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Monday, April 16, 2018

Understanding your wisdom teeth

Many patients ask whether wisdom teeth are really necessary since so many people have them removed.
The fact is that wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned.
However, problems can occur that sometimes make it better to have them removed.
For example, when the jaw isn’t large enough, the wisdom teeth can become impacted – misaligned or unable to grow in properly. They may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.
The reasons wisdom teeth may have to be extracted include:
– The teeth have only partially erupted. This leaves an opening for bacteria which cause infection.
– There is a chance the wisdom teeth will damage adjacent teeth.
– A cyst forms which may destroy surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots.
Ask your dentist about the health and positioning of your wisdom teeth.
Your dentist will tell you if there are any issues and will recommend any steps needed.

Monday, April 9, 2018

How sedation and general anesthesia can make your visit to the dentist easier

While local anesthetics are often used in dental treatment, there is sometimes a need for anti-anxiety agents – such as nitrous oxide – or sedatives to help people relax during dental visits.
Dentists may use these agents to induce “minimal or moderate sedation”.
In this case, the patient reaches a relaxed state during treatment but can respond to speech or touch.
Sedatives can be administered before, during or after dental procedures by mouth, inhalation or injection.
More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce “deep sedation”.
This reduces consciousness and causes a loss of feeling which helps to reduce both pain and anxiety.
Sometimes patients undergo “general anesthesia” where the drugs lead to a temporary loss of consciousness.
A dentist may recommend deep sedation or general anesthesia for certain procedures with children or with adults who have severe anxiety or for people who have difficulty controlling their movements.
While these techniques to control pain and anxiety are used to treat tens of millions of patients safely every year, it’s important that you let your dentist know anything that might affect your ability to benefit from them for example, tell them about any illnesses or health conditions, whether you are taking any medications and if you’ve had any problems with allergic reactions to medications.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How sugar in your diet affects your teeth

The sugar content in the food you eat has a big effect on your teeth and gums.
When bacteria (plaque) come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced, which attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This can eventually result in tooth decay.
That’s why drinking sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks can take a toll on teeth.
This is particularly true for children as their eating patterns and food choices affect how quickly they develop tooth decay.
Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. However, almost all foods, including milk or vegetables, have some type of sugar. Many of them also contain important nutrients that are an important part in our diet.
To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Soft drinks,candy, cookies and pastries often contain added sugars.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Taking care of your dentures

Your dentures are designed to last a very long time so it’s important that you take care of them as you would take care of your own teeth.
They are very delicate and may break easily if dropped even a few inches. So it’s a good idea to stand over a folded towel or a basin of water when handling dentures.
When you are not wearing your dentures, store them away from children and pets.
Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food deposits and plaque.
Brushing helps prevent dentures from becoming permanently stained and helps your mouth stay healthy.
There are special brushes designed for cleaning dentures but a toothbrush with soft bristles can also be used. Avoid using hard-bristled brushes as these can damage your dentures.
Some denture wearers also use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid for cleaning and that’s fine. But avoid using powdered household cleansers, which may be too abrasive. Also, avoid using bleach, as this may whiten the pink portion of the denture.
The first step in cleaning dentures is to rinse away loose food particles thoroughly. Moisten the brush and apply denture cleanser. Brush every surface, scrubbing gently to avoid damage.
Dentures may lose their shape if they are allowed to dry out. When they are not worn, dentures should be placed in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water. Never place dentures in hot water, which could cause them to warp.
Ultrasonic cleaners are also used to care for dentures. However, using an ultrasonic cleaner does not replace a thorough daily brushing.
You can seriously damage your dentures by trying to adjust or repair them yourself. So see your dentist if your dentures break, crack, chip or if one of the teeth becomes loose.
Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased, or remade due to normal wear. They may also need to be replaced if they become loose and the teeth show signs of significant wear.
You need to make regular visits to your dentist to make sure the dentures are working as well as possible for you and to check for more serious problems in your mouth such as oral cancer.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The early years of dentistry and teeth

Although there have been huge advances in dental care in recent years, there are records of people dealing with teeth going back over thousands of years.
Here are some of the key dates from the early years in the development of dentistry.
5000 BC: A Sumerian text describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay.
2600 BC: Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, often called the first “dentist”, dies. An inscription on his tomb includes the title “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”
500-300 BC: Hippocrates and Aristotle write about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.
166-201 AD: The Etruscans practice dental prosthetics using gold crowns and fixed bridgework.
500-1000: During the Early Middle Ages in Europe, medicine, surgery, and dentistry, are generally practiced by monks, the most educated people of the period
700: A medical text in China mentions the use of “silver paste,” a type of amalgam.
1130-1163: A series of Papal edicts prohibit monks from performing any type of surgery, bloodletting or tooth extraction. Barbers often assisted monks in their surgical ministry because they visited monasteries to shave the heads of monks and the tools of the barber trade sharp knives and razors were useful for surgery. Following the edicts, barbers assume the monks’ surgical duties: bloodletting, lancing abscesses, extracting teeth, etc.
1210: A Guild of Barbers is established in France. Barbers eventually evolve into two groups: surgeons who were educated and trained to perform complex surgical operations; and lay barbers, or barber-surgeons, who performed more routine hygienic services including shaving, bleeding and tooth extraction.
1400s: A series of royal decrees in France prohibit lay barbers from practicing all surgical procedures except bleeding, cupping, leeching, and extracting teeth.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Oral cancer: Why early detection is so important

Although thousands of Americans die every year from oral cancer, there is a high chance it can be cured if it is caught early enough.
Each year, more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer and only half of those diagnosed survive more than five years.
But nowadays, dentists have the skills and tools to ensure that early signs of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified.
If it is caught early, there is a much higher chance that, with your dentist’s help, you could win a battle against oral cancer.
The key is to know the early signs and see your dentist regularly.
Oral cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissue, cheek lining, tongue or the palate.
Other signs include:
– A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
– A change in the color of the oral tissues
– A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
– Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
– Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
– A change in the way the teeth fit together
Oral Cancer most often occurs in those who use any form of tobacco. Smoking combined with alcohol use greatly increases the risk.
However, oral cancer – which is most likely to strike after age 40 – can occur in people who do not smoke and have no other known risk factors.
Diets with a lot of fruits and vegetables may help prevent its development.
Oral cancer screening is a routine part of a dental examination so regular checkups – with an examination of the entire mouth are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why dry mouth can be a problem and what to do about it


Your saliva plays an important role in your oral health and reduced saliva flow can lead to health problems.
Reduced saliva flow can lead to a dry mouth and this is a common problem among older adults.
It can be caused by various medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics.
Dry mouth can be associated with various problems such as a constant sore throat, burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages.
Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems become more common.
So, if dry mouth is not treated, it can damage your teeth.
Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive decay can occur.
Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture. Sugar-free candy or gum stimulates saliva flow, and moisture can be replaced by using artificial saliva and oral rinses.