Wisdom Teeth – Potential Problems

Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on Wisdom Teeth – Potential Problems

From birth, your mouth encounters many changes. These changes start at the breaking through of your first tooth in your first year of life and continue with the loss of baby teeth and the growth of permanent, or adult, teeth throughout childhood. The last teeth to emerge from your gum line are known as wisdom teeth, or third molars. In regard to their time of appearance, wisdom teeth stand in a category all by themselves. They do not emerge in one’s mouth until later in adolescence, typically between the ages of 17-21 and are often recommended for removal. However, all people, and their teeth, are different, so the growth of your wisdom teeth should be monitored by our office to determine if and when the molars should be removed.

Due to many factors, wisdom teeth are often recommended for removal either before or after they emerge at the gum line, as they can be accompanied with many potential issues. We want to help you understand more about the potential problems with these late-breaking molars and what you should do about them. Here are the most common causes for removal of wisdom teeth:

1 – Improper or Incorrect Growth

Before these third molars come in, there are 28 teeth present in one’s mouth. After these teeth break through, there are 32 teeth. Some people’s mouths simply do not have the space for these teeth and, as a result, the teeth come in improperly or incorrectly due to crowding or other issues. The impaction of these teeth can cause pain and damage to other teeth.Especially when orthodontic or other dental care is involved, if we identify this is a likely scenario, we will recommend removal of these teeth before they cause problems in the mouth.

2 – Pain and/or Infection

Sometimes the emergence of these wisdom teeth can cause pain and/or infection. When wisdom teeth erupt partially through the gums, this site serves as a breeding ground for bacteria that can eventually turn into a painful infection. Their presence increases the potential of trapped food and difficulty flossing, which leads to development of bacteria and eventually harmful cavities in the back of the mouth.

3 – Inflamed Gums

When wisdom teeth emerge, it is common for a flap of gum tissue to form, causing food and bacteria to get trapped near the gum line. This tissue can become inflamed and eventually lead to gum disease. Due to the placement and likelihood of crowding of these teeth, it can be more challenging to address this effectively to prevent these issues. In this scenario, removal of these teeth is seen as the best option for the overall health of your mouth.

4 – Tooth Decay

Simply due to the fact that wisdom teeth may be harder to reach with a toothbrush, they are more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay.

Here’s the good news: Some people live with their wisdom teeth their entire lives. If you do not experience any problems with your wisdom teeth, we do not recommend their removal. When these teeth come in correctly, they can aid in chewing and can remain healthy with the proper care (brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits) even in light of these potential obstacles. If you still have your wisdom teeth and do not experience any problems, you should not worry about having them removed. Instead, simply take particular care of these teeth and see our office regularly so we can help you monitor these teeth and your overall dental health.

We at River Valley Smiles care about every stage of your mouth and its development. If you have any concerns about potential wisdom teeth or any other dental question, please call our office so we can help you get on the right track towards the healthiest mouth possible.

Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use in Young Children

Posted by on Aug 8, 2018 in Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use in Young Children

If you have a young child, you may be wondering when and if you need to help them overcome their thumb sucking or pacifier use. You may be asking yourself if it really is harmful, at what age it should stop, and what are the potential problems the habit might cause if not remedied. This is a particularly common issue in young children, and yet there are considerations for their future dental health that should be given attention.

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for young children. Such habits may help babies or toddlers feel soothed and secure, and even help them learn about the world around them. A sucking habit, although a completely normal and expected ritual among young children, can lead to problems with their teeth as they age.

How exactly can thumb sucking or pacifier use affect children’s dental health? One main issue that can arise can be a costly expense for parents down the road. After permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking or pacifier use can negatively affect the correct growth and alignment of the teeth. This misalignment can lead to the need for orthodontic care to realign the teeth within the mouth. It can also change the shape of the roof of the mouth. Due to these changes, speech can also be affected, and many thumb suckers will need speech therapy.

Whether a child sucks intensely or not can be a factor in whether these issues arise as a result of their habit. Passive sucking can be less detrimental than those with vigorous sucking habits.

The typical age for children to stop sucking their thumbs or pacifier is between the ages of 2-4 years of age. Often this is a natural occurrence as children begin interacting more with the world around them. In terms of impact, by this age, permanent teeth may be ready to erupt and so it is even more important to help your child break the habit before they come in. If thumb or pacifier sucking continues after permanent teeth erupt, the child can develop “buck teeth” and cosmetic issues as they grow older.

