to us if we can answer any questions or provide any assistance to you. Call us today to schedule your exam and let’s help get you back on track!

We value your trust in our office and expect to see you very soon!

COVID-19 Awareness and Assurance For You!

As we are currently coping with the Coronavirus pandemic worldwide, it is important to know how we are following standard precautions to protect ourselves and our patients.

First, dental professionals are experts in universal precautions. Dentistry has been following universal health precautions for over 20 years.  As you are aware, we routinely take advanced measures by using top medical-grade antibacterial and antiviral agents to clean treatment rooms, instruments, and all devices and technology. Our sterilization center is state of the art.

To that end, we are following strict CDC and OSHA guidelines to ensure our hand hygiene is always a priority along with the routine use of personal protective measures (e.g. gloves, masks, and eyewear). Sharps safety and safe injection practices are in place as they always have been.

It is a fact that a dental practice can be the safest place to be in a pandemic. As bacteria is controlled in your mouth, it releases and enables your immune system to be at its best in fighting off other infectious outbreaks. Embrace your dental team as a resource for healthy measures and assurance.

As you already know, we offer one of the nicest and safest dental practices in all of Houston and are committed to being a resource as we always have to you and your family as we all tred the waters of uncertainty at this time.

We will provide the very latest in communication and all updates from our healthcare partners with the ADA and CDC as we learn them as well.

Please keep in touch as we are here for you!  We ARE OPEN and responding to our health officials to provide urgent essential and emergency dentistry to our current and new patients at this time.

You may use the SCHEDULE ONLINE link anytime:

https://app.nexhealth.com/appt/dentistsathoustonwestchase/

We look forward to seeing you in the office soon.

Sincerely,

The Dentists at Houston Westchase

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

Activated charcoal is everywhere these days, even in toothpaste.

If you listen to bloggers and other influencers on the internet, they’ll tell you that activated charcoal is said to be a good natural alternative to peroxide for whitening the teeth. The black powder is thought to absorb and remove stains caused by foods like red wine, coffee, and tea.

But does it work?

The buzzy ingredient, which is typically made from either bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits or sawdust, is known for its abilities to absorb dirt and impurities. It’s kind of like a magnet that attracts toxins, which is why it’s used in water filtration systems and to treat drug overdoses and food poisoning. So that would also work for your teeth, right?

Well, not so fast.

 

What to consider before you try charcoal toothpaste

Activated charcoal can have many health benefits due to its ability to remove harmful toxins from the body, but individuals should consider a few things before they try using charcoal to whiten their teeth.

First, if you do use it, you should make sure the powder is extra fine, so it’s not too harsh on your teeth. Second, you should definitely not use it daily. Once a month, if you must, would be sufficient because of its abrasiveness.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, everyone should speak to their dentist prior to using any activated charcoal products, as everyone’s mouth is different, so instructions should be tailored for each patient.

The potential negative effects

Using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth can potentially cause more harm than good.

There has not been a single study done that shows that using charcoal products for oral health care does anything good for your teeth at all.

The abrasiveness of the charcoal can actually have the reverse effect on people’s teeth.

If activated charcoal is used too often or incorrectly, the enamel can erode. Once you remove enamel, it doesn’t come back.

While using something abrasive like charcoal to scrub surface stains away may make teeth look whiter in the short term, they may eventually look yellower because you’re thinning the enamel and showing more of the inner dentin, which is darker.

The potentially harmful effects of activated charcoal don’t stop at the enamel. A loss of enamel can lead to increased sensitivity and increased susceptibility to dental decay.

Charcoal toothpaste hasn’t been given a thumbs up by the American Dental Association

If that’s not enough to make you wary about scrubbing your teeth with activated charcoal, it’s important to note that the American Dental Association hasn’t given charcoal its Seal of Acceptance.

There are insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. More studies need to be done to prove whether charcoal is really safe for oral care.

Patients looking for whiter teeth should use non-whitening basic fluoride toothpaste, with cavity protection, and then use something as simple as whitening strips, if they want to do it on a budget, or go to their dentist and have home trays made to use bleaching material, or have in-office whitening done.

Peroxide-based whitening products (like white strips and dentist-provided products) have been proven to work really well, to be relatively inexpensive and to be very safe. There’s been long-term studies done with peroxide, and we know it’s safe and we know that it works.

The best way to remove deep-seated yellowing of the teeth is with professional whitening. In-office whitening usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half and provides immediate results, while at-home whitening is usually done over a period of one or two weeks.

When it comes to trying out fads, whether it be activated charcoal or even rubbing strawberries on your teeth, be advised that they might not work, or worse, might damage the structure of your teeth.

Non-charcoal whitening toothpaste, while they generally work because they’re somewhat abrasive (like charcoal), the product probably isn’t in contact with teeth long enough for the active ingredient to do anything drastic.

If you are looking to whiten your teeth, the best thing to do is talk to your dentist about the best method for you. And when you’re looking for products to take care of your mouth at home, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Have more questions about whitening or safe toothpaste options to use at home? Give us a call, 832 830-8226.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a valuable tool in the fight against tooth decay, but they’re typically associated with issues common to children and young adults. What about older patients? Do they work the same way? These are just a couple of questions you should ask when pondering dental sealants for adults.

What Is a Dental Sealant?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the purpose of a dental sealant is to prevent cavities by acting as a barrier. The sealant is a plastic material that covers a tooth’s chewing surface and is commonly applied to premolars and molars – the two surfaces where decay occurs the most.

No matter how well or often you brush, toothbrush bristles can’t penetrate all the grooves and depressions located on your teeth’s chewing surfaces. Most unreachable spots are primed for plaque and food particles to collect. The dental sealant prevents decay from developing in these vulnerable areas.

