Posts for: May, 2017
A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”
How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.
The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.
If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.
If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”
If you aren’t someone who flosses regularly, it’s time you start!
While brushing your teeth is one thing that most people do regularly, not as many people take the time to floss their teeth. We’ve heard all the excuses in the book. “My teeth are too tightly spaced to get floss to fit” or “I just get so tired at night that I forget to floss.” Flossing is a necessary part of your oral routine, and without it, you could increase your chances of developing decay or gum disease. Our McDonough, GA, dentist Dr. Robert Brooks provides a little insight into flossing and its importance.
Why Should You Be Flossing?
As we mentioned above, if you don’t floss, this can leave your teeth and gums prone to gingivitis and cavities, particularly between teeth. Every time you neglect to floss you leave food and plaque to linger in those tight spots between teeth where your toothbrush won’t be able to reach.
Since plaque buildup and food have settled between your teeth, it makes it even more difficult for your toothpaste to do its job and clean these surfaces. As a result, decay begins to form. Plus, plaque quickly hardens into tartar, which your at-home toothbrush won’t be able to remove. Since tartar is the cause of gum disease, it’s important that you also visit our McDonough, GA, family dentist every six months for preventive cleanings and exams.
How Often Do You Need to Floss?
Most people worry that flossing will take up a lot of time, but you only need to floss once a day. In the beginning, it may be a bit more time-consuming, as you figure out what techniques do and don’t work for you. However, just like anything else, the more often you do it, the easier it will get. If you are unsure about how to floss your teeth properly or feel like your technique isn’t getting your teeth as clean as it should, then you can always ask us to show you the best methods for flossing.
Don’t neglect your oral care regimen. Flossing can easily become a natural part of your routine. Turn to Brooks Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in McDonough, GA, if you have questions about flossing your teeth or if you need to schedule your six-month cleaning.
If you've known anyone who has worn braces, you know what comes after — wearing a retainer. This can be kind of a letdown after all those months with braces, but it's absolutely necessary.
That's because teeth have a tendency to “rebound” to their pre-orthodontic positions once the force to move them stops after the braces are removed. Retainers help keep or “retain” moved teeth in their new positions and prevent them from reverting to the old.
When you think “retainer,” you probably picture a removable appliance with a wire that fits over the front of the teeth. While that may be the most common type, it isn't the only one. There's another called a bonded retainer, a thin piece of wire bonded to the back of the teeth that need to be retained. Unlike the other type, a dentist must remove a bonded retainer when it's no longer needed.
The biggest advantage of a bonded retainer is its invisibility — the wire is behind the teeth so no one can see it as with a removable retainer. The wire is bonded to the teeth with a dental composite material and then light-cured to create a strong attachment.
Another advantage is especially pertinent to younger patients. Because it's permanently attached and can't be taken out, there's no constant reminding of the patient to wear it — and no more worries about replacing a lost one.
They can, though, be difficult to floss around leading to potential plaque buildup that increases disease risk. It's very important you receive proper hygiene instruction for cleaning under the bonded retainer. Another concern is that they can break under excessive chewing pressure. And as with the more common retainer, we wouldn't want to remove it as that will result in the teeth's relapse to their old positions.
To learn which retainer is best for your situation, you should discuss the options with your orthodontist. Regardless of which type you choose, though, a retainer is a must for protecting your investment in that new smile.
If you would like more information on orthodontics and retainers, 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 “Bonded Retainers.”