Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted? Ask an Apex Oral Surgeon

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We have found that while many of our patients with wisdom teeth know that they should be extracted, very few of them understand why.

So here you go…A Little Wisdom about Wisdom Teeth.

There are several reasons your Apex Dentist might recommend having your third molars, also known as Wisdom teeth, extracted.   Very few people have adequate space in their dental arch for wisdom teeth.  If you are one of the lucky ones that does have enough room, be sure your toothbrush is reaching all the way back to those teeth, as they are often very difficult to keep clean.  If/when 3rd molars develop cavities (as they often do), it is usually better to put financial resources towards having these teeth extracted rather than filled as they usually only cause more problems down the road.

dental-arch

For patients who do not have enough room in their dental arch, the 3rd molars are often unable to properly erupt, making it difficult or even impossible to keep clean.  The improper eruption can cause a variety of problems including but not limited to, periodontal infections, dental decay, and dental abcesses.

The first radiograph was of a patient for whom Dr. Hansen had to perform an extraction not only the partially erupted  wisdom tooth but the 2nd (more important) molar as well due to the decay caused by the wisdom tooth.

radiograph

The second radiograph demonstrates another reason that 3rd molars often need to be extracted:  dental abcesses.  This particular abcess was so large that this patient was a risk of her lower jaw breaking. The radiograph also demonstrates the importance of routine dental check ups, as this patient did not have any pain associated with the dental abcess.   She literally would not have ever known that it was there except that she was consistent with her dental examinations, including dental radiographs.

Understanding dental problems that can arise from  wisdom teeth is important so patients are able to take necessary steps to seek treatment. Typically, your Apex dentist will recommend having wisdom extracted between ages 15 and 25 because healing and recovery is much easier for younger patients.

If only our wisdom teeth made us all-knowing and wise…that would make for a good case in keeping them!

Everything You Need to Know About Dental Sealants from a Family Dentist in Apex

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What is a sealant?  

A sealant is a tooth-colored resin material that is placed on chewing surfaces of teeth to help them stay cavity-free.

crack

Why do teeth need sealants?

Molar and premolar teeth often have very deep pits and fissures.  While bacteria can easily enters these groves, toothbrush bristles are often too large and therefore ineffective.  As a result, these areas become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply which can lead to dental decay. A sealant does just what its name suggests…it seals off the grooves so that bacteria can’t enter.  After a sealant is placed these areas can no longer harbor bacteria and your tooth brushing once again becomes effective.

tooth-groove

What teeth need sealants? 

Any teeth that have deep groves or pits can benefit from sealants.  These are most often found on molar and premolar (teeth right in front of the molars) permanent teeth, but varies from one individual to another.  One person might benefit from sealants on all molars and premolars (16 teeth), while another may only need their molars (8 teeth) sealed.

Once a tooth has a dental filling in it, it no longer benefits from a sealant.

People often think that only children benefit from sealants.  That is because sealants are typically placed on a child’s molars when they first erupt.  The reality is that any teeth with deep pits and fissures (that do not already have fillings) can benefit from sealants because they  will help prevent future cavities.

How is a sealant applied?

No tooth structure is removed in order to place a sealant.  Instead it is kind of like painting your fingernails: resin material is only added, nothing is taken away.  The tooth is thoroughly cleaned with a pumice and etch.  The tooth is then washed thoroughly. Finally, the sealant material is applied and then cured with a light in order to harden it.

before-after-sealantHow long do sealants lasts?

Sealants typically last two to five years.  Although, it is not uncommon to see sealants in adults that were placed in childhood and are still intact.

Avoiding sticky, chewy, and hard foods can potentially prolong the life of a sealant.

If a sealant is no longer fully intact then it is no longer effective and should be replaced by your dentist.  If it has been less than two years since the sealant was placed, ask if your Apex family dentist offers a warranty for sealants.

Our Apex Dentist Explains The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth

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Everyday we see patients that have missing teeth. Sometimes they are teeth that have been recently extracted.  Other times they have been missing for years.  The reasons for why the teeth are missing vary.  But the answers about why to replace them are usually the same.  So we wanted to share these answers with you!

In the US, about 70% of the population is missing one or more teeth.  Tooth loss can lead to reduced self confidence because of gaps in a person’s smile.  Unfortunately, effects on physical appearance are not the only result.

 

Teeth are lost or missing for several reasons such as trauma, decay, periodontal disease, or even genetics.  It is important to replace missing teeth because when a tooth is missing there is no contact with the opposing arch.  This can cause opposing teeth to gradually extrude which leads to other problem, such as fractures, mobility, tooth loss, shifting in surrounding teeth, and gum problems.

There is more than one option available to patients for replacing missing teeth.  Like most choices, each option has pros and cons.  The 3 most common options are replacing the missing teeth with implants, crowns and bridges or dentures. Sometimes a combination of two of these options can be used, such as a denture that is supported by implants, or a bridge that is supported by implants.  We will cover more about what the pros and cons of each of these treatments are in upcoming blog posts.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so whenever possible try to avoid loosing the tooth in the first place.  The financial cost of saving a tooth with a crown or even a crown and a root canal is substantially less than the cost of an implant and crown or a bridge.  Not to mention that by saving one tooth, you are also helping keep the surrounding ones healthy as well.

The loss of a tooth is not always preventable, such as in the case of trauma or when a tooth is congenitally missing.  But no matter the cause, it is important to understand the effects of missing teeth so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent further problems. Your Apex dentist can answer questions you have about what treatment best fits your needs and your smile.  And check back here when we explain more about each treatment in the upcoming weeks!

Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth? Ask an Apex Dentist

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We have been asked this question a lot lately, maybe because it is summer and people are looking for a cold refreshing alternative to water that is not soda or juice.  I mean, who doesn’t love a Coconut La Croix every now and then!?!

 Unfortunately the answer is: True.

The problem is that the CO2 that gives sparking water its fizziness is converted to carbonic acid in your mouth.  This acid lowers the pH level and while buffers in our saliva work to neutralize pH levels, the process is slow.

What happens in a mouth with a reduced pH level?  Teeth are demineralized.  In other words, the hard enamel that protects the soft inner part of your teeth (dentin) literally looses some of the minerals that make it hard.  When the enamel is soft, dental erosion occurs…even in the absence of sugar. Adding sugar to the equation creates even more of a problem.  This is because your teeth are not only at risk for erosion, but decay also.  So while sparkling water is worse for your teeth than regular water, it is not as bad as non-diet soda.

One important factor to consider is the length of exposure.  If you pop open a can of

La Croix and drink it with a meal over a 15 minute time period, that is not so bad. Swishing with a mouthful of regular water when you are done makes it even better. However, if you sip on that same size can, without food, for over an hour, the exposure time is much higher.  Your saliva just can’t keep up and so more erosion will occur.

deer-parkBottomline:  The best thing you can drink is water.

When you drink other beverages, try to consume over a shorter duration of time, rather than sipping throughout the day.  If you drink something acidic, don’t brush right away, as the enamel is soft and you will be literally brushing away your teeth!  Instead, rinse with water and brush with fluoride toothpaste an hour later.

The goal of this post is not to say that sparkling water is horrible and you should never drink it.  After all it is a more “natural” alternative to soda and does not have any sugar. However, when a bottle of sparkling water looks almost identical to a regular bottle of water it can be hard to tell if there is any difference.  And it is important to understand the difference so that we can enjoy these beverages and then take the necessary steps to keep our teeth healthy and strong!

Cheers!