Posts for: May, 2017
Via a recent Instagram post, pop diva Ariana Grande became the latest young celebrity to publicly acknowledge a dental milestone: having her wisdom teeth removed. The singer of hits such as “Break Free” and “Problem” posted an after-surgery picture of herself (wearing her signature cat-eye eyeliner), with a caption addressed to her teeth: “Peace out, final three wisdom teeth. It’s been real.”
With the post, Grande joined several other celebs (including Lily Allen, Paris Hilton and Emile Hirsch) who have shared their dental surgery experience with fans. Will "wisdom teeth removal" become a new trending topic on social media? We aren’t sure — but we can explain a bit about the procedure, and why many younger adults may need it.
Technically called the “third molars,” wisdom teeth usually begin to emerge from the gums between the ages of 17 and 25 — presumably, around the same time that a certain amount of wisdom emerges. Most people have four of these big molars, which are located all the way in the back of the mouth, on the left and right sides of the upper and lower jaws.
But when wisdom teeth begin to appear, there’s often a problem: Many people don’t have enough space in their jaws to accommodate them. When these molars lack sufficient space to fully erupt (emerge), they are said to be “impacted.” Impacted teeth can cause a number of serious problems: These may include pain, an increased potential for bacterial infections, periodontal disease, and even the formation of cysts (pockets of infection below the gum line), which can eventually lead to tooth and bone loss.
In most cases, the best treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction (removal) of the problem teeth. Wisdom tooth extraction is a routine, in-office procedure that is usually performed under local anesthesia or “conscious sedation,” a type of anesthesia where the patient remains conscious (able to breathe normally and respond to stimuli), but is free from any pain or distress. Anti-anxiety medications may also be given, especially for those who are apprehensive about dental procedures.
So if you find you need your wisdom teeth extracted, don’t be afraid to “Break Free” like Ariana Grande did; whether you post the results on social media is entirely up to you. If you would like more information about wisdom tooth extraction, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”
Your gums not only help hold your teeth securely in place, they also help protect them. They're also part of your smile — when healthy and proportionally sized, they provide a beautiful frame for your teeth.
But if they become weakened by periodontal (gum) disease, they can detach and begin to shrink back or recede from the teeth. Not only will your smile be less attractive, but you could eventually lose teeth and some of the underlying bone.
Treating gum recession begins with treating the gum disease that caused it. The primary goal is to remove the source of the disease, a thin film of food particles and bacteria called dental plaque, from all tooth and gum surfaces. This may take several sessions, but eventually the infected gums should begin showing signs of health.
If the recession has been severe, however, we may have to assist their healing by grafting donor tissue to the recession site. Not only does this provide cover for exposed tooth surfaces, it also provides a “scaffold” for new tissue growth to build upon.
There are two basic surgical approaches to gum tissue grafting. One is called free gingival grafting in which we first completely remove a thin layer of surface skin from the mouth palate or a similar site with tissue similar to the gums. We then attach the removed skin to the recession site where it and the donor site will usually heal in a predictable manner.
The other approach is called connective tissue grafting and is often necessary when there's extensive root exposure. The tissue is usually taken from below the surface of the patient's own palate and then attached to the recession site where it's covered by the surrounding adjacent tissue. Called a pedicle or flap, this covering of tissue provides a blood supply that will continue to nourish the graft.
Both of these techniques, but especially the latter, require extensive training and micro-surgical experience. The end result is nothing less than stunning — the tissues further rejuvenate and re-attach to the teeth. The teeth regain their protection and health — and you'll regain your beautiful smile.
If you would like more information on treating gum recession, 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 “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Even with the best oral hygiene routine and a careful diet, some degree of dental staining and discoloration is inevitable. Common foods and certain lifestyle habits, along with the natural aging process, make teeth more vulnerable to staining. And while there are many over the counter options to help minimize the effects of everyday wear and tear like whitening toothpastes and strips, they will typically only yield minimal results. But that doesn't mean that we are condemned to a lifetime of dull, stained teeth.
Professional teeth whitening treatments can help to get your teeth whiter than ever, without the harsh and abrasive ingredients sometimes found in consumer tooth whitening products. Dr. William Higgs, a dentist in Conway, AR, offers at-home professional teeth whitening treatments for stains caused by common factors like drinking coffee or smoking.
Professional Teeth Whitening in Conway, AR
The most common types of dental stains develop over time from a combination of the effects of certain foods and drinks and thinning of the enamel layer that protects the surface of the teeth (extrinsic stains). Another category of stains, which appear brown or gray in color, develop from damage to the dentin layer deeper inside of the tooth, typically through trauma or as a side effect of certain medications (intrinsic stains). Extrinsic stains can be removed with surface whitening treatments. Intrinsic stains can be treated with certain dental procedures such as porcelain veneers.
The most common foods and drinks that stain your teeth are:
- Red wine
- Coffee and tea
- Dark berries
- Sauces (tomato, soy)
In addition to staining the teeth, tobacco products can also increase the risk of developing gum disease, and make treatments less effective, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Consuming excessively sweet and sugary food and drinks also increase the risk of tooth decay and can interfere with your long term oral and general health.
Find a Dentist in Conway, AR
Don't let stained teeth ruin your smile and interfere with your confidence and self-esteem. For more information on teeth whitening, contact Higgs Family & Cosmetic Dentistry by calling 501-329-7474 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Higgs today.