Third molars, prehistoric chompers, painful nuisances…we’re talking about wisdom teeth! You’ve probably known someone who has had their wisdom teeth removed, but what are these mysterious molars and why do they need to be removed? Let’s be wise and learn more!
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Between the age of 16 to 25, most people develop a third set of molars that are also known as wisdom teeth. As such, wisdom teeth are often called the third molars by dentists. Most adults have 4 total wisdom teeth (two on the bottom and two on top).
Interestingly, these teeth are positively prehistoric! Looking back, our early ancestors had a larger jaw and subsisted on a diet of chewy leaves, roots, and raw meat. As man evolved to have larger brains, our diet became softer and more processed, and our jaws shrunk. The wisdom teeth stuck around though, but with less space to accommodate them.
Why Do They Need to Be Removed?
Some people never develop wisdom teeth, while others have all four wisdom teeth come in without issue. Unfortunately, for many adults, discomfort or pain coincides with their wisdom teeth coming in, or “erupting.” When wisdom teeth are impacted, they come in at an angle and push against the gum or adjacent tooth (again, because our modern jaws are smaller). This can lead to pain and to a disrupted bite alignment, as well as cause health issues such as infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. Here are some of the common signs that your wisdom teeth are erupting:
In rare cases, an impacted wisdom tooth that is left without treatment can develop cysts or sometimes tumors.
While there is some debate as to whether or not wisdom teeth need to be removed if they are not causing pain, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends removing any wisdom teeth that are diseased or at risk for developing disease. Monitoring the development of wisdom teeth and making a decision by age 25 to minimize potential complications and pain is advised. Patients should be aware of the greater difficulty associated with removal of their wisdom teeth as they age.
Wisdom Teeth Monitoring Falmouth Dental Arts
So…be wise and talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about your own or your child’s wisdom teeth! Early treatment greatly reduces the risk of complications later and helps keep you and your mouth healthy and happy.
If your wisdom teeth are causing you discomfort, or if you have questions about how your children’s wisdom teeth are developing, give us a call at 207.781.5900.
* Image courtesy of www.illinoisjawdocs.com
Dr. Brunacini on Digital Dentistry
One of the most exciting and useful advancements in dentistry in recent years has been the incorporation of digital tools. Digital Dentistry is an integral part of our practice at Falmouth Dental Arts. Perhaps you read about Dr. Brunacini’s commitment to Digital Dentistry in his bio and have been curious to learn more. We decided to ask Dr. Brunacini about this innovative component of our care. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What is Digital Dentistry?
Dr. Brunacini: Digital dentistry has permeated many aspects of dentistry. For example, our patient’s dental and health information is all done digitally through our dental software. No need for paper charts! X-rays are another way that digital dentistry has changed how we do things. Digital x-rays have many advantages: convenience, drastically reduced radiation exposure, and increased diagnostic capabilities. We even have x-rays that can be seen in 3 dimensions, which provides so much more information for the team and patient. It’s also really cool! Lastly, digital impressions can now be used to fabricate crowns and other lab-processed dental prostheses. It’s all very fascinating!
2. How does FDA incorporate Digital Dentistry into its practice?
Dr. Brunacini: We have been using computer-based patient record management software for years. It allows us to better communicate with the patients directly as well as with their dental insurance companies to provide a better overall experience. We also utilize intraoral cameras (camera this fit inside the mouth) to be able to show patients exactly what we see in their mouths. We can use these digital images to help us make a treatment plan and communicate that plan easily to the patient. Being able to plan the end result for a patient prior to making irreversible changes to a their mouth helps us assure long term success. It becomes a very powerful motivator and education tool.
We are working towards implementing digital impressions for crown fabrication, but are still in the learning phase of it. We are continually developing new skills and working to implement new technologies in our practice to give our patients the best care possible.
3. What’s in store for the future of Digital Dentistry?
Dr. Brunacini: Digital Dentistry will continue to simplify and streamline the workflow. We are already seeing how the intraoral digital scanners (which create 3-D images of teeth) are getting faster and smaller so we can use them more universally. I also see potential in 3-D printing of dental prostheses for patients, which will assure a more precise fit and quicker turnaround times. It’s an exciting time and there are sure to be even more advancements in the future!
Thank you, Dr. Brunacini! Come in and experience all of our digital equipment at your next appointment! Schedule one today by calling us at 207.781.5900.
*Image courtesy of www.dentalassets.com
What do you think when you hear the word saliva? Cute baby drool-bubbles? Gross spit on the sidewalk? An amazing bacteria-fighting superhero in your mouth? Get ready to get excited about saliva, one of the most important fluids in oral health! It plays a significant role in maintaining not just your teeth and gums, but also your overall health. Here are five fun facts about your mouth’s little helper that will make your mouth water:
1. You produce a lot of saliva each day. According to one study, people can, on average, produce up to almost 3 cups of saliva daily!
2. Saliva is critical to maintaining your oral health:
3. Saliva aids in digestion. Since saliva is mostly water, it helps dissolve food molecules and makes it easier to swallow.
4. You need saliva to taste your food! Your taste buds have cells called chemoreceptors that require a liquid for the flavor molecules to bind to the receptor molecules. Saliva also contains enzymes that affect how you experience sweet and starchy foods. Do a test at home! Dry off your tongue with a paper towel and place some salt on it. Next, rinse your mouth with water and taste the salt again. You will notice a difference!
