Posts for: September, 2015
Our bodies are constantly changing as we age. Although the most rapid development occurs during childhood and adolescence, our bones, soft tissue and bodily systems will continue to change, even as we enter old age.
That includes our mouth and facial structures. Over time change will result in a flatter facial profile: this will cause the nose to gain more prominence as the lower part of our face becomes shorter. The extent of our lip movement can also change with time, resulting in less of our teeth appearing when we smile. The teeth themselves will also wear, which can make them appear shorter.
These and other aging consequences should be taken into account in our dental care. We should consider their impact on the health and function of our teeth (the therapeutic aspect) and our appearance (the cosmetic aspect). Rather than less attention, the effects of aging often require a multi-layered approach to care. The foundation for this care, of course, isn’t laid when we reach our middle or later years, but with the regular and special treatments we receive when we’re young.
For example, the best time to address teeth alignment and bite is usually during early adolescence. Orthodontic treatment will certainly improve dental function and smile appearance in the short term; but improving the bite can also have implications later in life. By anticipating how the soft tissue and bone structure within the face and jaws will continue to develop, we can better determine the final teeth position we wish to achieve. This creates satisfying results in the present and a more stable platform for oral health in the future.
We can apply the same approach to other areas, like the position of the lower jaw. Using orthognathic surgery to reposition it will benefit jaw development throughout adulthood. Making these improvements can diminish the effects of aging later in life.
In essence, dental care is a life-long endeavor that begins when we’re very young and continues into our senior years. Properly caring for your teeth at any age is the key to enjoying good oral health for your entire life.
If you would like more information on the effects of aging on dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”
A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”
How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.
The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.
If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.
If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”
You know that taking care of your mouth is important for your overall health, but did you know that the way you take care of your teeth and gums can have a dramatic effect on the rest of your health as well? It's true. Neglect to visit your local Fremont dentist, Richard Ta, DDS, and you may just be putting the rest of your health at risk as well. Here's how.
How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health
Neglect to take care of your oral health, and as the bacteria builds up you're likely to develop a bad case of gum disease. If you don't visit your Fremont dentist for treatment, and this bacteria will continue to spread. Allow it to reach your blood stream and spread throughout the rest of your body, and you may be facing one or more serious health conditions before you know it.
Gum Disease Complications
While scientists are unsure about the exact link between gum disease and other health complications, there is no question that poor oral hygiene is tied to other, more significant problems. Research has already shown a link between gum disease and other medical conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, and rheumatoid arthritis. Gum disease is linked with asthma and a low birth weight among babies of expectant mothers. It may even lead to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
When you neglect to visit your Fremont dentist, Dr. Ta, you don't just put your oral health at risk. You put your overall health at risk as well.
Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment
The good news is that gum disease is both preventable and treatable, and the process may just be easier than you think. First, get into the habit of brushing twice a day and rinsing and flossing once a day. Keep regular visits with Dr. Ta, and don't hesitate to call between appointments if you suspect there may be a problem.
If your dentist discovers you already have gum disease, be sure to have it treated right away. Treatment options generally include a thorough cleaning, antibiotics, scaling and root planning, and flap or bone surgery.
Your body depends on you to take care of it. Make sure you do. Practice excellent oral hygiene habits at home and visit your Fremont dentist regularly. This will help keep your oral health and your overall health in excellent condition.