The Dentists at Houston Westchase

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Approximately 53,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year with oral cancer (cancer of the mouth).

One hundred forty-five new people every day will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and one person every hour of the day will die from it — that’s nearly 9,000 deaths from oral cancer every year.

Of the people newly diagnosed with oral cancer, only about 60% will live longer than five years.

Moreover, many who do survive, suffer long-term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral cancer remains high because cancer tends to be discovered late in its development.

Oral cancer awareness in the American public is low.

While smoking and tobacco use are major risk factors, the fastest-growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the connection to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The only hope to save lives is public awareness.

Oral cancer can be treated when detected early. People can learn how to examine themselves for possible signs and symptoms. If one is detected, they should see their dentist, oral and facial surgeon, or other healthcare professionals immediately.

Some of the most common oral cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • A persistent mouth sore: a sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer
  • Pain: Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
  • A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
  • Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
  • Loosening of the teeth
  • Pain in the teeth or jaw
  • Voice changes
  • A lump in the neck
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent bad breath

If any of these oral cancer signs or symptoms are present for days or weeks, your doctor may recommend tests to check for oral cancer. As with any cancer, having your cancer diagnosed as soon as possible will help ensure that any treatment is as effective as possible.

Oral cancer screenings are offered at our office. They are a part of your routine checkup and should be done, at a minimum, once a year. If you are due for your screening, call our Houston office at 832 830-8226 to schedule a visit, or use the “Book Now” button above. 

St. Patty’s Day & Your Dental Health

Irish or not, most Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in some form. St. Patrick’s Day is often celebrated by wearing a bunch of green, maybe attending a nearby parade, and oftentimes, drinking beer that is dyed green – it’s no surprise St. Patty’s Day is the nation’s biggest drinking holiday.

While we are all for enjoying the day responsibly, there are a few things about drinking green beer and your dental health that you should know about.

 

Acidic Attack

If you aren’t already aware, beer, in general, is quite acidic. While different types of brews have different acidity levels – darker beers, such as Guinness (a St. Patrick’s Day favorite), have more than their lighter counterparts – all beer puts your smile at risk. When large amounts of acid are introduced into the mouth, the protective layer of tooth enamel can potentially begin to wear away. Without this protective barrier, teeth may become increasingly sensitive and even appear less bright, clean, and white.

Not-So-Lucky Tooth Discoloration

In addition to enamel erosion, excessive drinking can cause your teeth to become yellow over time. Dark Irish stouts, porters, and even fruity drinks can increase the risk of tooth discoloration. And as you can imagine, that green dye put in beer doesn’t make it any better – anyone up for a smile that is temporarily stained green?

Dental Emergency

Every year, dentists across the country see a spike in emergency visits following St. Patrick’s Day. Emergencies, like missing or broken teeth, have patients all over rushing to the nearest dentist. In fact, a study revealed that the average increase in emergency dental visits is 64 percent on the first business day after St. Patrick’s Day. The cause of these dental emergencies? Perhaps a little too much green beer…

Gum Disease

In addition to smoking and poor dental hygiene, drinking alcohol excessively, beer included, leaves your mouth exposed to loads of sugar that these types of adult beverages contain. When sugar and bacteria combine they form a sticky film known as plaque. While plaque can be removed through regular brushing, poor dental care will cause the plaque to harden into tartar. Tartar can block your toothbrush from properly cleaning your teeth and mouth, especially along the gum line. Tatar leads to an increase in bacteria, which will damage gums and increase the chance of gum disease. 

Protect Your Smile On St. Patty’s Day

You can help protect your smile from the side effects of drinking beer on the largest drinking holiday by first enjoying it in moderation. Alternating a beer with a glass of water will help rinse away excess sugars and acid that would otherwise be free to cause damage to the teeth. Additionally, even though it’s festive, try to stay away from the green-dyed stuff. Even though it is temporary, a green stained smile is no fun.

