The Wise Patient’s Cheat Sheet on Wisdom Teeth Removal

There’s no way around it: the time has come for your wisdom teeth to be extracted. According to the horror stories out there, you are in for nothing but non-stop agony, but you don’t have to share the same fate!

Being proactive and fully prepared for what happens during and after surgery can minimize the pain and help ensure a smooth recovery. Make the experience easier on yourself by following these expert tips and tricks.

1. Read the procedure and recovery guidelines well in advance.

Understanding what to expect at every stage of the process can help you plan and gather items for your recovery more efficiently. Knowing potential complications that can arise—such as Dry Sockets, a painful condition due to blood clot failure, or Paresthesia, a numbness of the lip, chin and/or tongue—can also help you detect and address serious problems immediately. Be sure to raise any questions or concerns with your dentist at this time to save you from having to make calls while you heal.

2. Clear your calendar for recovery.

Many patients undermine their recovery because they did not realize the physical toll of a surgery such as this. Multi-tasking and strenuous activities can disrupt your healing time, or worse—distract you from costly complications. Put plans on hold and relax as much as possible. If you go to school or work during the weekdays, consider scheduling the surgery for a Friday for minimal disruption of your schedule, and give yourself the whole weekend to rest.

3. Enlist the help of family and friends beforehand.

Not only will you need someone to drive you to and from the dentist’s office on the day of the surgery, you may need extra support getting and preparing food, placing necessary calls, or completing important tasks and chores. Ask loved ones for help in advance, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly.

4. Stock up on supplies.

Gather items that can make your post-operative experience more comfortable. In addition to medications your dentist may prescribe for you, these essentials can help ease your pain:

  • Ice packs (or even a pack of frozen vegetables) to reduce swelling
  • Soft foods, such as yogurt, pudding or ice cream
  • Tea bags, an effective alternative (when moistened) to biting gauze when bleeding
  • Salt to combine with water for a safe mouth rinse that can reduce irritation

For a pleasant distraction from the pain, it’s also a good idea to pick up books, DVDs, music or other forms of entertainment.

5. Make a “Do Not Do” list.

After crafting your to-do list, write down a list of cautionary reminders as well. Avoid unnecessary discomfort and complications by remembering to steer clear of these major no-no’s:

  • Sipping from a straw; doing so can disrupt blood clotting and cause dry sockets
  • Eating spicy or hot foods, as they can exacerbate the pain
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol, as they can interfere with the healing process
  • Driving or operating heavy machinery; medications may impair everyday abilities

Get Your Dentist’s Advice

Last, but not least, take advantage of your dentist’s history of wisdom teeth removal to improve your own experience. He or she has probably seen and heard it all, and can provide additional recommendations based on your individual situation.

Source:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/05/23/the-survival-guide-to-getting-your-wisdom-teeth-removed

http://www.angieslist.com/articles/7-tips-prepare-and-recover-wisdom-teeth-removal.html

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/wisdom-tooth-extraction

High-Tech Toothbrushes: Is It Worth Going Electric?

The verdict is in: electric toothbrushes are here to stay, and they mean business for your teeth! By now, you’ve probably seen them on the shelves, on TV or in magazines. Dentists endorse them, and most are ADA-approved — but if you still swear by your manual toothbrush, these benefits just might convince you otherwise.

The Pros Of Using An Electric Toothbrush

Making the switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush doesn’t change the amount of time it takes to thoroughly brush your teeth (approximately 2 minutes), nor should it alter your brushing technique, but this is where the similarities end. Some of the biggest advantages of electric toothbrushes over traditional toothbrushes are:

1. Effortless brushing.
Because a motor oscillates and rotates the bristles for you, it requires less energy to brush your teeth. Many even find the rounded handle of electric toothbrushes to be easier to hold, and with less force required, brushing can still be done thoroughly without using a tight grip. For the elderly, those with chronic arthritis, and children and adults with dexterity challenges, this alone can make electric toothbrushes the better choice for oral health maintenance.

2. Better cleaning ability.
Thoughtful bristle design coupled with the automatic power of electric toothbrushes makes it easy to remove plaque from hard to reach areas. The constant rotating and even pressure can also result in a more consistent cleaning than you might achieve with a standard toothbrush. Often, electric toothbrushes come with a variety of heads that you can experiment with until you find one that cleans your teeth the best.

