Ask the Experts

May 1, 2005 by  
Filed under Edit

Steven Wolfson, D.D.S.
Dr. Steven Wolfson offers expert dental
advice that will make you smile

A graduate of The Pankey Institute, The Las Vegas Institute for Aesthetic Dentistry, as well as the Baylor College of Dentistry Aesthetic Continuums, Dr. Steven Wolfson offers his patients the latest in aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry, as well as all facets of general dentistry. Dr. Wolfson has created a practice that is recognized for world-class dentistry, exceptional personalized care and the most up-to-date procedures.

What is the difference between cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry?
Actually, both go hand in hand. A great cosmetic dentist needs to also be a great general dentist, and vice versa. This ensures that not only will the final result be beautiful, but it will also be long lasting and functional, with the health of the mouth and supporting structures the primary importance. The main difference is that a dentist who has studied and focused his practice on cosmetic dentistry, as we have, is going to be more adept at smile design and complete aesthetics.

What are the most sought-after cosmetic dentistry procedures?
Well, since there is such a wide variety of needs, it is hard to isolate one or two procedures as being more popular or sought after, but I would say most patients that see us want their smiles rejuvenated with either porcelain veneers, Invisalign orthodontics, single-visit whitening procedures and/or cosmetic silver filling replacements.

What are porcelain veneers?
Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are beautifully sculpted and shaped to fit over the front surface of the tooth. Then they are chemically bonded to the tooth. Of all the procedures available today for changing and improving the look of your smile, porcelain veneers are the most popular and successful for our patients.

What is instant orthodontics, and how quickly will I see the results?
Instant orthodontics is the term that is used for straightening teeth using some type of cosmetic porcelain-bonded procedure instead of braces. Depending on the case, most smiles are completed very quickly, usually within two to three visits.

What if I am interested in teeth whitening or bleaching?
There are many whitening options available today. Some whitening procedures are completed in a single office visit, while some take several weeks to complete. We use the Zoom, single-visit office whitening system, as seen on the ?Extreme Makeover? program. It gives us the most dramatic whitening results that I have seen among the bleaching systems out there.

Is cosmetic dentistry purely aesthetic, or is there an emphasis on functionality and durability?
Cosmetic dentistry, when designed properly, always has an extreme emphasis on functionality and durability. Your smile should not only look fantastic, but it should feel natural, as if it grew there. This way, everything is balanced according to your muscles and jaw joints, ensuring durability.

What is smile design, and how could it help me?
A smile design should always be performed prior to any cosmetic makeover procedure. It involves taking into consideration the shape of the face, skin color, shape and color of the teeth, the smile form, the lips, tooth position and gum position, etc. Smile design also requires an artistic eye in order to design a beautiful look that enhances and rejuvenates the smile.

What do you offer for patients that fear going to the dentist?
Unfortunately, many people fear going to the dentist. For these people, we offer sedation dentistry. Our patients take a pill and snooze while we erase years of neglect, often in a single visit. It is safe and comfortable.

Dr. Steven Wolfson
The Tanglewood Center for Aesthetic Dentistry
510 Bering Drive, Ste. 450
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 789-1225

Jim Medley
Jim Medley offers a unique perspective as
a police officer turned criminal defense attorney

Jim Medley is a Houston-based attorney who focuses his law practice exclusively on the defense of those accused of crimes. Mr. Medley has 15 years of experience in the criminal justice field, including experience as a police officer, professor of criminal justice and attorney. He is uniquely qualified to effectively defend anyone accused of a crime, being one of the only defense lawyers in Houston with a masters degree in criminal justice, in addition to a doctorate degree in law. His office has represented nearly 2,000 people and has had almost 200 criminal cases dismissed or found not guilty by juries. Mr. Medley is a certified instructor and expert in sobriety testing and a certified operator of the breath test machine. He has been published regarding breath testing and was nominated one of Houston?s top lawyers in H Texas magazine in 2004.

How can the police or prosecution ?pick up? a charge if the victim doesn?t want to file criminal charges?
When a criminal law is violated, the state is legally the victim. The penal code is the list of society?s forbidden behaviors. When a law is violated, it is society?s rule that is broken, not the victim?s rule. We usually only hear the term used in the context of domestic violence cases, but the principle applies to every crime. The human ?victim? of a crime is, in a legal sense, only a witness.

If someone is arrested, don?t the police have to read them their rights in order for the arrest to be legal?
Not at all. The Miranda warnings that we?ve all heard on television are not ?magic words? required to make an arrest legal. Miranda warnings are only required in order for answers to police interrogation to be admissible later in court. If the police don?t have any questions after an arrest, no warnings are needed.

