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How do I know if I really need a tooth removed?

Your dentist should be able to tell you if you need a tooth or teeth removed for your overall oral health and comfort. If you are unsure of your dentist’s recommendation regarding your teeth, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from another dental professional. In many instances, whether or not you need a tooth extracted is not a black and white issue: there may be both benefits and drawbacks to your choices. Your dentist should be able to discuss these pros and cons with you at length.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth (or third molars) are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth and are the furthest teeth from the front of the mouth.
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 18-21 but this can vary between patients.

Do wisdom teeth always cause problems and need removal?

No, in many cases, wisdom teeth erupt fully into the mouth into full function and behave exactly like any other tooth. Where a wisdom tooth remains fully buried, often it can be left alone if it is expected not to cause any problems. Diseased or potentially problematic wisdom teeth should be removed.

What are the reasons for wisdom tooth removal?

  • Infection around a partially erupted wisdom tooth.
  • Unrestorable decay or badly broken down tooth.
  • Decay of the adjacent tooth caused by the wisdom tooth.
  • Cyst formation etc.
  • For orthodontic or prosthetic reasons.

Why are wisdom teeth more difficult to remove than other teeth?

This is because of a number of factors;

  1. The jaw bone in this area is particularly dense.
  2. The roots of wisdom teeth can be multiple and at unfavorable angulations.
  3. The wisdom tooth is often partially covered by gum and jaw bone.
  4. Nerves, blood vessels and the adjacent teeth need to be taken into consideration during the procedure.

Are all wisdom tooth extractions difficult?

No, in general:

  • Lower wisdom tooth removal is more difficult than upper wisdom tooth removal
  • Difficulty increases with the degree of impaction
  • Difficulty increases if the tooth is grossly decayed
  • Difficulty increases with age (the ideal time for removal is in the 20s & 30s)

Will I feel pain?

  • No, we will ensure that your mouth is fully numb using local anesthesia- you will feel pinches in your mouth.
  • You will not feel the cut in your mouth.
  • You will feel some pushing and pressure; this is not pain and is unavoidable.
  • The drilling feels exactly like the sensation of having a filling and is not painful.
  • Stitches do not hurt.
  • We will advise/prescribe pain killers to make your recovery more comfortable.

What is the recovery period?

This depends on the degree of impaction, the number of teeth and your own particular healing! After the procedure, expect some soreness, swelling, bruising, bleeding & some limited mouth opening. This is usually well controlled with the prescribed pain medications.
Everyone has a small possibility of infection or dry socket following an extraction. The pre and post-operative instructions aim to reduce this risk.

Will I have nerve damage?

Altered sensation to the lip/chin & tongue is a rare but recognized complication of lower wisdom tooth removal. This is seen in a fraction of a percent of patients. Each individual’s risk can only be assessed following a consultation with an oral surgeon. By having your wisdom teeth removed by an experienced specialist oral surgeon you can minimize (but not eliminate) this risk.

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What does orthodontic treatment involve?

Orthodontic treatment corrects malocclusions in the teeth or jaws. A malocclusion describes the misalignment of teeth due to several genetic or environmental factors. Misalignment can occur, for example, from the improper positioning of the jaw, thumb-sucking, and missing teeth.

Dental malocclusion refers to issues with teeth. Crooked, twisted, impacted, crowded or widely spaced teeth are examples of dental malocclusions. Skeletal malocclusions, by contrast, involve the jaws, which could be twisted, misaligned, or simply not the correct size for your teeth.

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

Perfectly aligned teeth are not just aesthetically-pleasing and a boost to your confidence. Misaligned teeth are often difficult to protect from cavities, tooth decay and plaque buildup as it’s very difficult to properly care for misaligned teeth. Gaps or tight spaces may allow for trapped food particles, which feed the bacteria on your teeth.

Is orthodontic treatment just for kids and teenagers?

No, nearly 25% of orthodontic cases are adults. If you have put off orthodontic treatment or if your smile has shifted out of place in adulthood, you have options to correct your smile.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

This is very dependent on the type of treatment you require. Some people may only need six months of treatment, but for most people it can usually take 1 to 2 years.

Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

No, orthodontic treatment doesn’t hurt, although at various stages throughout your treatment you may experience some discomfort. This is usually around the time you have your braces tightened or you are given your next set of aligners. This discomfort can be treated with over-the-counter pain relief, such as paracetamol.

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Why Visit The Dentist?

