Do You Really Need to Remove Wisdom Teeth?

To Extract Or Not To Extract

There are many cases of third molars causing problems and dental professionals see them happening in their patients with overcrowded teeth. Studies have shown potential issues with impacted third molars and dentists may or may not recommend extraction.

Third molars have the potential to cause disease. In fact, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (or the AAOMS) states that links exist. It recommends that active monitoring is necessary when it comes to wisdom teeth that carry complications.

Many dentists will recommend tooth extraction if a wisdom tooth is impacted, if it causes pain and discomfort, or if it damages the neighboring tooth, or has the potential to cause damage to both teeth and jaw bone. If there are no symptoms of pain or swelling in an impacted tooth, your dentist cannot accurately say if the tooth will cause problems. Nonetheless, X-ray results may give clues regarding the angle of pathway of the third molar and how it may push against the adjacent tooth.

How do dentists manage and treat impacted third molars?

If the wisdom teeth erupt properly and fully, dentists often leave them alone, assured that they can be cleaned easily. If they erupt as impacted, many dentists and oral surgeons in the US suggest removing impacted wisdom teeth. It’s a preventive measure against tooth decay and gum disease.

There’s a 2021 study where under 30% of third molars were removed via extraction while more than 70% were removed with justifiable reasons. On the other hand, a 2017 study showed half of their cases that present no symptoms were referred for surgery; the other 36% received referrals for preventive purposes.

So it looks like patients have their wisdom teeth removed whether they are causing issues or not. It is still debatable, though, if asymptomatic molars should be pulled out. According to an AAOMS review, however, it is more likely that a wisdom tooth will cause a worsened periodontal status than a tooth that will not have one.

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Helping You Decide on Your Wisdom Teeth in Issaquah

If you are having issues with your third molars, come see us at Meadow Creek Dental. Let your Issaquah dentist assist you in decision-making regarding problematic wisdom teeth.

The Potential Problems Caused by Wisdom Teeth

The Wisdom Tooth

Typically the human mouth should have room enough for 32 permanent teeth. But it doesn’t always happen that way. The last teeth to grow in may find they have little or no space, and that’s where the problem lies.

Known as third molars, these last teeth to grow in are part of the 32 teeth appearing each at the end of the upper and lower gums, right in the back of the mouth. A person between the ages of 17 and 21 years usually goes through this coming out of the four wisdom teeth. It does not always cause problems when they appear, except when they become trapped under the gums or in the jaw.

What sort of issues can they cause?

It can happen that the one’s jaw may be too small to accommodate the last tooth, leaving no space for an emerging molar. This may cause it to come out instead at an atypical angle, or only partially. You now have an impacted third molar. Crowding happens, with swelling and pain, discomfort in the jaw, pain in the ear area, an infection, and other complications. In rare instances a person can have more than four third molars.

Wisdom teeth that grow in a different position, like sideways, can cause pain and damage adjacent teeth. Sometimes there seems to be no apparent damage or even no pain or discomfort that accompanies it. However, just its angle and position enables difficulty of cleaning. Often tooth brushing or flossing is insufficient or lacking, and that leads to buildup of plaque and cavities. This is how infection and decay can set in.

Additionally, a resultant overcrowding may necessitate orthodontic treatments to correct the crooked teeth. If the tooth happens to grow into a sac in the jawbone, a cyst can form and this growth can damage the nerves, cause the jawbone to swell, and even damage the adjacent tooth. The normal tooth just beside the impacted tooth becomes more prone to cavities as it pushes against it. In rare cases, a non-malignant tumor may grow beside it.

Can you still keep your wisdom tooth as long as you practice good oral hygiene? Yes, you can. However, periodic dental checkups are necessary to monitor changes in your mouth. See your dentist regularly.

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Looking After Your Wisdom Teeth in Issaquah

When you’re around the age your wisdom teeth are erupting, see your friendly Issaquah dentist here at Meadow Creek Dental. It’s alway best to be guided accordingly to foresee potential problems.

Which Candies are the Worst for Your Teeth?

Valentine’s Day Sweets

The holidays are a time for indulging in sweets, from candies to cakes to spiced ciders. Since many of these are rich in sugar, they can be quite hard on your teeth and gums. Of course, some sweets are worse than others, and a proper understanding of which are the least healthy from a dental standpoint can help you to assure better oral hygiene during the holiday season.

