Smoking is a bad habit, but what is true is that it is a problem that has remained to threaten lives of many people. It starts with a puff. Usually, a person tries it, and he could like it right away or cough out frustration. And then he tries it again, and again…and the rest is history. Eventually, the person is hooked and those who become a victim of cigarette addiction, serves a lifelong sentence.
Some people smoke because it soothes them. Some people smoke because it’s an activity they very much enjoy. Regardless of the reason, one thing is true, smoking is bad for people and dentists share the burden, not only of educating the smoker of its ill-effects, but in convincing him to quit altogether—to abandon the habit.
Smoking: Stains and Bad Breath
In the dentist’s office smoking is detected through the heavy stench emanating from a smoker’s mouth. If this has been properly masked by candy, mouthwash or toothpaste, the habit is presented through dark gums, discolored teeth and heavy stains. Nicotine stains can cover pearly whites and give the teeth a brown, menacing color. They are extrinsic stains and are painstakingly scaled away from the teeth surface by sharp tools.
While the dentist is scarping through the stains, he can educate the patient about flushing with water after enjoying a smoke or if he is bold enough, he point out the ugliness of stains and tell him he is definitely better off without it,
Smoking and Post-Surgery
In a more serious setting, a dentist will come face-to-face with a serial smoker and he will have to declare a no smoking rule following a surgical procedure. Unlike the presence of stains during a routine oral prophylaxis, this order to stop smoking is no longer a suggestion, it is a post-operative instruction to stay away.
Smoking retards wound healing and after surgery, patients are given the instructions to stop smoking, for at least a week, to allow the tissues to heal in its proper course. A patient will follow, for fear of infection and unnecessary complication.
Smoking and Dental Implants
In an even more serious setting, a dentist may be forced to tackle smoking as it is a straight contraindication for dental implant placement. A smart dentist will be honest to tell a smoker that unless he stops, he may never be a candidate for implants. Dental implants fail due to the harmful chemicals of cigarettes. First and foremost, it retards the healing of tissues and bones, which basically determines the success of implant placement—and much further into the lifespan of implants, smoking can definitely cut it short.
Smoking is bad for your health—it says right there on the package. In the dental setting, smoking poses as a significant culprit but one needs to realize is that the danger begins from the very first puff.
When a tooth becomes infected with caries, the hard tissues of the teeth get destroyed, and they break. Depending on the severity of the decay, the infection may encroach to the area of the pulp, so that a regular tooth filling is contraindicated. When this happens, a root canal is performed, and this renders the tooth dead. To eliminate the infection, the pulp tissue is removed, replaced and then sealed.
Root Canal Failure
Unfortunately, root canal treatments fail sometimes. Since dentists would want for treatments to be final, some cases fail either because it became re-infected or the initial infection was not completely removed, so the root canal treatment will be deemed a failure and one need to decide what’s next.
a) You can repeat the root canal treatment. Some people would go for a retreatment. If the assessment reveals that the root canal treatment initially performed was insufficient and improper, it may be repeated. A retreatment will more or less be like a standard root canal treatment, but it will involve the removal of the existing filling materials, so that the entire work may be redone.
b) You can perform an apicoectomy. If the root canal seems to be fine and the radiograph reveals the presence of an abscess on the tip of the roots, you can resolve this infection with an apicoectomy. That is a surgical procedure that involves burning a hole in the area of the tip of the roots (apex) to remove the abscess. After eliminating the infection, the apex/tip of the root is sealed, and the gums are reattached to the bone and allowed to heal.
c) You can extract the tooth. Sometimes a re-infection following a supposedly completed root canal presents hopelessness. Retreatment is deemed questionable, and the performance of apicoectomy cannot guarantee success, so to cut things short, a tooth extraction is preferred. A tooth extraction resolves the infection because the root of the infection is removed from the jaw, but it this means that the tooth is gone. If this is your treatment of choice, you have to discuss dental prosthetics with your dentist.
Since dentists would like to confidently say that a root canal treatment is a finite solution to a pulp infection, some cases fail. Even the most experienced Endodontist can face a failed root canal treatment, and it does not always signify dentist error. A lot of things can go wrong, following a root canal treatment, when this happens you have to decide on what to do next.
A diastema is a space in between the teeth. That could either develop as a consequence of tooth or teeth loss, following teeth migration or shifting; or it could be an innate condition brought about by smaller teeth, frenum position or jaw size. Regardless of why the teeth are spaced away from each other, patients find an esthetic issue with it, so they want it corrected. Who intends to smile with ugly gaps in their teeth, right?
Closing the Gap
If you are troubled with the gap or spaces in between your teeth, you can go to your dentist to have it closed it using the following dental procedures:
- Braces. The most acceptable way to close spaces is to install braces. Orthodontic treatment will shift teeth and pull them together. As conventional orthodontic treatments go, it involves bone break and bone building, so that the teeth could collectively take a new shape in the jaw—and new position without spaces. Of all the options, this is the most acceptable because the teeth are left sound and untouched.
- Dental Bondings. Using composite material (the same material used for dental fillings), the spaces are closed by reshaping the teeth with the utilization of the filling material. The two teeth are allowed to meet, to lock the space, to cover the gap. The result is a bite that’s seemingly aligned, without spaces, with the teeth maintaining its natural curvatures; and it may be done with or without tooth reduction.
- Veneers. For more retentive and more esthetic results, a patient can choose to get veneers to close their gap(s). This treatment option involves fairly minimal tooth reduction, limited to the facial and biting surface of the teeth, so much of the teeth is preserved. It may be made with ceramic or porcelain and is cemented in place.
