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Main Dental Home Deadline Extension!

Summit Dental Center has worked hard to keep our patients well informed about the changes to dental care through Texas CHIP and Medicaid.  The State of Texas is requiring CHIP and Medicaid recipients to go through one of three managed care plans to get dental care.  Patients should have received a letter from the state about the change earlier this year.  Summit Dental Center is an approved provider through all three dental managed care plans so that all our patients can receive the quality and level of care we provide to our dental family.  If you’ve been busy and have not gotten around to designating your main dental home or main dentist, the state has given a brief extension of time to do this.  Now, CHIP and Medicaid recipients have until April 30, 2012 to make their main dental home election.  Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the federal tax deadline – those are still due by April 17th!  But if you have questions about how to select your main dentist or main dental home, contact our office.  We’re here to help your family take care of their dental needs. [Read more…]

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Parents naturally want to comfort their baby and make sure he/she is happy.  Unfortunately, some things we do as parents are not good for our baby’s developing teeth.  While it is tempting to put your baby to bed with a night bottle containing mike or juice, or allow your baby to hold onto a bottle during the day, this can cause what dentists refer to as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.”  The sugars found in milk and juices provide bacteria in the mouth with fertile ground to breed and multiply.  The increased bacteria can cause the newly erupted baby teeth to decay.  To keep this kind of tooth decay from happening to your child, Summit Dental Center recommends that babies only be put to bed with a bottle of water, that you give your baby milk or juice at mealtime only and provide water between meals, and finally, to encourage your baby to start drinking from a cup before their first birthdays.  Most young children are excited about using a big girl or big boy sippy cup in their favorite color or with their favorite cartoon character.  Remember:  even though baby teeth may not seem important because they are followed by permanent teeth, the baby teeth serve very important functions and are part of making sure your child has healthy teeth well into adulthood.  For more information on caring for your baby’s teeth, contact Summit Dental Center. [Read more…]

Canker Sores & Dental Health – Part 2

Yesterday, Summit Dental Center discussed the all too common canker sore and how it can impact your dental health.  Though most canker sores clear fairly quickly and are annoying, some patients experience complex canker sores that are much more severe and painful, and also recur frequently.  These kinds of sores can affect chewing, swallowing, drinking, and caring for your teeth.  If this sounds like your situation, then you may need to see your dentist for treatment – especially if you have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or feel tired/sluggish.  Your dentist, after examining the sores and talking to you, may prescribe a prescription mouth rinse or topical ointment to help heal the sore and reduce the pain.  Lots of people think that dentists are only concerned with the teeth, but that is not true.  Dentists are concerned about anything that goes on inside your mouth.  Always feel free to contact your main dental home at Summit Dental Center. [Read more…]

Canker Sores & Dental Health – Part 1

Most of us have had a canker sore at one time or another.  Canker sores are small, shallow ulcerations in the mouth classified as simple or complex canker sores.  Some people may get anywhere from 1-4 per year, and while these simple canker sores are uncomfortable and annoying, they usually clear within a week or two.  The precise cause of canker sores is unknown, but they seem to occur more frequently in patients who are under high stress or who have tissue injury in the mouth.  Other causes may be irritation from a dental appliance, irritation from a sharp tooth surface, and certain vitamin deficiencies (B-12, iron, folic acid, zinc, etc.).  Usually a patient can tell when a canker sore is forming because they feel tingling or burning in the affected area of the mouth or tongue.  One home remedy for simple canker sores includes rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, which can help to reduce inflammation.  The patient should also avoid foods with high acid content as this may irritate the sore.  The good news is that most canker sores get better on their own without seeing your dentist, but there are times when the patient should make an appointment with their Summit Dental Center dentist and hygienist to get help with more complex and severe sores.  Your Summit Dental Center main dentist will discuss this in greater detail in tomorrow’s blog post. [Read more…]

Texas DHHS and Your Houston Main Dental Home

As Summit Dental Center Families may know, over the last few months the Texas Department of Health & Human Services (Texas DHHS) contacted Medicaid and CHIP families to advise them of big changes in how dental benefits are received in the future.  As or March 1, 2012, Texas young adults age 20 and younger who are enrolled in Medicaid began receiving dental care through one of three dental managed care providers.  Those providers are:  Delta Dental; DentaQuest; an MCNA Dental.  Additionally, CHIP beneficiaries received expanded dental service through all three dental managed care plans listed above, rather than just one.  Part of these changes (effective March 1, 2012) required Medicaid and CHIP recipients to choose a “main dental home” or a “main dentist” in order to receive dental services.  Many of our patients have already selected Summit Dental Center as their main dental home, and we are delighted to continue to be of service to you and your family.  For patients who have not selected a main dental home or main dentist yet, the good news is that the Texas DHHS has extended the March 1st deadline to April 30, 2012.  Therefore, patients who have not made their selection may still receive dental care without interruption.  We hope to have the honor of remaining your family’s main dental home.  If you have questions, feel free to contact our office, and a friendly staff member will help you. [Read more…]

