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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Causes and Symptoms

Problems with wisdom teeth are one of the most painful oral health abnormalities. In the most severe cases, surgery is required and time off work to recuperate is necessary. Wisdom teeth can become either partially impacted, where part of the crown of the tooth comes through, or fully impacted, when it never erupts through the gums.

What causes teeth to become impacted?

Wisdom teeth become impacted when they don’t have enough room to grow or if they develop abnormally. There are a number of reasons for this and it is most likely caused by abnormalities in the direction of tooth growth, most commonly when:

  • There is overcrowding in the jaw
  • They grow towards the angle of another tooth
  • They grow towards the back of the mouth
  • They grow sideways

Consequences of impacted wisdom teeth

If impacted wisdom teeth are left untreated, a number of serious consequences can develop. These include:

  • Pericoronitis: this is an infection of the surrounding tissue of the tooth as a result of the trapped food and bacteria in between the crown of the wisdom tooth and the overhanging gum.
  • Tooth decay: it is sometimes very difficult to clean the impacted tooth or the surrounding teeth properly. This can result in tooth decay.
  • Alignment: if the wisdom tooth grows in the direction of another tooth or if there is not enough room in the mouth, the alignment of the teeth in the mouth may be compromised.

Symptoms:

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, it is possible that there will be no symptoms. If the tooth or surrounding gums become infected, however, a patient may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth

Treatment:

If the impacted wisdom tooth becomes completely absorbed in the jaw, never erupts and causes no discomfort, it may be unnecessary to remove it. If the tooth causes continual discomfort and is affecting the other teeth in the mouth, extraction may be necessary. The best course of action is to book an appointment with your dentist and have a dental examination after which treatment options will then be discussed. One of the first actions that will take place will be an x-ray to help the dentist understand the extent of the problem and to determine a treatment plan.

8 Easy Steps to Better Oral Health

1. Understand your own oral health needs

Different people have different oral health needs and concerns. Factors such as your age, diet, medical conditions and habits all have an impact upon your oral health. It is important to understand your oral health status so that you can maintain a healthy mouth and address any issues as they arise.

2. Commit to a good oral health routine

Discussing your oral health routine with your dentist or dental hygienist will help you to determine whether you are caring for your teeth in the best way. Your oral health routine should be based on your specific individual needs and should take into account medical and lifestyle factors. For example, if you take medication that dries your mouth, it is important to use fluoride every day.

3. Use products that contain fluoride

Using toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride is an effective preventative measure that strengthens teeth in children and helps to prevent decay in adults. You can purchase products containing fluoride at most supermarkets and pharmacies and your dentist can prescribe you a product with a higher concentration if needed.

4. Brush and floss at least twice daily

You should be brushing your teeth at least twice per day, if not three, and flossing once per day. Cleaning your teeth in this way helps to remove remnants of food and gets rid of plaque, which is constantly forming on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed regularly, it can harden to form tartar. This makes it difficult to clean your teeth properly, putting your teeth at risk of decay and possibly causing gingivitis in your gums.

5. Limit snacking especially those high in sugar or acidity

Even though we all love to snack, doing so regularly is bad for your oral health. Every time you snack, bits of food become lodged in your teeth, triggering the production of acids that can cause tooth decay. It is best to brush your teeth after you snack or chew sugarless gum afterwards.

6. Quit smoking

Smoking is bad news for your oral health in many ways. Not only can it cause bad breath and stains on your teeth, but it can also contribute to decay, gingivitis, periodontics and even oral cancer.

7. Be aware of changes in your mouth

You know your mouth better than anyone else. If you notice any changes such as swollen gums, tooth sensitivity or changes in the appearance of your teeth, book an appointment with your dentist.

8. Visit your dentist regularly

Visiting a dental professional on a regular basis is the best way to maintain or improve your oral health. Undergoing regular examinations will help you keep track of any changes and treat them as quickly as possible.

15 Signs You Need to Visit the Dentist

  1. You have pain in your mouth, face or neck

This could be a sign that you have Bruxism (a condition where you grind your teeth or clench your jaw during the night), which can damage your teeth.

  1. Your gums bleed when you brush or floss

There are many reasons why your gums might bleed, including simply brushing too hard or gum disease such as gingivitis.

  1. Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold

This could be a sign that the enamel on your teeth is worn away, exposing the soft dentin underneath.

  1. You have a family history or gum disease or tooth decay

A family history means that you could be predisposed to these conditions as a result of genetics. It’s best to have regular dental check-ups to monitor your oral health.

  1. You are pregnant

The changes in your hormones during pregnancy can affect the health of your mouth and can make pre-existing dental conditions worse.

  1. You have persistently bad breath

This unpleasant condition can be caused by a number of factors from gum disease to medical conditions. Your dentist will help you to determine the cause.

  1. Your mouth is often dry

The lack of saliva produced by a dry mouth can cause tooth decay.

  1. Your jaw sometimes pops or is painful when you chew

This can be sign that you have Bruxism or a temporomandibular joint problem.

  1. You have fillings, dentures, dental implants etc.

It’s important that these are examined regularly to ensure that they are performing adequately.

  1. You have difficulty chewing or swallowing

Difficulties in chewing or swallowing can be a symptom of a number of conditions but is a sign that your mouth should be examined by a medical professional.

  1. You have medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or HIV

Medical conditions such as these affect your mouth as well as other parts of your body so regular visits to the dentist are important.

  1. You smoke

Smoking has a very negative impact on your oral health and can cause a range of dental issues.

  1. You have a sore in your mouth that isn’t going away

If a mouth irritation or sore doesn’t disappear on its own, have your mouth examined to determine the cause and treatment options.

  1. You are undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy or hormone replacement therapy

Medical treatments such as these can affect your oral health and regular dental examinations are advised.

  1. You don’t like the way your teeth look

If your teeth are misaligned or discoloured, your dentist will be able to discuss some treatment options with you.

What to do in a Dental Emergency

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. It’s important to know what to do in a dental emergency because it could mean all the difference in saving or losing a tooth! No matter what kind of emergency it is, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible after the incident has occurred. Here’s a guide to what you should do in the most common dental emergencies:

You chip or crack a tooth:

If you crack a tooth, immediately rinse your mouth with water to clean the area. If you chip a tooth, try and save any broken pieces. There is a strong possibility that swelling will occur, so place a cold compress onto the area to minimise this. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can to have it repaired.

You knock out a tooth:

It is important to keep the tooth that has been knocked out moist at all times to keep it healthy. If you can, place it back in the tooth’s socket or inside your mouth between your check and gums. This is the best environment for the tooth to be in. If you are unable to do this, place it in a jar of milk and get to your dentist as soon as possible. There is the highest possibility of your tooth being able to be saved if you see your dentist within one hour of the incident occurring.

You break your jaw:

If you suspect that your jaw might be broken, immediately apply a cold compress to reduce inflammation. Immediately go to your dentist or the emergency department at the hospital to get an x-ray.

A tooth becomes partially dislodged:

Try to relieve pain by applying a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or by taking an over-the-counter pain medication. See your dentist as soon as possible.

Soft tissue injuries:

These are injuries to the soft tissue inside your mouth such as your tongue, cheeks, lips and gums, which cause bleeding. Your first priority is to control the bleeding by rinsing out your mouth with warm, salty water, applying pressure to the affected area with a moistened piece of gauze and reducing swelling by applying a cold compress. If the bleeding does not stop, go directly to your dentist or doctor and continue to apply pressure on the area until you can be treated.

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