dr. barrett

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

Wisdom tooth removal has become somewhat of a rite of passage – puffy-cheeked post-extraction photos, a diet of Jell-O and mashed potatoes. But not everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out. In fact, not everyone has wisdom teeth at all! Have you ever wondered why some people have four wisdom teeth while others have fewer or even none? We’ve got the facts behind how many wisdom teeth people have and why! 'drawing of wisdom tooth'

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Third molars, or wisdom teeth, were once very useful to our ancestors. Because prehistoric man’s diet of hard-to-chew plants and uncooked meat required powerful chewing muscles, our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to fit 32 teeth, not just 28. Now that humans have evolved a better means of chewing and digesting our food, we no longer have large jaws, so we simply have no need or no room for wisdom teeth. Many scientists believe humans are currently evolving third molar hypodontia, or the lack of wisdom teeth, due to their inability to develop in the first place.

How many people have wisdom teeth?

About 20-25% of the human population is born with 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and 35% is born without any wisdom teeth at all.

Why do some people have wisdom teeth and some don’t?

There are a few reasons why scientists believe that not everyone develops wisdom teeth:

  1. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a genetic mutation occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, causing some people to be born without wisdom teeth.
  2. Environment: Percentages of people who develop wisdom teeth varies from culture to culture. Certain ethnic groups are known for low percentages of wisdom teeth development, while others are known for high percentages. Environmental factors during dental development are also a possible explanation.

Will wisdom teeth become obsolete?

With the number of people lacking wisdom teeth steadily growing, it’s possible that we could someday completely evolve to not develop wisdom teeth at all. Scientists have experimented with chemically preventing the development of wisdom teeth.  Researchers have found that children ages 2-6 that are given local anesthesia for dental work have a higher chance of not developing wisdom teeth later on. Maybe in the future, simple injections at a young age will keep all of us from having to go through wisdom tooth extraction!

Smile Emergency: Facial Trauma and Cosmetic Dentistry

Accidents happen! Facial trauma can occur anywhere from sporting events and motor vehicle accidents, to work or home. Something as simple as an accidental fall could leave you with severely damaged teeth – but there’s no need to worry! Oral surgery and cosmetic dentistry offer a world of solutions for traumatic tooth injuries. Take a look at some common tooth injuries and available treatment options! 'woman smiling after surgery'

 

Tooth Injury:

Broken blood vessels in the tooth’s pulp can cause tooth discoloration. Tooth trauma causes blood to leak into the dentin layer and become visible through the enamel.

Treatment

Veneers are porcelain shells that are bonded to the front of teeth to improve appearance. They’re designed to match the color of your natural teeth, making them a perfect solution for treating discoloration – chipped teeth, too! Veneers are durable and, if properly cared for, will only have to be replaced after 10-20 years of use.

Whitening is another treatment for trauma-induced discoloration. There are a variety of whitening options to restore your tooth’s natural color, from at-home whitening treatments to in-office bleaching.

 

Tooth Injury:

Chipped and fractured teeth are among the most common results of sports injuries and falls.

Treatment

As mentioned above, veneers don’t just treat tooth discoloration – they also fix chips and fractures. However, they’re not always necessary. Bonding is sometimes all it takes to fix minor chips. During a bonding treatment, we etch the surface of the tooth and place a plastic, tooth-colored resin with a bonding liquid to replace any missing tooth fragments.

Crowns are porcelain caps that are secured over damaged teeth and cemented in place to restore appearance and function. They also correct tooth decay and fractured fillings, stabilizing teeth after root canal therapy. Porcelain crowns resemble natural teeth and can last anywhere between 5 and 15 years.

 

Tooth Injury:

Avulsed (knocked out) teeth need to be replaced to maintain your jawbone health. Without teeth to support, the jawbone deteriorates from underuse.

Treatment

In some cases, the missing tooth can be reattached. However, this isn’t always an option. Dental implants are artificial teeth that are secured in the gum with a metal screw and serve as placeholders for missing teeth. They look just like real teeth and are equally functional.

 

Give us a call if you want to transform your smile emergency. We are more than happy to discuss treatment options and get you back on track after your facial injury!

The Benefits of Jaw Surgery

As doctors, we always weigh the risks and benefits of any procedure or medication therapy. One of the most significant procedures that we perform in our office is orthognathic surgery, more commonly known as “jaw surgery”. 'man holding jaw in pain'

Orthognathic surgery has the ability to enhance a patient’s life, giving him or her the comfort needed to eat properly and, often, the freedom from pain. Because the decision to have jaw surgery is such a serious one, we would like to take a moment to look at the positive side of the procedure in this blog, focusing on the benefits of orthognathic surgery:

