Posts for: April, 2016
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.”
What you need to know about dental emergencies
Dental emergencies can be scary and you need to be prepared. They can happen to anyone, at any time and usually when you least expect it. Dr. Joseph Reed at Arlington Dental in Arlington, TX, wants you to know how to be ready for a dental emergency.
Your Arlington dentist suggests that you keep an emergency kit on hand containing all you need to provide hands-on emergency care. You should include:
- Dr. Reed’s phone number
- Ibuprofen or other pain medication
- Saline solution for rinsing
- Tissue or gauze
- A small container with a lid
Dental emergencies can result from many causes including traumatic injuries or accidents, sports injuries or untreated dental problems. Your dental emergency may result in damage to your face, gums, cheeks or lips. You can also damage the hard and soft tissues inside your mouth, including cracking or breaking your teeth, or knocking a tooth out completely.
If you or someone you know has a dental emergency, try to stay calm and provide care. Also:
- Clean the injured area and press gauze to it to stop the bleeding, especially for soft tissue injuries.
- If you chip or fracture a tooth, rinse out your mouth and ice the area to reduce swelling.
- If your tooth becomes loose from an injury, try to gently adjust it back into correct position with slight movements.
If you knock out your tooth completely, rinse off your tooth and place it back in your mouth between your gum and cheek to keep it moist; or you can place it in a small container with saline solution. Always hold your tooth by the crown to avoid contaminating the root of your tooth.
For most dental emergencies, you should get in to see your dentist as soon as you can. It is vital for you to have all dental emergency contact and after-hours information in a convenient place. If you or someone you know has a dental emergency, remain calm, but don’t delay in receiving professional dental care. Help is just a phone call away with Dr. Joseph Reed at Arlington Dental in Arlington, TX. Call today and get help for your dental emergency!
Most first-time root canal treatments achieve their purpose in saving an internally decayed tooth and extending its life to match those of the patient’s non-decayed teeth. Occasionally, though, a root canal-treated tooth may become re-infected by decay.
There are a number of reasons for this: the permanent crown meant to add further protection against decay may have been delayed, giving bacteria an opening to re-infect the tooth; it’s also possible the original seal for the pulp chamber and root canals after filling wasn’t sufficient to prevent bacterial contamination.
There‘s also another reason that’s very difficult to foresee — the presence of narrow, curved root canals in the tooth that can pose complications during the procedure. Some of these known as accessory or lateral canals branch off the main canals to create a complex network that’s difficult to detect during the initial procedure. If they’re not cleaned out and filled during the procedure any tissue trapped in them can remain infected and ultimately die. If these canals also open into the periodontal membrane at the attachment between the teeth and bone, the infection can spread there and become a periodontal (gum) infection that can trigger future tooth loss.
Fortunately, a reoccurrence of infection isn’t necessarily a death sentence for a tooth. A second root canal treatment can correct any problems encountered after the first treatment, especially complications from accessory canals. It may, though, require the advanced skills of an endodontist, a dental specialist in root canal problems. Endodontists use microscopic equipment to detect these smaller accessory canals, and then employ specialized techniques to fill and seal them.
If you encounter pain or other signs of re-infection for a tooth previously treated with a root canal procedure, contact us as soon as possible. The sooner we can examine and diagnose the problem, the better your tooth’s chances of survival by undergoing a second root canal treatment.
If you would like more information on tooth preservation through root canal treatment, 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 “Accessory Canals.”