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.
Sadly, the shorter daylight hours and cooler northern winds sweeping our valley signal that summer is coming to an end. This means that our children will be heading back to school and getting back into routine. For most families, this means a more structured bedtime, less beach visits and making calls to the family doctor and dentist for routine check-ups.
Health Canada reports that 45% of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 have had to miss school because of dental problems. As dentists, we encourage parents to have their children get their teeth examined regularly by a dentist. Just because a child does not complain that his or her teeth hurt, does not mean that everything is healthy in the mouth. Often, tooth decay will not cause any pain until it is fairly advanced and close to the dental pulp (nerve and blood vessels of a tooth).
School age children are in the phase of their mouth development when baby teeth co-exist with adult teeth. A dentist will examine this situation and make sure that this is proceeding properly, in the correct sequence, and that there is enough space for the incoming adult teeth.
Dental problems will interfere with a child’s concentration in school and ability to enjoy extra-curricular activities. It is important to maintain a healthy mouth so that children can focus on what is important- playing and learning.
Here are some tips parents to get your children back into a routine:
Children must brush their teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once right before bedtime. They should also be encouraged to floss regularly in order to clean the areas in between the teeth that toothbrushes cannot access.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or after an illness.
Try to decrease the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Replace sugar filled or high carbohydrate snacks with healthy options such as veggie sticks or nuts. Replace juices and sodas with milk or water. High exposure to sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay.
Observe your children while they brush and ensure that they are doing a proper job. Time them or buy them a timer and make sure that they are covering all surfaces. A thorough brushing session should take two minutes.
As a family dentist, I encourage parents to make a dental appointment for their children to help ensure a healthy mouth and a healthy, happy child.