Dental Space Maintainers

What Are Dental Space Maintainers?

A space maintainer is a dental tool that helps to keep nearby teeth developing in the correct location in the event that a tooth has fallen out or has needed to be removed. Space maintainers are usually used in children who lose a baby tooth ahead of schedule to keep the other teeth from crowding into the now open nearby space.

Types of Space Maintainers

Because of the nature of the device, space maintainers are custom made by a dentist or orthodontist in acrylic or metal material. They can be removable or may be a permanent fixture until neighboring teeth have reached an appropriate stage. Here’s a closer look at each type of device:

  • Removable Space Maintainer – These removable space maintainers are usually made of acrylic and may even include an artificial tooth to fill the space left by the lost tooth.
  • Fixed Space Maintainer – Dentists use one of four different types of fixed space maintainers; crown and loop, distal shoe, linguar and unilateral.

Unilateral and crown and loop space maintainers are placed on one side of a person’s mouth to hold space open for a missing tooth. A unilateral space maintainer wraps around the outside of the tooth and is connected to a metal loop that prevents the space from becoming infringed upon. As for the crown and loop, there is a crown that covers the tooth that is attached to a loop to maintain space for the emerging tooth.

Distal shoe space maintainers are primarily used to keep space for unerupted permanent molar teeth. It is a little more complex than other space maintainers because part of the piece is inserted into the gumline to keep the open space from closing. Bilateral space maintainers are usually cemented to molar teeth and connected by a wire on the inside of the lower front teeth, and is more commonly used when more than one tooth is missing. Regardless of what type of space maintainer you receive, your dentist will regularly inspect the device and your mouth to ensure the permanent teeth are developing as expected.

Wearing A Space Maintainer

It may take a few days to get used to the space maintainer, but wear it as instructed by your dentist or orthodontist. Your dentist will also walk you through cleaning instructions for both your mouth and the device. Continuing to have good oral hygiene is very important if you have a space maintainer.

Finally, you’ll also need to be cognizant of the foods you are eating if you have a fixed maintainer. Sugary or overly chewy foods should be avoided, as they can get stuck to the device and become difficult to clean. You should also avoid pressing on the device with your tongue or teeth, as this can damage the space maintainer and lead to irritation.

Similar to braces or a retainer, a space maintainer will take some getting used to, but know that it’s not a permanent device and that it is important in ensuring you have a healthy smile with your adult teeth. If you have concerns about your child’s teeth or how they can best use their space maintainer, be sure to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

ADA Seal

New Dental Products Earn ADA Seal of Acceptance

As we’ve mentioned on the blog in the past, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, consider looking for dental products that have earned the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. When you see the seal, you know that the product meets the strict standards for dental health and consumer protection set forth by the ADA.

Each quarter, the ADA reviews new products to see if they are worthy of the seal, and they also review products that have already earned the seal to ensure they are continuing to maintain high standards of consumer care. Recently, the ADA released a list of new products that have earned the Seal of Acceptance, and we thought we’d share those picks with you so you can make smart choices about your oral hygiene.

New Products With The ADA Seal

Here’s a list of some of the items that were recently granted the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

  • Mouthwash – Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash, Listerine Total Care Zero Anticavity Mouthwash and Listerine Nightly Reset Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash all earned the seal based on research that shows they are safe and effective at preventing tooth decay.
  • Toothpaste – Dollar Shave Club Superba! Fluoride Toothpaste and Gel Toothpaste received the seal based on findings that they are safe and effective at preventing tooth decay.
  • Floss Picks – A variety of Dentek Floss Picks received the seal based on findings that the products are safe and effective at removing plaque and preventing gingivitis.
  • Toothbrush – Midline Supersoft Nylon Toothbrush earned the seal based on findings that the product helps remove plaque and prevent and reduce gingivitis.

These are just the most recent products to earn the seal, and if you are interested in checking out the full list of products that have earned the distinction, swing on over to the American Dental Association’s website.

These products are a great way to help keep your teeth clean and white in between visits, so make sure you are using them as part of a daily oral hygiene plan. No oral hygiene plan is complete without regular visits to the dentist, so if you haven’t been to the dentist’s office in a while, be sure to schedule your next visit with Dr. Brooks’ office soon. Click here to find out more information about scheduling your next appointment or call us directly at (952) 888-2300.

