Not long ago, musician, businessman, and actor 50 Cent (AKA Curtis James Jackson III) joined the growing ranks of celebrities (like Demi Moore and LeAnn Rimes) who have sent out tweets from the dental chair. The rapper, who has had extensive cosmetic work done on his teeth, even live-tweeted an action shot of his dentist giving him an oral exam!
Some might consider this too much information — but we’re happy whenever people are reminded of the importance of regular dental checkups. In fact, the “routine” dental exam is truly one of the most useful procedures (and one of the best values) in dental care. Let’s “examine” some reasons why that’s so.
For one thing, coming in to our office when you don’t have a specific problem gives us the chance to talk to you about any concerns you may have in regard to your mouth — or your health in general. In fact, many of the questions we ask and the exam procedures we perform give us an opportunity to detect potentially deadly diseases. For example, simply monitoring your blood pressure may identify a risk for heart disease; or an examination of the oral tissues may reveal the first signs of oral cancer. Both conditions are treatable if caught early on.
Of course, at a dental exam we always look closely at your teeth for signs of cavities. We also check your gums for inflammation or bleeding, which could indicate gum disease. X-rays or other diagnostic tests are performed when necessary. Generally, the sooner we can diagnose and treat any problems we may find, the better (and less costly) the outcome tends to be.
A typical checkup also includes a thorough, professional teeth cleaning with specialized tools, performed by our skilled dental hygienists. This not only makes your mouth look and feel sparkly clean — it also removes the built-up hard deposits (called tartar or calculus) that can lead to bad breath or gum disease.
Once the exam and cleaning are done, we have a good idea of the general state of your dental health. We can then give feedback on your oral hygiene techniques, assess your risk for disease, and make recommendations tailored to your individual needs. And we can do all this in about half an hour.
So talk about it, tweet about it — but don’t neglect it! Along with regular brushing and flossing, routine dental checkups are the best way for you to maintain good oral hygiene — and prevent future dental problems.
If you would like more information about the benefits of regular dental exams, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Dental Hygiene Visit.”
There are only a few teeth that are known by nicknames. The big, late-blooming third molars (“wisdom teeth”) are one set; another set is the sharply-pointed canines, also called the “eyeteeth”. These two sets of teeth have something else in common: They can both suffer from the failure to develop in the proper place. Impacted wisdom teeth are a well known problem; impacted canines, however, are an issue that’s seen less frequently — but can often be effectively treated without extraction (removal).
What does the term “impacted” mean? In dental terminology, it indicates a tooth that is growing in a position where it can’t erupt (grow in to the bite) properly. This sometimes happens in cases where the bite is “crowded” — that is, where there isn’t enough space in the jaw for all of the teeth to develop properly. An impacted tooth remains “buried” to some extent in the tissues of the gums and jaw. It may eventually cause various problems with the roots of neighboring teeth, or even form a cyst (fluid-filled sac). That’s why treatment of impacted teeth is so important.
Impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) are generally removed (extracted), and are rarely missed. Canines, however, are located near the front of the mouth, forming an important component of an aesthetically pleasing smile. Therefore, whenever possible, it’s preferable to bring these teeth into good alignment with the rest of the smile rather than remove them. How is this done?
The process begins with a series of radiographic images (x-rays or CT scans) that show the exact positions of the affected teeth. Next, a minor surgical procedure, performed under local anesthesia, is used to expose the crowns (surfaces) of the impacted teeth. Then, a bracket is bonded to the surface of the tooth, which can be attached to orthodontic appliances. These appliances will, in time, move the tooth into a better position.
Impacted canines can be a serious problem — but the good news is that, with the proper treatment, it’s often possible to bring them into alignment with the rest of your smile. If you would like more information about treating impacted canine teeth, call our office for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Exposing Impacted Canines.”