By the time a person reaches around 18 years of age, he or she will usually have 32 teeth; 16 on the top and 16 on the bottom. Each tooth has a particular name and function- the front teeth (incisors, canines and bicuspids) are used for gripping and biting food into smaller pieces and the back teeth (molars) are used to grind food up into manageable pieces suitable for swallowing. The final 4 teeth, called the Third Molars or wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. Wisdom teeth played an important function when humans ate a more primitive diet and needed more teeth.
Today, however, wisdom teeth can be problematic for many people. Wisdom teeth can become impacted or unable to erupt through the gums. A tooth is considered impacted when it does not reach a normal position due to obstruction from another tooth or tissue. When wisdom teeth only partially emerge, a flap of tissue can grow over them creating a breeding ground for bacteria and potential gum disease. When foods and germs get trapped under the flap, gums may become red or swollen, which are signs of infection and/or inflammation. Other than the pain and discomfort, these issues, if not dealt with, can start to affect teeth in front of the wisdom tooth. To make matters worse, wisdom teeth are often tucked in a position that makes them difficult to keep clean and access with one’s toothbrush. Impacted wisdom teeth can also have an unwanted effect on alignment and orthodontic work.
If you find your wisdom teeth are causing any of the aforementioned problems, wisdom tooth extraction may be a solution for ending your symptoms and preventing the possibility of future problems. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure and can be performed by your dentist in Kelowna and with local anesthesia or oral sedation. There may be some residual bleeding, swelling or bruising but more often than not, people recover quickly and with minimal discomfort.
We all know him (or her), he will do anything in his power to avoid seeing the dentist. His dentistry avoidance techniques range from procrastinating or ‘forgetting’ his appointment to extreme excuse fabrication, or even faking a cold or flu if it excuses him from his routine check-up and cleaning. This person likely suffers moderate to
severe dental anxiety or phobia and this fear can be very real and debilitating for those who suffer its psychological grip. For sufferers, just the thought of calling a dental office can be intimidating. This fear can be the result of belonephobia (fear of needles) or a previously traumatic dental experience. Whatever the cause of the fear, the reality is, almost everyone will have to see a dentist in his or her lifetime.
The good news is, there are practical solutions that can help anxious patients make their dental experiences more manageable, even enjoyable. The non invasive approaches come from caring and patient-focused dental teams. While mental illnesses are invisible to the eye, a well trained dental team should be able to spot the patients who suffer from dental phobias and offer guidance in helping patients through their treatment. Dentists can help anxious patients by communicating in easily understandable language, educating patients of their options so that they are making informed decisions, and making sure that patients consent to and fully understand their treatment plans. Patients and dentists should create a “stop” signal that indicates the patient is uncomfortable or needs a break. There are also pharmacologic options such as conscious/oral sedation whereby patients are administered sedative medications via a pill or through an IV, to alleviate the anxiety. In the extreme case, an approach of general anesthesia where patients are ‘put to sleep” for treatment may be indicated.
Remember, dentists are not mind readers, usually, and it is important if you have dental fears to identify what those fears are and communicate them to your dentist. Open communication will help your dentist know what your concerns are so that a plan can be put in place to help manage anxiety. A good dentist will listen, take your fears
seriously and offer choices that help you have the most pleasant dental experience possible.
What are the consequences of teeth grinding and can it be treated? We live in an increasingly stressful world, and as a dentist in Kelowna, I am seeing a growing number of patients suffering from stress or anxiety-related teeth clenching and/or grinding (bruxism). If you’ve ever woken up with a tight jaw joint (TMJ), sore head or neck muscles, or aching teeth, there is a good possibility you may be grinding your teeth while sleeping.
If this happens for a prolonged period, there can be negative consequences for the mouth, teeth, and jaw. Not only will bruxism cause one’s teeth to wear down at a significantly higher rate, it can also lead to a more rapid breakdown of existing dental work, as well as stressing and straining the muscles of the jaw.
One can try to minimize the grinding by reducing stress – engaging in a number of stress reducing activities like exercising, stress counseling, or leaving the kids with the grand-parents. One can also practice relaxation activities such as yoga or massage.
As a dentist, I can assess tooth wear patterns as well as TMJ symptoms and recommend appropriate treatments. Oftentimes, this can be as simple as a minor bite adjustment or a non-invasive treatment like wearing a bruxism appliance (nightguard) to protect the teeth and reduce further strain on the jaw. If you suspect you are suffering from bruxism, contact us to assess your individual condition.
Flossing is one of those annoying things; it is much like changing your car’s oil, you know it needs to be done but it isn’t fun and it takes time out of our day that you would rather spend doing pretty much anything else. And much like changing your oil, if you don’t do it, there can be serious problems down the road. Many people think that their oral hygiene needs are covered by brushing, what they do not realize is that brushing only reaches the outer surfaces of the teeth and a toothbrush alone cannot reach the tight spaces between the teeth. Flossing is an important part of a person’s oral health and can accomplish more than a tooth brush alone. Floss not only gets rid of food that gets stuck between teeth, it also
If you find that your gums bleed after flossing, do not stop flossing! The bleeding occurs because flossing can irritate and inflame gum tissue, however, over time your gums will strengthen and bleed less. If you suffer from chronic gum inflammation, redness along the gum line and bleeding when flossing, you may have gingivitis – early gum disease. If your dentist diagnoses gum disease early enough, a rigorous oral health routine consisting of brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly can minimize or reverse gingivitis.
- To prevent tooth decay
Dental plaque can cause cavities if it’s left between teeth. When mixed with sugar, the bacteria that live in plaque can start the process of tooth decay. This is why it’s bad for plaque to be left in your mouth. Brushing alone does not clean in between teeth, only dental floss can remove plaque in those areas.
- To prevent gum disease
Gingivitis (inflammation of gums) is the first stage of gum disease (periodontal disease). It is caused by an accumulation of plaque around gums and between teeth. Plaque also contains bacteria that are harmful for the gums. Flossing is therefore important to remove all plaque accumulated after a meal.
- To prevent halitosis
Dental plaque is one of the causes of halitosis, and if it’s left between your teeth, it will generate a bad smell in your mouth. This odour comes from the metabolism of the bacteria contained in plaque. Bad breath can also be caused by gum disease and tooth decay which are also primarily caused by plaque.
- To prevent tartar build-up
Tartar is actually dental plaque that has become hard from the saliva’s calcifying action. Good oral hygiene measures, which include brushing and flossing, can slow down the accumulation of tartar, but does not actually remove it. Some people produce tartar more than others. Regular dental cleanings are recommended to remove tartar.
- To reduce the risk of heart disease
As mentioned earlier, the mouth is an entry point to harmful bacteria that may eventually reach the body organs, including cardiac tissue. Dental plaque, which contains dangerous bacteria, must be therefore eliminated to prevent those micro-organisms to reach the heart through the blood stream and cause heart disease complications.
- To avoid the complications of diabetes
There is scientific evidence that people who suffer from diabetes can have their condition complicated by gum disease. Diabetics usually have a weaker immune system and take more time to fight inflammations and infections, including the ones that start in the mouth. That’s why oral hygiene, which includes daily brushing and flossing, is very important to prevent diseases, or disease complications, such as diabetes.