It’s not uncommon for teenagers to have their wisdom teeth removed as they come in, especially if they’re getting impacted or crowding other teeth and causing misalignment issues. However, there are also plenty of adults who elect to have their wisdom teeth removed later on.
For some there’s no need to remove them if they grow in fine and have no impact on other teeth. That said, the fact that they’re in the back of your mouth can make them hard to clean, and this can lead to issues like cavities. At some point, it may be in your best interest to have them removed.
Whether you go under general anesthesia for this process or the extractions are simple enough that your wisdom teeth can be pulled like normal teeth with little more than Novocain, you’re going to experience some down time following the procedure. It generally takes at least two weeks for your mouth to fully heal, and for the first 2-4 days following extraction, you’re going to have some swelling.
How can you reduce swelling and speed the healing process after wisdom tooth removal? There are several steps you can take to facilitate recovery and keep pain and swelling to a minimum.
Rest and Recover
This is very important – you need to plan for at least a couple of days to rest following wisdom tooth extraction. It’s best to avoid any strenuous activity to give yourself adequate time to heal. First and foremost, you need to make sure the bleeding subsides and blood clots form so the sockets can start to heal.
If you’re up and at ‘em the same day or the day after, you could reopen wounds and increase bleeding, healing time, and risk infection. Spending a couple of days on the couch, packing your mouth with gauze and taking other precautions is the best way to ensure proper healing and minimize swelling and potential discomfort.
After any surgery, pain symptoms are to be expected. With proper treatment, you can avoid the onset of pain. Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort, but depending on your threshold for pain, you may also want to take the painkillers your dentist prescribes.
Often, you can take them simultaneously or trade off to maximize benefits. Some patients find that they don’t need painkillers at all, that ibuprofen does the trick. You’ll just want to make sure you start taking it before the anesthesia completely wears off and continue taking it at regular intervals thereafter. In other words, get ahead of the pain if you want to control it.
Swelling is a normal bodily response to trauma, such as tooth removal, but you can help to control it in a variety of ways. One of the best options is using ice packs, which will not only address the swelling, but also help to numb the area if you’re experiencing some pain.
You never want to put ice directly on your skin, so wrap your ice pack in a thin towel. You can apply it for about 20 minutes at a time if it’s comfortable, and then remove it for about 20 minutes before reapplying. This could help immensely during the first couple of days after surgery.
Stick to Soft Foods
The last thing you want to do is stab your healing sockets with something hard or sticky, so it’s best to eat only soft foods in the days following removal of wisdom teeth. Cold, soft foods like ice cream, Jell-O, pudding, and yogurt can be especially soothing during the first couple of days, after which you can start adding mashed potatoes, pasta, eggs, and other soft foods that are more filling and nourishing.
You might think sipping milkshakes is a good idea, but you need to avoid using straws for at least a few days. The suction of using a straw could actually damage blood clots in the sockets, cause them to come loose, and set off bleeding again.
Cleaning can be tough for several days following oral surgery, so you’ll want to follow your dentist’s instructions to a tee. For the first few days you’ll use saltwater rinses, after which you can probably begin brushing, as long as you’re careful to avoid the sockets. Your dentist may provide you with a small syringe that you can use to gently flush the area around the sockets to remove food and bacteria until they are fully healed.
When someone thinks of dentures, they usually think of traditional dentures that are relatively unstable. Unfortunately, when someone is told that they need dentures, the news is usually met with despair because they associate dentures with dentures of the past. Fortunately, for those who require dentures, implant-supported dentures are a fantastic denture option.
Dentures With Implant Support
Regular, traditional dentures rest on the patient’s gums; this is why they are generally seen as unstable. They have nothing holding them down. Unlike regular dentures, dentures that are supported by implants are stable because they snap into dental implants. A common misconception is that in order to receive dentures that are supported by implants, one must have some teeth in the mouth. This is not the case. If there are no teeth present, the jaw will be observed. If the jaw has enough bone to support an implant, implant-supported dentures are viable and worthwhile options for patients in need of dentures.
Typically, dentures that are supported by implants are used in the lower jaw. Regular dentures in the lower jaw are usually more unstable than dentures applied to the upper jaw. Patients can opt to also have upper-jaw dentures implant-supported; however, this is not always necessary as traditional upper jaw dentures provide more stability than they do in the lower jaw. Despite the fact that these dentures differ from traditional dentures, they still need to be treated with the same level of care, should be cleaned properly, and still needed to be taken out at night. Patients should not sleep with their dentures in their mouths.
The two kinds of implant-supported dentures available are ball-retained dentures and those that are retained by a bar. Both of these options are made with base using an acrylic material resembling the look of gums. Additionally, the teeth used in the dentures are made using either porcelain or acrylics and are designed to look like the patient’s natural teeth. Ball-retained implant-supported dentures are require two implants that are implanted into the jaw. Each implant is equipped with a ball-shaped metal attachment that fits into another attachment. These attachments are then snapped into the denture itself. Bar-retained implant-supported dentures are slightly different. They follow the natural curve of the jaw using a metal bar that is thin. Bar-retained dentures require up to five implants. Attachments like clips are added to the bar and denture. The denture is then slid over the bar and clipped into place.