It’s not so much the sugar that harms your teeth as it is the length of time that the sugar is exposed to your teeth. It is better for your mouth to have a large amount of sugar pass quickly through your oral cavity than to have a small amount of sugar linger on your teeth for an extended period of time. Therefore, anything sticky, and anything that you suck on, like candy canes, toffee, and lollipops, is going to be worse than substances that are easy for your saliva to rinse away, like chocolates.

You can minimize the effect of sweets on your teeth by indulging only after meals, rather than snacking throughout the day. Contact our Issaquah dentist to learn more.

When Should Children Begin Brushing On Their Own?

It can be difficult to know when your child should begin brushing by himself or herself. While it is important for a child to develop proper dental care habits at an early age, proper brushing requires a level of fine motor skills and an understanding that may be beyond your little ones.

So, how do you get your children started brushing?

Early on, it is a good idea to allow your children to observe your own brushing habits. Have them do some practice brushing while you supervise, giving them a pea-sized drop of toothpaste and guiding their hands as necessary. Be sure that they know to cover all sides of their teeth, and not just the visible part of their frontal teeth. Further, inform them that they should not swallow their toothpaste, as the minty taste may lead them to assume that it is like candy.

Some children develop more quickly than others, but you can generally expect a child to start brushing independently by the age of six. Consult our Issaquah dentist to learn more about fostering good oral health in the youngest members of your family.

Do Tooth-Colored Fillings Stain?

One of the most appealing attributes of a tooth-colored filling is that it blends in seamlessly with the remaining natural structure of your tooth. This is a marked improvement over unsightly, metal fillings. Unfortunately, the attractive appearance of a tooth-colored filling is not a permanent thing. As you expose your filling to coffee, fruit juices, smokables, and other staining substances, they can stain unevenly with your natural enamel and stand out like a sore thumb. Over time, a brown outline may start to form around your filling, spoiling the pristine appearance of your smile if it’s located on one of your front-facing teeth.

When a filling gets stained, it’s not as easy to bleach the stain away in the same way that you can bleach your natural tooth structure. You can, however, polish the filling until it regains its former appearance.

More importantly, a stained filling may be indicative of tooth decay. If you notice any stains on your teeth, pay our Issaquah dentist a visit to make sure that there’s nothing wrong.

Avoid Dental Emergencies Over the Holidays

You never know when a dental emergency might arise. They can happen at any time, often for no apparent reason. However, there are times when the average dentist’s office sees considerably more emergency patients than usual. The winter holiday season is one of these times.

Indeed, we all tend to indulge in sugary treats throughout the holidays. However, this is not the only problem to look out for. All of the family gatherings and parties we enjoy over the holidays create an environment wherein we are likely to overdrink. Many people will drink for hours on end, very probably passing up their normal limits without even realizing it. When we do that, we are all the more likely to hit ourselves in the teeth with our cups, walk into glass doors, or collapse on the floor. This adds up to chipped teeth, cracked teeth, and the occasional lost tooth.

To avoid any dental emergencies, just try to enjoy your alcohol in moderation. Limiting your alcoholic beverages to mealtimes can be a good way to manage your portions. Contact our Issaquah dentist if the worst should happen.

The Importance of Tongue-Scraping

You’re probably brushing and flossing every day, but are you also scraping your tongue? If you aren’t, you are missing an important part of your daily oral hygiene.

Bacteria can grow on any surface in your mouth, and it doesn’t need to be growing on your teeth or gums to cause tooth decay or gingivitis. The surface of your tongue is developing a thick layer of plaque which is creating the acid that eats away at your mouth, and also contributes to bad breath. An antibacterial mouthwash can go a long way towards killing off the bacteria throughout your mouth, but it will do little to clear away the plaque.

The good news is that it’s easy to clear this plaque away; simply brush at the top of your tongue with your toothbrush once a day. Since many people find this to be fairly uncomfortable, particularly when they try to scrape the back of their tongues, there are products available designed specifically for tongue-scraping.