How to Treat Tooth Sensitivity

If you read Thursday’s blog post about dentinal hypersensitivity (a/k/a tooth sensitivity) then you probably experience this problem and want to know how you can help make your teeth less sensitive so you can enjoy cold beverages and foods.  Dentinal hypersensitivity is caused by tubules in the dentin.  These tubules can be caused by gum disease (receding bums), chipped teeth, clenching or grinding of the teeth, or erosion that comes along with natural aging.  If you experience tooth sensitivity, it’s best if you visit your Summit Dental Center dentist to make sure the diagnosis is not more serious.  He/she may recommend any of the following to make you more comfortable when eating certain foods:  (1) use an over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste; (2) use a fluoride rinse or gel; and/or (3) use a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Active ingredients in sensitivity toothpastes like potassium nitrate help to block the stimuli to the nerve cells in the teeth.  It’s important to note that just because you may have sensitive teeth that it is still very important to do the standard dental health routine of brushing twice per day and flossing as directed by your dentist. [Read more…]

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

If you are bothered by pain or sensitivity in your teeth – especially when eating cold foods or sugary foods – then you may have sensitive teeth.  The official dental term for this is dentinal hypersensitivity.  This sensitivity may not be constant, but may come and go.  If your pain is constant, then this may be a sign of a more serious dental problem, and you should mention it to your Summit Dental Center Dentist.  The cause for most tooth sensitivity relates to a porous tissue of the teeth called dentin.  Dentin is usually protected by the gums and the tooth’s enamel shell, but microscopic sized holes in the dentin called tubules leave an open pathway for substances to the nerves in teeth.  One of two things can happen to trigger the nerves inside the teeth:  (1) fluid moves through the tubules; or (2) any stimulus to the exposed dentin causes fluid movement within the tubule.  As your family’s main dentist, Summit Dental Center wants to hear about your oral health issues such as these when you come in for appointments.  We can help you with dentinal hypersensitivity so that it’s not so annoying.  For information on how to help reduce sensitivity in teeth, stay tuned for Friday’s blog. [Read more…]

Teaching Your Children Good Dental Hygiene

As a parent you will teach your children many things from taking care of their teeth to riding their first bike.  Some of these lessons are much more fun than others, and then there are some that can be downright frustrating.  Unfortunately, lots of parents find teaching their kids about dental health to be frustrating.  Summit Dental Center is your family’s main dental home, and we are committed to not only performing exams, fillings, and braces, but also helping you to get your children off to a good start taking care of their teeth.  This is important for their overall health, a super smile, and their self-confidence.  Tooth brushing occurs at the busiest times of our day:  when we’re trying to get ready in the morning for school and work, and when we’re trying to get everyone ready for bed.  Accepting this fact and learning to work around it will help a lot.  For instance, build another 5-10 minutes to your routine dedicated to brushing and flossing.  This will help doing a sloppy job on the fly.  Try to make this fun for you and your children by having a positive attitude, using a cute character toothbrush they pick out, and using fluoride toothpaste that is geared to kids.  You might even want to brush together to set a good example, and in the future this will be an almost automatic behavior for them.  You can also try to give your children positive reinforcement, such as a gold star sticker on their calendar when they do a good job brushing and flossing.  We understand that teaching your children the basics and having them perform consistently is a challenge, so please let Summit Dental Center help you with a strategy if you are having trouble.  Keep on brushing! [Read more…]

Keeping that Super Smile

Summit Dental Center is committed to helping our patients and their families develop great oral health and a super smile.  Of course, the best thing you can do for your teeth is practice good oral hygiene on a consistent basis.  This includes brushing twice per day, flossing at least once per day, and keeping those check up appointments twice per year.  This will keep both your teeth and gums healthy, which is the foundation of a super smile.  It does not matter what else you do to your teeth if you’re not doing the basics.  Another thing to consider is preventing staining of your teeth.  The teeth pick up stains from drinks like coffee, espresso, and red wine.  If you are conscious about the whiteness of your teeth, try gently brushing soon after having dark drinks such as these. [Read more…]

Methamphetamine and Dental Disease

Because of the wide use of methamphetamine in the Houston community, both dentists and hygienists are well aware of the signs of what is referred to as “meth mouth” including dry mouth, cracked teeth, tooth decay, and gum disease.  Unfortunately, most users cease going to the dentist for routine check-ups or to take care of dental pain because the drug tends to literally hijack the person’s brain causing them to make very poor decisions.  Some users do not go to the dentist simply because they are afraid their problem will be obvious to the dentist. People never plan or aspire to have an addiction problem, but it happens.  No dentist should treat a patient differently because of drug use, and both patients and dentists must realize that addiction is a disease of the brain rather than being a bad or immoral person.  Your dentist is not going to call the police or make a report, but encourage the patient to seek treatment and try to help them avoid permanent damage to the teeth.  The key ingredients to the manufacture of methamphetamine include sulfuric acids, phosphorus, lye and lithium.  These are all corrosive compounds that not only burn soft tissue, and create sores in the mouth, but also soak tooth and enamel in these caustic chemicals.  It is not uncommon for a meth user to have teeth that are rotted past the gum line, and at this point performing dental restoration is both critical and costly.     There is not one type of person who abuses drugs, and users can be teens, college kids, stay-at-home moms, professionals, or just about anyone.  Summit Dental Center is here for your family regardless of your medical condition, so please commit coming to the dentist regardless of your situation to care for your teeth. [Read more…]