The Dentists at Houston Westchase

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://www.localmed.com/…/74cb1b45-397d-49ee-982f-55cf53f…/

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.

Wedding Season Is Here! Wedding Teeth Whitening Tips For A Bright Smile

Whitening for the Wedding
The dress isn’t the only thing that’s white at many weddings. Some couples whiten their teeth for sparkling smiles on the big day. If you were to whiten your teeth for a wedding, have a dentist do the whitening in an office, that way you can see results right away and not have to worry about placing whitening trays in your mouth every day.

Because whitening can make your teeth feel more sensitive, try whitening your teeth a month before the big day. Scheduled the appointment early to give your smiles time to adjust. That way, by your actual wedding day, your teeth aren’t too sensitive.

There are also some at-home options you can use, such as trays you can get from your dentist. You can also use whitening toothpaste or strips with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That way, you know they are safe and effective. Ask your dentist which method is best for you, but above all, stay away from home remedies, which can actually do more harm than good.

Schedule a Dental Appointment Early On
Weddings mark such momentous days in our lives, and our smiles are a big part of them. The last thing you want to worry about is a toothache on your wedding day or on your honeymoon.
If you don’t see a dentist regularly, the time leading up to your wedding can be a great time to start. Schedule an appointment a few months out to avoid painful and possibly expensive problems around your wedding. Having regular dental visits can help reduce your chances of a dental emergency or the need for a procedure close to the wedding.

Wedding Day Must-Haves
If your bridesmaids are putting together an emergency kit, there’s one item we recommend bringing along. Have one of your bridesmaids carry floss and little compact mirror to make sure there’s nothing in your teeth and everything looks good.
Regular brushing and cleaning between your teeth should help your breath stay fresh, but feel free to also pack some sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance if you need a breath boost during the day. Also, avoid food that can leave your breath not as fresh, like onions or garlic.

Commit to a Daily Dental Routine
Your wedding is just one small part of a long life with your partner. When it comes to your dental routine, don’t let it slide after tying the knot. Follow a healthy dental routine before the wedding and keep up a sweet daily ritual together. Have your own little routine in the morning where you brush and floss together.

Call or text our office to schedule an appointment and make sure your teeth are ready for your big day! 832 830-8226

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a common dental condition that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. It’s no small thing. In fact, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But it goes beyond teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more!

If you find yourself wondering, “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?”, you might be surprised to learn you are experiencing a few of them yourself.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is the disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It starts with bacteria in the mouth, and, if untreated, it can end with tooth loss.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque that is left untreated. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and other particles to form plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar.

To get rid of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.

Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:

  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Certain illnesses
  • Genetics
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums without loss of bone.  It is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis, but not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. Plaque builds up on teeth and gums become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. If left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to gum disease.

Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing.
  • Swollen or tender gums.
  • Gums that pull away from teeth.
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down.
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
  • Loose or shifting teeth.
  • Pus between your teeth and gums.
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
  • New spaces developing between your teeth.

When You Should See a Dentist

Periodontal disease can be painless; some people don’t even know they have it. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best way to find and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Taking care of your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health.

Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come.

Your bleeding gums might be a sign of periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Call 832 830-8226 to schedule an appointment.

When Do You Visit The Dentist?

Most of you probably visit the dentist every six months for your cleanings and exams. But cleanings and examinations are not the only time you should see the dentist. If you notice any of the following issues, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon

as you can.

Dry Mouth
Saliva is our bodies natural cavity fighter, and if you suffer from dry mouth, you’re at an increased risk of developing cavities. If your mouth feels dry, be sure to contact your dentist to discuss what may be causing this issue.
Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Candy & Your Teeth

Keep your smile healthy on Halloween & year-round

Time It Right
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.

Stay Away from Sweet Snacks
Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s double the trouble if you keep grabbing sugary treats from the candy bowl.

Choose Candy Carefully
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.

Avoid Sticky Situations
Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
Have a Plan
It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but your teeth will thank you if you limit your stash.

Drink More Water
Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.

Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.

Stay Away from Sugary Beverages
This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

Chew Gum with the ADA Seal
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria.

