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Wisdom Teeth: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

As you approach or go through your early 20s, you may think that you’re just about done with all the growing and developing that your body does. By this time, you think to yourself, you ought to have successfully hurdled the crucial biological stages and are now ready to live life to the fullest.

Unfortunately, typically from the ages of 17 and 21, you will still be going through some significant changes. In particular, your teeth aren’t all fully and perfectly erupted at this point — you may still discover your wisdom teeth beginning to emerge.

Why the name, wisdom teeth?

These teeth are called such because they appear in a person’s mouth when they are at a slightly older and ideally wiser age.

You may indeed be older, but you can still feel pain all the same — and pain is something that wisdom teeth usually create. Sometimes these teeth come through correctly, but more often than not, there is no longer enough space for them to emerge properly in the right position. Wisdom teeth often become impacted, which means that they are unable to come out from under the jaw and to the surface of the gums.

Should you have your wisdom teeth removed?

Your dentist can closely monitor the development of your wisdom teeth. With regular brushing, flossing and check-ups with your dentist, wisdom teeth that come out correctly can help you chew better and cause no issues at all.

However, if you notice some of the following signs, your wisdom teeth may become increasingly problematic as time goes on:

  • Your wisdom teeth are starting to crowd or even cause damage to your other teeth
  • You feel pain and some swelling in the jaw caused by a bacterial infection to a partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Food is often trapped around an improperly erupted wisdom tooth, leading to cavities
  • A cyst forms near the impacted tooth, putting the surrounding teeth’s roots as well as the bone supporting the teeth at risk

Thorough and routine examinations of your mouth, along with x-rays of the affected area, can help your dentist determine if removing the wisdom teeth is the ideal solution to your particular dental situation. Removal is also often recommended if you are being treated for certain other dental conditions and if you will be getting braces.

Talk to your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist about the best options for your teeth and find out whether your wisdom teeth can prove to be beneficial for you.


How Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay?

How Does Sugar Cause Tooth Decay?

Since you were a young kid, you’ve heard the adults tell you to limit your consumption of sugary treats. They reasoned out that food laden with sugar can lead to tooth decay, or even worse, tooth loss.

“How does sugar cause tooth decay?” you might ask.

It’s actually not the sugar in food

Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not exactly sugar itself that causes tooth decay and other dental problems.

Sugar is just one of the major factors involved in a series of events that occur after eating sugary and starchy food.

A glimpse into your mouth’s eco-system

Much as you would like to believe that your mouth is clean and free from bacteria, the truth is that it is home to hundreds of bacteria.

Now, some of these bacteria may be harmful, but there are also beneficial bacteria that can be found inside your mouth.

When you consume food rich in sugar, you are essentially feeding the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Some of the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and then release acids.

In turn, these acids corrode the teeth’s enamel, the protective layer of the tooth. Over time, these acids can create a hole in your teeth. Left unchecked, these holes can go to the deeper layers of the teeth which lead to toothaches and even tooth loss.

Little helpers inside your mouth

Your teeth are constantly bombarded by acids that corrode the enamel. But your teeth are not defenseless.

The acids in your mouth remove minerals from the enamel through a process known as demineralization.

But another key process takes place inside your mouth: remineralization. In this process, the minerals leeched away from the teeth’s enamel are replaced and the teeth are strengthened.

Your saliva plays a crucial role in this process, providing the teeth with minerals like calcium and phosphate. These minerals help repair the teeth.

Your teeth need your help

However, the saliva can only do so much. When you eat too much sugary and starchy food, your teeth has little time to repair themselves.

This is why it is crucial to limit your intake of treats laden with sugars and starch.

But apart from limiting your consumption of sugars and starches, a Prescott, AZ dentist says there are a few other things that you can do to protect your teeth against cavities.

For one, you should add more fruits and veggies to your diet. These facilitate the production of more saliva. Dairy products, on the other hand, are rich in the minerals that help strengthen the teeth. Drinking green and black teas can also control the population of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Dentists also recommend drinking fluoridated water and brushing the teeth with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay and even reverse it during the early stages. Schedule an appointment with our doctors today!


All About Dental Bone Graft Procedures

When it comes to restorative dentistry, dental implants generate the most interest. Unlike other procedures, implants achieve the feel and function of original teeth the best. It’s like you never lost your teeth at all.

