cosmetic dentistry, dental care, dentistry, perio protect, preventive dentistry, sleep apnea

How mouth protectors can save your teeth

If you take part in sports that carry a significant risk of injury, you should wear a mouth protector.

Accidents can happen during any physical activity and, if you participate in sports such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and volleyball, you might be grateful for the extra protection one day.

Something as simple as a misdirected elbow in a game, or a spill off a bicycle, can leave you with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.

Mouth protectors usually cover the upper teeth and they can cushion the effect of a blow to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth.

In addition, if you wear dental appliances such as braces on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.

A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe. The three main types of mouth protectors are:

Stock: These are inexpensive and come ready to wear. But they often don’t fit very well and they can be bulky making breathing and talking difficult.

Boil and bite: These can also be bought at many sport stores and may fit better than stock mouth protectors. You first soften them in water, then insert them and allow them to adapt to the shape of your mouth.

Custom-fitted: Protectors that are specially made for you by your dentist are more expensive but are likely to fit better than one you buy off the shelf.

Choosing to wear the right mouth protector can help you avoid serious long-term damage to your teeth and mouth.

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How scaling and planing can help clean your teeth properly

 

Over time it can ultimately form a hard, rough sediment known as dental tartar or calculus, which attracts further plaque buildup.

Calculus has to be removed by a trained professional such as a hygienist or dentist.

They may do this by manual tooth scaling or using an ultrasonic device.

If the buildup is light or moderate, the dentist or hygienist may use manual scaling instruments of various shapes and sizes.

If the buildup of tartar and stains is heavy, an ultrasonic cleaner may be used. This may be followed by hand scaling.

Build up of plaque can cause inflammation of the gums leading to breakdown of the connection between the teeth and the supporting structures.

Root planing is a procedure to treat gum disease by thoroughly scaling the roots of teeth to establish a smooth, calculus-free surface.

This treatment may require local anesthesia to prevent pain. Thorough periodontal scaling customarily involves several dental visits

If conditions are more advanced, surgery may be needed for complete debridement of the roots to arrest the disease process.

Some people tend to have more buildup of calculus than others and some may be more prone to periodontal inflammation or the development of tooth decay.

It’s therefore important to follow your hygienist’s advice on how often to return for regular cleanings – even if your insurance only covers two a year.

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Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom teeth, or third molars, usually appear in adults between the ages of 17 and 25 and are the final set of molars that most people get.  While most will eventually have their wisdom teeth removed, not everyone needs to do so.  Most dental professionals will recommend having your wisdom teeth removed if you experience any of the following scenarios:

1. Your wisdom teeth do not fit in your mouth.  Most people have 28 teeth before wisdom teeth erupt.  Many do not have enough room in their jaw for 32 teeth and this may cause teeth to become impacted.  Impacted means the wisdom teeth cannot fully erupt or they may become misaligned.  Removing the wisdom teeth can prevent impaction and overcrowding in your jaw.

2. You experience chronic pain in your gums around your wisdom teeth.  Pain in your gums can be an indication of infection.  Infections are common around partially erupted wisdom teeth because food and bacteria get trapped in these areas.  Having your wisdom teeth removed can prevent further infection.

3. Your wisdom teeth do not come in straight.  Often, wisdom teeth will not grow in straight and can cause your teeth to shift and move over time.  To prevent your teeth from moving, removing your wisdom teeth is often recommended.

4. Your wisdom teeth are causing tooth decay to adjacent teeth.  Wisdom teeth can be difficult to keep clean because of their location in the mouth.  Flossing and brushing can be challenging and without good oral care, gum disease and tooth decay can develop.  Removing your wisdom teeth can prevent tooth decay issues in surrounding teeth as well as the wisdom teeth.

What happens during surgery?

Prior to the surgery date, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you and let you know what to expect before, during, and after the extraction. On the day of your wisdom tooth extraction, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area.  You may also be given a general anesthetic especially if all of your wisdom teeth will be removed at one time.  The general anesthetic will prevent pain and will give you the illusion of having slept through the entire procedure.

To remove the wisdom teeth, your doctor will open the gum tissue over the tooth and remove any bone that is over the tooth.  The whole tooth is then either extracted or cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove.  After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches.

There are several factors that will affect how easy it is to remove the wisdom teeth.  If the tooth has fully erupted, it is a similar procedure to a typical tooth extraction.  However, if the tooth is fully impacted or if the teeth have not erupted through the gums the surgery may be more complicated.