- Dental Crowns. The problem with veneers is that since it is limited to a facial reconstruction, it is not as retentive as one would hope for. Regarding aesthetics, the results are more or less similar to veneers, but what you get with a full-coverage crown is retention. It is more retentive because all surfaces of the teeth are reduced, and the entire tooth receives a crown.
- Frenectomy + Cosmetic Treatment. If the cause of the diastema in between the two central incisors is due to the position of the frenum, a minor surgery is performed. That involves the cutting and repositioning of the frenum, followed by a chosen treatment (as described above) to actually close the gap. Frenectomy is essential because the soft tissue will only push the teeth and recreate the space once again.
Whatever option you pick, all these will close the gap and give you a straighter and more attractive smile. A diastema is not an important concern, but some people would have it corrected because the spaces make the teeth look odd.
Many people are quick to dismiss the health of their gums. When they think of oral health, they believe that it’s all about the teeth, but they forget that the health of the soft tissues of the mouth matter too. As a matter of fact, the teeth relies on the health of the gums to stay in the mouth. Severe gum disease results in bone loss, and that means the loss of support so that the teeth becomes mobile and can fall out.
In an even more serious note, the health of the gums should not be taken for granted because it has been found to cause and exacerbate various systemic diseases.
The Gums and the Body
Plaque is the number one enemy of dentists. Its formation involves three key ingredients: food (sugar), saliva and bacteria. Since you cannot do anything about the natural bacteria and the saliva, you have to control the one that you can, and that is food. Proper hygiene practices are encouraged so that the mouth does not become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Gum disease, when allowed to proliferate can wreak havoc in the mouth. Gingivitis is the reversible consequence of plaque build-up. If this progresses, the bone becomes infected, and this irreversible gum disease is called Periodontitis. Unfortunately, it does not end there—because the same bacteria that causes gum disease can compromise one’s overall health condition:
While people with diabetes are most prone to developing periodontal disease, research shows that it can also go the other way around, with chronic periodontal patients developing diabetes as a consequence of prolonged disease. People with diabetes are prone to infection, so they are always encouraged to have their disease under control.
A patient who neglects his dental health can develop gum disease that will progress into Periodontitis. A patient suffering from periodontitis often have problems controlling their blood sugar, and with levels spiking ridiculously, diabetes becomes an actual threat.
b. Heart Disease
Periodontal disease is found to increase the risk for heart disease. Infections that is synonymous to periodontitis can be the same culprit that causes heart problems. As a matter of fact, some evidence finds periodontal disease has been linked to the onset of stroke.
c. Respiratory Disease
Studies reveal that the same bacteria that accumulate in the mouth as a result of gum disease can be aspirated into the lungs and cause respiratory illness. Patients with periodontal disease are found at high risk of developing pneumonia.
Do you know that 49% of patients with periodontal diseases are found with kidney disease; 54% with pancreatic cancer and 30% are found in various blood cancers? Yes, studies show a relation between gum disease and cancer.
Gum Disease is often taken for granted, but it should be taken seriously by everyone. A lot of people think that dental health is not as dangerous as medical health, but this article shows how the health of your teeth can affect your overall well-being. It is about time you paid more attention to your smile.
Pregnant mothers have a natural nurturing instinct. She is responsible for the developing fetus in her womb and she automatically becomes protective of the baby. When a woman becomes pregnant, they suddenly become cautious about a lot of things and it usually results in the avoidance of potential dangers.
In line with this, many pregnant women avoid dental visits because of their natural protective instinct. Seeing dental procedures as a threat to their child, they stay away, not really understanding what is certain:
• Pregnancy and gum disease. When a woman is pregnant, her body is ridden in hormones and the same hormones that make her emotional, can also cause gum disease. Pregnant women are prone to bleeding and swollen gums and this makes it necessary for them to observe stricter oral hygiene measures, which include visits to the dentist for oral prophylaxis and cleaning. There is such a thing as pregnancy gingivitis and if you want to avoid it, you will take this matter seriously. There is nothing wrong for a pregnant women to have her teeth cleaned—as a matter of fact, it is encouraged.
• The use of anesthetic solutions. Much of the danger involved in dental treatments is the use of anesthetic solution. To avoid putting the developing fetus at risk, all procedures that require the use anesthesia is avoided. Of course, there are special brands that are considered pregnant-friendly, but most dentists, mothers and obgyns will opt to defer tooth extractions, root canal and other elective procedures, unless there is a dire emergency. The health and safety of the child is the top priority, so unless there is no choice, these procedures are deferred until after giving birth.
• Dental xrays. The radiation emitted by xray machines pose a risk for the developing fetus. While the dental xray emits very minimal radiation compared to other machines, it is used with much care or avoided at all. The wearing of lead aprons and all kinds of protective covering should be provided to the pregnant woman if a radiograph has to be taken.
• Dental fillings are safe. A pregnant woman may receive a dental filling at any stage in her pregnancy but as caution, only shallow cavities should be treated. The risk of encountering a deep cavity may lead to emergency need for a root canal or tooth extraction (which requires the use of anesthetic solution), so it is best avoided, instead.
• The second trimester. Did you know that there is a safety window? The use of anesthetic solutions and the performance of other procedures are avoided during pregnancy for fear of its effect on the development of the fetus. Should there be any treatments scheduled, note that the second trimester is the safest window to do all that. Of course all treatments will have to be agreed on by between the mother, dentist and physician. Unless a medical clearance is obtained, no dental procedure will be performed.
Upon hearing the news of a pregnancy, everyone automatically delights the news because a baby is a blessing and it is welcomed blessing that celebrates love, life and togetherness. A woman often feels very fulfilled when the news of a pregnancy is first found out and her protective instincts suddenly become alert. However so, be mindful that neglecting your dental health is never a good idea—even when a baby is in your womb.