5. Saliva can be used to test for and diagnose disease! According to the ADA, salivary diagnostics is currently one of dentistry’s most promising areas of research. Saliva contains various proteins as well as RNA molecules that contain the biomarkers for certain diseases or conditions. Since saliva can be collected easily and non-invasively, this is an exciting development in the field of diagnostics. Currently, saliva can be used to help diagnose HIV, diabetes, and some oral cancers. More research needs to be done, but this also means that in the future dentists may be able to assist in their patient’s primary care and identify potential systemic diseases earlier so patients can get treatment sooner.
Who knew that saliva was so busy working your mouth! Keep your mouth happy and healthy by coming in for regular cleanings. Give us a call at 207.781.5900 if you need to schedule your next appointment!
*Image courtesy of https://diabeticfootonline.com/
Here at FDA, we offer oral conscious sedation for patients who need help being comfortable and relaxed during dental procedures. With oral conscious sedation, a patient takes a pill an hour before coming in for an appointment and needs a companion to escort them to and from the appointment. When the patient arrives, they are drowsy and relaxed. Our experienced dental team can often perform several procedures while the patient relaxes. However, not everyone is eligible to receive oral sedation. Here is what Dr. Brunacini has to say about the sedation process and who can become a sedation patient:
1. Why does FDA offer oral sedation as opposed to other relaxation options such as nitrous oxide gas or IV sedation?
Dr. Brunacini: Oral conscious sedation can be beneficial for the patient who has significant dental anxiety. It provides amnesia so that the patient doesn’t remember the procedure. Because the patient is more relaxed, typically their healing time is improved too. Nitrous oxide gas does a good job of reducing anxiety, but the patient will still remember their time in the dental chair. We have had great results for our patients using oral conscious sedation!
2. Who do you recommend oral sedation for?
Dr. Brunacini: Patients that have mild to moderate dental anxiety are good candidates for sedation, as well as patients that have a difficult time getting numb. Sedation dentistry can also be a good option for patients who haven’t been to a dentist for a long time and have a lot of work to be completed…typically we can provide more dental treatment in fewer visits while a patient is under sedation. It’s a win-win!
3. What is the process for becoming a sedation patient?
Dr. Brunacini: First, we schedule a comprehensive dental exam in order to determine the patient’s needs. During that appointment, we have an in-depth conversation with the patient about their dental needs and how we can complete the treatment. If oral sedation seems like a good fit for the patient, we will schedule a separate baseline appointment to discuss the details of the sedation protocol as well collect vital signs for monitoring purposes. After the baseline appointment, the patient is scheduled for their dental treatment accordingly.
4. Please describe what a typical sedation appointment is like.
Dr. Brunacini: The patient will take valium the night before prior to going to sleep; the valium reduces anxiety so that they can get a restful night of sleep. In the morning, the patient will take a pill one hour prior to the appointment. This medication is called triazolam and it will begin the sedation process for the treatment. The patient will need a driver to take them to their appointment. Once they arrive at the office, they are connected to our vital signs monitoring system. I will then evaluate the sedation level of the patient and can give more medication to achieve the satisfactory sedation level that the patient requires to perform dental treatment. Once the dental treatment is completed, the patient is sat up and given a sugary beverage to begin waking them up from the sedation. When the patient is awake enough, their driver will be allowed into the room to discuss the dental treatment performed and how to care for the patient afterwards. They are then escorted to their vehicle to go home.
5. If I become a sedation patient, does that mean I will always have to be sedated for all my dental appointments?
Dr. Brunacini: There are certainly those patients that will always require some level of sedation in order to complete their dental treatment. It is the goal; however, to eliminate the need for sedation procedures for any patient. Sometimes it does happen where the patient feels comfortable enough to forgo future sedation procedures for dental work. We are here to support our patients in this process and work to build relationships with our patients based on trust and a commitment to care!
If you’re interested learning more about oral sedation for your next dental visit, call us at 207-781-5900 to schedule your baseline appointment today!
It’s common to feel overwhelmed by going to the dentist. Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to make your appointments with us as easy and comfortable as possible. Here are some techniques we’ve found to be helpful for many patients:
If you experience fear or anxiety before or during your dental appointment, tell us! We care about the well-being of our patients and want to help our patients feel comfortable. Patients tell us that talking through their fears and learning the step-by-step of a procedure can help alleviate anxiety. We are always happy to take the time to answer questions and to listen to you.
Talking to your family and friends can help, too. People may have tips and suggestions for what helps keep them calm and relaxed for dental procedures.
Directing your mind toward something more pleasant often helps reduce anxiety. Many patients find it helpful to bring headphones to a dental appointment so they can listen to music, a book-on-tape, or even a guided meditation. Find something that puts you at ease and bring it to your next appointment! If you forget your headphones or music, we’ve got you covered!
Focus on Breathing
The technique of breathing deeply and slowly can be quite effective and is central in meditation and yoga. By focusing on your breath, you are giving your body more oxygen and helping your nervous system calm down. Practice deep breathing at home and as you come to your appointment. Our clinical team can help remind you to keep taking deep breaths during your appointment as well. We are here to help!
For some people, overcoming their anxiety remains a hurdle to receiving dental care. If the above relaxation techniques don’t calm your fear, we also offer oral conscious sedation. Dr. Brunacini will discuss the oral conscious sedation process further in our next article.
As always, we are here to help you get the best dental care possible. If you have any questions or concerns about an upcoming appointment, please give us a call at 207.781.5900.
*Image courtesy of www.certifiedmexdentist.blogspot.com