Posts

Understanding your wisdom teeth

Many patients ask whether wisdom teeth are really necessary since so many people have them removed. The fact is that wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. However, problems can occur that sometimes make it better to have them removed. For example, when the jaw isn’t large enough, the wisdom teeth can become impacted – misaligned or unable to grow in properly. They may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. The reasons wisdom teeth may have to be extracted include:
– The teeth have only partially erupted. This leaves an opening for bacteria which cause infection.
– There is a chance the wisdom teeth will damage adjacent teeth.
– A cyst forms which may destroy surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots. Ask your dentist about the health and positioning of your wisdom teeth. Your dentist will tell you if there are any issues and will recommend any steps needed.

How cancer treatment can affect your oral health

More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year and many of them will develop problems with their oral health as a result of their cancer treatment. While it’s natural that they’ll be focused on their cancer treatment, it’s important not to overlook the importance of a dental examination as part of the process of maintaining overall health. For example, radiation therapy of the head and neck area may lead to certain complications such as dry mouth, sensitive lesions in the oral cavity, hypersensitive teeth, rapid tooth decay and difficulty swallowing. Chemotherapy and other medication can also have significant effects in the mouth. To help prevent, minimize and manage such problems, the dentist and oncologist can work together – before and during cancer treatment. Many medications lead to dry mouth, which can lead to a higher risk of gum disease and other problems. The dentist may therefore recommend a saliva replacement, an artificial saliva that is available over-…

Treating facial pain and jaw problems

Chronic facial pain is a problem faced by millions of Americans. Common symptoms can include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth or even head and neck aches. If you are suffering from this type of pain, your dentist can help identify its source with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays. Sometimes, the problem is a sinus or toothache or it could be an early stage of periodontal disease. But for some pain, the cause is not so easily diagnosed. There are two joints and several jaw muscles which make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJ’s. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder. There are several ways the TMJ disorders may be treated…

Dental plaque – what it is and how to avoid it

You’ve probably heard people talking about plaque and maybe you’ve some idea of what it is. But it’s useful to know a bit more about it so that you can do what’s necessary to minimize the risks. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. When you’ve eaten a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. When this happens regularly, the enamel can weaken. This eventually leads to tooth decay. The food we eat often causes plaque bacteria to produce acids. So, if you eat a lot of snacks, your teeth may be suffering acid attacks all day. If you don’t remove the plaque through effective daily brushing and cleaning between the teeth, it can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Another effect of plaque is that it also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red and tender or causing them to bleed easily. If you want to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, make sure you have a balanced diet and avoid having too many …

Fixing crowded and crooked teeth with orthodontics

Correcting problems with crowded and crooked teeth not only gives you a better smile, it also leads to a healthier mouth. Malocclusion, also known as “bad bite”, involves teeth that are crowded or crooked. Sometimes, the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly and, although the teeth may appear straight, the individual may have an uneven bite. Problems such as protruding, crowded or irregularly spaced teeth may be inherited. But thumb-sucking, losing teeth prematurely and accidents also can lead to these conditions. As well as spoiling your smile, crooked and crowded teeth make cleaning the mouth difficult. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and possibly tooth loss. A bad bite can also interfere with chewing and speaking, cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel and lead to problems with the jaws. Orthodontic treatment can help correcting these problems giving you a better smile but, more importantly, creating a healthier mouth. Your dentist will advise you on how orthodontic tr…

What is plaque and how does it affect your teeth?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers our teeth and, when we eat something, these bacteria release acids that attack the tooth enamel. When these attacks are repeated over time, the enamel will break down and this will eventually lead to cavities. When plaque is not removed through daily brushing and cleaning it hardens into calculus or tartar. When tartar collects above the gum line, brushing and cleaning between the teeth becomes more difficult. The gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This is called gingivitis and it is the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself against this happening: – Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
– Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner
– Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of snacks between meals
– Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
– Ask your dentist about sealants – these are protective coatings th…

The facts about oral cancer

Oral cancer is not as well known as other types of cancer but it can represent a life-threatening risk if not identified early. – It strikes an estimated 35,000 Americans each year
– More than 7,500 people (5,200 men and 2,307 women) die of these cancers each year
– More than 25% of Americans who get oral cancer will die of the disease
– On average, only half of those diagnosed with the disease will survive more than five years
– African-Americans are especially vulnerable; the incidence rate is 1/3 higher than whites and the mortality rate is almost twice as high Although the use of tobacco and alcohol are risk factors in developing oral cancer, approximately 25% of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors. There has been a nearly five-fold increase in incidence in oral cancer patients under age 40, many with no known risk factors. The incidence of oral cancer in women has increased significantly, largely due to an increase in women smoking. In 1950 the male to female ratio was 6…