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What Causes Malocclusion

What is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is another term for misaligned teeth. It may be out of alignment on the upper teeth, the lower teether, or the bite may be misaligned. The molars in the back of the mouth should fit together when the mouth is closed. The alignment of the upper teeth prevents you from biting your cheeks and lips. The alignment of your lower teeth prevents you from biting your tongue. We’ve all experienced that unexpected bite of the part of our mouth—it can be extremely uncomfortable. These occurrences are more likely to happen with malocclusion. 

Causes of Malocclusion 

Usually, malocclusion is hereditary. Misaligned teeth are passed down from generation to generation through families. The shape of the jaw may play a role. Teeth may be overcrowded if there is not enough space in the mouth. Congenital disabilities may also lead to malocclusion—these may include a cleft lip or palate. Injury can also lead to malocclusion. 

Habits formed in childhood can also lead to malocclusions. Sucking on a thumb, tongue thrusting, or extended use of pacifier or bottle (beyond age three.) Any extra teeth, lost teeth, impacted teeth, or ill-fit crowns, retainers, braces, or other dental issues may also lead to malocclusion. Poor dental care can also lead to misalignment—failing to brush and floss daily and get regular dental cleanings can impact your teeth in many ways. 

Symptoms

Malocclusion symptoms include:

  • Misaligned teeth 
  • Pain or discomfort when chewing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Speech impediments such as a lisp
  • Regularly biting cheeks, lips, or tongue
  • Change in appearance of the face
  • Fillings, crowns, braces, or retainers no longer fitting
  • Tumors in the mouth or jaw
  • Allergies
  • Enlarged adenoids or tonsils 

Three Classes

Not all malocclusion is the same. There are three categories of this alignment. 

  • Class 1—the most common form of malocclusion, class 1 is diagnosed by the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth. The overlap is slight, and the rest of the bite is regular. 
  • Class 2—this is commonly referred to as an overbite. It is also known as retrognathism or retrognathia. Class 2 is diagnosed by the upper teeth, significantly overlapping the lower teeth. There is a noticeable gap in the upper and lower jaw. 
  • Class 3—also known as an underbite or prognathism, class 3 is diagnosed by the lower jaw protruding forward, meaning that the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. 

Treatment for Malocclusion

Treatment for misaligned teeth will differ based on the causes of the malocclusion and the patient. It may require orthodontics or oral surgery. Malocclusion will not go away on its own and will often worsen over time. It is better to deal with early on. 

For all of your oral surgery inquires, contact Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. 

Emergency Dentist vs. Oral Surgeon

If you’ve got a dental emergency—do you go to your dentist or your oral surgeon? Well, that depends. Many people don’t realize that there is even a difference between the two. An emergency trip to the dentist will solve many problems, but in some cases, you’ll need to see an oral surgeon to solve the problem. Some dental offices will have both a general dentist as well as an oral surgeon. But it many cases, dental offices will only have dentists.

Dentist

A general dentist goes to dental school, studies general dentistry, and can perform minor oral surgeries. But for the most part, their jurisdiction mainly dental care, oral exams, teeth cleanings, fillings, sealants, root canals, and crowns. They can perform minor surgery such as surgical tooth extraction or gum surgery. If you go to your general dentist in an emergency and they cannot complete the needed procedure, they will likely send you to an oral surgeon. 

An emergency dental appointment will focus on the infected area. In most cases, dental x-ray will be taken to pinpoint the problem and determine the extent of the damage. Your dentist will work to alleviate your pain in any way possible. Generally, they won’t perform a full dental exam. 

Oral Surgeon

An oral surgeon has extensive training in oral surgery. If a dental emergency requires tooth extraction, restructuring bone or gum tissue, or other surgery—an oral surgeon can help. Oral surgeons can remove wisdom teeth and impacted teeth, as well as perform surgeries to help adjust jaw misalignment and bone loss. An oral surgeon can address other issues such as chronic disease and conditions. 

Dental Emergency

What is a dental emergency? If you are feeling severe aches and pains that are not subsiding, have recently experienced trauma around the mouth, swelling in your jaw, or other signs of infection or injury call your dentist to schedule an emergency dental appointment. Other symptoms and sensitivities may be addressed during your regular dental checkups. 

Oral pain can be excruciating. In many instances, it will not get better but only worsen. If the pain is due to an infection, it can spread to other parts of the mouth and even the jaw. Also, if the pain is not due to infection, it can easily lead to an infection if not treated. 

