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Too Few Or Too Many Adult Teeth?

June 11th, 2019

DEPENDING ON HOW MANY wisdom teeth come in and whether or not they have to be removed, most adults have 28-32 adult teeth. There are a few outliers in either direction, however. Some people have fewer teeth than they should (called hypodontia or congenitally missing teeth), while others have one or more extra (called hyperdontia or supernumerary teeth). How does this happen and what do we do about it?

Congenitally Missing Teeth

Between 2-4 percent of the population has at least one tooth missing from the adult set. The most common teeth affected by this condition are wisdom teeth, lower second premolars, and upper lateral incisors. It’s not really an issue to be missing wisdom teeth, but missing incisors and premolars can cause difficulties with chewing, the surrounding teeth may shift, and the decreased jaw support can lead to additional tooth loss.

The reason for congenitally missing teeth is nearly always genetics,which is why you tend to see it run in families. Sometimes it happens in conjunction with a larger genetic disorder like Down syndrome or ectodermal dysplasia.

Supernumerary Teeth

At the other end of the dental spectrum is hyperdontia, where extra teeth develop in the jaw. It happens more often with adult teeth than baby teeth. We don’t fully understand what causes this condition, but one leading theory is that it could be the result of a tooth bud dividing abnormally, producing two teeth instead of one.

Supernumerary teeth aren’t always shaped like normal teeth. They can also be peg-shaped, have multiple cusps, or simply be a mass of dental tissue. However they develop, they often don’t have room to erupt, so they remain impacted in the gums, causing crowding and alignment problems for the normal teeth.

The typical treatment for extra teeth is to extract them if there isn’t room for them, but dealing with a congenitally missing tooth can be more complicated. Depending on the age of the patient and how long the tooth has been missing, different options may be better. The first step is usually orthodontic treatment so that the gap will be wide enough to fit a replacement tooth. These come in a few forms:

  • Removable partial dentures are a simple solution. They can be attached to a retainer or anchored in place by the surrounding teeth.
  • Dental bridges “bridge” the gaps by anchoring to the neighboring teeth, but unlike dentures, they’re cemented in place.
  • The most permanent solution is a dental implant, which functions like a normal tooth. An implant consists of a post fixed in the jaw bone with a crown on top that matches the natural teeth. Implants can also provide support for bridges when multiple teeth are missing.

Let’s Take A Look At Those Teeth

With regular dental appointments, we can catch cases of hypodontia and hyperdontia early on and make a plan for how to address it. Keep up with your daily dental hygiene routine, keep scheduling those regular appointments, and give us a call if you have any questions about these rare conditions!

Keep on smiling!

Top image by Flickr user Héctor Arango used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Tooth Impaction: Teeth Trapped In The Gums

May 14th, 2019

EVERYONE’S TEETH ARE DIFFERENT. Some people’s adult teeth come in early, some come in late. In rare cases, not all of the adult teeth will come in on their own, which could be because they’re trapped beneath the gums.

Impacted Teeth

Overcrowding is a fairly common issue for adult teeth, but sometimes when there isn’t room for a new tooth to come in, it stays partially or fully under the gums instead. This happens most often with wisdom teeth, which can actually endanger the roots of neighboring molars when they are crooked or sideways in the jaw.

After wisdom teeth, the most likely teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. Research has shown that these tend to pop up more frequently in families. Usually only one of the canines is impacted, but sometimes they both are. The reason this happens to the upper canines is that they come in after the incisors and premolars next to them, which doesn't always leave them enough room.

The Problems When Teeth Can’t Come In

Typical complications of impacted teeth include cavities, infections, gum disease, nerve damage, root damage to adjacent teeth with symptoms like bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, pain and tenderness around the jaw, headaches and jaw aches, swollen gums or lymph nodes, and visible gaps between teeth.

Not everyone with an impacted tooth will experience these symptoms, however. With an impacted canine, the baby tooth might not even loosen because nothing’s pushing at it. This can have a significant impact on a person’s face and smile, because canine teeth have the longest roots and form the “corners” of the smile, as well as providing protection and support for the teeth around them.

Putting An Impacted Tooth In Its Place

There isn’t usually a way to prevent a tooth from becoming impacted, but an impacted wisdom tooth can be removed, and an impacted canine can be moved into its proper place with the assistance of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. After the impacted tooth is discovered in dental X-rays, the orthodontist can decide how best to proceed.


Think You Might Have An Impacted Tooth?

Do you or someone you know have an impacted canine tooth? Schedule a consultation with us so that we can take a look and come up with a plan to move that tooth out of the gums where it’s hiding and into the place it belongs!

