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Posts for: April, 2015

By Richardson Dental Care
April 24, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
TomHanksAbscessedToothGetsCastAway

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”


By Richardson Dental Care
April 09, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tooth decay   chewing gum   xylitol  
AChewingGumThatsGoodforyourTeethAQuizAboutXylitol
  1. Xylitol is a kind of sugar.
    True or False
  2. Xylitol is made from
    1. Bark of birch trees
    2. Coconut shells
    3. Cottonseed hulls
    4. All of the above
  3. Xylitol is a natural “sugar alcohol” similar to other so-called sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol.
    True or False
  4. Xylitol is broken down by decay-causing bacteria to produce acid.
    True or False
  5. Decay-causing bacteria are transmitted from a parent to a child through oral contact such as a simple lip-to-lip goodnight kiss.
    True or False
  6. Researchers have found no difference in prevention of tooth decay in gum made from xylitol compared to gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose.
    True or False
  7. Other xylitol products such as mints, candy and cookies also seem to decrease the incidence of tooth decay.
    True or False
  8. Xylitol products increase salivary flow and allow saliva to neutralize acids in your mouth.
    True or False
  9. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is a possible mild laxative effect.
    True or False
  10. The target dose of xylitol is one to two teaspoons spread throughout the day.
    True or False
Answers:
  1. True. Xylitol is a kind of sugar that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  2. All of the above. It is also found naturally in some fruits and vegetables.
  3. True. The others, mannitol and sorbitol, are used as sugarless sweeteners.
  4. False. Unlike sucrose (table sugar), xylitol is NOT broken down by bacteria to produce acid. Xylitol also stops saliva from becoming acidic so your mouth becomes an unfriendly environment to acid-producing bacteria.
  5. True. However, xylitol inhibits growth and attachment of the bacteria to your teeth, so it also inhibits transmission to your children.
  6. False. Systematic use of xylitol chewing gum significantly reduces the relative risk of caries (tooth decay) when compared to chewing gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose. Xylitol gum also appears to halt the development of tiny cavities when compared to other types of chewing gum.
  7. True. Use of these products seems to stop the progression of active decay.
  8. True. Xylitol and your saliva combine to re-mineralize (harden) your teeth after an acid attack.
  9. True.
  10. True. This means two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy or mints should be consumed for five minutes four times a day after eating meals or snacks.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”