If you’re not sure what has caused your dental emergency, a dentist can provide an oral exam to determine the source of the problem. They may or may not be able to treat the problem. If the issue requires surgery, they will likely refer you to an oral surgeon. 

If you have in need of an oral surgeon, there is no better place to go than Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Our experienced surgeons will ensure your comfort and recovery no matter your dental emergency!

How To Relieve Anxiety Before Oral Surgery

Having oral surgery can be a little nerve-wracking. If you’re feeling some pre-surgery anxiety—that is normal! You can work through your stress with a few of these simple tips. 

  1. Educate Yourself—Anxiety is often caused by the unknown. Educating yourself about your procedure and what exactly it entails may help to ease your mind. Do your research on the surgery, the condition, and even the hospital or clinic you’ll be at—all of this information can help you feel more comfortable with the proceedings. Be sure that you don’t go too far down the rabbit hole of what could go wrong during your research; this may end up increasing your anxiety. Be sure that you are getting your information from trusted sources. 
  2. Have a Plan—Another source of concern is a feeling that things are out of your control. Though you will not be able to control everything about your surgery, having a plan, and sticking to it may help to ease some of your anxiety. Plan the day. What will you do before the procedure? And after? Having other aspects of the day to focus on may be helpful. 
  3. Talk to Your DoctorTalking to your doctor or surgeon about your anxiety can be a big help. If they are aware of your feelings and concerns, they may be able to put your mind at ease with some words of wisdom. They may also take your anxiety into account as they work with you. It could mean talking in more soothing tones, talking you through the procedure, or other helpful practices. 
  4. Distract Yourself—Distract yourself in any way possible. When you start feeling anxious, do something that will put your mind at ease. Put on a movie, go for a walk or a run, pick up a book, turn on some music—do what you need to take your mind off of things. It may also be helpful to distract during the procedure if you aren’t going under. Having a playlist with calming music that can help you make it through the surgery as calmly as possible. 
  5. Use Relaxation Techniques—Don’t underestimate the power of relaxation techniques. Doing some breathing exercises and practicing meditation can make a world of difference. Use these relaxation techniques before your surgery, and whenever you feel anxious to help you calm down. Taking control of your breath is usually the first step to calming anxiety. 
  6. Get a Support Group—You are not the only one who feels anxiety about surgery—there are plenty of others out there! Talking to others who have gone through and are currently going through your circumstance will be very helpful. You can quiet your fears as you learn about other’s experiences. Ask your doctor about local support groups. Ask your support group members how they dealt with their anxieties. Learn from others and draw support from them. 
   

Dental Concerns During Pregnancy

Did you know that pregnancy can impact your dental health? Your body goes through so many changes during those nine months, and your mouth is not immune to those changes. If you are pregnant, let’s talk about what that can mean for your dental hygiene. 

Medication 

When you are pregnant, the medicines that you are safe to take are more limited. Be sure that your dentist knows that you are pregnant when you go in. There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that should be avoided by pregnant women. 

During pregnancy, you should avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, herbs, amino acids, and other medications. Consult with your physician before taking any medication. 

Particular numbing medication and anesthetics that can be used in basic dental work such as a cavity filling, are typically safe for pregnant women—but be sure to discuss with your dentist before going through any procedures. 

2. X-Rays

It is usually safe to get an x-ray during pregnancy. Dental x-rays in particularly safe. Radiation levels from dental x-rays are low. Your dentist will cover your throat and abdomen to protect you from exposure. If you have any concerns, discuss options with your dentist before undergoing any x-rays. 

3. Tooth Decay

Pregnancy leaves women much more prone to tooth decay—aka cavities. There are many factors in pregnancy that makes women vulnerable. First off, morning sickness and consistently vomiting will be tough on your teeth and gums. Vomit is very acidic and can eat away at your enamel. Eating more carbohydrates can also cause decay. Carbs are more likely to get caught in the grooves of your teeth and cause cavities. 

Be attentive to your dental hygiene during pregnancy. Be sure that you are brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Pregnancy can be exhausting, but don’t let your dental hygiene habits fall by the wayside—you’ll be happy you kept them up.  

4. Gum Disease

Just like tooth decay, gum disease is prevalent in pregnant women for many reasons. Partly because of morning sickness, poor dental hygiene, and increased sensitivity. Pregnancy can do some weird things to your body, including damaging your gums. Beware of inflammation in the gums and any swelling and tenderness. Flossing daily and dental cleaning can help to reverse and prevent gingivitis. 