What happens if the police ask me for consent to search my car?
Your rights are only yours to give up. A refusal may make the police suspicious, but it is your right to do that. If you toss your rights away, the police may inspect the contents of your car and all containers inside of it. If anything illegal is found, you will be arrested and charged with a crime.

Can a person give consent to the police to search their spouse?s room or container?
Yes, if the consenting spouse has access to the room or container to be searched. If the nonconsenting spouse has an expectation of privacy in a place that the consenting spouse does not have access to, then the consent will not be valid.

If drugs are found in my car or home, am I automatically guilty?
All possession offenses require a guilty mind to accompany the possession. In order to be convicted of possessing something illegal, the government must prove you intended to possess or at least knew about the possession. Unfortunately, those accused are most often forced to try to prove they didn?t know the drugs were where they were found.

Do I have to participate in police sobriety exercises on the side of the road if I?m stopped?
No. There are no legal requirements to participate in police roadside exercises. A police officer may choose to arrest a driver after they refuse the tests, but that arrest will not be lawful unless the officer had enough evidence without the tests to justify probable cause (PC) for arrest. In such a case where the police already have PC, participating in the tests even successfully would not necessarily prevent an arrest.

Should I take the police breath test if I?m accused of DWI?
If you?ve had nothing to drink, you can generally trust the breath test machine to clear your name. If you have had any alcohol that evening, you cannot trust the breath test machine to measure that amount accurately. Even if the machine says you?re under the limit, the police will often accuse you of being impaired anyway, or just on some other ?unknown? drug. You will not be automatically released for passing the breath test.

If my license has been suspended, how can I keep my job?
In most cases, a person will be eligible to receive court-ordered permission to drive for work or school from a judge. This permission is generally limited for the purpose of work/school only, and will usually be limited to a number of hours per day.

What qualifications are important to look for in a DWI defense lawyer?
Any criminal defense lawyer will take money to represent a DWI. Caution should be used in rushing to the cheapest lawyer in town, though. These cases require special knowledge and understanding of pharmacological, medical, chemical and many legal issues unique to DWI cases. Qualifications to look for include: police experience, sobriety testing expertise, breath testing expertise and, of course, a history of winning case results!

Jim Medley
Attorney Jim Medley
and Associates, P.C.
3401 Louisiana, Ste. 275
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 779-5004

Digestive Health Center
?Specialists who help you feel your best?

Chosen by referring physicians and patients throughout Southeast Harris County, the physicians at Digestive Health Center earn their reputation every day by providing exceptional and compassionate care for people with digestive disorders. The physicians and staff specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of digestive diseases. Medical directors Steven A. Fein, M.D., F.A.C.G. and Sezen A. Altug, M.D. are both board-certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine. The physicians take pride in being up-to-date on the latest medical technologies and advances while maintaining their focus on prevention and wellness practices.

The physicians of DHC are recognized for their achievements in gastroenterology and for their comprehensive approach to total digestive wellness. For four consecutive years, our physicians have been selected by the Consumers? Research Council of America as ?America?s Top Physicians? in gastroenterology. Dr. Fein has also been recognized as a Top Doc and a Top Doc for Women by H Texas magazine.

What is a gastroenterologist?
A physician with specialized training in understanding and treating the diseases of the digestive system (the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, rectum, liver, pancreas and gallbladder ? also called the gastrointestinal tract, or GI system). Some of the most common conditions treated include IBS, GERD, colorectal cancer and liver disease.

What is a digestive disease?
Digestive diseases range from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer and encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, gallbladder, rectum and the pancreas. A digestive disease may be acute and self-limiting, chronic and debilitating, or sudden and devastating.

What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or the rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable cancers. While colorectal cancer is a serious disease, if it is found and treated early, the prognosis is excellent.

Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?
Men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin routine screening tests starting at the age of 50, unless there are other risk factors. Individuals with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease may need to be tested earlier or more frequently.

How are digestive diseases diagnosed?
Some of the procedures used to diagnose and treat digestive diseases include an upper endoscopy, performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, ulcers or bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract; a colonoscopy, performed to detect possible causes for chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, bleeding and removal of polyps; an ECRP, performed to treat bile duct tumors and gallstones; a PillCam Capsule Endoscopy of the small bowel or esophagus, performed to obtain a complete picture of your GI tract; and Stretta, a new diagnostic procedure used in the treatment of GERD.

What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal condition whose hallmarks include chronic or recurrent alternating bowel habits, and lower abdominal pain and cramping associated with bowel movements. In IBS, digestion and absorption of nutrients is not disturbed. X-rays or medical tests do not offer a definitive diagnosis for IBS; it is typically diagnosed after obtaining a detailed patient history and physical exam.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be thought of as chronic heartburn. The term refers to the frequent backing up (reflux) of stomach contents (food, acid and/or bile) into the esophagus. GERD also refers to the array of medical complications, some serious, that can arise from this reflux. Though it causes discomfort, occasional heartburn is not harmful. But if you have frequent heartburn, your stomach?s acid may inflame the lining of your esophagus, narrowing it. Stomach acid may also change the cells of your esophagus resulting in Barrett?s esophagus, increasing the likelihood of cancer from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 100. Your stomach?s contents can also move into your throat past your vocal cords directly into your lungs, causing damage, as well as hoarseness, a chronic dry cough or asthma.

