Meyer & Johns Dental Blog

Advice and Education on Your Dental Health

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Metal Mouth? Not necessarily.

braces care
From new colors and thinner wires to transparent aligners – braces are better than ever!

Teeth-straightening was first considered by ancient philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle as early as 400 B.C. But it wasn’t until the 1700s that French dentist Pierre Fauchard used a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron that he called a “bandeau” (a form of the old French language meaning “tiny band”) that the modern concept of braces was put into practice.

However, their widespread use didn’t occur until the mid-late 20th century, and has been most prolific in North America. In fact, the number of people with braces doubled in the U.S. between 1982 and 2008. While the majority of these patients are 11-17 years old, the numbers of treated adults during those same decades increased by 25%. American Dental Association has reported that 70% of treatments are done on females, and largely for aesthetic reasons, as opposed to medical/dental conditions.

 

Today’s Braces

Modern advances have allowed braces to become less obvious, with the prevalence of clear aligners such as Invisalign® and other transparent options. Treatment usually lasts from 18 to 36 months, depending on the severity of problems and treatment goals. It requires a commitment from both the patient and parent.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the biggest treatment challenge after fitting the device is to protect both braces and teeth from damage. The good news is that these goals can usually be achieved through diet adjustments and proper cleaning.

 

Limit Harmful Foods

The bad news is that because of the tween-to-teenage range for braces, many of the restricted foods are favorites. This includes anything with high levels of sugar, which can collect around the brackets and accelerate decay. Here are the standard recommendations:

Skip the Soda— Soft drinks deliver a deadly combination of acid plus sugar that can become concentrated on tooth surfaces around brackets.

Avoid Extreme Textures— Hard, sticky, chewy or crunchy foods can damage or dislodge the thin metal components.

No gum!— This rule is not only to avoid residue on braces, but to prevent bending or loosening of the wires

Don’t Chew Ice— While this is never good for your teeth , it’s an especially risky habit with braces.

Clean Thoroughly

brushing with braces
Cleaning with braces is more important than ever.

Obviously, it is harder to clean an intricate metal framework than it is flat, smooth surfaces of your natural teeth. Your orthodontist will give you specific direction on how to brush, floss, and clean. Dr. Meyer and Dr. Johns also have tips and tools to help — just ask us at your next visit.

 

 

 

 

Oral Cancer: What should you watch for?

 

oral cancer
Many warning signs of oral cancer can appear as other conditions.
Do you know what to watch out for?

Did you know? Each year in the U.S., there are 50,000 new cases of oropharyngeal (mouth & throat) cancer, broadly known as oral cancer. Of those, 10,000 patients will eventually die from it. April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Drs. Meyer and Johns want to make sure you know what to watch out for.

Cancer Types

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three main types of precancerous lesions; leukoplakia, erythroplakia, and mixed erythroleukoplakia. The first is the most common, and is visible as a white patch or plaque that does not go away. In the U.S., the incidence of leukoplakia has been declining, mainly due to decreased tobacco consumption. In fact, stopping all forms of tobacco use is the easiest way to cut your risk of oral and other cancers, as well as a host of other health problems.

 

Warning signs

The earliest symptoms of oral cancer may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. The easiest advice for evaluating skin or tissue irregularities is the 2-Week Rule: Any sore or discolored area that does not heal within 14 days should be checked by a professional.

Other than lesions on the mouth tissue, oral cancer symptoms may include;

    •   lumps or masses that you can feel in your mouth or neck,
    •   discomfort or troubleswallowing, speaking, or chewing,
    •   any wart-like masses,
    •   persistent hoarseness, or
    •   any prolonged oral or facial numbness.

 

We’ve Got Our Eyes on You!

Like other cancers of the skin, oral cancer warning signs are visible long before other symptoms occur, making early detection very important. Early identification of  lip, tongue, or other oral cancers improves control and cure rates to more than 90% and overall survival rates to nearly 100%, according to a study published on the website of the National Cancer Institute.

However, many instances of these cancers are diagnosed in their latter stages, only after metastasizing and causing secondary symptoms elsewhere in the body. In these cases, the 5-year survival rates are only slightly above 50%, according to the National Oral Cancer Foundation.