If your smile is feeling in rough shape after a day of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, we have remedies to whiten your teeth! With dental cleanings and teeth whitening, we help many patients revitalize their smiles. We use a professional teeth whitening system in which a powerful gel and bleaching light are used to whiten teeth quickly. Not only can teeth be whitened in-office, but we also provide customized trays and bleaching gel to use at home.

If it’s been a while since your last dental appointment, or if you notice some leftover green tint on your teeth following your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, give our dental office a call to schedule an appointment today or use the “Book Now” button above.

February Is Heart Health Month <3

 

 

Taking care of your teeth isn’t a proven way to prevent heart disease, but there does appear to be some connection between oral health and heart disease.

Poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years. Studies have shown:

  • Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
  • Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves.
  • Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
  • Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.

There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.

Even though oral health isn’t a key to heart disease prevention, it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Floss daily.

Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, give us a call at 832 830-8226, or click the “Book Now” button above!

New Year Resolutions: Dental Edition!

One hardly ever hears resolutions for improving oral hygiene… So here are 4 realistic and obtainable New Year’s Resolutions that you can easily implement to increase your health and happiness this year.

1)Use Mouthwash
Did you know that even after brushing, there sometimes is extra gunk that sticks around in your mouth? Using mouthwash is a perfect way to give your mouth a rinse, loosen up and repel that gunk, and freshen up!

2) Pick Up An Electric Toothbrush 

The key to effective oral hygiene is the effective use of the right toothbrush. Teeth are almost always cleaner with the use of an electric toothbrush! An electric toothbrush is not only more fun to use, it’s easier and can minimize or eliminate staining of teeth. We recommend the Oral B toothbrush. Come by the office to see it in person. We even have a rebate offer you can take advantage of!

3) Brush Your Tongue

You’re already in your mouth brushing your teeth anyway… why not brush your tongue too? Brushing your tongue can save you from awkward bad breath encounters and get rid of the bacteria that builds up on it. Step it up a bit and use a tongue scraper. You’d be amazed at what comes off your tongue!

4) Avoid Certain Food & Drinks

Okay, so this one might be a little harder than the others— we all have our favorite foods and staying away from them can be hard! Avoiding these foods though can be the difference between a minor and a major dental visit.

Pro Tips:

  • Ice is for chilling, not for chewing – your teeth are vulnerable. Chewing ice can chip your teeth!
  • Too much coffee can stain your teeth, dry your mouth, and that sugar can eat away at your teeth.
  • Limit your sugary drinks — soda, alcohol, and sports drinks all contain incredible amounts of sugar. If you want to drink them, be sure to brush your teeth afterward!

Let’s see how long these new year resolutions stick this year… hopefully its a permanent change for the better 🙂

 

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

 

Use It Or Lose It!!!

Dental Insurance Benefits are Running Out Soon! Use Your Benefits Now.


Did you know you can save possibly thousands of dollars by using your dental insurance benefits before the end of the year? Deductibles are often met, annual maximums won’t roll over, and premiums may increase. So, it’s more important than ever to use your dental insurance benefits to the maximum now. Call and make your appointments today to get on the books before the holiday season begins and schedules get busier!

Maximize your dental insurance benefits … Learn More: Use it or Lose it

Dental Insurance Benefits: Preventative Care
A simple cavity today can turn into a nasty root canal later on, so make sure you’re staying up to date on your routine visits and preventative care. Preventative Dentistry is all about maintaining oral care and preventing oral health problems down the line. This often includes regular cleanings, regular oral exams, and routine x-rays. Dental insurance plans often fully cover preventative care services and appointments. You can also help maintain your oral health at home by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.


Dental Insurance Benefits: Elective Care
Elective dental services often fall under the cosmetic category. They are services you often elect to have done, rather than routine services or preventative services that maintain oral health. Veneers, teeth whitening, and other smile-enhancing services are often elective services, and insurance coverage rarely covers these services, but sales and discounts could be available! Call us to see what your fee would be for whitening or other elective services. 