3. Other hygiene-helping features.
Thanks to technology, electric toothbrushes come with many other bells and whistles that can help ensure proper hygiene. From timers that notify you once you’ve brushed long enough, to sensors that alert you if too much pressure is being applied or if the head needs to be replaced, electric toothbrushes can help you stay on track to meet multiple oral health goals.

4. Less plastic to be thrown away. 
Unlike manual toothbrushes, you don’t need to toss out the whole brush once the bristles are worn. Only the head of an electric toothbrush needs to be replaced, which means a lot less plastic that is thrown out in the long run. From an environmental standpoint, electric toothbrushes are also a better choice than battery-operated toothbrushes because they can be recharged.

Other Factors To Consider

Just as there are pros to using an electric toothbrush, there are a few cons to be aware of before making a final decision.

  • Price: Electric toothbrushes are significantly more expensive than manual toothbrushes; the price difference may cause some initial sticker shock. However, to keep costs down you can always purchase one electronic toothbrush and multiple detachable heads – for each member of the household.
  • Convenience: Those who are frequently on the go may find it slightly cumbersome to have to pack a charger.

If you’re interested in an electric toothbrush, however, don’t cross it off your list without trying a battery-operated toothbrush first. It’s similar in concept and feel, but much more affordable, and it can help you determine whether electric toothbrushes are worth the investment.

Comfort Matters Most

A toothbrush loaded with features won’t do you any good unless you’re comfortable with it. For the sake of your oral health, it’s worth considering all the toothbrush options available, but choose the one you believe will best help you maintain good hygiene…whether it be manual or powered. If you’re still unsure and need additional guidance, ask your dentist for help; he or she may recommend a particular brand based on your unique dental needs.

Sources:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/products/5-benefits-of-electric-toothbrushes.html

http://www.oralb.com/topics/power-toothbrush-or-manual-toothbrush.aspx

Mind Your Meds: 6 Ways Medicine Can Sabotage Your Smile

Be honest: do you take the time to read through the lengthy medical pamphlets attached to your medications? If you thought the warning label on the back of the bottle had everything covered, think again! Often, there simply isn’t enough space to spell out every side effect on the container, and you could be overlooking important warnings to the detriment of your dental health. Should any of these oral symptoms suddenly arise, head to your dentist to find out if your medicine is to blame.

1. Discolored Teeth
Pearly whites turned gray, yellow, green, blue or brownish in color is one of the more noticeable reactions your mouth can have to certain medications. Antibiotics like acne-fighting tetracycline, as well as antihistamines and anti-hypertension medicine, have the potential to cause irreversible discoloration if left untreated by a dentist. Getting immediate help is even more crucial for pregnant and nursing mothers, as they can pass this tooth problem on to their babies.

2. Painful Sores
Otherwise known as “ulcers” or “canker sores”, these inflamed spots can pop up along the gumline and the inner lining of your mouth and cheeks. While they can be a one-time occurrence due to something such as a facial injury or food allergy, persistent cases can also be brought about by chemotherapy, radiation treatment, antibiotics, and medications to treat arthritis and epilepsy. Once a sore emerges, nothing can be done to speed up the healing time (between 5-10 days), but your dentist can prescribe medication to ease the pain.

3. Altered Taste
If you notice that food you normally eat starts to taste particularly metallic, bitter, or salty, read through the fine print of any medications you’re taking. Taste changes can be caused by a range of drugs, including antibiotics, blood thinners, antipsychotics, chemotherapy treatment, corticosteroids, muscle relaxers, and blood pressure medication, just to name a few. Rather than suffering through your meals, or letting your health take a hit, work with your dentist and doctor to identify and treat the cause.

4. Thrush (Fungal Infection)
White, painful and bleeding lesions in your mouth and throat are an unmistakable sign of a fungal infection commonly known as “thrush”. It is commonly caused by a weakened immune system, but corticosteroids, antibiotics and birth control pills can also trigger an outbreak. Because thrush can cause fever and spread easily to other parts of the body, it’s best to see your dentist immediately for diagnostic tests and anti-fungal medication.