So if you’ve ever wondered why we look under your tongue during exams, this is the reason. Since early detection is key, we want to make sure we don’t miss a warning sign. Current or former smokers and users of smokeless tobacco should let us know at your next appointment so that we can be on the lookout for early symptoms.

Wisdom Teeth: Your funniest molars?

wisdom teeth removal Viral 2

Search the internet for “wisdom teeth aftermath video,” and you’ll have over 1.5 million options to choose from. Filming family members and friends recovering from dental anesthesia has become a huge social media trend. Several hilarious examples – including this one and this one shown above – have gone viral, generating hundreds of millions of views and national TV coverage.

What Are They?

Wisdom teeth – also called 3rd molars – are the only teeth that don’t develop until after we’re born. Most often they start to emerge in late adolescence, usually between ages 17-24. Humans have always had wisdom teeth, but have become a problem our modern diets are short in specific key nutrients that are critical to bone and jaw development. Because of that, the 3rd molars crowd the rest of the teeth, potentially causing serious oral and other health problems. There are approximately 10 million wisdom teeth removed each year, at an estimated cost of more than $3 billion.

How Much Ouch?

Despite producing some of the internet’s funniest moments, wisdom tooth extraction is a medical procedure usually performed under full sedation, which carries some minor risks. However, the procedure is fairly straightforward, and very few of instances of serious complications occur. Once the teeth are removed, the resulting holes are stitched and the wounds packed with gauze. Patients are restricted to a liquid diet during recovery, which lasts 3-4 days. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage short-term pain.

It is extremely important to adhere to the treatment and follow-up recommendations. Failing to do so can lead to excessive swelling, discomfort, infection or a painful condition known as dry socket. Fortunately, the remedy for dry socket is simply to remain fully hydrated post-surgery, rinse your mouth frequently, and avoid drinking from a straw during your recovery

 

wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth are the last permanent molars to develop.

But what about MY teeth?

In past decades, it was commonplace to have 3rd molars removed as a preventative measure against potential future problems. However, since 2000 public health policy has been shifting away from routine removal of asymptomatic wisdom teeth, according to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. However, while adopting a wait-and-see approach can avoid a potentially unnecessary procedure, both the patient and dentist must vigilant. To avoid wisdom teeth complications such as pericoronitis, unchecked decay, or infected roots, regular check-ups are required to monitor for signs of potential problems through roughly age 30.

The bottom line is to always maintain good communication with your dentist through regular checkups, exams and X-rays. Drs. Meyer and Johns will explain to you how your 3rd molars are developing, and what problems they might expect with your teeth, based on their years of experience.

Have more questions? Ask us at your next appointment.

 

Why Meyer & Johns Needs to Know About Your Heart Condition

dental care heart conditions
Heart conditions can impact dental care. Tell us about yours!

Since February is American Heart Month, you’ve probably heard a lot about cardiac health in the past four weeks. Our nation’s healthcare focus has been on the prevention, treatment, and awareness of heart conditions. But at Meyer & Johns Dental, that awareness extends throughout all 12 months.

We take special precautions for our patients with heart conditions, and may ask you questions about any new diagnoses, existing conditions or ongoing treatments. And it’s important for us to know, because there are numerous unexpected heart complications that can arise from routine dental procedures.

Heart Conditions

Sometimes during normal cleanings, minor bleeding can occur in the mouth. This could allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream, potentially making its way to the heart. In heart patients, this increases the risk of endocarditis, which is inflammation of valves or tissue within the heart. In some cases, an antibiotic may be recommended before any visit to the dentist, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart Attack

The general advice for heart attack survivors is a six-month waiting period before having any dental treatments or procedures. As always, it’s important for those patients to let us know about any medications they’re taking, particularly blood-thinners or other anti-coagulants. Even basic conditions that include irregular heartbeat (including some heart mumurs) can present problems unless your dentist is aware of them.

As always, out top priority at Meyer & Johns Dental is the safety and comfort of our patients. Please help us by keeping our staff updated of any changes in your overall health (especially heart conditions). We look forward to making sure your mouth – and the rest of you – stays healthy!