Wisdom Teeth



With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth.

Your mouth goes through many changes in your lifetime. One major dental milestone that usually takes place between the ages of 17 and 21 is the appearance of your third molars. Historically, these teeth have been called wisdom teeth because they come through at a more mature age.

When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if you have pain, see your dentist immediately.

Room to Grow?

Wisdom teeth can lead to problems if there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they come through in the wrong position. If your dentist says your wisdom teeth are impacted, he or she means they are trapped in your jaw or under your gums.

As your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth for signs of the following:

  • Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can allow food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
  • Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, which can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
  • Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
  • Wisdom teeth that don’t have room to come through are thought by some to crowd or damage neighboring teeth.
  • A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

Why You Might Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Your dentist may also recommend removal of wisdom teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental care.

Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray. Together, you and your dentist can discuss the best course of treatment.

Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored because the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As people age, they are at greater risk for health problems—and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth. Be sure to, floss around your wisdom teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to evaluate your wisdom teeth and your overall dental health.

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Root Canals: FAQs About Treatment That Can Save Your Tooth

If you have a severely damaged, decaying tooth or a serious tooth infection (abscess), your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of removing it.

What’s Involved in Root Canal Repair?
The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and provides nourishment for your tooth. It can become infected if you have:

A deep cavity
Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue
A cracked or fractured tooth
Injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)
If untreated, the tissues around the root of your tooth can become infected. When this happens, you will often feel pain and swelling and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.

Can I Get This Treatment Done During My Regular Check-up Visit?
Your dentist will need to schedule a follow up appointment, or you may be referred to a dentist who specializes in the pulp and tissues surrounding the teeth. This specialist is known as an endodontist.

What Should I Expect?
A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to complete. There is little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia so you don’t feel the procedure. Once the procedure is complete, you should no longer feel the pain you felt before having it done.

Before treatment begins, your dentist will:

Take X-rays to get a clear view of your tooth and the surrounding bone.
Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.
Put a thin sheet of latex rubber over your tooth to keep it dry, clean and protected from viruses, bacteria and fungus that are normally in the mouth.
During treatment, your dentist will:

Create an opening in the top of your tooth.
Remove the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the areas in the root, known the root canal.
Clean inside the tooth and each root canal. Your dentist may treat the tooth with germ-killing medicine.
Fill the root canals with a rubber-like material to seal them against future infection.
Place a temporary filling on the tooth to protect it until a definitive restoration like a permanent filling or crown can be placed at the earliest opportunity.
After root canal treatment:

Your tooth and the area around it may feel sensitive for a few days. You can talk with your dentist about how to relieve any discomfort you may have.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics if the infection spread. Use as directed, and follow up with your dentist if you have any problems taking it.
You will need a follow-up visit after the root canal treatment. At this visit, your dentist will remove the temporary filling on the tooth and replace it with a regular filling or a crown to protect your tooth from further damage. A metal or plastic post may also be placed in the root canal to help make sure the filling materials remain in place. This helps support a crown if you need one.

How Long Will a Root Canal Filling Last?
With proper care, your restored tooth can last a lifetime. Make it a point to brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, clean between your teeth once a day and see your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth are strong and healthy.

Contact us with any questions about your dental care or to request an appointment.

Nail Biting & Other Habits and What to Do About Them

Nail Biting

The habit: This nervous habit can chip teeth and impact your jaw. “Placing your jaw for long periods of time in a protruding position can place pressure on it, which is associated with jaw dysfunction,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota.

The solution: Bitter-tasting nail polishes, stress reduction and setting small, realistic goals can help. If certain situations are triggers, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

If you are in the Lehigh Acres area, contact us or request an appointment HERE.

Brushing Too Hard

The habit: Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best habits you can get into. Just make sure you’re not trying too hard. “Brushing with a hard toothbrush, or brushing too hard, can damage teeth and irritate gums,” says Dr. Matthew Messina.

The solution: Use a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance at the proper pressure. “Don’t think ‘scrub.’  Think ‘massage,’” he says. “Save the hard toothbrush for cleaning the grout in the bathroom tile.”

