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Houston Dental Implants and Restorative Dentistry

Many patients who come in for treatment at Summit Dental Center ask us about dental implants and how they function.  The short answer is that a dental implant is a substitute for roots of the patient’s missing teeth.  These roots act as an anchor to hold down a restoration such as a bridge or crown.  Both bridges and crowns replace missing or damaged teeth.  The implant acts like a natural tooth root by going into the jawbone, which is essentially oral surgery.  The second phase of restoration is affixing the crown or bridge to the implant.  When patients require dental implants and restorative work it is very important that they have a sound jawbone, and there are certain conditions and behaviors than can affect how successful restorative work is.  For instance, patients with diabetes and osteoporosis may have issues with implants if their jawbone is not in good condition.  Also, smoking and using tobacco can negatively impact the jaw.  Of course, x-rays are taken before any work is performed to tell us if there is any problem. [Read more…]

Fillings and Your Teeth

When a patient presents to Summit Dental Center with tooth decay, the patient will generally have to have a filling to prevent further damage to the tooth and abscess.  This involves numbing the area in and around the tooth so that the dentist may drill out the decayed area(s), treat the decay, and finally fill and seal the tooth.  For hundreds of years various metals have been used to fill patients’ teeth.  Metals commonly used in the past were mercury and silver.  For obvious reasons, mercury is no longer used, and silver has largely been replaced with stainless steel.  This is why when people open wide to laugh, you can sometimes see areas of grey in the teeth.  Today there are many different types of dental filling materials, including composite fillings that are matched to your tooth’s color.  However, these types of fillings are often more expensive and not covered by the patient’s insurance coverage. [Read more…]

Eating Disorders and Dental Health – What You Should Know: Part 2

Eating disorders are psychological issues that must be addressed by mental health professionals for recovery, so the eating disorder does not go away overnight.  This means that patients and parents have to deal with eating disorders and their affect on oral health in the interim.  To protect your dental health, there are some suggestions:  (1) maintain strict standards of self-care and do not neglect brushing and flossing; (2) immediately after throwing up, do not brush the teeth.  Instead, rinse with a solution of water and baking soda, which will help neutralize the stomach acid; (3) be honest and tell your dentist about the eating disorder.  He/She is not going to judge you.  This information is important to help diagnose and prevent dental disease during and after recovery.  Summit Dental Center treats thousands of Houston area patients and has come across eating disorders routinely.  We are here to help you get the best possible dental health, and HIPAA privacy laws protect disclosing an eating disorder.  Summit Dental Center dentists and hygienists are compassionate professionals here to meet your needs. [Read more…]

Eating Disorders and Dental Health – What You Should Know: Part 1

Eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating and anorexia are all medical and psychological disorders that cross over into the area of dental health.  Though anyone can be affected by an eating disorder, this mainly impacts teenage girls and young women the most.  Anorexia is perhaps the best-known eating disorder, and it involves an unnatural fear that the patient will get fat.  The patient typically starves herself, and while the patient may look gaunt or unhealthy to others, the patient sees herself as fat.  In addition to starvation techniques, anorexia patients may also abuse laxatives and enemas.  Anorexia can impact the patient’s oral health due to an insufficient amount of vitamins and nutrients to maintain good oral health.  Bulimic patients also fear becoming fat, but they tend to eat and sometimes binge eat.  After eating it is not uncommon for the bulimic patient to make herself throw up (to avoid ingesting calories and fat) or abuse laxatives.  Perhaps the patient best known for bulimia is the late Princess Diana.  In terms of oral health, bulimia can have an incredibly bad impact on the teeth and gums.  Purging through vomiting not only brings up the food from the stomach, but also strong stomach acids.  These stomach acids are used to digest food, and generally are not around the teeth and gums unless the patient has stomach flu.  Over extended periods of exposure to stomach acid, enamel on the teeth can be eroded and discolored, and the tissues in the mouth can get inflamed or ulcerated.  So, what is a dental patient or a parent of a young person to do?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post from Summit Dental Center for more information. [Read more…]

Dental Records – How Do I Get Copies?

On occasion, it is necessary for patients to get copies of their dental records such as when a patient is moving and must change dentists, or when a patient has been referred to a dental sub-specialist for treatment.  Though the patient’s dental records are the property of the treating dentist, the American Dental Association’s rules require dentists to furnish the patient or the patient’s new dentist the dental records, copies of the dental records (including X-Rays), or a summary of the patient’s records.  The dentist may charge a nominal fee for doing this to cover the costs of copying and postage, and regardless of whether the patient’s account is paid in full, the dentist still has the obligation to provide the patient’s dental records.  Be aware that all dentists are covered by HIPAA privacy rules, so if you are not requesting copies of your own records or those of your child, you must have a HIPAA release form signed by the patient.  For instance, if you care for an elderly parent and need his/her dental records, you would need him/her to sign a HIPAA authorization form before requesting copies.  Summit Dental Center is here to help you and your family with all your dental needs, and we want you to be educated about oral health, as well as how to obtain your dental records. [Read more…]

DDS versus DMD – What’s the Difference?

Professionals like dentists, doctors and lawyers, who have gone to school a long time before entering their professional practice sure seem to have lots of letters behind their name!  These letters are abbreviations for the degree each professional has earned.  For example, DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery, and DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine.  There is no difference whatsoever between a dentist with a DDS degree and a DMD degree.  Most often, you will see “John Smith, DDS” because most dental schools in the United States and Houston award the DDS degree.  However, both a DDS and DMD have the same training, education, and skills to take care of your oral health.  Summit Dental Center in Houston offers family and pediatric dentistry services and would like the opportunity for us to become your main dental home in Houston. [Read more…]

What is TMJ?

