All posts by Janet

What’s so wise about wisdom teeth?

We’ve had several young people in our office this past summer to have their wisdom teeth evaluated and sometimes removed. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars furthest back in your mouth and are the last teeth to develop and erupt, often around the ages of 18-25. They were given the term “teeth of wisdom” back in the 17th century because these teeth erupted during mid-adulthood, or the “Age of Wisdom.”

wisdom teeth

Our early ancestors used these teeth more often for a few reasons:

1) they often lost adult teeth early due to decay, infection, or fractures, and these extra molars filled in the empty spaces in the back of the mouth and

2) they often had broader jaws, and these “extra” teeth helped them grind down much coarser and tougher foods than we have today.

These days, teenagers and people in their early 20s are rarely called “wise” – but wisdom teeth still come in, whether we have room for them or not!

While nearly 35 percent of the population never develops these teeth, most of us still do – in jaws that are no longer wide enough to accommodate them. Many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Here’s why:

  • Wisdom teeth are commonly impacted, meaning they haven’t had room to erupt normally into the mouth and instead grow at an angle under the gums, sometimes staying trapped (impacted) in the jawbone. Some grow sideways in the jaw, crowding and damaging the teeth next to them.
  • Many wisdom teeth grow partway out of the gums, creating hard-to-clean areas that are highly susceptible to bacteria. Increased bacteria in these areas often causes pain, and can lead to a host of more serious problems, including inflammation, infection, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Because wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth, it can be difficult to keep these teeth clean and healthy, even if they have erupted normally and fully into the mouth. If these teeth develop cavities or gum disease, it is often better to remove them before they begin to cause problems for the neighboring molars.

In our practice, we recommend that wisdom teeth be evaluated during the mid-to late teen years. We often take a panoramic x-ray to better visualize these teeth in the jaw. Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if problems are noticed, we often recommend that the teeth are removed before the roots have fully developed for easier extraction.

With wisdom teeth that are fully grown into the mouth, we can often pull them quite simply in our office with minimal cost and minimal difficulty. If a tooth is impacted, we usually refer the patient to be evaluated and treated by an oral surgeon. In some situations, tissue or bone are also removed in order to access and remove the tooth.

Some surgeons offer higher levels of sedation to keep patients comfortable during more complicated procedures. If we recommend that you or your child see an oral surgeon, we’ll help you understand what to expect, and we’re happy to answer any questions you might have prior to your visit to the surgeon.

If you are aware of some pesky wisdom teeth that may need to be removed, give us a call. For your teenagers, it’s not too early to book time for those extractions to be done during a school break like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Allow for a few days to recover after wisdom teeth are taken out, and pay close attention to the doctor’s orders about post-operative precautions, like what kinds of food to avoid and how to take any recommended medications!

The wisest move is to have these teeth checked before they cause any problems!











Does red wine prevent cavities?

Wine glass photoAh, red wine. A glass an hour or more before bedtime can help you sleep. When properly paired with food, it can enhance the flavor of the meal. Along with dark chocolate, it is credited with helping to prevent heart disease.

And now… drum roll… a recent study has suggested that red wine may help prevent cavities.

A widely reported study, published recently in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, suggests that red wine inhibits the growth of certain bacteria found in oral biofilm.

The plaque that forms on our teeth is a type of biofilm. It causes tooth decay and periodontal disease – which is why we brush our teeth to remove it. So drinking wine to kill the bacteria in plaque seems like a good idea, right?

Maybe. Chemical research does not easily break down into media snippets. This study looked at chlorhexidine gluconate, Streptococcus mutans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus oralis, Actinomyces oris and Veillonella dispar. I remember some of these from dental school, but I bet in your house they are not common terms.

The results were actually conflicting, but the suggestion that some properties of red wine might be beneficial to oral health was a notion the media could grasp, and eagerly pass on.

Little mention was made of the experimental conditions that would have you holding the wine in your mouth for two minutes every seven hours for seven days. To my way of thinking, that’s not the best way to enjoy a fine glass of wine.

To maintain oral health, Nevills Family Dentistry recommends that you:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Clean between your teeth once a day
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit snacks
  • Visit your dentist regularly

We have recommendations regarding red wine as well. Try having a glass of wine:

  • With a really good meal – steak is my personal favorite
  • At one of the many great wineries in our area
  • A few hours before bedtime, if you think it may help you sleep

And, since red wine can actually stain your teeth, don’t forget to brush before you go to bed!

Keeping Dental Care Affordable

Congress has reduced tax-deductible contributions to your flexible spending account (FSA) from a maximum of $5,000 last year, to only $2,500 this year.

During these difficult economic times, we want to make it more affordable for you to have the quality dental care that you and your family deserve.

That’s why, if the cost of your care exceeds the $2,500 limit, we can arrange affordable monthly payments using an automatic credit card charge or CareCredit.

Please also remember that we offer a 7% discount for cash or check payments on fees over $250 when paid in full on the day you receive service.

Please call our office to discuss these options for making treatment affordable for you.

If you have friends, family members, or colleagues who are looking for a family dentist, please send them our way! Patients the Beaverton, Hillsboro and Portland areas are part of our family, too!