Grinding and Clenching

The habit: “This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain,” Dr. Messina says. “You might also feel like you can’t open your mouth wide or chew with pain.”

The solution: “Relaxation exercises and staying aware makes a difference,” he says. A nighttime mouthguard can also help. “You’ll have less tooth damage, less pain and muscle soreness and better sleep.”

Chewing Ice Cubes

The habit: “Tooth enamel is a crystal. Ice is a crystal. When you push two crystals against each other, one will break,” Dr. Messina says. “Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.”

The solution: Drink chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw so you’re not tempted. “The risk of chewing ice is greater than any pleasure that comes from chewing it,” he says. “Besides, ice is really cold!”

Constant Snacking

The habit: Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth.

The solution: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food.

Using Your Teeth As Tools

The habit: Your teeth were made for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t.

The solution: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand. Your mouth will thank you.

If you are in the Lehigh Acres area, contact us or request an appointment HERE.

Nutrition: What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

Family eating a healthy meal

Your mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating. They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. So what you put in your mouth impacts not only your general health but also that of your teeth and gums. In fact, if your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your mouth. Here are a few helpful things to know about how what you eat can impact your dental health.

About Your Diet and Dental Health

  • Recommended Nutritional Guidelines
  • Diet and Tooth Decay
  • How Snacking Affects Your Dental Health
  • Foods That Harm Your Dental Health
  • Foods That Benefit Dental Health
  • Sugar and Your Dental Health
  • How Sugar Substitutes Affect Your Teeth
  • 4 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is a key part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Along with your toothbrush and floss it helps to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums.

Toothpastes can come in a gel, paste or powder form. While the ingredients differ slightly, all toothpastes contain the same general components:

Mild abrasive. With some help from your toothbrush, these help to remove debris and surface stains.

Humectants. This ingredient helps to prevent water loss, and keeps your toothpaste from drying out or getting gummy.

Flavoring agents. This is what gives your toothpaste a little bit of sweetness, and that minty fresh scent. Since these do not contain sugar, they also do not promote tooth decay.

Thickening agents. Also known as binders, these help to stabilize the toothpaste formula.

Detergent. That foaming action comes from detergent. It also helps to spread the toothpaste through your whole mouth, and helps clean teeth.

They may have all the same basic ingredients, but all toothpastes are not the same. Depending on the toothpaste, other ingredients can also be added for other benefits. Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing your toothpaste:

Decay prevention. Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter helps to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tooth decay. Not all toothpastes contain fluoride. Be sure to always use toothpaste containing this cavity-fighting mineral.

Plaque and gingivitis. Several toothpaste contain active ingredients that can fight plaque and gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.

Whitening. If you’re looking for a little extra sparkle in your smile, “whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that help remove more surface stains than regular toothpastes.

Desensitizing. If you have sensitive teeth, you may want to consider using a desensitizing toothpaste. These contain compounds which help to reduce tooth sensitivity.

Finally, always look for the ADA Seal when selecting toothpaste. The Seal helps you make sure you are choosing the best toothpaste for your dental needs. It’s also your assurance that the toothpaste has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that it does what it says. Visit the ADA website for more information about the ADA Seal of Acceptance and toothpaste.

Contact Mayer Family Dental today!

Oral Health

Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.

Whether you are 80 or 8, your oral health is important. Most Americans today enjoy excellent oral health and are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lives; however, cavities remain the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Some 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist each year, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease. Many people believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but regular dental visits can contribute to a lifetime of good oral health. If you are experiencing dental pain, don’t put off seeing a dentist. With dentistry’s many advances, diagnosis and treatment are more sophisticated and comfortable than ever.

You can practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months and by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Don’t forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy.

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Medications and Oral Health

Many medications—both those prescribed by your doctor and the ones you buy on your own—affect your oral health.

