Posts for: August, 2016
A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”
How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.
The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.
If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.
If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”
Tooth decay most commonly occurs in back teeth, but front teeth can also develop cavities. Dr. Roman Dziubyk, Dr. Marc Miller and Dr. Lorelei Grise', your Des Plaines, IL dentists at Suburban Family Dental, explain how you can protect your front teeth from cavities.
What causes cavities?
Every day, a clear, sticky, bacterial film called plaque coats your teeth. You may have felt plaque if you've ever run your tongue over your teeth and noticed that they felt rough. Cavities occur when the sugars in the foods you eat combine with the bacteria in plaque to create acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Cavities are more common in molars because they contain pits and grooves that can trap plaque. Although your front teeth are smoother, they can still develop cavities when they're exposed to acids.
How can I prevent cavities in my front teeth?
There are several things you can do to prevent cavities, including:
- Brushing and Flossing Daily: Daily brushing and flossing removes plaque, reducing your risk of tooth decay. Since decay can also develop between teeth, flossing is an important part of your oral hygiene routine.
- Limiting Acidic Foods: Natural acids aren't the only acids you need to worry about. Some foods and beverages, such as lemons, limes, oranges, soda, fruit juices and sports drinks, also contain acids that can damage your tooth enamel and cause cavities. Avoiding or limiting these foods and beverages can help you prevent cavities in your front teeth. If you do enjoy the occasional cola or sports drink, drink the entire glass immediately, rather than slowly slipping it over an hour or more. Finishing the drink quickly will decrease the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to acids.
- See Your Des Plaines Dentist Every Six Months: Regular dental visits are an excellent way to protect your teeth. During those visits, plaque and tartar will be removed from your teeth. Plaque turns into tartar, a hard deposit, if it isn't removed promptly. When tartar forms at the gum line, it can cause gum disease, a painful condition that can lead to tooth loss in severe cases. During your visits, your dentist will look for signs of tooth decay and other oral health issues. Treating cavities when they're small can help keep your teeth healthy and reduce the need for more extensive dental work in the future.
Are you concerned about a possible cavity, or is it time for your next dental exam? Call Dr. Dziubyk, Dr. Miller and Dr. Grise', your Des Plaines, IL dentists at Suburban Family Dental, at (847) 640-0778 to schedule an appointment. Prevent cavities with good oral hygiene and regular dental care!
If you've noticed one of your teeth feeling loose, you're right to believe it's not a good thing. Loose permanent teeth are a sign of an underlying problem.
Periodontal (gum) disease is usually the culprit. Caused by bacterial plaque, a thin film of food particles, gum disease causes the tissues that support teeth to weaken and detach. While a tooth can become loose from too much biting force (primary occlusal trauma), it's more likely bone loss from gum disease has caused so much damage that even the forces from normal biting can trigger looseness.
A loose tooth must be treated or you may lose it altogether. If it's from gum disease, your treatment will have two phases.
In the first phase we need to stop the gum infection by removing plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits). Hand instruments known as scalers or ultrasonic equipment are usually sufficient for removing plaque and calculus around or just below the gum line. If the plaque extends deeper near or around the roots, we may need to consider surgical techniques to access these deeper deposits.
Once the infection is under control and the tissues have healed, we can then undertake the second phase: reducing biting forces by breaking clenching and grinding habits, doing a bite adjustment for advanced problems and securing loose teeth with splinting.
Although there are different types of splinting — both temporary and permanent — they all link loose teeth to adjacent secure teeth much like pickets in a fence. One way is to bond dental material to the outer enamel of all the teeth involved; a more permanent technique is to cut a small channel extending across all the teeth and bond a rigid metal splint within it.
To reduce biting forces on loose teeth, we might recommend wearing a bite guard to keep the teeth from generating excessive biting forces with each other. We may also recommend orthodontics to create a better bite or reshape the teeth's biting surfaces by grinding away small selected portions of tooth material so they generate less force.
Using the right combination of methods we can repair loose teeth and make them more secure. But time is of the essence: the sooner we begin treatment for a loose tooth, the better the outcome.
If you would like more information on treating loose 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 “Treatment for Loose Teeth.”