Posts for: January, 2021
During election season, you'll often hear celebrities encouraging you to vote. But this year, Kaia Gerber, an up-and-coming model following the career path of her mother Cindy Crawford, made a unique election appeal—while getting her wisdom teeth removed.
With ice packs secured to her jaw, Gerber posted a selfie to social media right after her surgery. The caption read, “We don't need wisdom teeth to vote wisely.”
That's great advice—electing our leaders is one of the most important choices we make as a society. But Gerber's post also highlights another decision that bears careful consideration, whether or not to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Found in the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth (or “third molars”) are usually the last of the permanent teeth to erupt between ages 17 and 25. But although their name may be a salute to coming of age, in reality wisdom teeth can be a pain. Because they're usually last to the party, they're often erupting in a jaw already crowded with teeth. Such a situation can be a recipe for numerous dental problems.
Crowded wisdom teeth may not erupt properly and remain totally or partially hidden within the gums (impaction). As such, they can impinge on and damage the roots of neighboring teeth, and can make overall hygiene more difficult, increasing the risk of dental disease. They can also help pressure other teeth out of position, resulting in an abnormal bite.
Because of this potential for problems, it's been a common practice in dentistry to remove wisdom teeth preemptively before any problems arise. As a result, wisdom teeth extractions are the top oral surgical procedure performed, with around 10 million of them removed every year.
But that practice is beginning to wane, as many dentists are now adopting more of a “wait and see” approach. If the wisdom teeth show signs of problems—impaction, tooth decay, gum disease or bite influence—removal is usually recommended. If not, though, the wisdom teeth are closely monitored during adolescence and early adulthood. If no problems develop, they may be left intact.
This approach works best if you maintain regular dental cleanings and checkups. During these visits, we'll be able to consistently evaluate the overall health of your mouth, particularly in relation to your wisdom teeth.
Just as getting information on candidates helps you decide your vote, this approach of watchful waiting can help us recommend the best course for your wisdom teeth. Whether you vote your wisdom teeth “in” or “out,” you'll be able to do it wisely.
Dentures have come a long way since George Washington's time. Today, they're more comfortable, more secure and more lifelike than our first president's famous hippopotamus ivory appliance.
But one thing hasn't changed: Dentures still require regular care and cleaning. And one of the best things you can do for both your dentures and your health is to take them out at night when you go to bed.
Modern dentures are often so comfortable to wear, it's easy to forget you have them in your mouth. But setting a daily habit of taking them out when you turn in for the night will help you avoid a few potential problems.
For one, wearing dentures 24/7 can increase your risk for both oral and general diseases. Constant denture wear can cause greater accumulations of dental plaque, a thin biofilm responsible for gum disease and inflammation. The increase in bacteria could also make you more susceptible to pneumonia and other diseases.
Wearing your dentures non-stop can also worsen bone loss, a common problem associated with dentures. Normally, the biting forces generated when we chew stimulate bone growth in the jaw. A person loses much of this stimulation when they lose teeth, resulting in gradual bone loss.
Dentures can't replace this lost stimulation, and the pressure they exert on the jaw's bony ridges they rest upon can accelerate the process of bone loss. In time, any bone loss could affect the denture's fit as the bone beneath them gradually shrinks. By taking them out at night, you can help slow the pace of bone loss.
In addition to giving them and your mouth a rest at night, be sure you're also keeping your dentures clean: Take them out and rinse them off after meals and brush them with a small amount of antibacterial soap (not toothpaste) at least once a day. And don't forget to brush your gums and tongue every day with a soft toothbrush (different from your denture brush) to further reduce dental plaque.
If you would like more information on denture care, 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 “Sleeping in Dentures.”
What is Involved in a Dental Cleaning?
A professional dental cleaning is when all the plaque, tartar, and staining is removed from tooth surfaces by a licenced dental professional, such as a dental hygienist or a dentist. Bacteria consistently build upon all tooth surfaces, above and below the gum line from saliva and the foods we eat and drink throughout the day. Certain foods promote heavier plaque accumulation, such as sugary and acidic foods. A toothbrush and dental floss's job is to help remove bacteria from the tooth and gum surfaces before it hardens and turns into tartar, which then can only be cleaned off at your routine dental cleanings with special tools. To help remove plaque and tartar, your dental hygienist will use small hooked instruments called scalers and sometimes a machine that sprays water. A polishing tool will be used to remove any external staining on the tooth surfaces. In addition to the cleaning, an oral assessment will be performed to check for any signs of infection, inflammation, cavities and lesions.
Importance of Routine Dental Cleanings
Plaque, tartar and staining are removed by your dental professional that you cannot access and remove at home using a toothbrush, dental floss or any other dental hygiene aids. Once plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, bacteria continue to accumulate, which causes deposits to grow, causing damage to your gums and teeth. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. Your dental professional can also catch cavities in their early stages, preventing unnecessary pain and suffering. In addition, your dental professional can provide individualized tips and tricks for keeping your teeth and gums clean between appointments.
Recommended Frequency of Dental Cleanings
Each patient has his or her own unique and individual needs. Typically, it is not recommended to go longer than 6-9 months without a professional dental cleaning. This frequency would be recommended for patients with good oral hygiene habits that have healthy teeth and gums. More frequent dental cleanings are recommended for patients who show signs of gum disease or tooth decay and who may not have good at-home oral hygiene habits. Other conditions that require more frequent cleanings may include gum recession, high cavity risk, past gum disease, current braces and immune-compromised patients. It is important to discuss your recommended cleaning frequency with your dental professional.
If you believe you may be due for a cleaning or have any questions about professional dental cleanings, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.