Ask Dr. Rocky
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Dear Dr. Rocky I recently took my six year old daughter to the dentist for a regular check up, the hygienist recommended sealants on her molars. Are sealants really necessary and shouldnít they be placed on permanent teeth only?
Dental Sealants are absolutely recommended in children of all ages as well as in adults. The natural flow of saliva usually keeps the smooth surfaces of teeth clean but does not wash out the grooves and fissures. So the teeth most at risk of decay and therefore, most in need of sealants are the molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant coverage. Any tooth, however, with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk to your dentist, as each child’s situation is unique.
Dear Dr. Rocky I have been waking up with headaches and when I mentioned this to my regular doctor he recommended I mention this to my dentist. What does my headache have to do with my mouth?
Many things can cause headaches and facial pain, however research today has determined that 95% of ALL headaches are caused by muscle tension. Tension headaches result from muscle strain, or contraction. When muscles are held tight for long periods of time they begin to ache. Headaches from dental stress are a type of muscle tension headache. A tension headache may be on one or both sides of your head. Or, it may surround your head as if a steel band were wrapped around it. The pain feels like a dull, non-throbbing ache. Tension headaches are usually relieved by aspirin. Specific signs which indicate that the headache may have a dental origin include: pain behind the eyes, sore jaw muscles or tired muscles upon awakening, teeth grinding, clicking and popping jaw joints or head and or scalp painful to the touch. If you suspect that your headaches might be caused by your bite, contact your dentist. Your dentist will examine your teeth, your muscles, and your jaw joints to determine if dental stress is the source of your headaches.
Dear Dr. Rocky are wisdom teeth supposed to be taken out or should we keep them?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal. Poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves. In addition, wisdom teeth can be entrapped completely within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone or only partially break through or erupt through the gum. Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt allows for an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Partially erupted teeth are also more prone to tooth decay and gum disease because their hard-to-reach location and awkward positioning makes brushing and flossing difficult. Ask your dentist about the positioning of your wisdom teeth. He or she may take an X-ray periodically to evaluate for the presence and alignment of your wisdom teeth.
Dear Dr. Rocky I recently visited the dentist and was told that I needed a deep cleaning, what is the difference between a deep cleaning and a regular cleaning?
There's a great deal of difference between a routine cleaning (Prophylaxis) and a deep cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing). A prophylaxis is a regular cleaning, meaning it is preventive dental care, the purpose of which is to keep teeth and oral tissues in a healthy state by removing calculus, plaque, and common stains. This procedure typically is performed twice a year, but individual patient needs vary, and it may be necessary more frequently for some patients. A Registered Dental Hygienist or your dentist can provide this service. A deep cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing) is a therapeutic procedure intended as a component of dental care designed to avoid periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of calculus, plaque, and stains on the crowns and root surfaces of teeth, can begin as localized (limited) gingival inflammation, and progress to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. Left untreated, this disease progresses to the ultimate loss of teeth.
Dear Dr.Rocky my four year old grinds her teeth at night really loud, Iíve tried waking her up to stop her from grinding but it doesnít seem to work. Is this common or should I be worried?
Teeth grinding and clenching is actually quite common in children under five. There are two peak periods of teeth grinding. The first is when the baby teeth start to come in, and the second is when the permanent teeth come in, usually between 5 and 7 years of age. Bruxism (grinding) is actually a way for the brain and muscles to locate the position of the teeth as the child's teeth erupt and the jaws grow. The good news is that the habit usually stops in children before permanent damage to the adult teeth occurs. It is good to have your child's teeth checked by your dentist, to rule out physical causes for the grinding. If your dentist thinks the grinding could be a problem, he or she may prescribe a mouth guard.
Dear Dr.Rocky every time I go the dentist the assistant insists I need x-rays, my teeth donít hurt and I usually just go in for a cleaning, are x-rays really necessary?
Dental x-rays are an important tool in diagnosing and treating oral and dental disease. Without x-rays, dental problems (infections) can be missed. Dental x-rays help aid in diagnosis, treatment planning, monitoring treatment and post operative treatment success. We use them to examine what we can't see with the naked eye. For example, they enable us to see inside tooth structure, bones, and joints of the jaws. This ability makes x-rays a critical tool that we rely upon to monitor your oral health. How often you need x-rays really depends upon your individual health needs and often is different from family member to family member given their age and oral health.
Dear Dr.Rocky my six year old daughterís pediatric dentist is recommending several fillings and a silver crown, being that they are baby teeth and will eventually fall out anyway is it really necessary to go through with treatment? And what will happen if I donít?
Yes! It is very important to treat tooth decay whether it is a baby or an adult tooth. Many parents overlook the importance of their child's teeth, especially their baby teeth. Some parents do not realize teeth serve functions other than biting and chewing. Your baby's teeth perform functions such as providing overall nutrition; help make speech possible, aid in the normal development of the jaw bones and facial muscles and reserve space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into position. Cavities grow very quickly in baby teeth as the enamel is very thin when compared to permanent adult teeth. Untreated decay on any tooth, adult or baby, can lead to serious infections requiring hospitalization and extraction of the tooth. If left untreated, serious infections may lead to the child's death.
Dear Dr. Rocky how can I tell whether or not my child needs braces, are there certain things to look out for besides crooked teeth?
Yes, although crowded teeth are the most common sign that a child may benefit from braces there are other signs to look out for such as early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth, difficulty in chewing or biting, mouth breathing, thumb or finger sucking, crowding, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth, jaws that shift or make sounds, biting the cheek or roof of the mouth, teeth that meet abnormally or not at all, jaws and teeth that are out of proportion
to the rest of the face, if you notice any of these problems, your child may benefit from orthodontic treatment (braces) and I recommend you schedule an orthodontic evaluation.
Dear Dr. Rocky I had a Root Canal done about a year ago on a molar but never went back for my crown, my previous dentist placed a temporary crown and up to this date it hasnít given me any problems, is it really necessary I go in for the permanent crown?
Yes, it is very important a permanent crown is placed after root canal therapy is performed. After root canal therapy, the tooth is left weak and brittle. It is weak because the center of the tooth has been removed to get to the infected nerve and only the sides of the tooth are left for support. There is a tremendous amount of force on the edges of the teeth when they bite together, so it's likely that this tooth will break which is why a crown is important to help protect the tooth. Temporary crowns are usually made from acrylic, composite or aluminum and are usually made in 6-15 minutes. Although some temporary crowns can function for up to a year or more, they do tend to experience more rapid wear and breakage than permanent crowns. All permanent crowns are made from durable materials and when made well can last between 10 and 30 years when cemented with permanent cement.
Dear Dr. Rocky, I just can't afford insurance, so unfortunately I have been unable to make an appointment with a dentist for a few years now. My teeth are not hurting so is a checkup really necessary?
Absolutely! Not having insurance means that preventive maintenance and regular cleanings are a must for you. Due to the expense of operative dentistry, getting your teeth cleaned twice a year and having small cavities filled is far less expensive than waiting for a tooth ache to come along, which may require a root canal or a crown. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis for check-ups and cleanings allows you to maintain a healthier mouth. Case studies have shown that in the long run people who visit their dentist on a regular basis spend far less money than those who wait for something to start hurting before making a dental appointment.