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user ilaria used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Breaking Down Eight Braces Myths

April 16th, 2019

EVEN IF YOU’VE NEVER had braces before, you’ve probably still heard a lot of things about what they’re like. Well, don’t believe everything you hear, because there is some bad information out there. That’s why today we’re going to bust eight of the most common braces myths.

1. Braces Rust

While braces are often made of metal, they do not rust. The metals in braces are stainless steel and titanium, so you don’t have to worry about them rusting in your mouth.

2. You Can’t Play An Instrument With Braces

It certainly takes some adjusting to play brass or woodwind instruments with braces, but it’s still entirely doable! Don’t feel like you have to choose between proper dental alignment and the instrument you love, because you can have both!

3. You Can’t Play Sports With Braces

If you play a sport, particularly a contact sport, you may have heard that you won’t be able to keep playing while you have braces, but this isn’t the case! As long as you wear a properly fitted mouthguard, your mouth and your braces will be protected while you play.

4. Braces Are Only For Teens

It is true that it is easier to undergo orthodontic treatment as a teenager, but there isn’t a time limit for getting braces. Adults of any age can get them too. We've treated patients from age 8 to 80!

5. My General Dentist Can Give Me Braces

To become an orthodontist, a dentist must gain years of additional training after completing dental school. Your general dentist has not completed this training to understand the best ways to safely and effectively correct misaligned teeth and jaws.

6. Rubber Bands Aren’t Important

Failing to wear rubber bands as instructed by the orthodontist is one of the biggest causes for prolonged orthodontic treatment. Wear your rubber bands!

7. Double Rubber Bands Equal Double The Movement

While some patients forget their rubber bands or don’t want to bother with them because they are uncomfortable, other patients think they can reduce their treatment time by wearing even more rubber bands than recommended. Do not do this! Too many rubber bands will cause unnecessary discomfort and they won’t move your teeth the way they are meant to move. It can actually cause damage to the roots and bone due to excessive force! You will probably end up needing to wear your braces longer than planned as a result. Stick to the instructions.

8. Your Teeth Will Be Straight Forever After Braces

The periodontal ligaments that hold our teeth in place within our jaws tend to be stubborn, and have muscle memory like all other muscles in our body. They remember where the teeth used to be before braces, and they want to go back. To keep your teeth in their aligned, post-braces condition, make sure you wear your retainers as recommended.

Trust The Experts, Not The Myths!

Whatever you’ve heard about orthodontic treatment, make sure you bring all your questions to us. We can tell you what braces are really like at your initial consultation, as well as what you can expect from your treatment, how long it will likely take, and what you will experience.

We can’t wait to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Gordon used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Temporomandibular Disorders

April 10th, 2019

OUR JAWS DO A LOT of work throughout the day, opening and closing over and over so that we can do ordinary things like talk, eat, and yawn. Ideally, all of the anatomy involved functions as it should and we can perform these tasks without trouble, but many people struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders because something has gone wrong.

The Anatomy Of The Temporomandibular Joints

The joints on both sides of our jaw, located between the ear and the cheekbone, consists of three parts: the socket (part of the temporal bone), the ball (the top part of the jawbone), and a small, fibrous disk that acts as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage to help keep movement smooth and comfortable.

If the disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, if the cartilage on the bone is worn away by arthritis, or if there is a traumatic injury to the joint, a TMJ disorder may be the result.

Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when chewing, or a grating sensation
  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Aching pain around the face
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty opening or closing the jaw due to locking of the joint

Tips For Relieving TMJ Pain

If you’re dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do to reduce it on your own:

  • Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
  • When possible, avoid extreme jaw movements like from singing or yelling.
  • If you have to yawn, control it by pressing a fist beneath your chin.
  • When resting, hold your teeth slightly apart rather than fully closed. This is the natural resting position for the jaw, even when the lips are closed.
  • Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing.

Treatment For TMJ Disorders

In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own after a week or two, but not always. If it doesn’t, and especially if it gets worse, then it likely needs treatment, which varies depending on the cause.

These treatments include ice packs, exercise, and moist heat, medication, and splints, but if none of them are enough, then measures like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound treatment, or trigger-point injections may be necessary. If all else fails, orthodontics and/or jaw surgery may be recommended to ensure that the entire system is fitting and functioning in the most stable and well-supported manner.

Talk To Us About Your Jaw Pain

If you’ve been experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw or difficulty opening and closing it completely, give us a call or stop by so that we can look for the cause and get you on the path to being pain-free.

Together, we can defeat TMJ pain!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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