Posts for: December, 2017


X-ray imaging is a routine part of a child's dental care — and it undeniably makes a difference in preventing and treating dental disease. It's so routine, we can easily forget they're being exposed to an invisible form of electromagnetic radiation.  And just like other sources of radiation, too much x-ray exposure could increase the risk of cancer.

But while it's possible for your child to be over-exposed to x-rays, it's highly unlikely. That's because healthcare professionals like dentists adhere to a standard known as ALARA when considering and administering x-rays. ALARA is an acronym for “as low as reasonably achievable.” In other words, we only want to expose a patient to the lowest and safest levels of x-ray dosage and frequency that will achieve the most benefit.

To achieve that standard, professional dental organizations advocate the use of x-rays only after a clinical examination of the patient, as well as a thorough review of their medical history for any usage of x-rays for other conditions. If x-rays are warranted, we then take further precautions to protect the patient and staff, and only use the type of x-ray application that's absolutely necessary. For most children that will be a set of two or four bitewing radiographs, which are quite effective for detecting decay in back teeth.

This dosage of radiation in a session of bitewing radiographs is roughly a fifth of the background radiation in the environment a child may be exposed to every day. By spacing these sessions at least six months apart, we're able to achieve a high level of decay detection at a safe and reasonable amount of x-ray exposure.

On top of that, the digital advances in x-ray imaging have reduced the amount of radiation energy needed to achieve the same results as we once did with film. These lower exposure levels and the ALARA standard helps ensure your child's exposure to x-rays will be well within safe limits.

If you would like more information on the use of x-rays with children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “X-Ray Safety for Children.”

By Today's Dental
December 20, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

You've cracked a tooth. Now that its lost substantial structure, must you lose the tooth? Thankfully, there's a wonderful restorative dental crownsprocedure offered at Today's Dental. Called a crown, this restoration could cover and protect that damaged molar and save it. Your Houston dentists, Dr. Tiberiu Oancea and Dr. Jeromy Thornton evaluate cracked and decayed teeth for dental crown placement. Could yours qualify?

The dental crown

This wonderful restoration has been around for decades. In fact, it was first invented and used in 1889, says the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry. Since then, dental crowns have improved in ease of placement and in materials used. Porcelain crowns are the most common and the most realistic. Porcelain fused to metal crowns work well in a wide number of positions in the mouth.

Also, many dentists offer crowns to restore dental implants, marvelous and lifelike tooth replacements. Crowns also support fixed bridgework to span gaps created by the loss of multiple adjoining teeth. Finally, when a tooth is infected, a dental crown finishes root canal treatment.

What about your tooth?

Well, your Houston dentist will inspect it and evaluate how much healthy tooth structure is left above the gum line. He'll also X-ray it to view the surrounding bone and the status of the roots. If he judges that the tooth is salvageable, he'll take some oral impressions for the dental lab and also inject the area with numbing medication.

Next, the dentist will remove the decayed portions and fillings, shaping the remaining enamel to receive the crown. Finally, he'll place a temporary crown over the tooth to protect it while the permanent restoration is made.

When you return to Today's Dental, Dr. Thornton or Dr. Oancea will remove the temporary dental crown and replace it with the new one. Most crowns fit perfectly right away, but your Houston dentist will take the time to confirm fit and bite so your smile looks, feels and functions well.

Keeping your crown

Most crowns last for years. Diligent oral hygiene keeps the crown site healthy, avoiding gum disease around the restoration and decay underneath the crown.

So, be sure to follow American Dental Association guidelines: see your dentist in Houston twice a year for check-ups and cleanings to keep ahead of plaque and tartar. Also, brush twice a day with a soft brush, and floss around your teeth, including the crown, daily. As with your unrestored teeth, avoid chewing ice, taffy, and non-food items as these can displace or chip porcelain restorations. Bite guards avoid the destructive forces of teeth clenching and grinding.

Learn more

Why not contact Today's Dental for a crown consultation? You likely can give that tooth a second chance. Call today: (281) 580-0770.

By Today's Dental
December 07, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   hiv  

We’ve come a long way since the early 1980s when we first identified the HIV virus. Although approximately 35 million people worldwide (including a million Americans) now have the virus, many are living relatively long and normal lives thanks to advanced antiretroviral drugs.

Still, HIV patients must remain vigilant about their health, especially their oral health.  In fact, problems with the teeth, gums and other oral structures could be a sign the virus has or is moving into the full disease stage, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). That’s why you or a loved one with the virus should maintain regular dental checkups or see your dentist when you notice any oral abnormalities.

One of the most common conditions among HIV-positive patients is a fungal infection called candidiasis (or “thrush”). It may appear first as deep cracks at the corners of the mouth and then appear on the tongue and roof of the mouth as red lesions. The infection may also cause creamy, white patches that leave a reddened or bleeding surface when wiped.

HIV-positive patients may also suffer from reduced salivary flow. Because saliva helps neutralize excess mouth acid after we eat as well as limit bacterial growth, its absence significantly increases the risk of dental disease. One of the most prominent for HIV-positive patients is periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection normally caused by dental plaque.

While gum disease is prevalent among people in general, one particular form is of grave concern to HIV-positive patients. Necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis (NUP) is characterized by spontaneous gum bleeding, ulcerations and a foul odor. The disease itself can cause loosening and eventually loss of teeth, but it’s also notable as a sign of a patient’s deteriorating immune system. The patient should not only undergo dental treatment (including antibiotics), but also see their primary care physician for updates in treating and managing their overall symptoms.

Above all, HIV-positive patients must be extra diligent about oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing. Your dentist may also recommend other measures like saliva stimulators or chlorhexidine mouthrinses to reduce the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Together, you should be able to reduce the effects of HIV-induced teeth and gum problems for a healthier mouth and better quality of life.

If you would like more information on oral care for HIV-AIDS patients, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “HIV-AIDS & Oral Health.”