Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Did you know that not all wisdom teeth need removal? However, there are cases when these teeth may cause problems such as impaction or infections that need to be treated.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why some wisdom teeth may require removal, what risks they may pose and how to deal with these problems effectively.

Common problems associated with wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth troubles can cause a range of oral health issues, from tooth pain to severe infections. Some risks associated with wisdom teeth include:

Impaction and misalignment:

When there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to come through properly, they can become impacted, which means they don’t fully erupt from the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth can grow at abnormal angles, which can damage nearby teeth or cause a lot of pain.

Gum infections and gum disease:

Wisdom teeth are generally hard to clean because they are in the back of the mouth. This can cause food particles and bacteria to build up around these teeth, which can lead to gum infections and periodontal disease (a disease of the gums).

Tooth decay:

Partially erupted wisdom teeth can be hard to clean thoroughly, which makes them more likely to get cavities. The risk increases when the teeth are positioned in a way that restricts proper cleaning, exposing them to bacterial intrusion and decay.

Cysts and tumours:

When wisdom teeth become impacted, cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs, can form. These cysts can put pressure on the jawbone or nearby teeth, which could cause damage. In rare cases, these teeth can develop tumours around them, which can become a very serious concern.

Systemic impact:

The potential link between oral infections resulting from problematic wisdom teeth and the risk of sepsis is an often-overlooked but critical concern. Sepsis is a rare but severe, life-threatening condition that happens when an infection spreads through the bloodstream and makes its way to all parts of the body. It is crucial to seek treatment when abnormal symptoms are apparent, as it may be urgent to treat an infected or trapped wisdom tooth.

Addressing problems caused by wisdom teeth

wisdom tooth

Regular dental check-ups:

Establishing a routine for dental check-ups gives your dentist the opportunity to closely monitor how your wisdom teeth grow and align together. This meticulous approach makes sure that any potential complications are identified as early as possible, which significantly reduces risks and future problems.

X-ray imaging:

Dental X-rays, specifically panoramic X-rays (OPG), can show you exactly where your wisdom teeth are and how they fit in with the structure of your mouth. This can help you and your dentist make more informed decisions about your oral health and treatment options.

Expert consultation:

When you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, your dentist can provide professional guidance and informed suggestions. Dental professionals know a lot about oral health and hygiene, and can give you advice and recommendations that are suitable for you.

Extraction:

Wisdom teeth that are causing problems or seem likely to do so are often good candidates for removal. This preventative method helps keep your mouth healthy and comfortable in the long run by preventing buildups of food or bacteria, infections, crowding (malocclusion) and other problems.

Anaesthesia and sedation:

Your personalised anaesthetic options will depend on your individual comfort and anxiety levels, as well as the complexity of the extraction procedure. Your dentist will ensure to provide a safe, comfortable and relaxing environment for you during your treatment.

Tailored care instructions:

Your dentist prioritises your oral and overall health in the clinic, as well as outside of the dental chair. When you undergo a wisdom tooth removal procedure, your dentist will give you detailed guidance on what to expect and how to take care of yourself afterwards. Their professional advice will assist with a speedy recovery and reduce the risk of post-procedure problems.

dental check up

Prevent wisdom teeth problems

Get help from your dentist and act quickly if something doesn’t seem right with your oral health, especially where wisdom teeth are involved. Regular 6-monthly dental check-ups and open discussions with your dentist are the best ways to diagnose and treat any dental problems. Remember that everyone’s case is different, and a personalised approach to managing your wisdom teeth can give you a healthier, more comfortable smile for years to come.

If you think your wisdom teeth might be causing problems, don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist for guidance and solutions.

Asthma and oral health

Asthma and oral health

The link between asthma and your oral health

Do you have asthma or know someone who does? If so, then it’s important that you are aware of the connection between asthma and oral health. Recent studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between poor oral hygiene and an increased risk of asthma attacks. Poor dental care can lead to inflammation in the airways which can trigger an attack. On top of this, research has found that people with severe forms of asthma tend to suffer from more cavities than those without asthma.

Poor oral hygiene heightens asthma attacks

Poor oral hygiene can lead to inflammation in the airways which can trigger an attack. When bacteria and plaque start to accumulate on the teeth, gums and tongue they can release toxins into the bloodstream that can cause inflammation of the airways. This inflammation makes it more difficult for people with asthma to breathe.

Asthma increases the risk of dry mouth

A dry mouth is a condition in which your body does not produce enough saliva. Asthma can cause an individual to take shallow breaths which results in a decreased production of saliva. Saliva helps to fight against dental plaque, bacteria and acidity levels in the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is more exposed to oral health issues such as cavities and gum disease.

In addition to this, people with asthma may be more likely to have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. This can cause a higher risk of bad breath, cavities, gum disease and other oral health issues.

