Posts for: February, 2015
The final emergence of permanent teeth in late adolescence marks the end of a long process beginning in the womb with the formation of our primary or “baby” teeth. Permanent teeth form in a similar way as buds high in the jaw, continuing to grow until the primary teeth ahead of them fall away. The crowns of the new adult teeth eventually break through the gum tissue and emerge (erupt) into view.
At least, that’s normally what should happen; sometimes, though, a tooth may only erupt partially or not at all, a condition known as impaction. The crown remains partially or fully submerged below the gum line, causing the tooth to press against other teeth, potentially damaging them. It can also make periodontal (gum) tissues adjacent to the area more susceptible to disease. Wisdom teeth are especially prone to this kind of impaction, to the extent they’re often surgically removed (extracted) to avoid future problems to adjacent teeth or the bite.
Upper canines (the “eye teeth” normally located directly below the eyes) are also subject to impaction. But because of their highly visible position, extracting them could have an adverse impact on the patient’s smile. In this case, we often attempt instead to expose and ultimately save the tooth.
Before taking any action, however, an orthodontic examination is conducted first to pinpoint the exact position of the impacted tooth and determine how that position might affect moving teeth into a more desired alignment. If we find the impacted canine is in a workable position, the next step is to surgically uncover the tooth from the gum tissue (a minor procedure usually performed by an oral surgeon or periodontist). Once exposed, an orthodontic bracket with a small attached gold chain is bonded to the tooth. The gums are then sutured back into place with the chain exposed and allowed to heal.
At some future point an orthodontist will attach the chain to orthodontic hardware that will pull the impacted tooth into proper position over several months. As a result, the upper canine becomes “un-impacted”; the dangers to surrounding teeth and tissues are also reduced. And, just as important, we can preserve the tooth and with orthodontics achieve an attractive, normal smile.
If you would like more information on the effects and treatment of impacted teeth, 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 “Exposing Impacted Canines.”
There's no definitive cause for teeth grinding or clenching — known as bruxism in the medical field — but doctors have identified potential causes of this common and damaging condition.
Teeth grinding is often associated with stress, but a variety of emotional states have been tied to bruxism. Anxiety, frustration, anger and tension are all considered possible causes of teeth grinding.
Of course, for you to identify the cause of your bruxism, you have to know you do it: Many people are unaware they grind their teeth while sleeping, until their sleep partner informs them or they experience symptoms, like tired jaw muscles, dull headaches, or damage on the inside of your cheeks or tongue. Once you notice these or other related side-effects, you can consult your dentist to confirm your bruxism and possible causes of it. The cosmetic dentists at Mississauga Dental Arts in Mississauga, ON, can assess the damage caused by your teeth grinding, help you determine the cause and recommend treatment.
The possible causes for teeth grinding beyond your emotional state. Bruxism could be related to other sleeping issues, like sleep apnea (a disorder when your breath is short, interrupted or pauses during sleep). It may also be a response to acid reflux.
Teeth grinding may not be related to a serious medical condition but rather a coping mechanism during situations requiring focus or deep thought. It may also be a symptom of your personality: Competitive, aggressive and hyperactive individuals have been found to be at greater risk for grinding their teeth.
With no definite cause of teeth grinding on the books, identifying and treating it is very much an individual process. If you notice your teeth are worn or sensitive, or if you're experiencing jaw or face pain, it's time to make an appointment with your dentist and ask him or her about treatment options for bruxism.