Dr. Erin Gustafson

Dr. Erin Gustafson was born and raised in northeast Texas, relocating to Lubbock to complete her undergraduate degree in Zoology at Texas Tech University.

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Dentist - Humble
9630 North Sam Houston Pkwy E. Bldg B
Humble, TX 77396
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Posts for category: Dental Procedures

DiamondFangsNotYourThingThereareSubtlerWaystoGetaMoreAttractiveSmile

Fashion designer and reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian recently displayed some unusual dental work to her followers on Instagram. The eldest Kardashian sister showed off her new diamond-encrusted canine teeth, which gave her the impression of bejeweled fangs.

We're not sure if this is a permanent enhancement or a temporary fashion statement. Either way, Kardashian's "vampy" vibe shows what's possible in cosmetic dentistry—with a little imagination, you can achieve a smile that gets attention.

Even if you're not channeling Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, dental enhancements need not be as dramatic as Kardashian's. Smile changes can be subtle just as well as they can be bold; and, the lighter touch is often as appealing—and life-changing—as the latter.

Here are a few ways you can make improvements to your smile in more subtle way.

Dental cleaning. Although sessions with your dental hygienist are primarily about disease prevention, a dental cleaning could also make those pearly whites look better. Clearing away dull, dingy plaque and tartar often reveals the shiny enamel beneath, especially after polishing. You can also help keep your smile bright—and your teeth and gums healthy—by brushing and flossing daily.

Teeth whitening. While a dental cleaning can help your teeth shine, you might also turn to this dental procedure to maximize your smile's brightness. We can apply a controlled bleaching solution, usually in one sitting, to help you obtain the level of brightness with which you're most comfortable: from all-out Hollywood bright to a more subdued shade of white.

Teeth bonding. Your otherwise beautiful smile has a few chips or cracks in it. We can usually repair these in just one visit with a dental bonding procedure. We use a composite resin material formed into a putty that we apply in layers to the defective area of the tooth, sculpting it as we go. Once we attain the desired shape and color for the tooth, we cure it to give it resilience. With dental bonding, your teeth can look perfect as well as beautiful.

Veneers. There are other mild to moderate flaws like heavy staining, misshapen teeth or gaps that might exceed the capabilities of dental bonding. Porcelain veneers bonded to the visible surfaces of teeth can hide these imperfections and truly transform your smile. There is some permanent tooth alteration we must perform beforehand, but otherwise veneers are only lightly invasive.

Even if diamond-encrusted canines à la Kardashian aren't your thing, the field of cosmetic dentistry is broad enough to meet whatever your expectations for an improved smile. Visit us for an assessment of your smile, and what we can do to make it even better.

If you would like more information about your options for enhancing your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

InjuryTreatmentforanImmatureToothCouldImpactitsLong-termSurvival

Dental accidents do happen, especially among active tweens and teens. When it does, saving traumatized teeth becomes priority one. It's especially important for these younger age groups whose developing dental structures depend on having a jaw-full of permanent teeth.

But because their permanent teeth are still developing, it's often more difficult to treat them than fully grown teeth. That's because the standard treatment—root canal therapy—isn't advisable for an immature tooth.

During a root canal, a dentist removes the diseased or traumatized tissues inside the pulp and root canals, and subsequently fills the empty spaces to prevent further infection. It's safe to do this, even though we remove much of the pulp's nerve and blood vessel tissue in the process, because these tissues aren't as critical to a fully matured tooth.

But these tissues within the pulp are quite important to a tooth still under development—they help the tooth form strong roots and a normal layer of dentin. Their absence could stunt further growth and lead to future problems with the tooth.

For that and other reasons, we avoid a traditional root canal therapy in immature teeth as much as possible, opting instead for techniques that leave the pulp as intact as possible. The approach we use depends on the condition of the pulp after an injury.

For injuries where the pulp remains unexposed and undamaged within the dentin layer, we might remove as much of the damaged tooth structure as possible, while leaving a small portion of dentin around the pulp. We would then apply an antibacterial agent to this remaining dentin to protect the pulp from infection, and fill the tooth.

If an injury exposes the pulp and partially damages it, we might fully remove any damaged tissues and apply a material to the exposed pulp to stimulate new dentin growth. If successful, the dentin around the pulp will regenerate to restore protective coverage.

The methods we use will depend on the degree of damage to the tooth and pulp tissues, a traditional root canal serving as a last resort. Our aim is to not only save the tooth now, but also give it the best chance for long-term survival.

If you would like more information on dental injury care for 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 “Saving New Permanent Teeth After Injury.”

By Gustafson Dental
April 21, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: gum disease  
LasersOfferGreatPromiseForFutureGumDiseaseTreatment

Dentistry has become quite effective in the treatment of gum disease. That doesn't mean, though, that we've exhausted all the possibilities for further innovation. One avenue in particular shows great promise for even better treatment outcomes in the future: the use of lasers.

Using lasers for dental treatment isn't a new idea. The first such application happened around 50 years ago. There's a new impetus, however, to include lasers as a regular part of gum disease treatment based on excellent results garnered in the last few years.

The treatment goal for gum disease remains a constant: to comprehensively remove dental plaque and tartar (which harbors dental plaque) from all oral surfaces. Plaque is a bacterial film that accumulates on teeth and leads to tartar formation, which both triggers a beginning infection and fuels its advance. By thoroughly removing plaque and tartar, we can stop an infection.