Ways to Help Your Child Break the Sucking Habit

Thumb and pacifier sucking can be a difficult habit to break for some children. Here are a few pointers to help you guide them through what may feel like a drastic change:

1 – Start by talking to your child about why thumb sucking is a bad habit. Although talking to your child will likely not be enough, it is a good place to start to help your child understand the impact of their habit. If you need help, our dental team can help encourage your child at their next dental visit.

2- As you begin to discourage the habit with your child, involve them in choosing the method of stopping. This could include using a Band-Aid on the thumb or finger as a reminder, or a catch phrase to say when you see the child sucking.

3 – Focus on praise for when they succeed vs. scolding when they revert. Excessive pressure to stop can actually do more harm in discouraging the habit.

4 – Help the child find other ways to self soothe. As a child ages, the triggers for sucking may be more aligned with a specific source of anxiety rather than a general means of self-soothing. Helping to identify the source of the anxiety can help.

5 – Reward your child for small victories along the way.

The team at River Valley Smiles wants to partner with you and your family at every life stage to ensure you and your family have the best oral health possible. As your family dentist, we are eager to help encourage your children in their own healthy habits.


Missing Teeth – Is Replacement Necessary?

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on Missing Teeth – Is Replacement Necessary?

Tooth loss is a common issue among adults. In fact, it has been estimated that 69 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 and a total of 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.

When adults have missing teeth, most replace these teeth through implants, bridges, dentures, or a combination of these options. However, what if the missing tooth is not an aesthetic or functional issue? Is there still a reason to replace that missing tooth?

The answer to that question is an emphatic yes. There are number of potential issues that can arise over time if you don’t replace missing teeth.

Here are the most common concerns with missing teeth over time:

Tooth or Bite Misalignment 

Known as malocclusion, the misalignment of your teeth or your bite is a significant problem that can arise when a missing tooth is not replaced. This misalignment is most often experienced either in the form of an overbite or an underbite, or the shifting of the teeth surrounding the gap. Due to the gap, these surrounding teeth begin to move together in an effort to fill the gap. The end result is crooked teeth. The resulting crooked teeth can become a source of bite challenges that require correction through orthodontics. In addition, due to the fact that each tooth is supported by those around it, missing teeth has the potential to weaken the overall structure of the mouth, leading to additional tooth loss or injury that can worsen with time.

Overgrowth of Opposite Teeth

When a tooth is missing for a long period of time, the teeth that sit opposite to the missing tooth begin to try to compensate for the gap and begin to super erupt, or overgrow. Because there is nothing there to stop it, the tooth will erupt past its naturally intended state, creating problems that can affect your bite and mouth structure.

Bone Loss

Also known as bone resorption, the bone structure around the unoccupied tooth begins to deteriorate if there is nothing there to stimulate it. As a result, the bone loss can cause your lips and cheeks and lips to lose support from your bone structure, which will change your physical appearance.

If you are considering the replacement of missing teeth, there are a number of options available to you.  The most permanent options are dental implants and implant-supported dental bridges. Implants involve inserting titanium screws into the jaw that serve as artificial tooth roots, providing optimal long-term strength and stability. If a less invasive procedure is of interest, dentures and dental bridges are another great non-surgical treatment option for replacing missing teeth. Dental bridges are permanently attached to dental crowns to fill the gaps left by absent teeth. Dentures are a removable option to replace missing teeth.

Replacing missing teeth is an important issue to explore with our office. If you are missing teeth, we at River Valley Smiles are glad to talk with you about options to replace these teeth and ensure the health of your mouth for the long term. We have several options available to fit your budget and are here to support you in making the tooth replacement option that is best for you and your individual needs.

Vitamins & Minerals

Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

We all want healthy teeth. You may be interested to know how your diet can affect the health of your teeth and your overall oral health. Delta Dental released an article that highlights the top vitamins and minerals your mouth needs. Here’s an overview of the top 4 and great sources of each to integrate into your diet:

#1: Calcium

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that calcium is a highly beneficial mineral for the health of your teeth. Calcium is used throughout our bodies to build bones and provide structural support. Calcium helps protect your teeth against periodontal (gum) disease and helps to strengthen its enamel. Your jawbone also needs calcium to remain strong and healthy.

Foods that contain the highest levels of calcium include: dairy (such as milk, cheese and yogurt), broccoli, certain leafy green vegetables, calcium-fortified juices and breakfast cereals, and canned sardines and salmon.

#2: Vitamin C

We correlate the value of vitamin C with boosting our immune system. Did you know that vitamin C also strengthens your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth? In this way, it can protect against early gum disease (known as gingivitis) and prevent the loosening of your teeth. If you suffer from bleeding gums and your dentist rules out poor dental hygiene, reassess your diet to ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin C.