However, to be a good candidate for dental implants, you need to have enough bone density to securely anchor the implants. If you don’t, additional work needs to be carried out.

Dental bone graft is performed for patients whose bone under the gums is not wide, tall or dense enough. This procedure is a rather complex one, so it greatly increases the overall cost of dental implant surgery.

To further understand this crucial treatment that is included in some dental implant procedures, listed below are things you need to know all about dental bone graft procedures.

  • This process will rebuild or replace bone in the jaw to support dental implants. Bone loss is usually caused by periodontal disease, trauma, an abscess, or aging and not having teeth for a long time already.
  • Bone grafts make use of bone (cadaver, cow, patient’s own bone) or bone-like material (synthetic bone).

  • An oral surgeon, prosthodontist or periodontist commonly performs extensive bone grafts several months before the dental implants.

  • A single bone graft using bone from a cow, cadaver or synthetic bone can cost between $250 and $1100. Meanwhile, for bone graft using the patient’s own bone, the procedure can cost between $2000 and $3000 – obviously more expensive as it includes two surgical sites, anesthesia and hospitalization.

  • The cost of bone grafts is dependent on the following factors:

  • size and shape of the surgical site, source material used, and where the bone is harvested from.

  • Additional costs can be expected, and they’re for X-rays, CT scans and consultation fee of other specialists.

  • Dental insurance normally doesn’t cover the cost of dental implants but may cover a portion of the cost of a dental bone graft due to bone loss’s impact on a person’s wellbeing.

  • The safest graft material is your own bone because it naturally integrates well and there’s no risk of infectious disease, tissue rejection and contamination. This is usually harvested from the chin, jaw, shin or hip.

  • Least ideal bone graft material is synthetic bone. While it’s second to your own bone when it comes to safety, this material is absorbed by the body and needs to be replaced over time.

  • Lastly, recovery from bone grafting usually takes about four to nine months so it’s a long waiting time before dental implant surgery can be performed. During the recovery/waiting period, you are expected to consistently practice proper oral care and to follow a healthy diet to ensure the success of the dental implant.

To know if a dental bone graft procedure is right for you, contact your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist. 


The Different Types of Dental Bridges and Their Benefits

Cases of missing teeth among young children are often deemed cute occurrences (which is probably why there’s a popular song about missing teeth). But when you’re old, missing teeth can be a health risk.

Apart from a sagging facial appearance that can make you look sad and older, missing teeth can also have other negative consequences. One is the high likelihood of “shifting” – teeth can move a bit toward the gap. This movement creates spaces between the teeth that will not only alter alignment and bite but can also make teeth prone to harmful bacteria buildup that can lead to gum disease. A more serious consequence is bone loss, which will put you at greater risk of losing more teeth as you get older.

One of the best solutions to missing teeth is a dental bridge. What it does is it literally bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. It is made of two or more crowns (depending on the missing tooth’s location). One crow will serve as the replacement for the missing tooth, and the other/s for the anchoring tooth or teeth (called abutment teeth).

When dental bridges are placed in, you will be able to:

  • Restore your smile.
  • Restore your ability to speak for clearly.
  • Chew food properly.
  • Maintain the healthy shape of your face (no more hollow areas).
  • Maintain your proper teeth alignment and bite.
  • Preserve your original teeth better.

There are different types of dental bridges that your dentist can put in for you depending on where your missing tooth or teeth are, and they are:

  • Cantilever bridges – These are the type of bridges used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing teeth. Cantilever bridges are not used that often anymore because they are not ideal as restorative solutions for missing tooth at the back of the mouth where there’s usually a lot of pressure on surrounding teeth.
  • Maryland bonded bridges – These are also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge. They are made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic teeth and gums held together by a metal or porcelain framework. Metal or porcelain wings, usually placed on just one side of the bridge, are anchored or bonded to your existing teeth.
  • Traditional bridges – These consist of a crown for the tooth or implant on both sides of the missing tooth, with a pontic or a dummy tooth in between. Traditional bridges are the most frequently used type of bridge and they are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.