You may have heard a lot in the new about a disorder called TMJ that affects the muscles and joint of the lower jaw.  TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, so you can see why it’s easier to refer to this condition as TMJ.  The temporomandibular joint is the most complex joint in the body.  TMJ is a complex condition that causes pain and dysfunction in the joint and its associated muscles.  Women seem to experience TMJ more often than men, and dentists are not 100% certain what causes TMJ.  Some symptoms of TMJ include recurring:  headaches (including migraines); facial pain; popping/clicking sounds in the jaw joint; pain in the ears and/or face; limited ability to fully open the mouth; difficulty with chewing; problems with the bite; and worn down teeth.  Fortunately, most of these symptoms self-resolve or occur infrequently enough that the patient does not experience too much discomfort.  The best treatment for TMJ at this time is a conservative one – meaning a treatment that does not require surgery and one that is reversible.  For example, patients with TMJ can care for themselves by eating softer foods during a flare up, taking care to avoid extreme jaw movements, avoiding chewing gum, and applying ice packs to the area(s) of discomfort.  Other things a patient can do include relaxation and stress reduction techniques and gentle jaw stretches. Of course, the patient can take ibuprofen to help relieve discomfort.  The next time you see your dentist at Summit Dental Center, please let him/her know if you have any of the TMJ symptoms so that we can discuss self-care and treatment with you.  There are other treatments for TMJ that are advertised by dentists and the news media, but these may not be FDA approved or require surgery.  Stay tuned for future discussions regarding TMJ. [Read more…]

Diabetes and Dental Care in Houston

Diabetes has become a nearly epidemic disease in the United States affecting the general population regardless of socio-economic status, ethnicity, and in some cases, age.   Type 2 diabetes (a/k/a adult onset diabetes) accounts for the majority of the cases, but the good news is that this type of diabetes can be prevented altogether and even controlled through diet, exercise and medication.  If you wonder why is dental care important, that’s a good question.  Having Type 2 diabetes means that the patient’s blood sugar is way too high over extended periods of time, and having too much sugar in the blood puts major strains on organs such as the vascular system, kidneys, and heart.  Diabetes also impacts the teeth and gums in a negative way by making dental diseases like gum disease worse.  Signs that your diabetes may not be under good control would be red, swollen gums; gums that bleed easily when brushing and/or flossing.  High blood sugar will also encourage the growth of bacteria, and those bacteria attack your teeth and gums.  Having diabetes is a full time job due to frequent blood sugar testing, medication and doctor’s appointments, and this also includes extra attention to caring for your teeth.  If you have diabetes is it all the more important for you to book and go to at least two dental visits per year for a check up and cleaning.  Tell your dentist if you have a family history of diabetes, or if you have diabetes so that we can help you take care of yourself.  At Summit Dental Center our patients are our extended family, and we believe in helping them to be as healthy as possible. [Read more…]

Dealing With Dental Phobia – You Can Overcome It

About 1/3rd of adults are fearful of going to the dentist according to a 2010 survey even though well over 90% of dental treatments do not cause pain or discomfort.  Lots of this fear is due to hyped up stories people hear from others and the fact that the mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of the body.  The same survey reporting the total number of American adults who experience dental visit dread showed that only 5% reported having severe pain after a tooth extraction or a root canal procedure.  Both are oral surgery procedures that do cause discomfort that can be managed with anesthetic and follow-up pain medication.  If you are one of these adults who dread or even fear your dentist’s office, do not despair.  The best strategy is to be up front with your dentist about your feelings.  That way he or she can be aware of the situation and work with you to feel more comfortable.  Your Summit Dental Center dentist will be very gentle in applying numbing agents, giving Novocain shots and discuss sedation alternatives.  What is NOT a good idea is taking a narcotic sedative or pain pill at home before coming in for treatment unless you have a prescription from your dentist to do this.  Taking sedatives or pain medication at home before coming in for a procedure is dangerous because your dentist may give you the same or similar drug before beginning a dental procedure, which could cause an overdose or drug interaction.  If you have done this, then please inform your dentist or hygienist of what you took, the amount, and time you took the medication.  At Summit Dental Center we cater to wimps, so contact us today to make an appointment. [Read more…]

How to Talk to Your Child About Thumb Sucking

Even though children’s sucking their thumbs is totally natural and even occurs when your unborn baby is in the womb, parents experience some concerns about how to get their child to stop the behavior.  The reason for this is concern over damaging the alignment of the child’s permanent teeth and the expense of braces and orthodontics down the road.  Most child development experts (including dental professionals) encourage patients to use positive reinforcement, such as giving the child a small reward when he/she does not suck their thumb, such as stickers, a small toy or an extra few minutes of cartoons.  Scolding the child not only makes the experience unpleasant for both of you, but also encourages your child to hide the behavior rather than being honest about it.  There are loads of foul tasking topical agents for the thumb as well as devices to prevent your child from sucking, but perhaps a more positive resource is a book you can read to and share with your child.  One book geared for children ages 5 and up is titled David Decides about Thumb Sucking.  This book serves as an enjoyable story for your child but also serves as a guide to what you can do to help your child give up this habit.  Of course, Summit Dental Center dentists and hygienists can help parents with a strategy and even talk to your child to set a good foundation.  Contact us today for a convenient appointment! [Read more…]

Summit Dental Center Is Open For All Patients Experiencing Pain, Swelling or Other Urgent Needs. 
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