What causes a digestive disease?
The cause and natural history of many digestive diseases remain unknown, but it may develop congenitally or from multiple factors such as stress, fatigue, diet or smoking. Abusing alcohol imposes the greatest risk for digestive diseases, particularly increasing the risk of esophageal, colorectal and liver cancers.

Who develops a digestive disease?
Each year 62 million Americans are diagnosed with a digestive disorder. The incidence and prevalence of most digestive diseases increase with age, with the exception of intestinal infections such as gastroenteritis and appendicitis. Other exceptions include hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic liver disease, which occur more commonly among young and middle-aged adults. Women are more likely to report a digestive condition, particularly nonulcer dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome. We invite you to visit our website,, to learn more about digestive diseases and how Digestive Health Center can ?help you feel your best.?

Digestive Health Center
3315 Burke Road, Ste. 202
Pasadena, TX 77504
(713) 946-9513

Clear Lake
2060 Space Park Drive, Ste. 306
Nassau Bay, TX 77058
(281) 333-4155

Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements
Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements and Parenting Options
offers loving parents alternatives for starting their families

Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements and Parenting Options is the oldest and most experienced surrogate and egg donor reproductive agency in Texas. Offering support, counseling, legal services and matching, founders Greg and Kathy Stern have both personal and extensive professional experience in third-party reproduction. Through compassionate understanding and exceptional services, the goal of Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements and Parenting Options is to make happy endings for all their clients.

What is third-party reproduction?
Third-party reproduction simply means that a couple needs the help of a third party to become parents. This may be through egg, sperm or embryo donation. It may also involve the help of a surrogate mother (gestational carrier) to carry the child. The right choice depends on the circumstances.

Why would someone be interested in surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a wonderful option when a woman cannot carry a child herself. The couple can have a child that may be biologically related to one or both of them, and they can be very involved in the pregnancy. This offers the couples comfort and assurance that sometimes may not be found in an adoption arrangement.

What is the process for matching a couple with a surrogate mother?
Couples and surrogates are matched based on compatible values, philosophies and personalities. A mediated group meeting is held with a licensed counselor to assure that all issues are discussed and that everyone is in agreement and comfortable with the match. A Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements counselor will then guide the couple and surrogate throughout the arrangement.

Do surrogate mothers remain close with the family once the baby is born?
Every arrangement is different. Expectations of long-term relationships are discussed in the first meeting. Relationships evolve naturally and become whatever makes the parties comfortable. Some arrangements end in lifelong friendships.

How are surrogates screened?
All SSA surrogates undergo an extensive multilevel screening based on both objective and subjective standards to meet our proprietary criteria developed over many years of experience. This includes a phone screening, application process, clinical interview, objective psychological assessment and a home visit. Surrogates are evaluated on factors such as emotional stability, life stability, available support systems and proper motivation.

What legal aspects are involved in third-party reproduction?
Texas has the best law in the country for surrogacy. Contracts are approved by the court before the pregnancy and are enforceable. The names of the parents go directly on the birth certificate, and there is no need for an adoption. In egg, sperm or embryo donation, courts are not involved and parenthood is established based on written consent of the couple.

Why would someone be interested in egg donation?
An egg donor is necessary if a woman can carry but cannot provide the eggs for a pregnancy due to a medical condition, loss of her ovaries, or age-related factors. Egg donation gives the woman the opportunity to experience pregnancy. She is the one who provides the prenatal nurturing and who gives life to the child.

How does a couple choose an egg donor?
We have a large number of available donors and provide pictures and extensive biographical background information. The couple meets with the counselor, and they discuss their criteria for a donor. Usually couples choose a donor who closely matches the physical appearance, talents and interests of the intended mother.

How are donors screened?
All Parenting Options donors undergo an extensive multilevel screening based on both objective and subjective standards designed to satisfy both the egg donation guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and our own criteria based on years of experience.

Are there emotional hurdles that a couple must overcome before considering third-party reproduction?
The inability to have a child through natural means is a loss similar to that of a miscarriage or the loss of a loved one. The couple needs to grieve this loss. This takes time and may require the help of a mental health professional.

How common is third-party reproduction?
According to the latest government statistics, in 2002 there were more than 13,000 IVF cycles in the United States using donor eggs or embryos. Although there are no national statistics on surrogacy, the Organization of Parents through Surrogacy estimates that there are about 1,500 surrogate births per year in the United States.

