We work together with the best doctors in Houston to offer the highest quality care.
Routine check-up and cleaning appointments are your greatest ally in prevention of dental issues. Follow these tips for a cavity free check-up:
In A Nutshell:
- Use these sweets only in moderation (less than every day):
- soda pop
- sugared drinks
- coffee drinks with syrups or mocha added
- sports drinks
- chewing gum
- breath mints & fresheners
- cough drops
- hard candy
- sticky candy
- Tums or other chewable antacids
- chewable vitamin C
- chewable aspirin
- Use sugar-free alternatives when available, which are less damaging for your teeth.
- Keep teeth free of bacteria by brushing 2 to 4 times every day, and flossing every day.
- Use home fluoride treatment daily.
- What are cavities? Cavities don’t just suddenly appear. A cavity starts with a healthy tooth. Bacteria that is present on the tooth (“plaque”) digest sugar and produce acid. With each and every exposure to acid (from the bacteria or from carbonated drinks), the tooth dissolves little by little, leaving a hole. The effects are cumulative; it takes hundreds of these small episodes to damage the tooth enough to where we can identify it as a cavity. In some people it takes many years for enough acid exposures to accumulate and make a cavity; in other people, it takes only a few months.
- Sugar: Most people know sugar and cavities go hand-in-hand. What many people don’t know is that it isn’t just how sweet something is that makes it bad for your teeth. It’s also how long the sugar is contacting your teeth. That is why soda pop, gum, mints, cough drops, hard candy, and sticky candy cause the most cavities. Antacids, chewable vitamins can also cause cavities.
- Soda pop: Bad stuff for teeth! You get a double-whammy when you drink sodas. It is loaded with sugar, plus it’s extremely acidic (the carbonation) and can dissolve tooth enamel directly, bypassing the bacteria. Even sugar-free sodas damage teeth due to the acid! If it’s carbonated, it’s bad for teeth. Drink healthier beverages.
- Brushing, flossing: Cavities are caused when the bacteria on your teeth (“plaque”) changes sugar into acid. The more often you brush and floss, the less bacteria you have on your teeth to produce these damaging acids. Brushing twice a day is a minimum; three or even four times a day is best. Floss once a day. If you are not flossing, the bacteria is never removed from between your teeth. This is why people with good brushing and eating habits can still get cavities between teeth.
- Fluoride: Fluoride can help prevent new cavities, and reverse early cavities when they are just starting. In most cases, using a toothpaste with fluoride is adequate. In people with higher tooth decay risk, an extra fluoride supplement is needed. These fluoride gels or rinses should be used consistently once every day on an ongoing basis. Fluoride mouthrinses (Act®; Fluoriguard®) are available in most stores. Fluoride gels (such as MI-Paste; Prevident®) are available at your pharmacy desk, or at many dentist offices.
Tooth colored fillings are used to fill the spaces left after removal of small to medium sized cavities or minor tooth damage. They are a great alternative to metal fillings since they blend in with your natural teeth. With the great advances in tooth colored filling materials, we no longer place silver fillings at our office. If you currently have silver fillings, we do not recommend replacing them unless they are damaged. For teeth with extensive damage, a crown may be a more suitable option. We will discuss all recommended options at your initial visit.
Severe, sharp tooth pain usually indicates involvement of nerve tissue which resides in the innermost layer of a tooth. A root canal treatment is recommended when the damage to the center of the tooth is irreversible. The process involves the removal of the damaged tissue that resides on the interior of the tooth and replacement with a filler that will block bacteria. After completion of the root canal, the tooth will be restored with either a filling or crown depending on remaining tooth structure.
We provide crowns and bridges to replace missing teeth and to provide strength to teeth that have been weakened due to extensive damage. Crowns are also used to restore teeth after root canals and to fill missing spaces after an implant has been placed. We currently offer both metal and metal free options to accommodate each unique situation. A traditional crown will typically take two visits to complete. The first will involve preparation and fabrication of a temporary crown while a model is sent to the lab for fabrication of the crown. The second visit will involve removal of the temporary and cementation of the permanent crown.
Extraction of a tooth is necessary when a tooth sustains extensive damage and no longer has enough natural structure remaining to support a restoration. Excluding wisdom teeth, the space left from the extraction should be restored to avoid drifting of adjacent teeth. The main options involve a removable denture, implant or bridge. The ideal option will depend on many factors including the bone structure, condition of adjacent teeth, and individual preferences. The pros and cons for your personal situation will be discussed at your initial visit.
Implants are a great replacement for missing teeth. They can be used for single tooth replacements as well as complete arch replacements. Compared to dentures they provide more stability and retention. This reduces gum irritation and pain. They are fixed in place so there is no need to remove the “teeth” or worry about loose dentures. In place of bridges, implants allow us to preserve the natural tooth structure on the teeth supporting the bridge since they are free-standing. This also future proofs us from repairing adjacent teeth without fixing all teeth connected to the bridge.
Partial and full dentures are fabricated to replace any number of missing teeth. There are many options for partial dentures from durable and metal-based to flexible and metal-free. Full dentures can also be attached to implants for support and to decrease gum discomfort/pain.
TMJ is the common term used to classify the noise, dysfunction or pain arising from the jaw joints. A diagnosis of TMJ Dysfunction includes a wide spectrum of conditions. Also, many other conditions can mimic TMJ pain making proper diagnosis critical to successful treatment. The initial visit will be a detailed comprehensive look into the entire history of your jaw pain and an in-depth look into your current health status. The visit will typically last 90 minutes. The pain complex in long-standing conditions commonly involves multiple locations making it important to treat early on when symptoms present.
Saliva is an important natural defense against cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. The mouth can become unusually dry (“xerostomia”) as a side effect of many medications, diseases, or simply with age. People with very dry mouths can be quite susceptible to cavities. Some functions of saliva include:
- Facilitation of speech
- Wash away food residue around teeth
- Neutralize potentially damaging food and bacterial acids
- Enhance ability to taste food
- General lubrication of mouth
- Softening of food, making it easier to chew and swallow
- Salivary enzymes start digestion of starch and fats
- Epidermal growth factors promote tissue growth, differentiation and wound healing
- Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents balance oral flora
- Minerals maintain tooth enamel
Treatment for oral dryness is focused on increasing your natural production of saliva and finding suitable saliva substitutes.