Many fruits and vegetables including berries, oranges and cantaloupe, as well as green vegetables including broccoli and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin C. Other foods that contain high levels of vitamin C include: a range of citrus fruits, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Try to get your vitamin C consumption primarily from actual fruits and vegetables rather than juices, as the acidity of the juices can promote erosion of the tooth enamel. Juices in moderation are fine, but are recommended to be consumed with meals or with a straw to minimize their impact on your teeth.

#3: Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a vital role in our overall system health and is intricately linked to every system in your body. When your body is deficient in Vitamin D, it causes all sorts of health issues. Vitamin D is critical for many reasons, but in particular as it helps your body absorb the calcium in your system. It also boosts bone mineral density. In fact, dental cavities and a Vitamin D deficiency often go hand in hand. In order for the calcium in your system to actually benefit your mouth and teeth, you need to ensure you have enough vitamin D in your diet as well.

Vitamin D can be found a variety of protein-rich foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, and nuts/seeds. Foods with the highest levels of vitamin D include: Fatty fish, mushrooms, canned tuna, and egg yolk. You can also get a dose of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.

#4: Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps prevent against dry mouth, as it helps keep mucous membranes healthy. This also aid in quick healing within the mouth.

Foods with high levels of vitamin A include: orange fruits and vegetables (such as oranges, apricots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and carrots), liver, and leafy greens.

You can find a handy .pdf of these critical vitamins and minerals and their best food sources here to help you remember what foods will help your mouth stay healthy. The intake of these building blocks is so important for your dental health.

To maintain the best oral health possible, integrate them into your diet to help support and boost your overall mouth care regimen. We at River Valley Smiles are your partners in dental health.

How to Combat Tooth Staining

Posted by on Jul 18, 2018 in Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

We all know that the regular consumption of coffee, tea and sodas can have a detrimental effect upon the whiteness of our teeth, but often that does not deter us from partaking! There is good news, however! There are ways to minimize the effect upon our teeth without giving up these beverages completely. To start let’s explore what causes the staining, and then we will discuss what can be done to treat and prevent it.

How do Teeth get Stained?

There are two main ways that teeth get stained: either extrinsic or intrinsic staining. Extrinsic staining, which is most common, occurs when external foods, drinks, or habits affect the outer layer (enamel) of the teeth. Intrinsic staining is when the inner structure of the tooth (dentin) darkens or gets a yellowish tint. Intrinsic staining is usually caused by trauma to the tooth, use of certain antibiotics, or other genetic conditions. The discoloration is formed from damage to the nerve or blood vessel.

Extrinsic staining is more common and more easily treated. Extrinsic staining happens due to consumption of certain foods or drinks, or due to smoking. The enamel of our teeth, although incredibly durable, is filled with microscopic pits and ridges that can hold food and drink particles well past the moment of consumption. The pigments from dark-colored drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda (or smoking) can embed themselves in these cracks and ridges and cause long term staining on the teeth.

How Do I Minimize Staining?

Tooth staining is primarily a cosmetic issue and typically does not indicate an issue with the health of your teeth. If you wish to minimize staining, however, there are ways to help ensure your best smile. Although giving up the offending beverage or habit may be the clearest cut means of preventing the staining caused on our teeth, that is for most of us impractical. Here are a few tips to help minimize staining on your teeth without eliminating the culprits altogether:

-Use a Straw: When drinking coffee, tea, or soda, the use of a straw minimizes the contact that these pigmented beverages have with the surface of your teeth, especially in the front of your mouth. The straw helps the drink to bypass the teeth as you consume it. If there are any sugars in your beverage this method also helps minimize their impact as well.

-Limit the Length of Time for Consumption: The cumulative amount of time per day that your teeth are exposed to these staining pigments makes a difference in the amount of staining to occur on the teeth. To minimize their impact, limit your consumption of these beverages to specific times throughout the day rather than sipping over long periods of time.

-Rinse Off: After enjoying your coffee, tea, or soda, rinse your mouth out with water or brush your teeth to remove the offending pigments from the surface of your teeth.

-Use a Whitening Toothpaste: The use of a whitening toothpaste can help minimize the staining that appears on your teeth from the consumption of such beverages. You can purchase whitening treatments over the counter, usually made up of a bleaching gel and a mouth guard. When worn as indicated over a period of time, they can help with the removal of extrinsic stains.

In addition to these tips, stay on top of your regular dental cleanings, as our hygienists can help clean your teeth more thoroughly and remove many of the surface stains on your teeth that may become problem areas. Your best smile is possible!

If you are concerned about the color of your teeth and would like to explore options for improving your overall smile, our talented team of dental professionals is here to help!