Dental Medical History

Why Your Medical History Matters To Your Dentist

Every once in a while, we notice that a patient is a little annoyed when we ask about their full medical history. After all, why does it matter that you are taking medications for an unrelated health condition? The fact is that a lot of health conditions, or the medications that are used to manage them, can have an impact on the dental procedure we are trying to perform, or certain procedures can increase your risk for complications if you are taking specific medications.

We wouldn’t ask you for this information unless it was absolutely necessary, and we’re only asking for it so that we can ensure we provide you with the best dental care possible. Below, we’re going to give some examples of why your full medical history is important when visiting the dentist so that you can see why we’re always asking about it.

Smoking

Research shows that if you’re a smoker, your dental implant procedure is 10 times more likely to fail than that of a non-smoker. Smoking can also inhibit healing or increase your risk of dry sockets if you are having dental work performed. Smoking also greatly increases the probability of periodontal disease.

Osteoporosis Medication

Biphosphonates, which is the type of drug used to treat osteoporosis, can cause jaw issues after tooth loss or a tooth extraction procedure.

Diabetes

Diabetes can affect your saliva and in turn increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Pregnancy

Certain dental anesthetics or procedures can increase the risk of potential complications for you or your future child, so some dental surgeries may be postponed if you’re pregnant. Regular dental cleanings and minor work can still be performed even if you are pregnant, but still let your dentist know.

Blood Pressure Medications

Certain blood pressure medications can affect your gum health, and having high blood pressure can put you at added risk for kidney issues during certain dental surgeries.

Disease or Allergy Medications

If you are taking medications to combat conditions like liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease or everyday allergies, let your dentist know. If a dental procedure leads to an infection, it can have grave consequences for individuals with these health conditions, so your doctor will make a judgment on whether a procedure is in your best interest.

Heavy Alcohol Use

Heavy alcohol use can damage oral structures and leave you at a greater risk for oral cancer.

These are just a few examples of why it is so important to be an open book when it comes to explaining your medical history to your dentist. We only ask because we want to ensure all our work goes exactly as planned and you get the best care possible. For more information or to set up your next appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Joint Replacement Antibiotics

Joint Replacement Antibiotics & Dental Work

Dental medicine is always improving in hopes of continuing to provide our patients with the best care possible. Most of the time this involves new innovations, but positive changes can also come from reviewing old ways of thinking and seeing if they still have a place in modern medicine. One such idea that has undergone review in the past decade is the need to take certain antibiotics before a dental procedure if you’ve had joint replacement surgery in the past.

Not too long ago, patients who had joint replacement operations were told that they needed to take antibiotic prophylaxis prior to their dental operation. Antibiotic prophylaxis, sometimes referred to as premedication, is an antibiotic taken before a dental procedure to help prevent against the risk of an infection. Dental procedures like tooth extractions, root canals, and deep cleanings can increase the risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream. Sometimes this bacteria can cause infections in other areas of the body, and the understanding in the medical community was that this risk may be elevated in individuals who have had joint replacements.

Although this was the common belief, there was very little scientific evidence to back up this claim. Antibiotic prophylaxis could help to prevent infections, but there was no hard evidence that patients with artificial joints were at an increased risk than the normal population, and this risk can be greatly controlled by a skilled dentist and a thorough aftercare plan.

Updated Understanding

Things officially changed in 2012 when the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons published updated care guidelines that said dentists “might consider discontinuing the practice of routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics,” and the ADA’s Council of Scientific Affairs echoed these same guidelines in 2015 when discussing caring for patients with joint implants.

While antibiotic prophylaxis are no longer the standard, it’s important that you still let your dentist know that you have had a joint replacement operation if you are undergoing dental surgery, because in some cases, medications may still be considered. If you have a compromised immune system, or if you have conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, be sure to let your doctor know, because premedications may be in your best interest.

It’s also a good idea to let your dentist know of any medications you might be taking, as these can put you at elevated risk for complications or they may interfere with any medications prescribed after your procedure.

For more information on antibiotic prophylaxis, or to set up your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.

Partial Dentures

What Are Removable Partial Dentures?

Removable partial dentures are similar to a full set of dentures in many ways, but as the name implies, they are only a partial set of artificial teeth. Not everyone who needs dentures needs to have a full set, and partial dentures allow the patient to keep some or most of their healthy teeth. Below, we explain why someone may need partial removable dentures, and how to care for your set.