How Many Appointments Should I Make?
More than likely, a routine cleaning is an appointment almost everyone can make before the end of the year – this is a preventive care appointment. If you need larger dental treatments and you’ve met your deductible, the end of the year is the perfect time to get these treatments completed! Once you reach your deductible, out-of-pocket expenses drop, so treatments are easier to get done and less expensive for your wallet.

Check over your insurance plan to learn if your insurance covers multiple cleanings every year. If so, make the most of your benefits by getting your cleaning in before the holiday craziness begins and schedules tighten. Not sure how to read your benefits? Call us! We are more than happy to look into your coverage and see what is available. Also, if you have questions for your dentist or are curious about the status of your oral health, a routine check-up is the perfect way to learn about your teeth’s health and ask questions.

 

Feel free to call us 832 830-8226 or schedule an appointment online by clicking the “Book Now” button above. 

 

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving, Turkey, Teeth



Thanksgiving Day is a favorite holiday. Enjoying that scrumptious dinner with family, watching football and taking the day to remember all of the things we are most thankful for. It’s a day to gain perspective on what’s really important to each one of us. It’s also a day to consume 7,000 calories in an 8 hour day. A few dental tips could come into play to keep your teeth healthy during this glorious day!

Drink water throughout the day: One of the worst things we can do is just munch on food all day long. Your saliva does not have a chance to get your teeth clean, therefore the bacteria will just continue to breed. If you drink water during and in between meals the water will wash away many of the food that is left on your teeth.

Brush, Floss and Rinse: Whether you’re enjoying your meal at home or at a loved one’s home, remember to bring your brush & floss. Try to brush at least three times a day on Thanksgiving. It will help rid some of the food particles throughout the day.

Stay away from staining foods: Some of your typical Thanksgiving Day foods can be some of the worst staining foods ever. Cranberries and pies can cause dark staining on your pearly whites. Also, sweet and sticky foods such as a slice of pecan pie can also leave sticky food particles that will munch away at your teeth throughout the day.

Please take these few tips with you to your Thanksgiving Day feast to help keep your teeth healthy for life. We are very Thankful for our dental family and all our patients! We want to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day from all of us at DHW!

Scare Away Those Cavities This Halloween…. BOO!

Halloween is around the corner, and it can be scary for parents to think about the amount of sugar that can creep in between their children’s teeth. Fortunately, there are ways to ward off the evil cavity spirits with these easy tricks for healthier teeth!

1) Trick-or-Treat On A Full Stomach

Before heading out, make sure your kids fill up on a healthy dinner. This will ensure they don’t overindulge and eat their candy while trick-or-treating.

2) Avoid Certain Types of Candies

Hard candy such as lollipops and sticky candies such as taffy or gummy bears are the worse for kids’ teeth. They are quite challenging to remove completely with brushing and can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay.

3) Limit The Amount of Candy

While it is hard to deny your kids candy after they have spent the whole night filling their bags with goodies, it is OK to set limits on how many pieces of candy they’re allowed to eat per day.

4) Floss Regularly

In addition to regular brushing, dental floss can really help clean in between the teeth where bacteria typically form.

5) Drink Fluoridated Water

Most drinkable tap water contains fluoride which is very safe and effective at preventing tooth decay. It is also usually free!

Most important… Schedule and maintain those routine dental exams and cleanings with your favorite dental office 🙂

Happy Halloween!

Laser Bacterial Reduction

Laser Bacterial Reduction Therapy

Periodontal disease is one of the quickest growing oral health concerns. More than 80% of adults in the United States suffer from some level of periodontal disease. It’s become increasingly important to find alternative and effective ways of treating bacterial growth and infection in the mouth and gums. Making this even more critical is the increasing understanding of the links between periodontal disease with other more serious conditions including heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and stroke. The next level of care for periodontal disease is Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR) therapy. A gentler, yet effective way of reducing bacterial infections and periodontal disease, LBR is becoming a standard procedure for treating periodontal disease.


What is Laser Bacterial Reduction Therapy?