Keep your teeth and gums healthy. Smile with confidence.The major reason to go the dentist is to keep your teeth in excellent condition. Your teeth are very important in chewing, speech and self-image. Proper diet and adequate oral hygiene like regular brushing and flossing can help prevent most dental problems. For other dental issues, these may not be enough. A visit to the dentist will determine if a patient is at risk for dental caries (tooth decay or cavities) and other gum diseases.

What happens when I see the dentist?

Your first dental visit involves an overall physical examination of your teeth, gums and jaw and the tissues surrounding them. Teeth are cleaned and polished. They are checked for other potential problems. X rays are taken to diagnose problems associated with the structures of the teeth and jaw and to reveal cavities or pits that cannot be seen through visual examinations alone.

How often should I visit the dentist?

Children and adults should go for check-ups at least twice a year. Those who are at greater risk for oral diseases (smokers, pregnant women, diabetics) may require more frequent dental check-ups.

Prevent and Restore.

With the numerous advances in dentistry, one need not settle for discolored, missing or misshapen teeth. Dentists today offer many options that can help you maintain a bright smile, including professional tooth whitening and tooth implants and replacements.

Why does the dentist take X-rays?

Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when the dentist examines the mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:

  • small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
  • infections in the bone
  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • abscesses or cysts
  • developmental abnormalities
  • some types of tumors

Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and often unnecessary discomfort. X-rays can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, X-rays may even help save your life. Dentist will evaluate your need for X-rays based on the conditions present in development. There are many benefits to having X-rays taken. Any additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your dentist.

What is fluoride and why is it important to dental health?

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale and spinach, apples, and skim milk. Some city water contains fluoride, so by drinking tap water you will acquire fluoride. If drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available.

The lack of exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in your mouth..

I knocked out a tooth, can it be saved?

Oral injuries are often painful, and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. If you have knocked out a tooth, these tips may be able to save it:

  • Rinse, do not scrub, the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • Get to the dentist. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk.

What causes morning breath?

When you are asleep, production in your mouth decreases. Since your saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, most people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles, which produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds which give our breath a bad odor. During desk, your saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. Your saliva also helps to dissolve the foul smelling sulfur compounds.

Chronic, long-term mouth odor can be a sign of more serious illness. See your dentist if this is a concern.

What can I do about sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist.

What Are the Biggest Misconceptions about Dental Health?

Without a doubt the biggest misconception the public has about dental health is that the effects of dental disease are limited only to the teeth and gums. It can and does negatively impact the overall health of the body. Yet, as destructive as dental disease can be, most people, including many dentists and physicians, still believe that the damage it does is limited to the oral cavity. But the fact is that numerous scientific studies no longer support that long-held assumption. We now know that gum disease can contribute to and increase the risk and severity of

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • low preterm birth weights
  • respiratory disease
  • osteoporosis
  • digestive disorders

It can also severely stress the immune system and lower the body’s resistance to infections, if you don’t address your existing oral health issues, especially gum disease, your overall health will

In summary, if you have been under the impression that dental disease is a minor problem of the teeth and gums you are greatly mistaken and your overall health will suffer from that mistaken belief. Commit to seeing a dentist for a full examination, regular check-ups and cleanings – and make sure you do what is necessary to eliminate gum disease and to keep your gums healthy.

“Overall Health Must Include Oral Health!”

Is There a Connection Between Oral Health and Other Health Conditions?

Oral health can no longer be separated from overall health. Unless you are free of dental disease, particularly gum disease – and the other oral health issues that harm overall health – you can never be truly healthy.

Gum Disease

Gum disease can increase the risk and severity of many more serious health problems, including heart disease. Thus, you must be clear about this; the effect of dental disease on overall health is far more serious than its relationship to teeth and gums. In fact, moderate to severe gum disease can;

  • Severely stress the immune system
  • Lower resistance to other infections
  • Increase the severity of diabetes
  • Contribute to respiratory disease
  • Contribute to low preterm birth weights
  • Interfere with proper digestion
  • Actually reduce life expectancy

If gum disease is not acknowledged as an obstacle to achieving overall health, any efforts to treat other existing diseases, improve health, and extend life will not be effective and will fall short of desired goals. Every person who cares about his or her health and every health practitioner who wants to successfully treat patients must understand this important relationship. The reality is that ‘you cannot be healthy without healthy gums and teeth!’

Which Oral Health Symptoms Shouldn't be Ignored?