Effects of asthma medications on your oral health

  • Gingivitis: Asthma medications can often cause gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. This condition may make your gums more prone to infection and bleeding after brushing or flossing.
  • Cavities: Certain asthma medications can increase the risk of cavities due to decreased saliva production.
  • Mouth sores: Some people who take asthma medication may experience mouth sores. These can range in size and severity, but they are usually painful and can make it difficult to eat or drink.
  • Tooth decay: Long-term use of certain asthma medications can cause tooth decay, as they may reduce the number of minerals in your teeth.
  • Dental erosion: Asthma medications can contribute to changes in your teeth and bone structure. For example, long-term use of steroids may cause changes in the shape of your jawbone or make your teeth more prone to erosion.

Asthma and Dental Anxiety

Don’t let your fear of an Asthma attack stop you from seeing the dentist, or at worst, never at all. If you feel nervous or have dental anxiety, don’t worry. Be open and honest with the dentist to create a treatment plan that addresses your concerns for a comfortable and stress-free appointment. Modern dental clinics have a variety of options for patients to assist with dental anxiety these days.

Protect your oral health

The best way to protect your oral health is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist every 6 months. This will help reduce the risk of developing cavities, gum disease and other oral health issues.

In addition, talking to your doctor about your asthma and its effects on your oral health is an important step in making sure that you are properly managing both conditions. Your doctor may be able to provide advice or prescribe medications to help reduce the risk of developing oral health issues related to asthma. By understanding the connection between asthma and oral health, you can take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from potential complications.

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

Poor oral care and hygiene can lead to toothache and pain, with child tooth decay being the most prevalent oral condition among Australian children today. Approximately 42% of children aged 5 to 10 years old have experienced tooth cavities. While there are a range of socio-economic factors – including social, economic, cultural and environmental factors – affecting the oral health of Aussie kids, tooth decay is basically caused by accumulations of pathogenic oral bacteria.

The type of oral bacteria that cause tooth decay feed on food residue left on teeth after eating refined carbohydrate sugars and starches. These include soft drinks, dried fruits, candy, cake, cookies, fruit drinks, cereals and sweet breads. Oral bacteria metabolise these carbohydrates and produce bacterial acids. As more bacteria and acid is produced, it combines with saliva to form sticky bacterial plaque which spreads over tooth chewing surfaces and the gum line.

Over time, the bacterial acid damages tooth enamel. Once the bacterial acid penetrates the tooth enamel, it starts to damage the dentine inner layer inside the tooth to cause a cavity.

Risk factors for child tooth decay

The factors that significantly increase the risk of a child experiencing tooth decay include:

  • High levels of pathogenic oral bacteria causing tooth decay, including Streptococcus Mutans (S. Mutans) and Lactobacillus spp., which are present during cavity onset and development.
  • A diet high in sugars and starches, especially sweet drinks.
  • Non-fluoridated home water supply.
  • Poor oral care and hygiene.
  • Reduced saliva flow.
  • Acidic or low pH saliva.

Signs & symptoms of child tooth decay

Keep in mind that children may not even experience any symptoms of tooth decay until a dental visit. So, late detection of tooth decay is also a risk factor. Early signs and symptoms of tooth decay to look out for include:

  • Chalky white spots on tooth enamel show decalcification.
  • Early cavities have a light brown colour.
  • Deepening cavities have a dark brown or black colour.
  • Toothache and pain.
  • Sensitivity to food and temperature.
New studies show gum disease may increase severity of COVID-19

New studies show gum disease may increase severity of COVID-19

Everybody on the planet knows about COVID19. Yet with each day, come new discoveries about this mysterious disease. For many, experiencing COVID19 is no more severe than catching a cold. But for others, they experience far worse outcomes such as respiratory failure and death. The risk for contracting a severe form of COVID19 is higher if you have certain medical conditions including cancer, kidney disease, obesity, type 1/2 diabetes, respiratory conditions, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as being in an advanced age group. Now, recent new studies reveal that one other health condition may also increase your risk of experiencing severe COVID19 – untreated gum disease and poor oral health.

What is the link between untreated gum disease & COVID19?

German researchers have discovered that when COVID19 patients experienced an inflammatory response leading to respiratory failure, their levels of a pro-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-6 (IL-6) were elevated. This is the same cytokine implicated in the phrase “cytokine storm” – a term coined to describe the out-of-control immune response occurring in patients with severe COVID19 and other serious auto-immune disorders. People with chronic, untreated gum disease (periodontal disease) experience higher levels of IL-6 as a result of the body’s constant inflammatory response to infected gum tissue. Since elevated levels of IL-6 indicate a strong potential for respiratory complications in COVID19 patients, the authors of the study concluded that treating gum disease and decreasing IL-6 levels may help prevent or reduce severe COVID19 complications.

Earlier British study correlates German findings on IL-6

In June 2020, an English study also found that high IL-6 levels, along with a high oral bacterial load in the mouth, were significant risk factors for severe COVID19 respiratory complications. Their advice: keep good oral hygiene, regular checkups and get gum disease treated!

Treating gum disease to reduce IL-6 levels in the body

The treatment for periodontal disease is quite simple. It is performed by a dentist in a basic dental procedure known as a scale and root planning – a deep dental clean right down to the roots. During this treatment, all oral bacteria are removed above and below the gum line – keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Once gum disease is being properly managed and treated, the body’s inflammatory response winds down along with lower levels of IL-6.