The Need For Partial Dentures

There are three main reasons why a person may need a partial set of removable dentures. Those three reasons are:

  • Natural tooth decay caused by factors like old age, poor oral hygiene, or wear and tear on the teeth.
  • Trauma to the teeth.
  • Oral cancer.

Regardless of your reason for needing partial dentures, the process begins by the doctor examining your teeth and removing any teeth that are going to be replaced. A mold is then created, and using this mold a set of dentures will be created. They’ll look a lot like a normal set of dentures you might see, with teeth and pink gums, but they may only have teeth in certain areas or on one side of the mold depending on what is being replaced.

The molds are designed so that they can attach to teeth that remain in the mouth so that they don’t move around when talking or eating. Some molds have clasps to attach to the teeth, while others use precision attachments for an even better fit. Your dentist can talk to you about your options and explain any cost differences between molds.

In the beginning, wearing a partial mold may feel a bit weird, but you’ll get used to it. Most patients will gladly trade the new sensation in order to regain a healthy looking smile or to hide the effects or trauma or cancer. Inserting and removing the implant will get easier as you get more practice, and make sure you are following your dentist’s instructions for how long you should wear them. If something is very uncomfortable or painful, bring this to the attention of your dentist so the mold can be adjusted. Do not try to alter your mold on your own.

Caring For Your Partial Dentures

You should be able to find a denture cleaner at the grocery store or pharmacy, but you can also ask your dentist for recommendations. Odds are they’ll recommend a specific brand or one with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Carefully clean your dentures over a soft surface or water-filled sink in case you drop the dentures, as this will help to prevent damage.

Don’t just assume that toothpaste is a good dentures cleaner, as they can sometimes be too harsh. Again, ask your dentist or follow the instructions on your cleaning kit. Some types of hand soaps may be delicate enough to clean your dentures, but most household cleaners are too abrasive, so again, use caution when picking out a denture cleaner. Only use soft-bristled brushes, and rinse the set off when cleaning is complete.

Finally, dentures can actually shift or change shape if they are not kept moist, so don’t just set them on the counter when sleeping or when they are not in use. Keep them in a soaking solution or water, whatever is recommended by your dentist.

Minnesota Dental Clinic

Partial dentures can help to restore your smile after cancer or trauma to the mouth damages teeth, but you need to make sure you are properly caring for your set. For more information on how to care for your set, or if you are interested in being evaluated for partial dentures, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

DDS Definition

What’s The Difference Between DDS and DMD?

You may have noticed when you’re inside a dentist’s office that their degree is hanging on the wall. If you look closely, you may see that they’ve received their degree in either “Doctor of Dental Surgery” or “Doctor of Dental Medicine.” Are those two degrees different, and if so, which type of dentist should you see for your mouth? We answer those questions in today’s blog.

Difference Between DDS and DMD

As we noted above, DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. DMD actually stands for a Latin phrase “Dentariae Medicinae Doctoris,” which translates tor Doctor of Dental Medicine. So while they are two different degrees, is one degree more coveted than the other?

According to the American Dental Association, the answer to that question is no. There is no difference between a degree in DDS or DMD. Dentists with either degree have graduated from an accredited dental school and have passed all necessary tests. Both a DDS degree and DMD degree offer the same type of dental training and both fulfill the curriculum requirements set forth by the American Dental Association. Whether they offer a DDS or DMD program is determined by the dental school.

Why The Confusion?

To understand why we have two essentially identical degrees in the US, we have to take a short history lesson. Back in the day, the only dental degree offered in the US was a DDS. That all changed back in 1867 when Harvard decided to add a dental school. In keeping with tradition, Harvard wanted to offer a degree named after a latin phrase. The phrase Doctor of Dental Surgery translates to “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris,” which means the degree they would have offered would have been a CDD.

However, Harvard didn’t really feel that Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris rolled off the tongue or that it gave off an impressive tone, so after some deliberation, they settled on the abbreviation DMD, which stands for “Dentariae Medicinae Doctoris” in latin. Nowadays, it’s the school’s preference whether they offer the DMD or the DDS program.

So no, it doesn’t matter whether your doctor received his DDS degree or his DMD. They are both the same, and you can trust that if they have either hanging on the wall in the office that you are in good hands. To set up an appointment with Dr. Brooks, contact his office today.

