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Is Water Flossing the Perfect Tool for Better Oral Health?

Good oral health involves more than having a beautiful smile; it is key if we are to enjoy food, feel confident about interacting with others and avoid oral pain. Statistics however show that many Americans could improve in this department. Over 90% of Americans have had at least one cavity, and one in four has untreated tooth decay. Meanwhile, around half of all adults above the age of 30 have gum disease – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Oral Health report. Dentists recommend brushing and flossing twice daily, but for those with gum disease and frequent plaque build-up, one gadget that should be present on your bathroom countertop is a water flosser.

How does a Water Flosser Work?

Water flossers usually consist of a small nozzle that sprays pressurized water, connected to a water reservoir by a tube. Water flossers  clean teeth and gums through a combination of water pressure and pulsations, which remove food residue and plaque from teeth. They work similarly to dental floss, but the pressure means that tiny pieces of food you don’t even notice can be efficiently removed. Water flossers can reach areas that floss cannot get into; for instance, beneath the gum line at the front of teeth. Users can alter the pressure according to their needs. Therefore, those with sensitive gums may use a lower setting, while those after a power clean can set their flosser on high pressure.

Are Water Flossers Effective?

The effectiveness of water flossers was put to the test in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry. Participants in the study were assigned to one of two groups. Group One used a manual toothbrush plus a water flosser, while Group Two used a manual toothbrush and waxed dental floss to clean between teeth. The results showed that the water floss group had a 74.4% reduction in whole mouth plaque and an 81.6% reduction in plaque between teeth. The dental floss group meanwhile, had a 57.7% and 63.45% reduction in plaque in these respective areas. The scientists noted that the water flosser was, therefore, a superior way to keep plaque at bay. It also indicates that dental floss is still a good way to improve oral health, even though it was less effective than the water flosser. 

When Might Your Dentist Recommend a Water Flosser?

Your dentist may recommend this method of daily cleaning if you have frequent plaque build-up or if your gums tend to become inflamed. If you have a condition like gingivitis, you may be recommended to wait until bleeding has stopped to use a water floss. However, a water flosser is not enough to treat more serious periodontal disease, and you should always consult with your dentist. You may be recommended a root scaling and planing treatment and perhaps later, a water flosser can play a role in the maintenance of your gum health. Water flossers also work well for teeth that are difficult to clean. For instance, if you have wisdom teeth that have not been removed, then teeth may be very tight and it may be very difficult to get dental floss in between then, but a water flosser may be a good alternative.

Because a water flosser cleans plaque and removes trapped food so effectively, it is ideal for teeth in odd positions, but it can also form part of a daily oral health routine for anyone wishing to obtain an optimal clean. Studies have shown that it is more effective than standard brushing and flossing, so if you are worried about decay and gum inflammation and disease, ask your dentist if a flosser is suitable for you. Flossers have removable tips, so one machine can be used by more than one family member.

Fallon, Jacqueline. “Is Water Flossing the Perfect Tool for Better Oral Health?”. The Dental Greek, 11 Dec 2018

Causes and Treatments for Underbite

If left untreated, an underbite can cause major problems. This bite problem can affect everything from self-esteem to sleep quality.

An underbite happens when the bottom teeth and lower jaw extend out beyond the upper teeth when the mouth is closed. Sometimes an underbite is called by its scientific name; prognathism.

In moderate to severe cases of underbite, the face can take on a bulldog-like look due to the bottom jaw bone protruding forward.

This is one of “the most severe” conditions that can occur in the jaw, teeth, and face. The protruding jaw is not just a cosmetic concern, but a potential threat to the patient’s dental health. It can cause many serious issues if left untreated.

If you have an underbite, it is crucial to seek treatment, because an underbite can cause many unpleasant complications.

What causes underbite?

Several factors, including genetic makeup, environmental factors, or other illnesses can cause an underbite. Some of the factors that cause an underbite include:

· Genetic factors, like the famous Hapsburg jaw (many members of the German-Austrian royal family in the 17th and 18th centuries had a distinctive underbite).

· The upper jaw is aligned too far backwards, or the lower jaw is aligned too far forwards

· The upper teeth are tipped backward, the lower teeth are slanted forward, or the teeth are overcrowded

· Thumb sucking, pacifier overuse, mouth breathing, or tongue thrusting, which can shift the      teeth

· A broken jawbone that has healed improperly

· Cleft lip or palate

· Inherited conditions, like Treacher Collins syndrome or nevoid basal cell carcinoma

Complications and Symptoms of Underbite.

An underbite is typically not a difficult condition to spot. Both its conditions and symptoms are usually clear and easy for a dentist to spot, even in younger children.

The symptoms of an underbite depend, in part, on how severe the misalignment is between the top and bottom teeth.