Laser Bacterial Reduction therapy is a non-invasive method of killing bacteria in the mouth. This procedure is done during a routine cleaning visit. LBR is accomplished using a non-cutting dental laser. The high-intensity light is focused around the teeth, especially at the gum line, and is used to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. This treatment is highly effective for ridding difficult to treat bacteria from the mouth.

 

What Are the Benefits of LBR?


Almost all patients can benefit from LBR.  Even healthy mouths will experience some bleeding and irritation from normal cleanings, using LBR as a routine part of a regular dental visit can protect the mouth from potential infections. LBR is a great companion to plaque scaling and planning. Removing plaque from the teeth is a great place to start caring for periodontal disease. Combine that with intense, focused bacteria reduction, and the effectiveness of treatments for periodontal disease increases, and has a better chance of lasting longer. Over the long term, the use of LBR in dental cleanings and as a supplement to other treatments for periodontal disease, can improve the overall health of teeth and gums and give the immune system a boost.

 

***Is LBR Just for Periodontal Disease?


No! We are so excited to let you know laser therapy can be used for a variety of other dental treatments! This may include treatments for cold sores and herpetic lesions, providing sensitivity relief for the root surfaces of your teeth and can be used at regular hygiene appointments to reduce bacteria and support healthy gums!



Give us a call at 832 830-8226 if you would like to schedule a visit, or mention LBR at your next appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Invisalign Benefits

People have been straightening their teeth with orthodontics for thousands of years for more reasons than just aesthetics. According to the American Dental Association, straightening crooked teeth can benefit your overall dental health. While traditional braces are still fairly common, new technology has allowed orthodontics to invent better ways to fix crooked teeth. Now you straighten your teeth without a mouth full of metal. 

 

Why is it important to have straight teeth?


For many people looking to fix their crooked teeth, image is their main concern. Crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, and other dental issues can affect our self-esteem and make us feel bad about our appearance. However, your teeth should be straightened for more reasons than just aesthetics. Crooked teeth can cause major dental issues if left unstraightened.

Straight teeth reduce the risk of periodontal disease since straight teeth are easier to clean. Getting rid of harmful bacteria is easier. Straight teeth allow you to chew properly and eliminate uneven grinding on your teeth. Straight teeth also align the jaw, which reduces aches and discomfort.

Having straight teeth can even help to open airways to aid those with sleep apnea.



Invisible Aligners


Invisalign is a newer way to straighten teeth. With new scanning technology, we can non-invasively scan your teeth and create a set of aligners that will slowly adjust your teeth to the optimal position.

Created with a medical-grade polyurethane resin, the aligners are practically invisible. Every aligner is a custom fit, made exactly for your teeth to slowly shift them into place.

Invisible aligners must be worn for 22 hours a day to have the maximum effect. While they are removable, they can’t straighten any teeth if they aren’t in contact with them. They should be taken out during meals and at any other time you are eating or drinking anything other than cold water.

If worn properly, most treatments last between 12 and 18 months. Thankfully, you will start to see improvements in your teeth within the first three months.

What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?


1. Comfort
Removable aligners are more comfortable than traditional braces. 

Because of their custom fit, invisible aligners have precise control over straightening your teeth. During your treatment, you will receive a set of aligners that slowly adjust your teeth horizontally, vertically, and rotationally until each tooth is set in its proper place. Each of these movements is precisely timed to be the most comfortable sequence possible.

2. Better Dental Hygiene
A clean mouth is a healthy mouth, and by the end of your treatment, you want the healthiest teeth possible. With traditional braces, bits of food and plaque get stuck around and inside brackets which become difficult to clean properly. If not cleaned properly, this can lead to gum disease and even tooth decay.

With Invisalign, you can remove the aligners and continue your normal dental routine. Flossing and brushing can all be done normally without the need for special equipment. You can also brush and clean the inside of your aligner to make sure no food or bacteria builds up inside of it. 