5. Pregnancy Tumors

During pregnancy, small growths of tissue may appear on the gums. These growths are referred to as pregnancy tumors—they are most common in the second trimester. Pregnancy tumors are not cancerous. They are often related to plaque build-up. These tumors bleed easily and can be tender. They should disappear after your baby is born—if they don’t, see your dentist about, you may need to have them removed. 

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Sleep apnea can be caused by multiple factors—many of which are hereditary. Factors that are inherited through generations greatly impact your risk of sleep apnea. If your family has a family of sleep apnea and you are exhibiting symptoms, discuss it with your doctor.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, sleepiness after a full night of sleep, headaches, waking up with a dry throat, restless sleep, forgetfulness, mood changes, decrease in sex drive, depression, and lack of energy. Sleep apnea affects your sleep and therefore affects other areas of your life. You may notice sleepiness throughout the day and tossing and turning during the night. This could be a result of sleep apnea. Your sleep may also be interrupted by waking up choking or gasping for air. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor to determine if you could have a form of sleep apnea. Be particularly wary if you have a family history of sleep apnea.

The Role of Genetics in Sleep Apnea

Physical traits that are inherited genetically can impact sleep apnea. The shape of your face, the shape of your skull, and the size of your jaw can all factor in. Other characteristics such as your upper airway and body fat distribution and percentage can also factor into your risk for sleep apnea.

Snoring, one of the most common tells of sleep apnea is caused by vibrations in the upper airways as air is breathed in and out during sleep. These parts of the airway vibrate because of relaxed tissues in the mouth and throat. Snoring has been proven to be hereditary, mainly because the makeup of a person’s airway is due to genetics. If your parents snore, you are more likely to develop the habit.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. It is not one size fits all. There are three different kinds—central sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form. This occurs when during sleep the soft tissues and muscles of the mouth and throat collapse, resulting in a blockage in the person’s airway. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing, causing breathing to start and stop during sleep.

There are multiple treatment options for sleep apnea. The most common is the CPAP mask which will help you breathe in your sleep. Another more permanent option is surgery.

If you’re interested in taking care of your sleep apnea through surgery, come see one of our expert surgeons at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Come in for a consultation to see what your options are! We are dedicated to ensuring your safety and comfort throughout the entire process. Come see us today to get started. 

The Dangers of Gaps in Your Teeth

Widespread teeth or a smile with gaps can be problematic for many reasons. Taylor Swift may “love the gaps between your teeth and the riddles that you speak,” but she might not like them so much if she knew the health risks. Gaps in teeth may be hereditary or caused by oral hygiene habits. Consistently thrusting your tongue between your teeth can lead to gaps. Teeth movement can also be a result of grinding teeth. Gaps can also be due to a larger than average jaw, teeth will try to spread out and cover the area. You may also just be missing a tooth or two and left with a large gap. 

No matter their cause, they can look unseemly, leading to self-confidence and self-esteem issues. Looks aside, gaps in teeth can lead to other issues such as oral diseases. Some of these issues include:

  • Gingivitis and Periodontitis—these gum diseases are more likely to occur in a mouth with teeth gaps. Food tends to get caught in those gaps, leaving bacteria to grow and cause decay to your gums. It seems like flossing would be easier with large gums, but it’s just the opposite. When flossing with large gaps, you must be very careful not to scrape your gums. Both teeth and gums can be weakened by disease leading to gingivitis, periodontitis, and cavities. 
  • Heart Disease—when oral diseases are not dealt with, they can lead to bigger issues. Infection in the mouth can get into your bloodstream and eventually reach other organs, leading to bigger issues such as heart disease. 
  • Misaligned Bite—gaps in teeth can lead to a misaligned bite. This can cause teeth to move further out of place and shift regularly, leading to pain. This could lead to pain in the forehead, ear, or jaw. Chewing may become painful and teeth may be more sensitive. 
  • Chewing Problems—with misaligned teeth or large gaps, your bite can become more forceful which can lead to chipped teeth. Chewing is also difficult, leading to swallowing big chunks of food, which can lead to digestive issues. 
  • Bad Breath—because gaps in teeth provide a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria, it can often lead to bad breath due to bacteria growth. It can also cause yellowing teeth.
  • Bleeding Gums—gums may become more sensitive as they are more exposed. Gaps in teeth may lead to excessive bleeding and pain in the gums during everyday activities such as chewing and flossing. 