Tongue Health and Care

Talk to our Issaquah dentist if you have any questions about tongue-scraping, or anything else that pertains to your daily oral hygiene routine.

How Do I Know I Have A Tooth Abscess?

Understanding Abscesses

A tooth abscess is a pus-filled pocket that can occur at different areas near a tooth. It’s an infection generally caused by tooth decay, though there are other causes.

How does an abscess form?

You might have a cavity on a tooth surface caused by buildup of plaque. Due to its acidity, plaque can destroy enamel, weaken it and cause an opening into the inside of the tooth. This crack is the portal by which food, bacteria, and other debris can enter, reach the pulp and cause infection. Pus now builds up in the pulp and may cause its death. It can penetrate the root tips and enter bone tissue. Forming a pocket of pus, it is now called an abscess. Untreated, it can lead to a serious infection in the jaw bone and surrounding tissues.

According to its location, abscess that occurs at the tip of the root is referred to as a periapical abscess. If it occurs in the gums at the side of a tooth root, it’s a periodontal abscess.

What are symptoms of an abscess?

Pain is generally present when there is an abscess. It can be severe, constant, and throbbing, which can spread to the jaw, neck or ear. Pain or discomfort is also felt when taking hot or cold food or drinks or biting or chewing using the affected tooth.

The gums that hold the tooth may swell and become tender; that part of the face may also swell. There may be fever, tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck or jaw, and a foul odor in the mouth. If the abscess ruptures, one can sense the sudden rush of foul-smelling and -tasting, salty fluid in the mouth, as well relief from pain.

Can tooth abscess be treated?

Depending on the severity of the infection, an abscessed tooth can be treated with various treatments. For example, antibiotics can be prescribed to eradicate the infection, pus drainage can be done and cleaning up where pus had developed between the tooth and the gums. Root canal treatment is another option if the crown is badly damaged.

Know that good oral hygiene practices and regular dentist visits reduce the risk of developing abscess. One must also have a healthy diet, a low to moderate sugary and acidic consumption. Tooth abscesses require treatment and its spreading needs to be addressed.

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Knowing When To See Your Issaquah Dentist

When you think you have a tooth abscess, delay no further and see your dentist in Issaquah. Know how you can save your tooth when it happens.

Bruxism in Children

Teeth Grinding

It’s not uncommon for children to grind their teeth. Tooth grinding, or bruxism, affects somewhere between fifteen and thirty-three percent of the population at some point in their childhood. It will commonly occur during the eruption of new teeth, since this is a painful experience.

Though this will often pass quickly, some children go on grinding for months or years at a time. Here are some tips for identifying and dealing with your own child’s bruxism problem:

  • It is common for children to grind their teeth without even realizing it, possibly while sleeping. Listen for grinding during the night, and be on the lookout if he or she ever complains of an unexplained headache or sore jaw.
  • Stress is the culprit in many cases of bruxism. Try to identify any stressors in your child’s life, and look for ways to alleviate them.
  • Your child can reduce grinding by massaging his or her jaw muscles or applying a warm compress to them before going to bed.
  • Make sure that your child is getting enough to drink, as dehydration can cause or aggravate bruxism symptoms.
  • Alert our Issaquah dentist to your child’s bruxism. It is possible that there is a dental problem that needs to be addressed.

When Should I Pull Out a Loose Tooth?

When is it safe to pull out a loose tooth?

Having a loose tooth can often be uncomfortable and inconvenient for a child. It makes it difficult to eat, and some people become worried that the child might swallow it in the middle of the night. However, it is generally best to allow the tooth to come out on its own, rather than yank it out prematurely.

Firstly, it’s important to be mindful of how delicate a child’s mouth is. When you reach in to remove a tooth, it’s difficult to avoid damaging his or her gum tissues. Only the child can know for sure how painful it is to force the tooth out, so it’s important to allow him or her to judge the situation.

Though it’s possible that your child may end up swallowing a loose tooth, this is really nothing to worry about. Teeth are small enough to usually pass harmlessly from your system.

The only time you should consider helping a loose tooth along is when the permanent tooth begins to emerge underneath it. There is some risk that the new tooth will come in crooked if its way isn’t clear. Should this become a concern for you, talk to our Issaquah dentist to make sure that it is extracted properly.