  • Pain Relief – There are several reasons that a person may experience jaw pain bad enough to warrant orthognathic surgery. They may have unnecessarily been causing excessive wear and tear in the joints over many years and living with constant inflammation. Correcting the alignment of the jaws through surgery is sometimes the only way to set the jaw back on the correct path, reducing strain and therefore pain. Another common scenario occurs with injury to the jaw, often from trauma caused by car and sports accidents. If the jaw is knocked too far out of place or suffers significant trauma, it may not heal on its own and may require resetting through a surgical procedure. These two situations represent occasions where the benefits of orthognathic surgery far outweigh the risks.
  • Regular Eating Patterns – A misaligned jaw can make it difficult to chew and swallow, particularly if your teeth do not line up correctly. Often, braces are not enough to correct the alignment issues with the teeth and the jaw itself must be altered. Sometimes, patients don’t even know that they are working too hard to chew because they are used to it always having been that way. Once their bite is corrected through surgery, they are pleasantly surprised to find a significant enhancement in their quality of life.
  • Better Overall Health – The health of your body starts in your mouth. Proper nutrition is key to everything from longevity to happiness. Whether your jaws are misaligned from injury or genetics – if your bite is significantly affected, your nutritional habits may be as well, and orthognathic surgery may be the best option for getting your health back on track.

Orthognathic Surgery: The Post-Surgery Diet

Orthognathic surgery, commonly referred to as “jaw surgery,” is used to correct a wide range of both minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, often the misalignment of the jaws and teeth. Patients looking at undergoing orthognathic surgery are often faced with an extensive recovery period, as well as a restricted diet in the beginning of their recovery process. Post-surgery patients are discouraged from chewing to allow the bone to heal and stabilize. Due to the fact that adequate healing can take up to 8-12 weeks, patients will initially be on the “swallowing diet” for a number of weeks. 'peanut butter and banana smoothie'

When it comes to the “swallowing diet,” the name of the game is high calorie, high protein, and low volume. Facing a large volume of liquid each meal that meets both the necessary caloric and protein needs can be overwhelming. Consuming enough calories, as well as enough protein is a necessity to heal in a timely manner. In order to get adequate volume of fluid and nutrition daily, it may require you to eat smaller meals 5-6 times per day, rather than the usual 3 times per day.

Patients who are well prepared for their surgery often have a smoother recovery. Here is an example of smoothie recipe a patient can consume following orthognathic surgery:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • 2 chilled bananas, broken into chunks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups ice cubs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Place bananas, milk, peanut butter, honey, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Though patients are faced with a restricted diet post-surgery, it is important to remember to try and maintain a balanced diet. In particular, foods rich in vitamins A and C. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), plenty of vitamin C is one way post-surgery patients ensure a timely recovery!

World Blood Donor Day

Blood Connects Us All

Safe blood supplies are a scarce commodity – especially in developing countries. Despite about 108 million yearly blood donations worldwide, safe blood is constantly on high demand! Blog, Blood Connects Us All

World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every 14th of June, aims to encourage people to give blood and save lives without asking for anything in return. Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components; cells, platelets and plasma.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these are some key facts on blood availability worldwide:

• Of the 108 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half of these are collected in the high-income countries, home to 18% of the world’s population. This shows an increase of almost 25% from 80 million donations collected in 2004.
• In low-income countries, up to 65% of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age; whereas in high-income countries, the most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age, accounting for up to 76% of all transfusions.
• Blood donation rate in high-income countries is 36.8 donations per 1000 population; 11.7 donations in middle-income and 3.9 donations in low-income countries.
• An increase of 8.6 million blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors has been reported from 2004 to 2012. In total, 73 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; however, 72 countries collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors.

This year, the WHO and World Blood Donor Day aims to do the following:

• Thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood.
• Generate public awareness for the need for regular, unpaid blood donation, and inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start donating, particularly young people in good health
• Promote and highlight the need to share life by donating blood.
• Focus attention on blood services as a community service, and the importance of community participation for a sufficient, safe and sustainable blood supply in your community, and globally.
• Persuade ministries of health to show their appreciation to regular voluntary unpaid donors, and commit to self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products based on 100% voluntary, unpaid donations.

This June 14th get involved, donate blood- save a life. Follow the link and find a blood drive near you!

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you! On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

What is oral pathology?
This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.
What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.
Ask us about performing an oral cancer screening when you visit – we’re here to ease your mind and give you the tools you need to maintain your health!

Modern Options for Bone Grafting Technology

Bones, grafting, or any combination of the two are rarely the subject of casual conversation. Most of us, regardless of our profession, are happier discussing recent football scores, the price of gasoline, or the abnormally high number of Dunkin Doughnut franchise locations. Perhaps for it is for this very reason, however, that we should bring up this important topic–to raise awareness, maximize modern technology, and inform the public about the options offered in terms of dental implant surgery. ModernOptionsForBoneGraftingTechnology

Bone grafting for dental implants is the process by which bone tissue is placed (grafted) into the mouth to act as a placeholder for tissue that has been lost. In the modern medical landscape this is a safe, painless, and routine process: indeed, more than two million bone-grafting operations occur worldwide each year, making bone the second most transplanted organ (after blood!).