Brush Twice a Day
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

Clean Between Your Teeth
Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

Visit Your Dentist
Regular visits to your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to “treat.”

Call 832 830-8226 to schedule a visit soon, Happy Halloween!

Why Choose Invisalign?

Did you know that when it comes to wearing metal braces, an overwhelming 92% of teens feel it would prevent them from fitting in with their peers? It’s no secret – metal braces are uncomfortable and embarrassing, and only add insult to injury for someone who is already uncomfortable with their smile.

Invisalign® is the most advanced clear aligner system in the world and has helped millions of patients feel more confident in their smile and more confident in themselves while allowing their natural smile to shine through treatment.

Invisalign® uses advanced technology to take high-precision digital impressions, which are sent to the Invisalign® lab to have your aligners created. We will provide you with a custom set of clear aligners designed just for you to gently and invisibly apply pressure and guide your teeth into the perfect position. Invisalign® can help improve the alignment of your teeth as well as your bite, and even allow for better oral health! Straight teeth are healthier teeth, after all, because the gums fit better around the teeth and they are easier to keep clean when teeth are properly aligned.

The benefits of
Invisalign® include:

  • Aligners are virtually invisible
  • Clear plastic is smooth & comfortable
  • No metal brackets & wires
  • Removable for easy cleaning & eating
  • Easy to wear & maintain

Straightening your teeth with Invisalign® can help you improve your smile, your confidence and your life! Take the first step toward a new you and schedule your Free Consultation today! 832 830-8226 [email protected]

Travel Tips for Dental Health

Vacation season is here! Here are 8 travel tips for your dental health before your big trip.

Make Time for a Checkup

Even when you’re dreaming about vacation, there’s no place like home–especially a dental home base. If you can, schedule your next regular visit before your trip. A thorough exam can spot any problems before they happen. You’ll have peace of mind, and your dentist will have the most up-to-date information on your teeth, including x-rays.

In Case of Emergency…

Have your dentist’s contact info handy in your cell phone or keep a business card in your wallet. If you think you need to talk to somebody, you probably do. In fact, more dental emergencies can be resolved over the phone than you might think (especially if you keep up regular visits).

In Case of Emergency Overseas…

If you are out of the country and absolutely in need of a dentist, get in touch with the local consulate or U.S. embassy. While talking to the concierge at the hotel is OK, ask the consulate and their employees for a recommendation. It’s an independent recommendation and not someone who may be driving business because of a contract or to a relative.

Forget Your Toothbrush?

Sunscreen? Check. Phone charger? Check. Toothbrush? Oops. If you find yourself temporarily without a toothbrush, you can rinse vigorously with water to wash away some of that cavity-causing bacteria. You could also put some toothpaste on a clean washcloth or your clean finger in a pinch. When you finally get to the nearest drugstore, look for a toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. If there aren’t any Seal products, buy the softest brush you can find.

Proper Toothbrush Transport

Letting your toothbrush air dry is how you keep your toothbrush clean at home, but that’s not always possible on vacation. What’s a traveling toothbrush to do?  Keeping your toothbrush clean and out of contact with other things is more important than making sure it’s dry on vacation. A bag keeps your toothbrush separate from everything else in your luggage. When you get there, pop it open and let your brush air dry.

Pack an ADA-Accepted Pack of Gum

Chewing sugarless gum can help relieve ear pressure during a flight – and help keep cavities at bay on vacay. Research shows that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent cavities. That’s because it gets saliva flowing, which helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Sugarless gum with the ADA Seal is guaranteed to do the trick.

When In Doubt, Brush with Bottled Water

If you are in a country where the water supply is compromised – or you’re on a wilderness adventure but aren’t sure how clean the stream is – always use bottled water to brush. Don’t use the local water to brush your teeth. What happens if you accidentally get local water on your toothbrush? Get a new one if you can. If that isn’t possible, rinse your brush well with bottled water to reduce the risk of getting sick.

Get Back on Track After Your Trip

If you let brushing and flossing slide – or indulged in too many sweets while away – don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on your normal routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing when you get home.