5. Dry Mouth
Name the type of medication you use, and chances are it could cause dry mouth; hundreds of medications have the ability to inhibit saliva production. While dry mouth can leave you parched and more prone to cavities, chewing xylitol-based gum and drinking plenty of water can help combat the problem. Depending on the health benefits of the medicine you’re taking, it may be worth sticking to your current treatment and stepping up your hygiene to help manage your dry mouth condition.

6. Excess Gum Tissue (“Gingival Overgrowth”)
In some cases, blood pressure medication, seizure medicine, and certain immunosuppresants may cause gums to swell and start growing over the surface of teeth. This excess gum tissue can be a haven for oral bacteria, often resulting in tooth loss if left untreated. Being male and having an existing case of gingivitis are two known risk factors for this problem, but the chance of developing excess gum tissue can be minimized for anyone simply by seeing a dentist regularly for routine cleanings and exams.

Stop Problems Before They Start

The fact that medicine can have costly implications for your smile may be a bitter pill to swallow, but being proactive and diligent about dental care can help you steer clear of problems altogether. To help protect your oral health, read through all the medical warnings of any purchased/prescribed drugs before taking them, and double check its safety by calling your dentist.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-side-effects-of-medications?page=2

Bye-Bye, Buck Teeth! How to Overcome an Overbite

“Overbite”, “overjet” or simply “buck teeth”– protruding teeth can go by many names, but “pretty” isn’t one of them. And they aren’t comfortable either; upper teeth that extend well past the lower teeth can often make it difficult to close the mouth, chew or speak easily.

It’s a common condition, but not one that people have to live with. In fact, there are just as many corrective methods for this dental problem as the names it has been given! If you (or a loved one) has buck teeth, get an in-depth look at what may have caused it and what you can do to prevent it from becoming a lifelong burden on your looks, oral health and self-esteem.

Causes of Buck Teeth

Buck teeth can easily be identified at a very early age, and can be due to a variety of factors including:

  • Genes: a person can inherit the problem if born with naturally uneven jaws
  • Habits: teeth can jut out after constant pacifier/thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
  • Crowded teeth: crookedness, facial injury and/or tooth abnormalities can play a role

The severity of the condition can vary from mild to extreme, and may gradually become worse over time if left untreated.

Treatment Options

Age and the depth of a patient’s overbite are two primary factors that can dictate the type of treatment an orthodontist chooses to correct the problem. New techniques are always being explored, but here are a few of the most common recommendations:

1. Braces
Whether metal, ceramic or clear, it’s a popular route many orthodontists take to fix protruding teeth. Teeth that are jutting out are straightened and forced closer in alignment with the lower jaw by tightening the braces over time.

2. Aligners
In mild cases of protruding teeth, clear, removable aligners may be a more comfortable and convenient option. Aligners use less force (and thus result in less pain) than braces and can be removed for added ease when brushing or flossing.

3. Surgery
Extreme cases in which the overbite is due to skeletal/jaw structure may require surgery. Patients who fall into this category are referred to an oral maxillofacial surgeon, and surgery usually involves pushing the maxilla bones (which form the upper jaw) behind, or moving the mandible (lower jaw) forward.

Surgery aside, the length of time it takes to achieve results is largely due to when the problem is treated. Younger patients whose jaws are still developing typically require less time to correct an overbite compared to adults whose jaws are not as malleable.

Benefits of Treatment

Even the mildest cases of overbite can reap significant benefits from professional treatment. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is cosmetic in nature. Once treatment is complete, any bulging around the mouth disappears and patients may experience less strain in their facial muscles.

Being able to open and close the mouth more easily can also vastly improve speech, especially for those who adopted a slur or lisp due to an overbite. And last but not least, better alignment of the teeth can have a profound effect on oral health, making it easier to clean the teeth and minimize the risk of jaw-related disorders such as TMJ.

If you’ve been battling a case of buck teeth, get it fixed for good by finding an orthodontist near you.

Sources:

http://dentaloptionspa.com/orthodontic-disorders-aventura-fl.html

http://www.beecroftortho.com/2014/06/overbite-causes-treatments/