How does a couple know that they are ready to start third-party reproduction?
Many couples have been trying to achieve their dream of parenthood for a very long time. The couple is ready when the desire to parent outweighs the desire to be pregnant and/or provide the genetics for their child. At that point, it is our job to help them create their own ?happy ending.? n

Southwest Surrogacy Arrangements LLC and Parenting Options LLC
10777 Westheimer, Ste. 350
Houston, TX 77042
(713) 952-4772

Christian Hill
Christian Hill is recognized as one of Houston?s best personal injury lawyers ? by both his legal peers and the TV-watching public

Christian Hill has been practicing personal injury law for nearly 15 years, recovering more than $100 million in medical and income benefits for his clients. Consistently voted one of Houston?s best lawyers in H Texas magazine and named one of Texas? best lawyers by Texas Monthly magazine, Hill won numerous awards in law school for his exceptional legal skills and has since been named to Who?s Who in America.

What is personal injury law?
This term is generally used to describe the type of legal case in which a person suffers an injury as a result of the act or omission (failure to act) of another person. Common examples of a personal injury case include automobile accidents and medical malpractice.

Does time play a factor in personal injury cases?
Absolutely. Most states have a statute of limitations ? a specific period in which a lawsuit must be filed or it is forever barred. In Texas, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the occurrence or injury. In some very limited circumstances, this statute of limitations can be extended. However, it is never a good idea to wait until the last minute to seek advice about a potential case. The sooner you consult an attorney, the better.

What if I require extensive medical treatment due to a personal injury, but am denied services?
Texas and federal law both require a hospital to provide emergency medical treatment to an injured person, whether or not the person has health insurance. Emergency treatment is considered to be the treatment necessary to stabilize the patient. Subsequent medical treatment, however, may be more difficult to obtain. Some health care providers will provide medical treatment if they are provided a letter of protection from an attorney that is representing the injured person. The letter of protection assures the health care provider that fees for medical treatment will be paid out of any settlement or judgment of the injured person?s case. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What if I have been injured in a car wreck? How soon must I act? What if the pain only becomes evident after some time has passed?
First of all, do not say to anyone at the time of the accident that you are not injured. While you might not think you are injured at the time of the accident, it is not at all unusual for muscle stiffness and pain to begin several hours after an accident. Do not wait to obtain appropriate medical care. It is a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible to obtain legal advice regarding your potential case.

What if I am injured in a car wreck, but the other person does not have insurance?
Although Texas law requires everyone to have at least minimal automobile liability insurance, many people still do not have insurance. When you purchase your automobile insurance, the insurance company must offer you uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage ? often called UM/UIM coverage. UM/UIM coverage is insurance that you purchase for yourself that will pay you if you are in a car wreck and the driver that was at fault either has no insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. UM/UIM coverage is generally not extremely expensive. If the other driver does not have liability insurance and you do not have UM/UIM insurance, there is, unfortunately, very little you can do. You should check your insurance policy to see if you have UM/UIM insurance.

Are work-related injuries considered personal injury cases? Can I sue my employer?
In general, work-related injuries are handled differently than other personal injury cases. If your employer has worker?s compensation insurance, every aspect of the work-related injury (including medical treatment and income benefits) is handled through the Texas Worker?s Compensation system. The worker?s compensation system provides medical treatment and income compensation for on-the-job injuries, whether or not another person caused the injury (for example, if you slip and fall at your workplace). If your employer has worker?s compensation insurance, then you cannot sue your employer. Your sole remedy is to file the worker?s compensation claim. There are, of course, variations to these general rules; for example: if your employer does not have worker?s compensation insurance or if you are injured in a car wreck while on the job. There are very strict time limits on different aspects of worker?s compensation claims. Contact an attorney as soon as possible so that you know your rights and responsibilities.

What can I do if I am experiencing adverse reactions to prescribed drugs that have since been taken off the market?
If you experience any adverse reaction to any medication, you should immediately contact your physician, whether or not the drug has been removed from the market. If a medication you are taking is removed from the market, you should stop taking the medication and contact your physician immediately. Most drugs have at least some known adverse reactions that can occur in some or all persons taking the medication. Consult an attorney to determine your legal rights.

What is product liability?
Product liability describes a type of case where a person is injured as a result of a product that is unreasonably dangerous due to a defect in the product. The defect can be a manufacturing defect, a design defect or a marketing defect. Product liability cases are very different from most other types of personal injury cases. The law regarding product liability is very complex. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible if you think you have been injured as a result of a defective product.

Christian Hill
Ivey, Kadlec & Hill, P.L.L.C.
1445 N. Loop West, Ste. 900
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 862-9990

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