Perhaps the most commonly noticed is a visible protrusion of the lower jaw beyond the upper front teeth. Noticing overcrowding in the teeth and an aching jaw is also very common.

There are many difficulties that can come with an underbite, many ranging beyond the mouth. Here are some of the most common effects:

  • Speech difficulties
  • Pain in the jaw or mouth
  • Frequent headaches
  • Ear discomfort or dysfunction
  • Stomach issues
  • Sleep apnea
  • Bruxism
  • Hypertension

Treating an Underbite

You have several treatment options if you or your loved one suffers from an underbite.

Your insurance will want to know if this is cosmetic dentistry or a necessary procedure for your oral health, which may determine how much of the treatment cost the insurance will cover.

Pricing for dental work also depends on your location and the dentist you choose.

The severity of your underbite can also affect what sort of treatment you need—more severe cases may require more invasive methods.

If you or your child has a “pseudo” class III underbite, meaning lower teeth are ahead of the upper but jaw sizes are appropriate, braces/Invisalign and extractions may be an option. However, if an underbite is caused by skeletal issues, surgery may be the only choice.

1.     Braces/Invisalign

You will need a treatment plan to realign your jaw and align your teeth, once an underbite is detected. In milder cases, your underbite may be correctable with orthodontic treatment alone.

Invisalign (or other clear retainers), when it’s an option, creates fewer calcifications and uses safe ingredients that are free of BPAs and carcinogens.

This option however may not work for children. Invisalign has been successfully used  on class III underbites, but it may require tooth extractions. Metal braces are generally the go-to method for kids.

Before or instead of braces, your orthodontist may recommend specialized headgear. A reverse-pull headgear uses metal bands attached to the upper back teeth and wraps around the head to pull the jaw into place.

Another potential orthodontic treatment is an upper jaw expander, which involves fixing a plastic and wire device to the roof of the mouth, expanded by turning a key daily. Over the course of roughly a year, the palate expands to correct the bite.

2. Tooth Extraction

Overcrowding in the teeth can create an underbite, particularly in the upper or lower front teeth.

In the case of overcrowding, tooth extraction may be necessary to relieve the pressure this causes and aid the jaw in relaxing into its natural position.

3. Tooth Reshaping

Tooth reshaping is a cosmetic dentistry option, in cases where the teeth do not fit in the mouth properly.

In this treatment, the bottom teeth may be shaved down and reshaped slightly, and veneers fitted to the upper teeth. This can realign how the jaw fits together and is appropriate for some mild cases of an underbite.

The benefit of tooth reshaping is that it’s relatively painless, since it only alters tooth enamel, and lowers the incidence of tooth decay.

4. Surgery

For severe underbite or older patients, jaw surgery (also referred to as orthognathic surgery) may be necessary. This typically is recommended in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.

Jaw surgery can realign the position of your upper and lower jaw, and create proper bite patterns in extreme cases of prognathism.

The typical recovery time for a surgery can range between ten and 12 weeks.

5. “Facelift” Dentistry

“Facelift” dentistry aims to correct bite problems using their specialized JawTrac and VENLAY technology—designed to prevent the need for braces and jaw surgery.

This dentistry, available only to adult patients, claims the ability to correct underbites in as little as three weeks by harnessing electronic jaw tracking readings. These are based on the projected natural position of the jaw without having been shifted by a malocclusion. 

Differences Between Underbite and Overbite

In proper alignment, when the mouth is closed, the top front teeth extend very slightly over the lower teeth and jaw.

Extreme cases of this are called an overbite, where the top front teeth extend an extreme amount over the lower teeth. An underbite creates the opposite effect when the mouth closes, pushing the lower jaw and teeth to the front.

Both an underbite and an overbite can make patients self-conscious, causing issues with breathing, chewing, and speaking.

However, the difference is simple: an overbite looks like the upper jaw and teeth are too far forward, and an underbite presents as a protruding lower jaw and teeth.

Underbite Statistics

Estimates for underbite prevalence claim they occur in 5-10% of the population.

One global study took a closer look at the incidence in different nations. The U.S. has a 5% incidence, while China has a whopping 15% of the population with an underbite—perhaps due to genetics.

Burhenne, Mark. “What is an underbite? Causes, Treatments”. Ask the Dentist, 11 Dec 2019

COVID-19: Looking after yourselves and others through better oral hygiene

Maintaining great personal hygiene has never been more important, given the current pandemic situation that many of us across the world find ourselves in.

Advice around how to do this is something that we all should take note of. Especially, regular handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer gel when this is not possible.

It is important to remember that being as hygienic as possible doesn’t just help protect you, but it also protects those around you.

The Oral Health Foundation has provided the following advice to help avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Do not share a toothbrush

You should never share your toothbrush with anybody else, no matter how close you are to them.