If you have gaps in your teeth that you’d like to take care of, come see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. There are many options to move teeth, fill in gaps, or replace missing teeth to make your smile whole again. 

   

What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer begins in the mouth or throat but can easily move to other parts of the body if left untreated. Keep an eye out for oral cancer symptoms to ensure you catch any potential problems early on.

How Common is Oral Cancer?

Approximately 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.  This will lead to over 9,750 deaths in the year due to oral cancer. Over five years after diagnosis, oral cancer has a 57% survival rate. One of the biggest threats oral cancer poses is its ability to remain hidden. It often goes some time without being diagnosed, which can lead to a lower survival rate. Oral cancer can grow and spread without showing many if any, symptoms that are recognizable. When oral cancer goes unnoticed, it is much more likely to produce secondary, primary tumors.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

There can be many causes of oral cancer. The most common symptoms include tobacco use, alcohol use, ultraviolet exposure, poor nutrition and hygiene, and HPV. Oral cancer does become more of a threat with age. It is also much more common in men than in women. Maintaining good oral health and overall health and nutrition may help you avoid a run-in with oral cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

It’s no surprise that oral cancer starts in the mouth. It can interfere with breathing, talking, eating, chewing, and swallowing. Symptoms of oral cancer include:

–          Sores or pain in the mouth that linger for extended periods

–          Swollen cheeks

–          A lump in the cheek or neck

–          White or red patches in the mouth

–          Sore throat

–          Consistent bad breath

–          Numbness in the mouth

–          Trouble swallowing or moving the mouth

–          Loosening of teeth

–          Change in voice

–          Weight loss

Many of these symptoms can be attributed to other ailments as well, which is why oral cancer symptoms often go unnoticed for long periods of time. If you do notice any of these symptoms, be sure to see a dentist or oral surgeon. They will be able to determine if it is indeed oral cancer, another alignment, or if you have nothing to worry about.

Treatment

There are multiple options for oral cancer treatments. Some approaches include surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, dental procedures, nutrition, rehabilitation, and biotherapies. The stage of the cancers’ development and the specifics of each case will determine the right path today. You may also try a combination of things, such as radiation and surgery. Chemotherapy, immunotherapies, and other target therapies.

If you are battling oral surgery or are experiencing possible symptoms, come see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Our expert surgeons can help you through this battle and ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. Come in for a consultation today.

Can You Bruise a Tooth?

The short answer is yes, you can bruise a tooth. But you’re really bruising the ligaments that are holding your tooth in place. When you take a hit to the mouth, the soft tissues and ligaments around the tooth absorb the impact—causing capillaries to burst and travel through the opening at the tip of the root. A bruised tooth also referred to as a strained tooth, is often due to trauma or injury. 

Causes

A tooth that has been bruised by trauma or injury is susceptible to pain and infection. The trauma or injury could be a sports injury, biting down on a hard object, teeth clenching or grinding, or overfilled or underfilled cavity fillings. In some cases, a bruised tooth may even be caused by trauma from small objects that were accidentally chewed such as bones, seeds, kernels, or ice. Dental procedures and surgeries may also leave you with some bruising. A bruised tooth can be caused in numerous ways. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of a bruised tooth include tenderness around the injured area. This pain may linger for days or even months. Lingering soreness is the most common symptom. You may also see some discoloration. If the tooth turns gray, it could mean that the pulp inside is no longer vital—which can lead to a dead tooth. If the tooth is turning pink, it may be a sign of international root resorption. There may also be some inflammation, sensitivity, redness, and bleeding gums. 

Treatments

If your pain is lingering, it’s important to see a doctor. Soreness that doesn’t go away could be a sign of a bruised ligament or another underlying problem. If left untreated, pain and infection can spread to other areas of the mouth. If your pain is lingering and your tooth is at all loose—see a dentist. 

The first step of treatment is to determine the cause. If the bruised tooth is due to teeth grinding or something similar, a mouth guard may be the first course of action. If the bruised tooth is due to trauma, it will need time and possibly medication to heal. Avoid using the bruised are when chewing to avoid further bruising to surrounding areas. 

Tooth trauma can also impact your bite. If your bite feels off in any way—see a dentist. 

In some cases, over-the-counter medication may help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If the bruising is extensive, you may require prescribed medication—this can be obtained at the dentist’s office. 