No oral symptom should be ignored – ever! Every oral health symptom is a warning that something abnormal is happening in the oral cavity and, if that warning isn’t heeded, it could lead to something far more serious. The important thing to be aware of here is that what happens in the mouth is not just limited to the teeth and gums – and far too many people aren’t aware of that fact. Because many oral health issues, such as gum disease and infected root canals, can dramatically affect overall health, not to pay attention to the early oral warning signs is to literally put your overall health at risk. So let’s look at some of the more common oral symptoms you should know about.

Pain – pain of any kind; mild, moderate, severe, occasional, sharp, aching, dull, deep – is not normal and is an indication that something is wrong, possibly seriously wrong. Pain can be an indicator of decay, a possible root canal infection, an abscess, a jaw infection, or gum disease. Pain is a wake-up call and even if it goes away you should make an appointment and have it diagnosed by a dentist. (Exceptions to this is if you bite your tongue or lip, or eat something that is too hot and burns your lips or palate.)

Sensitivity – to heat, cold, acidic foods, even brushing is another warning sign that should not go unattended. It can indicate decay, exposed root surfaces due to gum recession, a leaky filling, and even gum disease.

Bleeding – a little, a lot, occasionally, consistently, only when brushing or flossing and eating, or for no apparent reason – isn’t normal and never should be considered to be so. Bleeding is usually an indicator of gum disease but can indicate other oral problems, such as an abscess. As with any oral symptom, the determination of its cause and severity should always be done by a dentist. Self-diagnosis should never be attempted by the patient nor should the dental appointment be put off.

Swelling – any lumps, or bumps, ridges, pimples, or any other type of swelling – anywhere in the oral cavity (lips, gums, or any other area of the mouth and face) is definitely a warning signal. There could be many causes of this and only the dentist can diagnose it. This should be dealt with ASAP.

Ulcerations and Discolorations – any ulceration, discoloration, redness, or sore spot on the lips, tongue, inside of the mouth, face or neck must be considered as not normal and checked out by a dentist, especially if it doesn’t resolve itself within 10 days to two-weeks. (For example, ulceration such as herpes may show up suddenly, heal itself within two-weeks and may not need to be treated by a dentist.) There could be many causes to consider, some benign but others could be much more serious. This is not a symptom to put off until tomorrow!

Loss of Feeling – loss of feeling in any area of your mouth or face can be cause for concern as it could indicate nerve damage. This must be looked at by a dentist immediately.

Persistent Coughing or Difficulty in Swallowing – Either, or both, of these symptoms could be related to an oral health issue but could also be an indicator of a more serious medical issue. This should be dealt with by a dentist or a health practitioner if it persists for more than a week and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause, such as a cold.

Other Diseases of the Mouth – There are over 20 other health/medical issues whose early signs and symptoms can be found in the oral cavity. These can range from a drug reaction to serious cancers, such as oral cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and leukemia. Any of the symptoms listed above could also be related to a medical problem and you should be acutely aware that any oral symptom, whether listed here or not, that appears and stays should be examined by a dentist and if necessary referred to the proper medical specialist. Early detection of these signs is also the reason why everyone, even if free of dental disease, should have a complete oral examination at least once a year.

Oral Health Problems without Symptoms

Please don’t think that if you don’t have an oral symptom you don’t have an oral problem! There are also a number of oral health problems that can exist even before a recognizable symptom appears. Far too many people believe that they couldn’t possibly have an existing oral problem if an observable symptom doesn’t manifests itself. This belief has led to an untold number of dental emergencies that could have easily been avoided by regular dental check-ups. The main thing to consider here is that many oral health problems may reach a serious stage before a symptom appears, such as pain.

For example, in many people decay can progress deeply into the tooth before pain shows up. So can gum disease and an infected root canal, even an abscess. Thus, while you should be aware of the various signs and symptoms of oral problems – if you wait for them to appear you could be putting your teeth and overall health at risk – unnecessarily.

Prevention – Prevention – Prevention

People find many reasons for putting off going to the dentist. Fear, no time, the expense, and a host of other seemingly legitimate reasons. Yet there is no doubt that no matter what excuse you use, the longer you put off a dental examination, or treatment for any existing problems, the more it will end up costing you in time, suffering and money! Given the direct relationship of oral health to overall health – the medical costs incurred because of untreated oral health issues will only add to the total cost. There can be no doubt; ‘announce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’