We selected 4 dentists to weigh in on questions related to dental health.
Dr. Christina Boesch, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
Are Invisalign braces suitable for everyone or are metal braces sometimes required?
Today we have a lot of adults wanting to improve their smiles for business and social reasons, or for a special occasion like their wedding. Aligning the front teeth can have a huge impact on your self-confidence and how others perceive you. As a dentist, I want to give you a beautiful smile, but equally as important is how your teeth meet—your "bite." It is important to have a proper bite for the longevity of your teeth and the health of your gums.
If you want to avoid the metallic smile of traditional braces, the Invisalign® system may be a good choice for you. Invisalign® is a series of clear, removable, custom-fitted aligners that gradually reposition your teeth. With Invisalign® most people won’t notice you are in orthodontic treatment. An added benefit is that you can remove the aligners for special events, eating, and brushing. Invisalign® is also great for teenagers, especially those who are active in sports, nearing prom, or for class pictures. However, not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign®, and more complex cases may require the use of traditional braces. Most dentists and orthodontists provide free consultations. So, don't hesitate to ask which options are best for you.
Dr. Karen Schmitt, Alafaya Family Dentistry
What are some habits that can lead to bad dental health?
Daily repetitive use of products with a lot of sugar content—processed or natural—can cause decay, such as drinking a lot of fruit juice, soda and sports drinks, and sucking on mints or hard candy. Food and drinks that are highly acidic such as citrus, salad dressings (vinegar), wine, soda, coffee, tea, and sports drinks can also cause acid erosion to tooth enamel, resulting in less protection from tooth decay. This weakens the teeth and can cause a lot of sensitivity.
Other bad habits that can lead to bad dental health and cause other health issues are smoking, chewing or dipping tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and brushing but not flossing. People who smoke are 6 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer, and users of snuff, dip, or chewing tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancers of the cheek, gums and lining of the lips. Oral cancers are 6 times more common in drinkers than nondrinkers, though 25 percent of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and only drink occasionally.
Chewing ice can definitely be detrimental. The hot/cold cycle of chewing ice can chip and crack tooth enamel as well as fillings. Clenching and grinding can crack teeth, lead to tooth loss, alter your bite and change your appearance.
Dr. Sonia Simmonds, Simmonds Dental Center
What is the purpose of wisdom teeth and why should they be removed?
The purpose of wisdom teeth is the purpose of all teeth, which is for the mastication of food. Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth appear at the very back of the mouth usually between the ages of 17 and 25, after the jaw has stopped growing; however, in some patients they are present as early as 14. Typically most people have 4 wisdom teeth, but according to some sources, 30 percent of people are missing one or more.
If wisdom teeth become problematic, it is often recommended that they be removed. In cases where the tooth or teeth are fully or partially impacted (did not come fully into the mouth), they can cause numerous dental issues. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause dental infections, tooth decay to adjacent teeth, periodontal (gum) disease, and crowding of teeth, as well as problems chewing. In patients where wisdom teeth are fully erupted and retained, routine dental visits are necessary to monitor for any of the above changes.
Wisdom teeth should be removed between the ages of 16 and 22 when the teeth are developing and the roots are forming so complications and risks are minimized. The older the patient, the longer the root and denser the bone surrounding the tooth becomes, making tooth removal potentially more complicated.
Dr. Ryan Mendro, Precision Periodontics and Dental Implants
What are some of the causes and consequences of receding gums, and how is the condition corrected?
There are many causes that can make the gums recede. First is improper or over-aggressive tooth-brushing. You should always use a soft toothbrush, as hard or even medium toothbrushes can wear away the gums. If you use an electric toothbrush, be sure to use light pressure and allow the toothbrush to do the work for you. Additionally, teeth that are misaligned frequently show signs of recession. Clenching or grinding of your teeth can also cause recession.
If left untreated, receding gums frequently continue to progress. This can lead to exposed tooth roots, which can be uncomfortable and cause sensitivity to cold. The exposed root surfaces are also more susceptible to getting cavities. If the gums recede enough, it could even lead to tooth loss.
Depending on the location and severity of the receding gums, there are many ways to treat the condition. Thanks to advancements in technology and improved techniques, such as the Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST), receding gums can frequently be corrected without the need of scalpels or stitches, and we don’t have to even touch the roof of your mouth anymore.