Regular Dental Visits

Why Regular Dental Visits Are Essential

When you leave your dental appointment, you’re probably asked by the front desk if you’d like to schedule your next appointment, which is likely six months down the road. Why should you get a dental exam every six months, and what should you be doing between visits to help keep your mouth healthy? We explain why regular dental visits are essential in today’s blog.

Regular Dental Visits

Regular dental visits are important because there’s a lot that goes on during a routine exam. For example, a dentist will likely:

  • Evaluate the health of your gums
  • Perform a head and neck examination
  • Check for signs of oral cancer, diabetes or vitamin deficiencies
  • Examine your bite
  • Check your jaw joint movement
  • Take images like X-rays
  • Checking for loose teeth
  • Examine your tongue

All of these things happen in conjunction with the actual cleaning, which involves cleaning and polishing the surface of the teeth, removing any plaque or tartar buildup between teeth, checking for signs of tooth weakness or cavities and applying sealants or other enamel-enforcing substances. They’ll also take a look at any dental hardware that has previously been installed, like braces, crowns, caps or fillings.

Why Every Six Months?

Having a dental exam every six months may seem pretty frequent, but when you think of what your mouth is tasked with on a regular basis, it’s not that frequent at all. It’s tasked with crunching, crewing and helping start the digestive process for three meals a day with snacks in between, and it also has to hold up against sugary sodas or dark liquids like coffee. And it does this on a daily basis, which means if you go six months between visits, that’s more than 500 meals and countless snacks between thorough dental cleanings!

Because of this, it is very important that you take good care of your teeth between visits. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least two times a day
  • Flossing daily
  • Checking for redness, swelling or inflammation in your gums
  • Drinking plenty of water and avoiding excessive sugary sweets
  • Scheduling an appointment if you notice pain or tooth sensitivity

Another reason why six months is seen as the standard is because outside of traumatic injury, changes to your teeth are usually pretty slow in nature. This means that six month intervals are good places to check for new potential problems and stop other conditions before they spiral out of control. However, if you feel that something isn’t right or are dealing with tooth pain, don’t wait until your next semi-annual visit, contact Dr. Brooks’ office and set up an appointment right away.

Dental Exam Expectations

What To Expect During A Dental Exam

If you haven’t been to the dentist in years, or you’re just curious about what really goes on in your mouth during a dental exam, we’ve got you covered. In today’s blog, we’re going to explain what goes on during a dental exam so you can manage expectations and understand why regular dental care is important.

Everything But The Teeth Exam

There’s more that goes into a dental exam than simply checking your teeth. Your dentist will examine your head, neck, jaw and bite to ensure growth plates and joints are performing as they should. They’ll also look inside your mouth at areas like your gums and tongue to look for signs of health conditions like diabetes or salivary gland problems.

Tooth Exam

Once all other areas have been examined, your dentist will move onto the focus of your exam, which are your teeth. They’ll look for a whole bunch of things, like cavities, enamel health, loose or cracked teeth, teeth spacing and growth, whether or not you’d benefit from orthodontic work and other aspects of tooth health. This helps them map out a treatment plan if anything out of the ordinary is found.

X-Rays

Examining the teeth with the naked eye is helpful, but x-ray imaging can help doctors spot problems that they can’t easily identify. X-rays help to show how root systems are looking and if nearby teeth are going to cause problems for one another. X-rays can also detect weak spots in our teeth so doctors know where fillings may be needed in the future. X-rays aren’t necessary at every exam, as dentist usually ask that you get yearly imaging, so expect it at every other dental checkup if you go every six months like the American Dental Association recommends.

The Cleaning

Finally, the last part of the dental exam is the cleaning. This usually involves having the plaque and tartar removed from your teeth and between your teeth and gums, cleaning and polishing your teeth, and flossing to remove any last particles between your teeth. Your dentist may also add sealant to help protect your tooth enamel from breakdown. This is usually performed by a dentist or a dental assistant.

Those are the four main categories of experiences that commonly occur during a dental visit. Your personal experience may differ if you are having other dental work performed, but for the most part, those are the basics of a routine dental exam. For more information or to schedule your next appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Eating Disorders and Teeth

Eating Disorders & Your Teeth

Eating disorders are serious health conditions that affect more than just your waistline. Estimates suggest that more than 10 million Americans suffer from some sort of eating disorder, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, which all can have serious effects on your oral health and whole body. In this blog, we explain how eating disorders can have a severe effect on your teeth, and how to get help so you don’t jeopardize your health.