This is one way that viruses and blood-borne diseases can be caught from other people.

You should make sure that toothbrush heads are also kept apart from each other wherever you and the rest of your household store your toothbrushes.

Keep the toilet lid closed before you flush

If you store your toothbrush anywhere near your toilet, every time someone flushes, some of the toilet sprays will fly out and land on your toothbrush.

There has already been research conducted that suggests that the virus can be spread via faecal matter (poo).

Make sure you close the lid before you flush and keep your brush at a safe distance away from the toilet.

Change your toothbrush regularly

It’s important to change your toothbrush, or brush head, at least every three months. Perhaps even earlier if the bristles become frayed.

This helps to ensure you are brushing your teeth effectively. A worn brush can’t do the job it needs to.

Changing your brush regularly also helps prevent the spread of bacteria. 

Clean your bathroom regularly

Many of us store our toothbrushes, towels, flannels and other intimate items in our bathrooms.

Due to this reason, it is important to keep the bathroom clean at all times to ensure that there is no spreading of germs and viruses. 

Visiting the dentist

It is important to maintain regular visits to your dental team. It’s best to always call ahead before any appointments, especially during this period of uncertainty. You can ask about any special check-in procedures your dental office may have, or if they have any paperwork you can complete online before your visit.

Be prepared for your appointment to either be delayed or canceled. This is for the safety of both staff and patients. Emergency treatment may still be available but other, more routine procedures, may be postponed for the foreseeable future. Communicate with your dentist about your needs to make sure you receive essential care, without putting yourself or others at unnecessary risk.

Don’t forget the basics

Our oral health should always be a priority. In addition to visiting your local dental team when possible, don’t forget the simple day-to-day habits that will help you keep a healthy mouth.

Brush daily with a fluoride toothpaste last thing at night and at least one other time during the day.

Cut down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks and drink plenty of water. 

Consider using a mouthwash and clean between your teeth every day with interdental brushes or floss. 

Bushel, George. “COVID-19: our guide to looking after yourselves and others through better oral hygiene”. Oral Health Foundation, 23 Mar 2020

Problems with a Wisdom tooth and when you need to remove them

You’ve probably heard someone tell you about getting wisdom teeth removed irrespective of whether you are an adolescent, parent, or grown adult.

If your wisdom teeth haven’t been removed yet, you’re probably wondering the following:

Do I really need my wisdom tooth removed?

Not everyone needs to get their wisdom tooth extracted. There are specific reasons why a wisdom tooth needs to be removed and this article will explain them. 

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth get their name because they usually come in when you are older and you can expect these teeth around the ages of 17 to 21.

These teeth are located in the very back of your mouth. You can expect two on the top and two on the bottom although, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Wisdom teeth are molars and complete your set of 32 adult teeth. These molars are the toughest of them all, used to grind food, which is why they are wide and also cause a lot of problems.

Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed?

Here are the four main reasons why your dentist may say you need your wisdom teeth removed:

  1. They are impacted: This means your wisdom teeth cannot come in properly and can cause a lot of pain. Most often they lie horizontally and remain below the gumline instead of being upright. 
  2. They come in at the wrong angle: Wisdom teeth can push against and damage your surrounding teeth if they don’t come in straight and upright. 
  3. Your mouth isn’t big enough: Some people have smaller jaws that do not have enough room for an extra set of molars. 
  4. You can’t maintain optimal oral health: You are going to be more susceptible to cavities and gum disease, If you can’t reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush and floss

Common wisdom teeth problems

Over 10 million wisdom teeth are removed in the United States every year.

Watch out for these common problems associated with a Wisdom tooth:

  • They can cause pain and bite problems: If your extra set of molars do not grow in properly, they can push your other teeth, causing mouth pain and bite problems. 
  • Jaw damage: Cysts can form around unsuitable wisdom teeth. If left untreated, they can destroy bones, roots, and nerves. If a cyst turns into a tumor, you may require surgery.
  • Sinus pain: Wisdom teeth in your upper jaw can push against your sinuses, leading to pain, pressure, headaches, and congestion.
  • Cavities and gum disease: Inflamed gums can be hard to clean. As pockets between the teeth and gums form, bacteria can grow, which can cause cavities and gum disease 

When should you get your wisdom teeth removed?

The earlier the better.

Your bones become harder as you become older which can make the removal and recovery process more difficult.

Your dentist will use x-rays to determine:

  • If you have wisdom teeth – you may not even know if they are hidden
  • If you need to have wisdom teeth removed
  • How many wisdom teeth need to be removed
  • When you should have your wisdom teeth removed

Do you need to get your wisdom teeth removed?
You don’t need to get your wisdom teeth removed just because you have them. Contact your dentist today to schedule an appointment or bring it up at your next six-month cleaning.

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