The application of dental bridges takes multiple visits to the dentist, which can take several weeks. But once the bridges are permanently placed in, you’re sure to feel a big difference in the way your mouth feels and functions. Ask your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist about the best treatment for you.


Tooth Decay Treatment

Contrary to the common belief that tooth decay is only caused by not brushing teeth regularly – this is the main reason, but it can actually be the result of frequent, hard brushing as well. When you brush your teeth too much and you brush rather vigorously, your tooth’s enamel gets scratched, creating small “abrasions” or cavities that if not taken care of may result in serious tooth decay.

Whatever type of tooth decay you may have, immediate treatment is important for tooth decay only gets worse over time, says a Prescott, AZ dentist. It’s worth noting too that decay spreads rapidly and when it reaches the more sensitive parts of your teeth, you can expect pain to intensify and occur more often. Other complications may arise as well, such as face swelling, pain that radiates to other parts of the head, and in severe cases, flare-ups of other health issues such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Tooth decay treatment is affordable especially if it will be performed for the prevention of further damage instead of for the purpose of removal. For small abrasions or erosion on your enamel, prevention of further damage has to be done right away. The dentist will perform the treatment using filling materials that contain fluoride, calcium and phosphates.

Now, for tooth decay that has already reached the dentin, repair is performed using a dental filling. There are different kinds of filling; there’s amalgam, which is composed of silver and other metals, or a tooth-colored resin material, which has a much nicer appearance though not as durable as amalgam.

For damaged teeth that have changed in shape and size, the dentist will fill them and then add a crown to help strengthen and restore shape and function. The application of a crown can be expected to increase the cost of treatment.

As for the worst case of tooth day, meaning there’s an abscess, these are your treatment options:

  • A root canal treatment, followed by a crown because teeth can become more brittle after this treatment and are likely to break easily.

  • An extraction – this when there are no other means to save the tooth.

These only go to show how important it is to have consistent, good oral care practices because tooth decay is a serious health issue. On top of this, treatment can cost you a significant amount of money. So brush, floss, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash and visit your dentist regularly to prevent the pain and cost of tooth decay.

Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today!


How Smoking Affects Your Mouth (and Ways to Treat This)

If you think smoking is bad enough because it destroys your lungs, then you haven’t gotten to the most obvious effects yet.

Tobacco and cigarettes contain tar and nicotine that build up inside your mouth. These gather in between teeth, allowing more bacteria to take refuge in these spaces and attack the surrounding teeth. Since there are about 600 bacterial species that make up the oral microbiome, just imagine how much the act of smoking further aggravates the problem by boosting the growth of the bacteria.

One of the most important things to understand about how smoking affects your mouth is that it also has other effects on your teeth. When plaque or tartar accumulate and harden around your teeth, for example, they create stains, usually yellowish and black in color, that can give you a less attractive smile.

The stains can be very difficult to remove and often cause damage to the surface of your teeth as well. Your teeth are coated with a protective layer called enamel; once the enamel is damaged, bacteria can freely contaminate and infect the core of your teeth, which eventually leads to rotting and extraction.

Another serious effect of smoking is gum disease. Because the nicotine coats the teeth and gums in plaque, oxygen is blocked from properly reaching the bloodstream. This prevents gums from healing as fast as it can, causing in the further development of different kinds of oral diseases. Although smoking can severely damage one’s dental condition, there are ways that can help you treat the damage it has done on your gums and teeth.

Brushing and flossing the right way

Brushing your teeth and flossing should be done the right way in order to achieve optimal results. Brushing three times daily and flossing after every meal is the typical advice, but keep in mind that you also have to do these correctly — you have to use the right strokes and perform the right procedures to remove every bit of tartar stuck on the surface of your teeth. By making a real effort to make a habit out of brushing and flossing regularly, you prevent the cavities from spreading further to your other teeth.

Installing crowns or veneers

When the degree of staining on your teeth is too serious too remove, you can simply cover it up with dental crowns or veneers. These dental solutions can be easily installed by your dentist and would not take too much time to accomplish. They serve as protective coverings and come in a porcelain white color to improve not just function of the teeth, but also their appearance.

Do not allow your teeth to deteriorate and completely lose their beauty. Visit a Prescott, AZ dentist today; these credible dental experts have the knowledge, experience, and equipment to help bring back the perfect smile you lost from smoking.