How Eating Disorders Affect Your Teeth

Eating disorders can affect your mouth in a number of ways. Below, we’ll take a closer look at each disorder and explain how it affects your oral health:

  • Anorexia – Anorexia is a condition where the subject has an extreme fear of gaining weight, so they starve themselves to keep themselves thin. They may also throw up food or misuse laxatives in order to get any food they did eat out of their system. Oftentimes they deprive their body of essential vitamins and nutrients, and this can lead to weakened tooth enamel, gum disease or chronic dry mouth.
  • Bulimia – Bulimia is similar to anorexia in that the person fears being overweight, but it oftentimes involves periods of overeating. They can overeat mass quantities of food and then try to undo the act by purging their system or by using laxatives. Again, this can lead to bleeding gums and chronic dry mouth, but it can also greatly reduce the amount of tooth enamel we have on our teeth. Stomach acid hits these teeth when a person is throwing up, and that acid wears away tooth enamel and can impact both the color, shape and length of each tooth. Over time, this will also lead to temperature sensitivity.
  • Binge Eating – Binge eaters are more likely to purge their stomachs after an overeating session, but they don’t do so as frequently as bulimics. However, this can also lead to vitamin deficiencies, gum disease and tooth decay if they aren’t getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. Binge eating can also oftentimes involve a lot of sugary foods, which can exacerbate tooth decay.

Preventing Oral Problems Caused By Eating Disorders

When it comes to keeping your mouth healthy if you have an eating disorder, it’s important that your treat the problem, not the symptoms. Oral health conditions are a symptom of your eating disorder, so trying to brush your teeth after purging isn’t going to undo the damage caused by your stomach acid. You need to treat the source of your problems, which is your eating disorder.

Your dentist or your primary care physician can refer you to a mental health professional or a counseling service that works with individuals with eating disorders to help you put the issue in the past. In fact, many times it’s your dentist or doctor that is the first to find out about your eating disorder because the evidence in your mouth is clear. The earlier you seek treatment, the better shape your mouth and your whole body will be in. And if you’re a parent or friend of someone you suspect has an eating disorder, take the necessary steps to get that person the help they deserve.

Finally, if you suffer from an eating disorder, take these steps to help prevent long-lasting damage. Brush your teeth and floss regularly, and try to get the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals from your diet each day. Also, after purging, do not brush your teeth right away. Instead, use baking soda to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid on your teeth. Finally, have regular dental exams and consult with your dentist about your specific treatment needs.

Medications After Dental Procedure

Caring For Your Medications After A Dental Procedure

If you have had a significant dental procedure, or there’s a chance that you may have some swelling, pain or discomfort after your operation, your dentist may prescribe you a prescription painkiller. The most common prescriptions are hydrocodone or oxycodone, by they can vary based on the specific procedure that was performed.

Regardless of whether you’ve successfully managed pain with medications in the past, or if this is your first time taking painkillers, there are some steps to keep in mind to ensure everything runs safely and smoothly. We share those tips in today’s blog.

Communication

Talk to your dentist about any concerns you might have about taking prescription medications, and ask any questions you might have about their intended use or how to use them safely. After talking with the dentist, be sure you talk to everyone else in your household about safe painkiller management. Keep them in a safe location don’t let others use them. Remember, the drugs are only legal for the person for whom they are prescribed.

Safe Location

Don’t just put your prescription medications next to your ibuprofen and Tylenol. Either store them in a location where only you know where they are, or lock them up. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Keep Count

Your dentist isn’t going to prescribe you an absurd amount of pills, so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep track of how many are left in the bottle. You can also write down on a piece of paper how many are left in the bottle after every dose so that you never lose track. If you notice some pills are missing, lock them up and have a talk with your family members.

Safely Dispose

If you think you’re doing well enough that you don’t need to use the last of your medications, that’s great! However, you also need to be proactive about disposing of your painkillers. Don’t just leave them on the shelf in case pain returns or someone needs a painkiller in the future. Get rid of any leftover prescription medication by grinding them up with dirt, throwing them away with coffee grounds, or by returning them to a drug take-back center or your dentist, as they’ll be able to dispose them for you. Google search for a take back center near you, or a police station or fire station will usually take them as well.

Get Additional Assistance

If you are struggling with any aspect of managing your medications after a dental procedure, call Dr. Brooks’ office or reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357. The call is free, and it’s available 24/7/365.