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: Oral Health

LeaveYourKidsaLegacyofGreatDentalHealthWithTheseSimpleTips

Most parents well remember the day they brought their new baby home from the hospital. And then—in what seems like the blink of an eye—that same child is heading out the door to go on their own. "Empty nest" parents can easily regret not having more time to help their children get a solid handle on life.

With what little time you do have, it comes down to priorities—focusing on those things that are most important for their future well-being. Health, of course, is a big part of that—and oral health in particular.

In fact, the state of their teeth and gums could have a big impact on the rest of their health as they get older. That's why it's crucial to foster good dental care and reinforce tooth-friendly habits during their childhood years. Here's how.

Practice daily hygiene. A lifetime of great teeth and gums depends on a continual, daily habit of brushing and flossing. One of the best gifts you can give your child is to teach them how to properly brush and floss.

Start dental visits early. Regular dental visits support daily hygiene, and provide an early warning system for possible dental disease. Starting visits by their first birthday may also help a child avoid anxiety, making it more likely they'll continue the practice in adulthood.

Give their teeth a healthy head start. Losing even a primary tooth to decay could affect their future dental health. And despite diligence about dental care, some children may still be prone to decay. Give your child an added boost with topical fluoride or sealants to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque.

Practice what you preach. Children often do what they see their parents doing. If you're making dental care a priority—brushing and flossing every day and visiting the dentist at least twice a year—and with a positive attitude, your kids are more likely to follow your lead.

There's so much you want to instill in your children to better ensure they'll have a happy and prosperous life. Make sure these dental care tips are on your short list.

If you would like more information on dental care for kids, 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 “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”

DentistsSometimesUseAdditionalWeaponsintheFightAgainstGumDisease

The term periodontal disease refers to bacterial infections that target the gums. These infections typically start as inflammatory responses to dental plaque, a bacterial biofilm collecting on tooth surfaces, especially around the gum line.

Early on, we can often stop the infection and minimize damage by removing accumulations of dental plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which tend to fuel the disease. This process, known as debridement, effectively "starves" the infection and allows the gums and other infected tissues to heal.

But if gum disease is anything, it's stubborn: An infection can continue to advance rapidly. As it does, it weakens gum attachment and causes bone loss, both of which could eventually cause tooth loss.

When it reaches this state, advanced gum disease can turn into a long-term siege of keeping the infection at bay and trying to limit bone loss. To stay ahead of it, we may turn to additional treatments besides debridement, especially for difficult-to-treat areas around the roots.

Mouthrinses. Dentists often prescribe antimicrobial agents to patients with advanced gum disease to help further control bacterial plaque buildup. The most common of these is chlorhexidine, typically in a 0.12% solution mouthrinse. Chlorhexidine is quite effective in controlling bacteria, but prolonged use can lead to tooth staining.

Topical antibiotics. Dentists may also apply antibiotic treatments, usually tetracycline, directly to affected areas. Topical applications like these are often more effective in penetrating hard-to-reach areas than manual cleaning tools. Dentists must be selective, though, in using this tool, because long-term application could disrupt "good" oral bacteria along with the bad.

Other medications. In addition to antibiotics, dentists may also use other drug treatments like chlorhexidine chips or doxycycline gel that continues to deliver effects over a long period. These "sustained release" medications continue to suppress bacteria, and are often used in conjunction with mechanical cleaning to reduce inflammation.

These additional tools can improve the overall treatment outcomes for advanced gum disease. But they must be used prudently and only in those cases where the benefits of better gum health outweigh the risks.

If you would like more information on preventing and treating 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 Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”

By Gustafson Dental
March 22, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea  
YourDentistMayHoldtheKeyToGettingaBetterNightsSleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 40 million Americans have a sleep disorder. One of the more common ones is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a chronic condition that not only robs you of a good night's sleep, but could contribute to health problems like cardiovascular disease. It's a serious condition and your dentist, you might be surprised to know, may have just the solution for it.

March is National Sleep Awareness Month, when care providers highlight the importance of sleep to health and well-being, and those conditions that detract from it. Here, then, is what you need to know about sleep apnea.

OSA occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep. More than likely, muscle relaxation and the effect of gravity have caused the tongue or other parts of the mouth to obstruct the airway.

As the body's oxygen level drops, the brain rouses the body awake to "fix" the problem, usually by relocating the tongue or other obstruction. Afterward, you quickly fall back asleep. It all happens so fast, you may not even realize or remember you've awakened.

The problem, though, is that this can occur several times a night. Because it happens mainly during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the deepest sleep needed for physical and mental health, it could deprive you of adequate rest.

The most common treatment for OSA is a continuous positive airway pressure device, or CPAP for short. A CPAP machine consists of a small air pump connecting to a full face mask by a flexible hose. The wearer breathes in slightly pressurized air supplied by the pump through the mask, which elevates the air pressure within the mouth. This in turn helps keep the airway open.

CPAP therapy has been able to give many users their best night's sleep in years. But some people find the mask and hose cumbersome (and perhaps claustrophobic), and the pump noise bothersome to them and their sleeping partners. The discomfort may be enough for them to opt out of the therapy.