5 Things You Need to Know About a Dental Bridge Procedure

If you have lost a tooth or a few teeth, one of the treatments your dentist will recommend is a dental bridge procedure. This is a highly recommended treatment if you wish to preserve the healthy structure of your mouth despite the loss a tooth or more.

You may be unsure about this solution especially with all the other options available, but if you’re gravitating toward this treatment, here are five things you need to know about it.

Compared to other types or restorative dentistry solutions, it’s definitely more affordable.

And if you’re just focused on appearance, it can achieve the same natural “look” that dental implants can produce because a crown would also be used to replace your missing tooth or teeth.

For a successful dental bridge procedure, you would need to have healthy surrounding teeth that would serve as an anchor for the bridge, says a Prescott, AZ dentist. Here’s something that you need to understand about the placement of a dental bridge: surrounding teeth need to be reshaped for the crown to fit securely and hold the bridge in place. This is something you need to think about especially if you care a lot about the health of remaining good teeth.

There three main types of bridges: traditional, cantilever and Maryland.

The first type, which is the traditional bridge, has a crown attached to each side of the artificial tooth. A cantilever bridge, meanwhile, is an artificial tooth attached to only one crown, and a Maryland bridge is an artificial tooth bonded to existing teeth on both sides.

When your teeth have been reshaped, the dentist will make an impression of the missing tooth and the surrounding teeth.

The will be used to customize a bridge that fits your mouth perfectly. While that is being created, your dentist will provide you a temporary bridge to use. You can expect your permanent bridge to be completed in a few weeks and once it’s ready, there’ll be evaluations on how it fits and affects your bite so it can be improved for your comfort.

And lastly, dental bridges can last you over a decade but you need to practice good oral habits.

You need to care for your dental bridge just like your real teeth because there’s always the risk of developing gum disease if you don’t.

A dental bridge procedure is a great option to consider especially if you’re not a good candidate for dental implants. It’s a quicker process to restoring the original look of your teeth and preventing your original teeth from shifting. Contact our dentists today to schedule an appointment!


What Causes Gum Recession?

After brushing, you check your teeth and gums in the mirror and you notice something unusual. It’s either your teeth have become longer or your gums have become smaller.

What’s happening here? The answer: gum recession.

Gum recession is a condition wherein the area where the teeth and gums meet pulls back. When this happens, more of the tooth becomes exposed. This also creates what a Prescott, AZ dentist calls pockets which can leave your teeth and gums vulnerable to the build-up of bacteria. Left unchecked, gum recession can lead to damage to the supporting tissues and bones, and eventually, tooth loss.

Gum recession is fairly common and most people do not know they have receding gums until the condition has progressed to a more advanced stage.

There are, however, a few signs that indicate that a person has receding gums. These include increased tooth sensitivity and longer-looking teeth.

What causes gum recession?

There are several possible causes of gum recession.

Periodontal or gum disease is the leading cause of gum recession.

This bacterial infection destroys both the gum tissues and the supporting bones of the teeth.

Another common cause of this condition is poor oral hygiene.

If you fail to properly and regularly brush and floss your teeth, plaque can easily build up in your mouth and eventually form into tartar.

But sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Take brushing, for example. If you brush your teeth too hard or if you do not brush your teeth properly, you risk wearing away the enamel on your teeth and cause your gums to recede.

Some people have receding gums simply because they are genetically predisposed to suffer from this condition.

According to some estimates, about 30 percent of people will get receding gums even if they take great care of their teeth and gums.

Pregnant, menopausal, and young girls undergoing puberty are also vulnerable to gum recession as changes in their hormones adversely affect their gum tissues.

Cigarette smokers and people who use tobacco products are also highly likely to have receding gums. This is because these people have more plaque on their teeth which can cause gum recession.

If you have bite problems or crooked teeth, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to gum recession if you do not seek the appropriate treatment. Your condition places too much force on the gums and bones which may cause recession. The same thing can happen to people who clench and grind their teeth.

Gum recession may also be caused by piercings on the lip or tongue. When your body piercing jewelry rubs against your gums, this can cause irritation and eventually gum recession.

Gum recession is a serious concern and you should immediately see your dentist for the appropriate treatment.