Resources:

Herold, T., Jurinovic, V., Arnreich, C., Lipworth, B. J., Hellmuth, J. C., von Bergwelt-Baildon, M., Klein, M., & Weinberger, T. (2020). Elevated levels of IL-6 and CRP predict the need for mechanical ventilation in COVID-19. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology146(1), 128-136.e4.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2020.05.008 Sampson, V., Kamona, N., & Sampson, A. (2020). Could there be a link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections? British Dental Journal228(12), 971–975.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-1747-8 Sampson, V. (2020). Oral hygiene risk factor. British Dental Journal228(8), 569.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-1545-3

Gum disease sets off Alzheimer’s biomarkers in cognitively healthy adults

Gum disease sets off Alzheimer’s biomarkers in cognitively healthy adults

In a recent 2021 study from New York University, oral health researchers found that cognitively healthy older adults with harmful oral bacteria experienced a key Alzheimer’s disease biomarker called amyloid beta.

Researchers found that amyloid beta was more likely to be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of subjects with high concentrations of oral pathogens below the gumline. When amyloid beta accumulates, it forms hard, insoluble clumps called amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques have been argued by researchers to be the main disruptors of communication between brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients.

The U.S. researchers identified oral pathogens including Porphyromonas, Fretibacterium and Prevotella, and pro-biotic bacterial species including Actinomyces, Capnocytophaga and Corynebacterium.

Fortunately, the results of the study showed that subjects with higher levels of pro-biotic bacteria had decreased gum inflammation. This may have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s. The subjects with better gum health were also less likely to have Amyloid beta biomarkers in their CSF.

Despite the need for further studies with a larger sampling of subjects, the researchers were able to ascertain that the balance or imbalance of good & bad oral bacteria had a modulating effect on amyloid levels and the expression of amyloid lesions.

Reference:

Kamer, A., Pushalkar, S., Gulivindala, D., Butler, T., Li, Y., Annam, K., Glodzik, L., Ballman, K., Corby, P., Blennow, K., Zetterberg, H., Saxena, D. and Leon, M., 2021. Periodontal dysbiosis associates with reduced CSF Aβ42 in cognitively normal elderly. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, 13(1). Read the NYU study here: https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/dad2.12172

The 4 major ways oral health is linked to general health

The 4 major ways oral health is linked to general health

When you have poor oral health, this can lead to all sorts of oral conditions, such as tooth decay and periodontal disease. These oral conditions are usually the result of insufficient oral hygiene, high oral bacterial load and an unbalanced diet with a high proportion of refined carbohydrates and sugar. To make things worse, the longer you leave oral conditions untreated, the more likely you are to experience a destructive chronic infection that can seriously impact on the rest of your body and general health. The links between oral health and general health occur in four main ways:

  1. Long term poor oral health is linked to a number of major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases (incl. aspiration pneumonia), stroke, dementia, kidney diseases, peripheral vascular disease, adverse pregnancy issues, stomach ulcers, obesity, oral cancer and dementia (incl. Alzheimer’s disease. In light of recent research, the indefinite term “link” may soon be upgraded to “causative link” to describe how oral conditions relate to the onset of some chronic diseases. That’s because when oral pathogens spread and infect the brain & other parts of the body, they can interfere with protein folding – an extremely important and complex physiochemical process in the human body. Unfolded or misfolded proteins are known to contribute to the pathology of a number of diseases.
  2. Poor oral health can lead to disability. When most people think of physical disabilities, wheelchairs and hearing aids come to mind easily. However, if you’ve lost your ability to chew correctly because of some missing molars, then this oral issue is very much a disability.Oral conditions and disease can also cause embarrassment, pain and suffering. In addition to functional limitations, dental problems and symptoms can result in a loss of productivity.
  3. Oral disease and chronic diseases share common risk factors. Your oral and general health share potential causes and risk factors. For example, a poor diet, lack of hygiene, smoking, alcohol use and stress are shared risk factors for both health areas. To complicate things further, oral conditions and general health conditions are more likely to occur together, thus creating a knock-on effect. For example, if you become nutrient deficient because an oral infection affects your ability to chew, your immune system may become impaired – making it harder for your body to fight off the infection.
  4. Chronic diseases may cause or exacerbate oral diseases. Having a general health problem can result in oral health complications. For example, diabetics with increased blood sugar levels may also have low pH saliva and very dry mouths. Without the protective effects of saliva at normal pH levels, they are at higher risk of tooth decay, cavities and periodontal disease. And the side effects of taking certain medications alone – regardless of the disease being treated – can also result in dry mouth and the ensuing oral complications. Long-term stress and anxiety is associated with teeth clenching and grinding which can cause major teeth damage and wear & tear.

Achieving good oral health is beneficial not just for your teeth, gums and mouth, but also for your whole body’s health and well being. With a healthy diet, good oral care & hygiene and regular preventative dental visits, you can “fill two needs with the same deeds”!