Posts for: May, 2014
There is nothing pleasant about having a loose tooth. It can be very unsettling to feel your tooth move around, and you may be worried about losing the tooth entirely. If you notice any looseness in your teeth, you should make an appointment with our office immediately, so that we can determine the underlying cause.
There are two reasons for loose teeth, and most often, this looseness is actually a late symptom of gum (periodontal) disease. If left untreated, this disease destroys the supporting structure of your teeth, including the bone. As bone loss progresses, teeth gradually become looser, and if you do not seek treatment, this can ultimately result in tooth loss.
Another less common reason for loose teeth is excessive biting forces, including clenching or grinding of the teeth. These biting forces are outside the normal range of functional pressures and can stretch the periodontal ligaments that join the teeth to the supporting bone, resulting in loose teeth.
In both cases, this condition can be classified as “occlusal (bite) trauma.” When we examine you, we will determine the type of occlusal trauma that you have.
- If the amount of bone supporting your teeth is normal and excessive force is causing your loose teeth, it then is referred to as primary occlusal trauma. Our treatment approach will focus on reducing the biting forces. We may recommend minor bite adjustments and/or custom mouthguards.
- Secondary occlusal trauma occurs when gum disease has caused excessive bone loss. In this instance, even normal biting forces can be damaging. We will work with you to treat the gum disease and improve your oral hygiene efficiency to heal your gums. Once the gum tissue heals and the inflammation is reduced, it is likely that there will be some tightening of the teeth. We will then adjust the biting surfaces of your teeth. This is accomplished by carefully reshaping (by drilling) small amounts of your tooth's surface enamel to change the way upper and lower teeth contact each other, thus redirecting forces. Secondary occlusal trauma may also require splinting or joining teeth together, so that they can handle biting pressures. The need for this additional procedure will be determined by your response to treatment and how much mobility of the teeth remains after the inflammation is resolved.
If you would like more information about loose teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Teeth: Biting Forces Can Loosen Teeth.”
Advancements in dentistry have created an abundant source of treatments for restoring health and vitality to diseased teeth and gums. Unfortunately, not all of these treatment options may be in your financial reach. Fortunately, there are some affordable restorative options, as well as cost-effective treatments that could buy you time until you can afford a more permanent solution.
Your first step is a dental examination to evaluate your current oral health and possible future treatment needs. If you’re not already showing symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease, we would evaluate your probable risk for future disease development. Risk assessment enables us to recommend a prevention strategy that is relatively inexpensive and may save you on more expensive dental procedures in the future.
If the examination reveals some current problems, it may be necessary to prioritize. Painful or abscessed teeth are a dental emergency and should be treated as soon as possible. Other conditions, like mild gum disease would be next in line; however, a word of warning: the longer you postpone treatment for many of these conditions, the greater the likelihood of subsequent bone and tooth loss, which will lead to more extensive — and expensive — treatment.
There are also new alternatives to traditional treatments that are less costly but still have many of the benefits. For example, less-costly glass — or resin-based fillers are becoming a popular option for restoring decayed or damaged teeth. Though not quite as durable as more expensive options, these new materials are life-like in appearance and work well on repair sites on non-biting surfaces.
You should also look to one other resource for managing the costs of dental care — us, your dental team. While we want your teeth and gums to be as healthy as possible, we also understand “wallet” issues. We can work with you on financial matters to ensure you’re getting the effective care you need, including payment plans for more expensive treatment processes, working with your dental insurance plan, and recommending affordable treatment options.
The key is to develop a long-term care plan targeted to your individual dental needs. Knowing where we need to go — and adapting treatment strategies that match your resources — will help you get the best dental care you can afford.
If you would like more information on dental care treatment options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cost-Saving Treatment Alternatives.”
Your children’s health is a major concern for you, even before they’re born. That concern should include their dental health and, yes, even before they’re born — a baby’s primary teeth are already forming just a few weeks into pregnancy.
Here, then, are some important tips for keeping your child’s dental health, before and after birth, on track.
Eat healthy during pregnancy. Your baby’s teeth actually begin to mineralize around the third or fourth month of your pregnancy. You can aid this process by eating a diet rich in calcium, phosphorous and protein.
Fight tooth decay by limiting sugar. Sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, especially in primary teeth. To reduce this risk, limit sugary snacks as much as possible, and avoid bottles filled with sugar-filled liquids (including breast milk) during your baby’s sleeping hours.
Begin good hygiene early. When teeth first appear in the mouth you should begin to wipe around the teeth and gums with a water-soaked gauze pad right after feeding. As teeth develop, begin to gently brush them with a soft-bristled brush with just a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Teach your child beginning around age 2 to brush for themselves with a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush. By age 6, they should be able to brush on their own and ready to learn flossing.
Schedule regular dental visits and cleanings. Dental checkups should begin around their first birthday and continue semi-annually. Your dentist is a key resource in monitoring tooth development, preventing disease and developing future treatment strategies.
Make your home “tooth-friendly.” Your home environment can be a danger to your child’s mouth. Check for hard or sharp surfaces your child could fall on and eliminate the danger — it’s estimated half of dental injuries to children under seven occur near home furniture. Check your drinking water as well — does your system add fluoride, a proven cavity fighter, or do you need to find other sources?
Taking a few precautions and establishing good life-long dental habits will help ensure your child’s teeth and gums remain healthy right into adulthood.
If you would like more information on oral health for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
Q: What is sleep apnea, and how common is it?
A: Obstructive sleep apnea is a type of sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD) in which the airflow to the lungs is restricted — or even cut off completely — during sleep. This condition is usually caused by the collapse of soft tissues in the back of the throat, and is potentially deadly. Sleep disorders, including SRBD, are thought to affect tens of millions of people in the United States. They have been blamed for several catastrophic accidents, including the 2014 Metro-North train crash in New York, and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
Q: How can I tell if I might have sleep apnea?
A: Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. But if you constantly snore, wake up feeling irritable, and experience sleepiness and diminished performance during the day, it may mean you suffer from this condition. After a while, SRBDs can trigger depression, confusion, memory loss, and other personality changes. Medical professionals note that a person with SRBD tends to be obese; to show enlargement of the tongue, tonsils, or uvula; to have nasal polyps or congestion; and possibly, to exhibit other signs.
Q: How is sleep apnea treated?
A: There are various treatments for sleep apnea, depending on the severity of the problem and its likely cause. These include oral appliance therapy (wearing a retainer-like device in the mouth at night); orthodontic treatment and/or oral surgery; and using a CPAP (constant positive airway pressure) machine to help facilitate breathing at night. Each has advantages and disadvantages that should be discussed with a healthcare provider who has experience in the area of sleep disorders.
Q: What does all this have to do with dentistry?
A: Dentists are, of course, extremely familiar with the anatomy of the mouth. We sometimes notice signs of potential sleep problems before they become life-threatening. What’s more, we may be able to successfully treat the problem with oral appliance therapy. We can properly fabricate, fit and adjust an oral device that helps keep your airway open at night. Because it is inexpensive, removable, and relatively comfortable, an oral appliance may be a good remedy to try before moving on to more complex treatments, such as a CPAP machine or surgery. So if you think you might have SRBD, maybe it’s time to make an appointment and talk to us about it.