The location of a patient’s implant-supported dentures ultimately depends on their location. Because the front of the mouth usually has more bone to work with, implants are usually placed in the front of the mouth. The entire process takes months to complete with 5 months being the shortest amount of time for the implants in the low jaw and 7 months for implants in the upper portion of the jaw. If bone grafting is needed for the implants, the process can take over a year. Usually, the process is broken up into two separate procedures on two separate dates. The first procedure is more surgical and involves the actual implantation inside of the jawbone of the implants. The second procedure exposes the top of the implants by breaking through the gum that has covered and healed over the implants from the first procedure. This is usually done around 5 months after the first procedure. While a patient is waiting for the process to be completed, they will be given temporary dentures in the meantime by their dentist.
Dentures that are supported by implants are more stable than traditional dentures. Those with implant-supported dentures find that they have an easier time talking and eating than they did with traditional dentures. If a patient opts for dentures with implant support in the upper jaw, an added benefit is that the dentures do not take up as much space in the upper jaw, which frees up space in the palate; again, making it easier to speak and eat. While there are benefits, caution should still be taken, and hard or sticky foods should still be avoided.
Dentures that are supported by implants are worth speaking to your dentist about. Speak with your dentist today for an even more detailed explanation of the overall process and to determine whether or not you qualify for dentures with implant support.
A “gummy smile,” also known as excessive gingival display, is a common dental complaint that is seen more often in women than in men. It is the result of a disproportionate ratio of gum tissue to teeth. When someone with excessive gingival display smiles, an above average amount of gum tissue is seen above the teeth. While this is not medically dangerous, a gummy smile can often bring about feelings of self-consciousness.
What Causes a Gummy Smile?
There are multiple causes of excessive gingival display. Genetics can play a role. If multiple family members have gummy smiles, for example, the cause is likely genetics. Other common causes are teeth that did not fully erupt (altered active eruption), an upper lip that is too short, long gums (also known as gingival hypertrophy), altered pass eruption (gums that do not recede as one ages), or an overgrowth of the upper jaw (also known as vertical maxillary excess). There is little one can do to prevent a gummy smile. However, there are non-surgical and surgical treatment options available to reduce the appearance of excessive gingival display.
Because there are multiple causes of a gummy smile, it is important to establish cause before researching treatment options. Once you have been given an accurate diagnosis from your dentist, ask if you qualify for non-surgical treatments. Sometimes, the fix is as simple as a round of orthodontic care. If a patient’s excessive gingival display is mild and is caused by something like overall wear or genetics, a round of orthodontics can be used to shift the patient’s bite into a more natural position; this will reduce the overall effect of excessive gingival display.
Veneers and Botox are two additional non-surgical, cosmetic options worth consideration. Applying veneers or crowns to the patient’s teeth will lengthen the teeth in a way that the disproportionate ratio of gums to teeth becomes proportional. Botox is another non-surgical treatment, however, it is not permanent. The doctor will inject a serum into the patient’s upper lip. This results in temporary (around three months) paralysis of the muscle and prevents the upper lip from rising too high whenever the patient smiles.
Finally, laser gum contouring is an additional procedure that is slightly more complex than the non-surgical treatments aforementioned, but it does not require general anesthesia and can be done at a dental office. The process involves removing excess gum tissue in order to produce an aesthetically-pleasing result. Recovery takes anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
If you have exhausted all non-surgical treatments and cannot utilize any of them due to a more complex cause of excessive gingival display, there are a few surgical treatments that have been shown to produce optimal results. Perhaps the most complex in regards to the overall procedure and recovery time is orthognathic surgery. In layman’s terms, orthognathic surgery is surgery of the jaw. If the jaw is what is causing a gummy smile, orthognathic surgery involves re-contouring and relocating the patient’s maxilla before
securing it with plates and screws. Before going under the knife, most patients with jaw protrusions that are moderate to severe will undergo a year of orthodontic treatment. The surgery requires a hospital stay and boasts a long recovery time, but those who have opted for orthognathic surgery to rid themselves of a gummy smile report very noticeable results.
Other surgical treatments that are not as extensive as orthognathic surgery include lip repositioning surgery and a gingivectomy. The latter is performed by a periodontist and involves the removal and reshaping of gum tissue in an attempt to expose more teeth and less gum. Lip repositioning surgery is utilized when the upper lip is the cause of a gummy smile. The muscles in the lip are severed so that the lip cannot excessively lift and expose too much gum tissue.
The best treatment for a gummy smile depends on the cause of a gummy smile. Because the procedure is not a medical necessity, it is wise to “shop” around and to get a second opinion if you have been told that surgery is your only option. If a gummy smile has you feeling self-conscious, ask your dentist to get to the bottom of why you have excessive gingival display and what the best treatment route is to take based on your overall diagnosis.