A common side effect of medications is dry mouth. Saliva helps keep food from collecting around your teeth and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque. Those acids can damage the hard surfaces of your teeth. Dry mouth increases your risk for tooth decay. Your soft oral tissues—gums, cheek lining, tongue—can be affected by medications as well. For example, people with breathing problems often use inhalers. Inhaling medication through your mouth can cause a fungal infection called oral candidiasis. Sometimes called thrush, this infection appears as white spots in your mouth and can be painful. Rinsing your mouth after using your inhaler may prevent this infection.

Cancer treatments also can affect oral health. If possible, see your dentist before beginning treatment. He or she can ensure that your mouth is healthy and, if necessary, can prescribe treatments to help you maintain good oral health. Your dentist also is interested in the medications you are taking because many can affect your dental treatments. Your dentist may want to speak with your physician when planning your treatment. Rare but serious jaw problems also can occur in people who’ve received bone strengthening drugs to treat cancer and, to a lesser extent, osteoporosis.

These are only a few examples of how medications can affect your oral health. It is important that your dentist knows about the medications you are taking so that he or she can provide the best dental care for you. Tell your dentist about your medication use and your overall health, especially if you have had any recent illnesses or have any chronic conditions. Provide a health history including both prescription and over-the-counter products. Always let your dentist know when there are changes in your health or medication use.

Be sure to talk with your dentist about how to properly secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications, especially if there are any children in the household. Also, take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.

Click or tap here to contact Mayer Family Dental today to send a message to us or schedule an appointment for you or a family member.

Tooth Decay


Tooth decay is the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time the enamel can break down. This is when cavities can form.

Cavities are more common among children, but changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem, too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque. Tooth roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue than enamel. They are susceptible to decay and are more sensitive to touch and to hot and cold. It’s common for people over age 50 to have tooth-root decay.

Decay around the edges, or a margin, of fillings is also common for older adults. Because many older adults lacked benefits of fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were growing up, they often have a number of dental fillings. Over the years, these fillings may weaken and tend to fracture and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.

You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:

  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner.
  • Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
  • Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about use of dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (where decay often starts) to protect them from decay.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.

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Aging and Dental Health

 

As you age, it becomes even more important to take good care of your teeth and dental health. One common misconception is that losing your teeth is inevitable. This is not true. If cared for properly, your teeth can last a lifetime.

Your mouth changes as you age. The nerves in your teeth can become smaller, making your teeth less sensitive to cavities or other problems. If you don’t get regular dental exams, this in turn can lead to these problems not being diagnosed until it is too late.

If you want to feel good, stay healthy, and look great throughout life, you might be surprised what a difference a healthy mouth makes.

Tips for Maintaining and Improving Your Oral Health

Brush twice a day with a toothbrush with soft bristles. You may also benefit from using an electric toothbrush.
Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another flossing tool.
If you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis. Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day. It’s best to remove them at night.
Drink tap water. Since most contains fluoride, it helps prevent tooth decay no matter how old you are.
Quit smoking. Besides putting you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.
Visit your dentist. Visit your dentist regularly for a complete dental check-up.
By adopting healthy oral habits at home, making smart choices about diet and lifestyle, and seeking regular dental care, you can help your teeth last a lifetime—whether you have your natural teeth, implants or wear dentures.

Caregiving for a Disabled or Elderly Loved One

You may have a parent, spouse or friend who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own. How can you help? Two things are critical:

Help them keep their mouth clean with reminders to brush and floss daily.
Make sure they get to a dentist regularly.
These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk to a dentist or hygienist who can provide helpful tips or a different approach. There are dentists who specialize in caring for the elderly and disabled. You can locate a specialist through the Special Care Dentistry Association’s referral directory. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause.

When you’re caring for someone who is confined to bed, they may have so many health problems that it’s easy to forget about oral health. However, it’s still very important because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

If you are a representative for a nursing home resident who needs dental care and is enrolled in Medicaid, there is a regulation, called an Incurred Medical Expense, that may help pay for medically necessary care as determined by a dentist. The Medicaid caseworker at the nursing facility and the dentist providing care can work together to apply the Incurred Medical Expense to pay for needed dental benefits.

Credit: mouthhealthy.org

Call Mayer Family Dental at (239) 369-5861 or CLICK HERE to request an appointment.