The conventional method for removing plaque and tartar, which we still rely on today, depends on manual instruments called scalers and ultrasonic equipment that loosens plaque and tartar through sound vibration. Deeper infections often require surgical access of the infected areas through the gums.

Although effective, we may damage or remove healthy tissue while manually removing plaque, tartar, and diseased tissue, which can cause bleeding, swelling and some discomfort for the patient afterward. This is precisely where a dental surgical laser could make the greatest difference.

A laser (an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission radiation) is essentially a device that produces an intense, narrow light beam on a single wavelength capable of highly precise cutting, burning or abrading. In treating gum disease, lasers take the place of manual tools for removing plaque and infection.

Lasers appear to be more precise while removing diseased tissue (and killing harmful bacteria), while causing less harm to healthy tissue than conventional treatment tools. Lasers also foster clot formation, which can result in less bleeding.

Studies so far are showing that laser gum treatments are as effective as conventional means, but with less bleeding and tissue trauma. A majority of patients report less discomfort and recovery time after laser treatment.

We're still some studies away before lasers become standard equipment in dental offices. But if the data holds up, lasers may one day be the treatment of choice for gum disease.

If you would like more information on treatments for gum disease, 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 “Treating Gum Disease With Lasers.”

LikeJohnnyManzielYouMayNeedanOralSurgeonforaMajorDentalProblem

QB sensation Johnny Manziel has had a varied career in professional football. After playing two seasons for the NFL Cleveland Browns, he quarterbacked for a number of teams in the Canadian Football League. More recently, he joined the Zappers in the new Fan Controlled Football league (FCF). But then with only a few games under his belt, he was waylaid by an emergency dental situation.

It's unclear what the situation was, but it was serious enough to involve oral surgery. As a result, he was forced to miss the Zappers' final regular-season game. His experience is a reminder that some dental problems can't wait—you have to attend to them immediately or risk severe long-term consequences.

Manziel's recent dental problem also highlights a very important specialty of dentistry—oral surgery. Oral surgeons are uniquely trained and qualified to treat and correct a number of oral problems.

Tooth extraction. Although some teeth can be removed by a general dentist, some have complications like multiple roots or impaction that make regular extractions problematic. An oral surgeon may be needed to surgically remove these kinds of problem teeth.

Disease. Oral surgeons often intervene with diseases attacking areas involving the jaws or face. This includes serious infections that could become life-threatening if they're not promptly treated by surgical means.

Bite improvement. Some poor bites (malocclusions) arise from a mismatch in the sizes of the jaws.  An oral surgeon may be able to correct this through orthognathic surgery to reposition the jaw to the skull. This may compensate for the difference in jaw sizes and reduce the bite problem.

Implants. Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace teeth, either as a standalone tooth or as support for a fixed dental bridge or a removable denture.  In some cases, it may be better for an oral surgeon to place the implants into a patient's jawbone.

Reconstruction. Injuries or birth defects like a cleft lip or palate can alter the appearance and function of the face, jaws or mouth. An oral surgeon may be able to perform procedures that repair the damage and correct oral or facial deformities.

Sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is usually caused by the tongue relaxing against the back of the throat during sleep and blocking the airway. But other anatomical structures like tonsils or adenoids can do the same thing. An oral surgeon could address this situation by surgically altering obstructing tissues.

It's likely most of your dental care won't require the services of an oral surgeon. But when you do need surgical treatment, like Johnny Manziel, these dental specialists can make a big difference in your oral health.

If you would like more information about oral surgery, please contact us or schedule a consultation.

ImplantsCanLastaLongTimeIfYoullDoThistoMaintainThem

Dental implants have taken restorative dentistry by storm for a number of reasons: They're incredibly life-like; and their unique design allows them to function much like natural teeth. But perhaps the clincher for many is their longevity. Numerous studies show that more than 95% percent of implants are still performing after 10 years.

The reason for their durability is wrapped up in their "unique design" mentioned earlier—a titanium metal post imbedded into the jawbone, to which a dentist attaches the visible crown. The titanium attracts the growth of new bone cells, which adhere and accumulate on the implant surface.

This "integration," a process which occurs over a few weeks after implantation, creates a strong bond between the implant and jawbone. This ultra-strong hold enables the implant to withstand years, if not decades, of chewing forces you generate on a daily basis.

With that said, though, there are rare instances when an implant loses its hold—or doesn't properly develop it. Integration may not fully succeed due to infection either before or right after surgery, which can inhibit bone growth around the implant.

Other conditions can compromise the bone's integrity like a weakened immune system, diabetes or osteoporosis. And even if integration occurs normally, later problems like gum disease or a teeth-grinding habit can damage the connection between implant and bone.

There are things you can do, however, to further minimize the risk of implant failure.

  • Brush and floss daily (especially around implants) and maintain regular dental visits to lower your risk of gum disease;
  • See your dentist if you notice swollen, reddened or bleeding gums, an indication of a gum infection that could impact your implants;
  • Stop smoking, which increases your infection risk, or abstain a few weeks before and after surgery;
  • Manage issues like diabetes, osteoporosis, or teeth-grinding that could affect your implants.

Implants can be a great long-term solution to tooth loss. You can help ensure their longevity by looking out for both your oral and general health.

If you would like more information on dental implant restorations, 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 “Dental Implants: A Tooth-Replacement Method That Rarely Fails.”



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