Applying the Sealant
Sealant application is a simple, painless process:

First, the tooth’s surface is cleaned and dried.

Then, a gel is applied briefly to roughen the tooth surface to help the sealant adhere to your natural tooth.

Shortly after, the dental hygienist will rinse the gel and dry the tooth before applying the sealant.

After the water rinse, the tooth surface is dried and the sealant is applied. A blue light is then used to solidify the sealant on to the tooth.

Why They’re Helpful

Despite being recognized as a procedure geared toward children, there are some unique positives to dental sealants. Regardless of age, everyone is susceptible to tooth decay. Sealants can, therefore, decrease this occurrence in anyone who chooses to receive them. Sealants also prevent food and plaque from gathering in grooves and depressions on tooth surfaces, further reducing one’s risk of decay as the sealants leave bacteria no place to grow. Ultimately, dental sealants are a great form of preventive maintenance. Spending a little money upfront ensures neglected areas won’t result in costly dental procedures down the road.

When to Think Twice

Despite the benefits of sealants, there are some downsides as well. One of them is the short-term cost. Although sealants can save you money down the line by proactively protecting your teeth, there’s still the upfront expense of the procedure. Sealants also aren’t permanent; they’ll need to be reapplied every 10 years.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Of course, dental sealants for adults aren’t the only way to fight tooth decay. Some of the smartest and easiest ways to stay healthy are also the most sensible ones. Brushing and flossing multiple times a day, and using a fluoride-rich toothpaste such will always be your first line of defense. Meanwhile, eating nutritious foods should be an equally prominent part of your oral health plan.

Call/text our office to schedule a visit and see if your teeth qualify for sealants! 832 830-8226

Back To School!

Backpack? Check. Booster shots? Check. Teeth cleaning? Check!

 

Regular dental visits are important year-round, but a back-to-school checkup is key in fighting the most common chronic disease found in school-age children: cavities. In fact, dental disease causes children to miss more than 51 million school hours each year!

Prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences.

 

Plan Ahead

Between cookouts, camping trips and everything else on your family’s summer bucket list, it’s easy for school to sneak up on you. Unfortunately, many parents may not think about making that appointment until August, which is a busy time in any dental office.

Give yourself enough time by making it a habit to call when your child gets her spring report card each year. If you want to avoid the rush to go back to school in August, then plan on getting appointments for the beginning of the summer.

Encourage Age-Appropriate Dental Habits at Home

The best kind of checkup is a cavity-free checkup. Moms and dads can help make this happen by encouraging kids to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day.

Ages 6 and Under
At this age, your child might want to do all the brushing herself but doesn’t have the fine motor skills needed to do a thorough job. Let them start and jump in when needed. During this age, the mouth is changing so much that children who are 5 or 6 are often brushing their teeth in the way they were when they were 2 or 3. They’re not accommodating the new molars, and they’re not accommodating the fact that the mouth is growing.

Ages 7-12
By now, your child knows what to do, she just might not want to. Keep encouraging healthy brushing and flossing habits. Be aware of the fact that sometimes you have to take over a little bit more. By the time they’re teenagers, they’re starting to understand self-care, accountability for their actions and such.

Ages 12-18
This is a critical time for dental health. When you look at research for when caries appear in kids, it tends to be in young kids. But another bump-up time is teenage years and early adulthood. Part of this has to do with the fact that teenagers may have gone for many years and never had a cavity. They don’t necessarily take care of their teeth because they don’t see the consequence of not.

Don’t let your teen’s habits become out of sight, out of mind. The behaviors of the teenager are going to translate into the 20-year-old. We want to be able to support them and be respectful of them because they’re not kids anymore.

 

Timing Is Everything

Time of day can make or break your child’s appointment. It’s important for a child of any age who’s used to a nap to not schedule during naptime. If your child is always cranky after waking up, factor that in too. 

For older children, avoid cramming in a dentist appointment right after day camp or school. Not all kids have the energy to do that. If the child has already been exhausted or had a bad day or had tests, they just don’t have the stamina to make it through the appointment successfully.

Make One Child a Model

If you’ve scheduled back-to-back appointments for your children, there’s a simple way to decide who goes first: Choose the child who’s had the most positive experiences at the dentist. Every child is going to be a little bit different in their temperament about how they approach a visit. You generally want the ones first who are more successful because the others get to see how it goes. 

A Hungry Child Is Not a Happy Patient

Feed your child a light meal before the appointment. Hungry people are grouchy people. You want them to be comfortable. It’s also generally a good idea not to feed them in the waiting room before you see the dentist because there’s all that food in their mouth.

Eating light is also better for a child with a healthy gag reflex. Some children gag a lot. As they age and they get more control over swallowing, kids tend to gag less.

Bonus points if your child brushes before an appointment!

Leave Your Anxiety at the Door

If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety.

The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist. With any child, you want them to be able to feel successful at accomplishing a good visit and link that positive feeling with the idea that their teeth are strong and healthy so they have that message going forward for the rest of their lives.

Keep Cool If Your Child Won’t Cooperate

If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave. The next visit is going to be harder. You still have to help them get through part of the visit.

First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? One of the reasons I think a 4, 5 or 6-year-old gets upset is because they think they’re going to be asked to do something they can’t be successful at. They’re in an environment they feel they can’t control and that makes them upset, so we try to break it down into small steps.

Then, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship. Give the dentist every opportunity to turn the visit around.

Take a Card (or Three) on Your Way Out

Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack, and your school’s files. Parents should be very aware of accidents and make sure that wherever they go that they bring the number of their dentist so that if a child has an accident, they can certainly call the office.