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.
If a person has missing teeth, dental implants offer a natural looking and secure alternative to dentures, partials or bridges. Implants are a form of anchoring prosthetic (‘artificial’) teeth in one’s mouth. Implants are titanium screws that are placed into the jawbone, with prosthetic teeth attached onto the implant. Implants can replace as little as one tooth, multiple teeth (implant-supported bridge or partial denture), or the entire arch (such as an implant-supported denture). Placing implants is generally a two step process. First is the surgical phase, where the implant is placed into the bone beneath the gum tissue. As the tissue heals, the bone integrates around the implant. This integration period takes approximately 3-4 months. The second phase is called the prosthetic phase, whereby the artificial tooth is fabricated and attached onto an abutment, the post that connects the replacement tooth to the implant. The prosthesis is either cemented in place in the case of a single crown or fixed bridge, or attaches via a clip, in the case of a removable partial or complete denture.
Am I a candidate for dental implants?
If you are in good health and have good quantity and quality of bone, dental implants could be a good treatment option for replacing missing teeth. In cases where there is not enough bone, grafting and augmentation procedures can be done to increase the amount of supporting bone for the implant. Certain systemic diseases, like diabetes and certain bone disorders, may complicate the integration process, and would require modification of the treatment. In any case, consult with your dentist to see if you are a suitable candidate for implants.
What are the disadvantages of implants?
Generally speaking, implants are more costly than alternatives such as dentures and bridges. However, the comfort and fulfillment of chewing with solid, stable teeth is worth the extra cost for many patients. Implants also take more time to complete than the traditional options. Bridges and dentures can often be completed within 2-3 weeks, whereas implants take upwards of 4 to 5 months to complete. Most of this is due to the amount of time the bone takes to integrate with the titanium implant.
What are the advantages of implants?
Other than the obvious advantage of having teeth where you didn’t have any before, implants offer many advantages over traditional options of replacing teeth, like crowns and bridges or removable dentures. Implants are fixed in place, so they offer great stability and comfort. They are safe and predictable, and do not require the need to cut down any healthy, neighbouring teeth.
Book a consult if you think that implants may be suitable for you.