3. Correct Dental Problems
Crooked teeth can cause more problems than just making you self-conscious of your smile. If your teeth are crooked, you are more likely to have a host of other dental problems. Widely spaced or crowded teeth can raise your risk of developing gum disease since your gums do not fit properly around your teeth. Aligning your teeth with removable aligners can also reduce gum inflammation, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, and even chipping of teeth.

You can also fix a dental overbite or underbite with invisible aligners. When you have an abnormal bite, it can cause all sorts of problems, from irregular tooth erosion to gum infections. An improper bite can cause chewing issues, jaw aches, and even speech difficulties. Correcting your bite will lower your risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.

4. Prevent Other Dental Issues
Using invisible aligners can also prevent other dental problems. When left unchecked, gum disease can cause tooth decay and loss. Crooked teeth and abnormal bites can create sleeping problems such as sleep apnea. Making sure your teeth are straightened with a removable aligner that allows for great dental hygiene will allow you to prevent worse dental issues.

5. Boost Self-Confidence
The most popular reason that anyone straightens their teeth is for aesthetic value. Your teeth are one of the first things you look at when you get up, and your smile is the first thing other people notice. If you don’t feel confident about your teeth and smile, you won’t feel confident in yourself. There is significant evidence to note that straightening your teeth can boost self-esteem.

Another benefit of invisible aligners are they are made from clear resin to perfectly fit your teeth. This means they are practically invisible so many people won’t even know you are straightening your teeth, unlike traditional braces. 


6. Fewer Dental Visits
With traditional braces, you have to frequently visit an orthodontist to make sure your braces are adjusted correctly. These visits may include removing and replacing a bracket, changing wire size, tightening specific brackets, and even wiring specific brackets together with extra wire. 

With invisible aligners, you won’t need to visit the dentist as frequently, and the visits will be much shorter and far less intrusive. Visits range between 4 to 8 weeks, but between then, you will already have a set of aligners to switch every two weeks. Because the aligners are already planned and created, you won’t need any extra dental work to make them correct your teeth.

7. Eat Any Food and Drink
With traditional braces, you are limited in the foods you can eat or drink, but with Invisalign, all food and drinks are permissible. Because the metal brackets can snap off or the wires bend, you shouldn’t eat sticky foods, hard foods, crunchy foods, even foods you have to bite into. This rules out caramel, gum, nuts, popcorn, ice, corn-on-the-cob, and apples. Luckily, with removable aligners, you don’t have to worry about what you eat.
The only food or drink you should consume with your aligners in is cold water. Otherwise, food particles can get stuck inside the aligners, causing bacteria and plaque build-up. Once they are removed, they should be placed safely in their travel container to avoid contamination or losing them. After you are finished eating, you should consider brushing your teeth or rinsing with water before putting your aligners back in so you can avoid any food particles getting stuck between your teeth and the aligner.



Find Out If They Are Right for You!

Call our office or schedule an appointment online!

Invisalign consultations are complimentary!

What Is A Root Canal?

A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay; large fillings, a crack, or a chip in the tooth. It also can happen because of trauma to the face.

During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed and the inside is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and an abscess may form.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has come through the gums. Its only function is sensory — to give the sensation of hot or cold. The absence of a nerve won’t affect how your tooth works.

 

 

Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. But the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.

What Are the Signs That a Root Canal Is Needed?

If you need a root canal, you may notice these signs:

  • Tooth sensitivity that lingers, especially to heat or cold
  • Sharp pain when chewing or biting
  • Pimples on your gums
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Swollen or painful gums
  • Deep decay or darkened gums

Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.

 

Root Canal Alternatives

The only alternative to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture. These alternatives are more expensive than a root canal procedure and need more treatment time.

Root Canal Prevention

Since some of the reasons the nerve of a tooth and its pulp become inflamed and infected are due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures or large fillings, there are steps you can take to help you avoid a root canal:

  • Brush at least twice a day.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Wear a mouth guard to avoid sports-related injury.
  • See your dentist regularly.