A tooth is considered impacted when it only partially grows through the gums. This can happen because another tooth blocks it, or it grows in crookedly. The third molar typically erupts from age 17 to 21 and is the last tooth to appear, which is why it’s the most likely tooth to become impacted — there’s usually no room left for it.
Although an impacted tooth does not always lead to pain or discomfort, the impaction can cause other problems. A partially erupted tooth can create an opening in the gum where food and other particles can accumulate, leading to gum infection. Impacted teeth can also develop tooth decay, and they can also push on adjacent teeth, causing all your teeth to shift.
For these reasons, it’s usually recommended to have wisdom teeth extracted before the age of 21. The younger you are the better (and faster) the surrounding tissue and bone will heal. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the symptoms if you’re over 21, though.
No matter what age you are, if an impacted tooth is causing you pain, soreness, sensitivity or inflammation, come in for a visit. Better to get treatment than unnecessarily endure pain and discomfort!
Persistent pain or an infection usually means the tooth will need to be removed. Sometimes this can be done right in the office. Otherwise, we can give you a referral to a recommended oral surgeon.
Embarrassed It Has Been So Long?
If you’re nervous about having to sit through a lecture on the importance of dental health, you can stop worrying. We’re not here to cause you anxiety or point fingers. Trust us, we of all people know that dental health is affected by a number of factors that could be environmental, hereditary or habitual. Our goal is to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
This might surprise you, but there’s almost nothing that can surprise us when it comes to teeth. If you think your teeth are bad, we’ve probably seen worse. A large part of our training and professional work involves being exposed to just about every dental problem you can imagine. Without that kind of experience, how could we properly evaluate your teeth and treat them? We couldn’t.
One of the most important things you can do is to be up front with us. If you have dental anxiety, don’t silently suffer in the chair – tell us! The same goes for anything specific that might scare you – whether it’s needles or anesthesia or just sitting in the chair. And please tell us what we can do to make your visit more comfortable. Many people find that a blanket and pillow makes their visits much more relaxing. Others like us to explain what we’re doing before we do it. And some people find that taking frequent breaks is helpful.
Let’s talk about what you need before you talk yourself out of scheduling another visit. We’ll do whatever we can to ensure that you have a positive experience getting the dental care you need.
Good News for Chocolate Lovers
Know that guilty feeling that creeps in every time you bite into a piece of chocolate? Turns out it’s all for naught. (Well, mostly.) Recent studies show that chocolate is actually good for your teeth – and your overall health.
It turns out that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols and flavanols. Polyphenols prevent bacteria from turning the sugar and starches contained in chocolate into acids that cause decay. They can help reduce the chances of hypertension and stroke and may even help protect the heart. Dark chocolate is particularly high in flavanols – and has more antioxidant power than green tea.
The cocoa butter contained in chocolate also packs a healthy punch. When you eat a piece of chocolate, the cocoa butter in it coats your teeth, preventing plaque from sticking to your teeth. And what about the “butter” part of cocoa butter – should you worry about fat? Nope. This kind does not raise cholesterol.
Now for the Bad News
Chocolate is high in calories; one 1-ounce piece of dark chocolate can contain 150 calories or more. So if you’re watching your waistline, you’ll have to control yourself. Plus, to benefit from chocolate’s goodness, all you have to do is eat three 1-ounce pieces of it a week.