As well as natural bone tissue, synthetic tissue is an alternative for patients seeking the best results. Structured as a ‘biodegradable scaffold’ that can be implanted within the body and trigger bone regeneration, this strong, flexible material has been compared to tire rubber! Dr. Karin Hing, author of the study and reader in Biomedical Materials at Queen Mary’s University of London Institute of Bioengineering stated that the challenge being tackled currently is the development of a graft that is as clever as bone. By mechanically evaluating the way bone adapts to its environment and reacts to chemical and physical components, progress is taking place in leaps and bounds.

What does this mean for the average person who just wants to be happy with their mouth? Comfortable outpatient procedures complete with local anesthesia or intravenous sedation make bone grafting a sensible and worry-free choice. Browse our procedures page for more information on maximizing your resources!

Dental Implants: High Tech Teeth

What are dental implants? Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that provide a foundation for both fixed and removable replacement teeth. Like roots, dental implants are secured within the jawbone and not visible once surgically placed. Teeth replacement is not new to dental technology. Early civilizations practiced teeth replacements; archaeologists have discovered skulls where teeth have been replaced by cast iron and sea shells. Despite their primitive methods, some of these implants were fused with bone like modern dental implants! However, unlike the ancient cast iron or sea shell implants, modern implants are composed of titanium. Titanium is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible. Dental Implants-High Tech Teeth

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device — 98%. Dental implants are available in several designs that meet individual needs: single tooth replacement, multiple tooth replacement, implant supported prosthesis (removable), and an implant stabilized denture. Aside from meeting individual needs, there are a few other advantages to having dental implants:

  1. Improved appearance. Dental implants are designed to fuse with bone, and look and feel like your natural teeth.
  2. Improved comfort. Because dental implants become an extension of your natural mouth, implants remove the discomfort associated with removable dentures.
  3. Easier eating. Dental implants act as your natural teeth, allowing you to eat without the pain and discomfort that often accompany slipping of dentures.
  4. Improved self-esteem. Dental implants give your best natural smiling, helping build self-confidence!
  5. Improved oral health. Dental implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth. The jawbone needs consistent chewing action to stimulate continual bone growth. Tooth/teeth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to prevent bone loss.
  6. With proper care, consistent brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, dental implants can last 40-years to life.

If you are interested in dental implants, or have any questions regarding the procedure, call the office today!

After Surgery: What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

After Surgery- What to Feed a Delicate MouthThere’s nothing like oral surgery to make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks you can’t have right away. Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after oral surgery such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and orthognathic surgery. Too much chewing can re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or infection. But don’t worry–we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations you can use while your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and warm (not hot!) soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. Soft foods are your friends! It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which can delay the healing process.

Here are a few recommendations for the first 24 hours:

Banana Shake: A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Don’t use a straw! Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body. Other milkshakes and smoothies work great too, as long as they don’t have seeds in them that can get stuck in wounds.

Applesauce: You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Soup: Soup with soft ingredients is a great way to go. Don’t include chunks of food that need lots of chewing. Make sure that it’s the right temperature for your sensitive mouth.

Mashed Potatoes: The softest food around. Mashed potatoes require very little effort from your mouth and have great calories and nutrition. Try different toppings to make things interesting.

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Gnocci: Gnocci is one of the softest pastas there is. Try it with tomato sauce, powdered parmesan cheese and a hearty meat filling.

Hamburger Stroganoff: Minced or finely sliced meat is a good place to start, and cooked mushrooms should be soft enough not to bother you. Added sour cream will give the dish a smooth consistency.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call us with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

What is Orthognatic SurgeryOrthognathic surgery is a procedure, or set of procedures, that make corrections to the jaw. The jaw serves many functions. It isn’t just for chewing. A healthy jaw also plays an important role in your speech, ability to sleep well, as well as maintain a proper bite, airflow, and facial symmetry.

Your jaw can be misaligned for a number of reasons. Perhaps you suffered an injury that wasn’t corrected properly. Maybe things just grew that way. It may very well be that a slight misalignment is no issue, but it’s worth giving us a call to find out just how severe your misalignment is, and what it means for your health.

Reasons to ask about jaw surgery:

Unexplained Pain
Sometimes, unexplained pain elsewhere in the body is caused by the activities of your jaws. Your headaches and even neck pain may be the result of excessive pressure in your jaw due to grinding or bite issues.

Air Flow
The position of your jaw can also restrict air flow while you sleep. Misaligned jaws are a common cause of sleep apnea. It could very well be that your fatigue and stamina issues stem from a misaligned jaw.

Mechanical Problems
If you have trouble chewing, meeting your lips together or can see a visible imbalance in your appearance, it may be that you have jaw misalignment issues that can be corrected with surgery. It is also worth noting that a great deal of jaw issues cannot be detected by looking in the mirror, but we think it’s a good place to start.

A Common Treatment Plan:

Your treatment plan will depend on your needs, but for a major jaw correction we often start with braces to move teeth into a better position, and then surgically correct the position of your jaw. This happens after a consensus is made between your family dentist, a maxillofacial surgeon an orthodontist and yourself.

Surgery is done under anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing while the procedure occurs.

Afterward, you’ll be given a schedule to modify your diet, activity, and be given medication so as to heal as soon as possible

Contact us for a consultation to see if corrective jaw surgery is for you!