If you have mild to moderate OSA, however, your dentist may be able to help by creating a custom mouth appliance you wear while sleeping that prevents the tongue from falling back on the airway. Although CPAP might win the gold for treating OSA, this oral device is still a solid silver.

If you suspect you may have OSA or some other sleep disorder, see your doctor for a full examination and evaluation. If you think an OSA mouth appliance would fit your lifestyle better, be sure you discuss it with your dentist. With either therapy, you could be on your way to better sleep and better health.

If you would like more information about treating sleep disorders, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep disorders & Dentistry.”

By Gustafson Dental
February 20, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
WhyStoppingGumDiseaseShouldbeaTopDentalCarePriority

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of U.S. adults over 30 are afflicted with some form of periodontal (gum) disease—and one in five could be classified as severe. What's more, the incidence of disease only increases with age.

February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, a subject well worth its own focus month. The disease can be highly destructive and ultimately affect your overall well-being.

The various forms of the disease all have a common origin—dental plaque, a thin, bacteria-laden food film that naturally accumulates on teeth. The multiplying bacteria within plaque can first infect the surface tissues of the gums, especially around the gum line.

Although the body initiates an inflammatory response and releases antibodies to fight the infection, it's often not enough. Fueled by plaque, the infection can continue to advance into the gums and ultimately reach the tooth roots and supporting bone. If this occurs, the outcome could be devastating to both your oral and general health.

For one, an infection can weaken the periodontal ligaments that help secure teeth in place. This can cause them to detach from the teeth, creating infection-filled voids between the teeth and gums called periodontal pockets. The gums may also pull back or recede from the teeth, further exposing their roots to infection.

The spreading disease may also directly infect and damage tooth roots and the supporting bone. As a result, both the teeth and bone can lose a substantial amount of their structure.

As this process continues, the affected teeth may eventually pay the ultimate price and become lost. Losing teeth affects not only a person's appearance, but their overall dental function as well.

Given the odds of an encounter with this disease and the potential devastation that may follow, it's well worth doing everything possible to avoid it. The most important thing you can do is to eliminate the regular accumulation of plaque through daily brushing and flossing, as well as dental cleanings at least twice a year.

It's equally important to remain alert to any signs of infection. If you notice your gums are red or swollen, or if they bleed easily when you brush, call us as soon as possible for a closer examination.

Hopefully, your personal oral hygiene and regular dental care will keep you out of the reach of this harmful oral infection. And, should gum disease occur, the sooner we catch it and begin treating it, the less likely your mouth suffers extensive damage and tooth loss. Your oral health and well-being depend on it.

If you would like more information about preventing and treating periodontal disease, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Gum Disease Gets Started.”

BrieBellaShowsOffHerSix-MonthOldsBabyTeethonInstagram

If you're aiming for adorable camera shots, nothing beats baby photos. Even the tough guys among us can't resist oohing and ahhing over pics of their friends' and families' newest editions. Even celebrities like Brie Bella, WWE wrestler and now activewear entrepreneur, get into the act. She recently posted photos of her six-month old son, Buddy, for Instagramers. The focus—Baby Buddy's new baby teeth.

For many, a baby's first teeth are almost as cute as the baby themselves. Like the tiny humans sporting them, baby (or primary) teeth look like miniature versions of adult teeth. But aside from their inherent cuteness, primary teeth are also critically important for a child's dental function and development.

For most kids, primary teeth come right on time as they begin their transition from mother's milk or formula to solid food that requires chewing. Aside from their importance in nutrition, primary teeth also play a prominent role in a child's speech development and burgeoning social interaction.

They're also fundamental to bite development, with an influence that extends beyond their lifespan. They serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth, "trailblazers" of a sort that guide future teeth toward proper eruption.

So critical is this latter role that losing a baby tooth prematurely can open the door to bite problems. When a baby tooth is lost before its time, the space they're holding for an incoming tooth could be overtaken by neighboring teeth. This in turn could force the intended tooth to erupt out of place, leading to cascading misalignments that could require future orthodontics to correct.

Although facial trauma can cause premature tooth loss, the most common reason is tooth decay. One form of this disease known as early childhood caries (ECC) is especially problematic—it can rapidly develop and spread to other teeth.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid early primary tooth loss. Here are a few things you can do to prevent that from happening.

  • Clean your baby's teeth daily by brushing and later flossing to remove bacterial plaque, the major cause of tooth decay;
  • Limit your baby's sugar consumption. In particular, avoid bedtime bottles filled with milk, juice or formula;
  • "Child-proof" your child's play areas to lessen their chances of falling on hard surfaces that could injure teeth;
  • Begin regular dental visits around their first birthday for early diagnosis, treatment and the application of other disease prevention measures.

Like Brie Bella, it's a joy for many parents to show off their baby's first teeth. Just be sure to take these common sense steps to protect those primary teeth from an unwelcome early departure.

If you would like more information about children's dental care, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit.”



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