How Can You Prevent Gingivitis?

Prevent GingivitisHow to Prevent Gingivitis

The human mouth is filled with bacteria and these feed upon the remnants of food left. Within just a period of 24 hours, plaque can form. This is why it is essential to brush your teeth after each meal.

When the plaque forms and hardens on your teeth, it becomes tartar, which then becomes a protective layer for bacteria. Eventually, this buildup of tartar can lead to gingivitis and progress to periodontal or gum disease.

The bacteria in your mouth (as well as gum disease) have been linked to a diverse array of conditions, not only those related to oral health. According to some studies, gum disease can lead to heart attacks, dementia and other health concerns.

According to a Prescott, AZ dentist, most people do not know that they have gingivitis because the condition is often painless.

However, when gingivitis is left untreated and progresses to gum disease, your risk for tooth loss and other conditions increases.

There are a few symptoms of gingivitis that you can look for. These include swollen, tender, bleeding and discolored gums. Bad breath is also another sign that you may have gum disease.

As with most things, prevention is almost always better (and easier) than the cure. Here are some tips that will help prevent gingivitis.

Make it a habit to clean your teeth and gums regularly

The first thing that you need to do to prevent the buildup of plaque is to keep your mouth clean. The simplest and easiest way to do that is to brush and floss correctly and regularly.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Dentists recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes because these do not irritate the gums. If you can afford it, consider investing in an electric toothbrush which does a better job of eliminating plaque.

Floss at least once a day. Flossing helps remove food particles in areas of your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach.

Use a mouthwash

Some formulations of mouthwashes can help control the bacterial population in your mouth. Ask your dentist for recommendations.

Visit your dentist regularly

Your dentist can look for signs of gingivitis and gum disease which you may not notice. Your dentist and his or her staff can also clean your teeth professionally, eliminating the buildup of stubborn plaque and tartar.

Modify your diet

As much as possible, keep your consumption of sugary, starchy and acidic foods and drinks at a minimum.

Consider adding foods rich in calcium, vitamins and other nutrients to help protect and strengthen your teeth and gums.

For more tips on how to prevent gingivitis, schedule an appointment with your Prescott Valley dentist at Horizon Dental Group.

 


Bone Graft | What To Expect During This Procedure

Bone GraftWhat Is a Bone Graft Procedure?

Most people may not think much about it because it hasn’t happened to them yet, but losing a tooth (or more than one tooth) in your adulthood can be a big deal. After it is lost or extracted, a permanent tooth will no longer be replaced by another, and this loss can significantly affect your appearance or how your mouth and other teeth function when you eat or speak.

For this particular situation, dentists recommend getting dental implants as a viable solution. A dental implant is a titanium post that is surgically installed into the jawbone, under the gumline. On this implant, the dentist can then mount a replacement tooth or a bridge. It will appear like you never lost the tooth at all, and the implant is set in place — it isn’t removable like dentures are.

However, not everyone can be considered a good candidate for dental implants. Certain requirements must first be met before a dentist can clear you for the procedure. Primarily, you will need to have healthy gums as well as adequate bone on your jaw to support the dental implant.

If your jawbone is found to be too thin or weak, but dental implants are the best solution for your tooth loss, then your dentist may advise you to undergo a bone graft procedure first.

Dental Surgery

With this type of dental surgery, the dentist will either remove a section of bone from another part of your body or use a special bone grafting material, and then graft that onto the jawbone.

There will be a significant waiting period — often several months — for the graft to heal and create a strong new bone that can properly support your future implant.

When the bone graft is complete, your dentist can then proceed with the surgical procedure to install the dental implants.

Keep in mind that no two patients will have the exact same dental health needs and existing dental conditions, so your Prescott, AZ dentist must thoroughly review your medical history, study all the risks and benefits of pushing through with the bone graft and implant procedures in your case, and present you with all the facts and details you need to make a fully informed decision.

Being Diligent About Your Implants

Should you decide to go ahead with these treatments, it’s best to observe positive practices that can help ensure that your implants will function well and enhance your appearance for a long while: be diligent about brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily; be mindful about avoiding hard foods that could damage both your natural teeth and your implants; if you smoke, do your best to quit, and pay regular visits to your Prescott Valley dentist.