If you have experienced tooth trauma and need some surgical work done, come see our expert surgeons at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Whether you need a dental implant to replace an infected tooth or some other treatment, we’ll have you smiling in no time! Give us a call today.

Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

Looking to replace a missing tooth or teeth? There are plenty of options out there. When making your decision, be sure to factor in your current health, budget, and situation. Whether you’d like a permanent solution with dental implant surgery or a quick fix like partial dentures—you can repair your smile and have it looking better than ever.

1. Dental Implants

For tooth replacement options, dental implants are about as close to your natural teeth as you can get. An implant is a surgical component made of a titanium rod and crown that is implanted into the jawbone. The rod is integrated into the surrounding jawbone and a crown is then placed on the implant.  Because it requires surgery, dental implants can only be done on healthy patients. Dental implants are extremely stable and comfortable—they look and feel very similar to natural teeth. Implants have a high success rate and don’t require altering of adjacent teeth. Implants act just like normal teeth—they require brushing and flossing like normal. They are permanent and with proper maintenance, they can last a lifetime.

Because they are the closest thing you can get to your natural teeth, dental implants are a more expensive option. Depending on your health and how well the implants integrate to your jawbone, dental implants can take some time. The jawbone may need months to fully heal. In some cases, the implants and crowns can be placed the same day—it’s case by case.

2. Bridges

Bridges are a fixed dental restoration that uses adjacent teeth to place artificial teeth. Because it’s dependent on surrounding teeth, adjacent teeth will have to be crowned and may be affected in other ways as well. Because bridges are fixed, they are not taken in and out which provides for better function.

In comparison to implants, bridges are more affordable and quicker—mainly because they don’t require surgery. Dental bridges can be done at any age and don’t have the same health requirements that dental implants. Bridges have a lower success rate than implants—they are also less predictable, harder to maintain and keep clean, and are more likely to decay.

3. artial Dentures

Partial dentures are typically the cheapest option for replacing teeth. This option does not require surgery and rarely requires any alterations to surrounding teeth. Partial dentures are removable and less stable—making them a little more uncomfortable. They can be harder to clean than other options. This option is a quick fix, but not as long-lasting.

For more information on dental implants and other tooth replacement options, contact us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Our expert surgeons will help you replace any missing teeth, and have you smile sparkling again in no time. Come see us today for a consultation! 

How To Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection that can lead to other issues. It usually starts with gingivitis. Gingivitis is common and can be reserved with better oral hygiene. But if left untreated, it can worsen and become periodontitis, which means “inflammation around the tooth,” according to Medical News

Today. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, stroke, heart attack, infection, and other issues.

Though not all gum disease is reversible, it is treatable and better yet, it is preventable. By diligently practicing these oral hygiene habits, you won’t have to deal with the potential problems that can come along with gum disease.

Brush Twice a Day

It’s not exactly a secret that brushing your teeth is good for your oral health. Brushing doesn’t just prevent cavities; it also protects you from gum disease. Brushing twice daily—both morning and evening—is necessary for good oral health. It’s also helpful to brush after meals. Brushing helps to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums. Be sure to brush your teeth and your tongue. Bacteria can grow on your tongue.

Floss Daily

Flossing every day is a sure-fire way to ensure good gum health. Flossing should be done at least once a day, but most adults admit to struggling with this habit. The American Dental Association has reported that only 16% of Americans admit to flossing every day. Flossing is vital to oral health because it reaches in between your teeth, going to places the bristles on your toothbrush just can’t reach. Flossing regularly to exponentially decrease your risk of gum disease.

Use Fluoride

Using fluoride in your dental care will protect your teeth from decaying and your gums from infection. You can get your fluoride fix in toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental cleanings. Some cities have even added fluoride to their water. Fluoride protects enamel and even increase remineralization—making for much stronger teeth and gums. Increase your exposure to fluoride to protect your oral health in numerous ways, including preventing gum disease.

Use Mouthwash

Rinsing with mouthwash can help to wash away food particles that brushing and flossing may have missed. Food debris and plaque leads to tooth decay and gum disease. As an added bonus, mouthwash will leave you with some fresh smelling breath. Be sure to use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol. Mouthwash with high concentrations of alcohol can be more harmful than helpful to your mouth.

Dentist Visits

Visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and fluoride treatments is also a great way to prevent gum disease. Checkups with your dentist can help you prevent gum disease and tooth decay. If you do develop a cavity or some gum disease, taking care of it as soon as possible will help you prevent infection from spreading or worsening.