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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.

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

Child tooth decay is the most prevalent oral condition in Australian children today. Approximately 42% of children aged 5 to 10 years old have experienced tooth cavities as a result. 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, incl. 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 & 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
  • food and temperature tooth sensitivities
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”!

Why are healthy gums so important for a healthy heart

Why are healthy gums so important for a healthy heart

Having a healthy heart largely depends on your lifestyle and diet. If you eat a lot of unhealthy food, don’t exercise, smoke, drink too much alcohol and/or suffer from hypertension, your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is greatly increased. On the other hand, following a healthy diet (high in anti-oxidants) and exercising daily can reduce the risk factors for CVD. But how does oral health count as a risk factor?

The links between gum and heart disease

There is mounting clinical evidence that show gum disease (periodontitis) is strongly linked to a number of cardiovascular diseases, including:

  • heart disease (coronary artery disease)
  • heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • cerebrovascular disease – affecting blood supply to the brain
  • stroke (cardioembolic and thrombotic)
  • peripheral artery (or vascular) disease
  • atrial fibrillation (heart arrhythmia)
  • heart failure

Research scientists have discovered that patients with chronic gum disease (periodontitis) have a higher risk for a number of medical conditions associated directly with CVD. These include:

  • endothelial dysfunction
  • increased risk of narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • inflammation

Why does gum disease affect cardiovascular health?

Gum disease or periodontitis affects cardiovascular health for a number of possible reasons, most of which involve the pathogenic bacteria (pathogens) associated with gum disease. These pathogens can migrate from the gums to other parts of the body via the body’s nervous system and blood stream. The presence of these pathogens, including the insidious Porphyromonas gingivalis, in your bloodstream can result in a larger build-up of calcium, fats and other materials on your arterial walls. This increase can fast track you towards atherosclerosis – and ultimately CVD. The same pathogens can also generate antibodies that directly affect your cardiovascular system, leading to the onset of CVD. Then there are the continual inflammation events and cytokine storms as a result of a chronic gum infection. These can have an adverse effect on your heart and general health as well.

What oral health practices can help prevent cardiovascular disease?

Maintaining good oral health is essential to lower your risk of heart-related health issues. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day. Use floss or interdental brushes to clean the spaces between your teeth. Last, but not least, visit your dentist twice a year for a check-up, so that any early signs of gum disease or periodontitis can be treated promptly.