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TMJ

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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control movement of the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the bone of the skull. This joint is located immediately in front of the ear on each side of the head. The muscles attached to the jaw allow the jaw an incredible amount of movement: front side to side and up and down. This flexibility allows us to chew, talk, and yawn.

What is TMJ?

Those who suffer from TMJ experience severe pain and discomfort.  This pain can last for as many as several years or a few months.  More women experience TMJ pain than men and the disorder is seen in people between 20-40 years of age.

Some symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or yawn
  • Limited ability to open the mouth wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open-or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the joint when the mouth is opened or closed
  • Tired feeling in the face or neck
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Sudden uncomfortable feeling when biting
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Toothaches
  • Headaches or neck aches
  • Dizziness
  • Earaches
  • Hearing problems
  • Upper shoulder pain
  • Ringing in the ears
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Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by interruption of breathing that occurs while a person sleeps. A person with undiagnosed sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times a night. This disorder is very serious due to the threat of oxygen starvation, which can be extremely hazardous if the person does not seek treatment. Sleep apnea dentistry is sometimes employed in situations where the person cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a common remedy that keeps airways open using mild pressure. At Adriatic Dental in San Marcos, Dr. Valentina Obradovic offers sleep apnea dentistry and can help patients understand what causes sleep apnea.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea affects people of all ages, but several factors can increase your risk, including:

Sex. Males are more prone to develop sleep apnea.
Age. The risk increases for people over the age of 40.
Weight. Overweight people are at a greater risk.
Family history. Genetics play a role in sleep apnea.
Jaw Bone and Tongue/Tonsils Size. People with smaller than average jaw bone or larger than average tongue and/or tonsils are at a greater risk.
Neck Girth. A bulkier neck, measuring 17 or more inches in men and 16 or more inches in women, increases the risk.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). People with GERD or more prone to sleep apnea.
Nasal Blockage. People with nasal blockage caused by allergies, sinus problems, or a deviated septum are more likely to develop sleep apnea.

Common Sleep Apnea Dentistry Appliances

Many different sleep apnea dentistry devices are available, and Dr. Obradovic can help you determine the best one for your needs. Two devices commonly used in cases where patients cannot CPAP include:

• Mandibular advancement device (MAD), which resemble a sports mouth guard. This keeps the airways open by pushing the lower jaw forward and slightly downward.

• Tongue retraining device (TRD) is a splint that keeps the airways open by holding the tongue in place.

If you would like to learn more about what causes sleep apnea and sleep apnea dentistry, please call and schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Valentina Obradovic.

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Scaling and Root Planing

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If plaque and tartar is left on the teeth, as we mentioned before, it provides the right conditions for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria irritate the gums which can cause them to bleed more easily. You may notice this if you are brushing your teeth or eating, and your gums bleed a bit. This is the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis.

If you have gingivitis, your dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth by scaling and polishing them. They may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine and show you how to brush and floss your teeth effectively. Most adults have some degree of gum disease.

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Root Canal

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Root canals are necessary when the pulp layer of a tooth becomes infected.  Infection can lead to the loss of a tooth so it is necessary to remove the infection with root canal therapy.  The procedure is generally comfortable and saves the natural tooth, prevents the spread of infection, and returns the smile to complete health.

The Procedure

Before the procedure begins, the area is completely numbed using a local anesthetic.  Once the area is numbed, a rubber dam is placed around the infected tooth to protect the mouth and to prevent anything from falling into the back of the throat.

In order to access the infected tooth pulp, an opening is made through the top of the tooth to get down into the pulp chamber.  A tiny instrument, called a dental file, is then carefully used to clean out the infected tissue and to shape the root canals to receive a filling.  X-rays may be done to ensure that all of the infected pulp is removed before the filling is placed.

After the infected pulp is removed, the restoration is placed.  In most cases a crown is placed to protect and strengthen the tooth.  However, if the tooth is severely broken down, it may be necessary to start by building up the tooth with a post and core.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did my tooth become infected?

There are two common causes of infection: cavities and fractured/broken teeth.  Both expose the pulp area to bacteria that live in saliva.  These bacteria can cause an infection that can kill the pulp.

Do I really need treatment?

Without treatment, pus from the infected tooth can spread to the root tip and eventually pass to the jaw bone.  This can cause an abscess (a pus pocket) that can damage the bone that surrounds the tooth.  The pressure this causes can cause excruciating pain and, left untreated, can be life threatening.  An infected tooth can not heal on its own and will only get worse.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient.  Infected teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold, the area may be swollen or painful, or there may be a bad taste in the mouth.  Occasionally there will be no symptoms at all.