When Should You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt from the gums during the late teens or early twenties. These teeth can become a problem if the jaw structure does not have additional space to accommodate the new addition. The overcrowding and pressure from the additional wisdom teeth may cause discomfort for the patient and may threaten existing teeth. Removal of wisdom teeth is a common procedure that can be done quickly and safely with minimum inconvenience at a local Rock Hill dentist.

Reasons Why Wisdom Teeth May Need Removal

A number of issues can cause problems with wisdom teeth that may require their removal.

  • The teeth may only break through the gum part of the way, which can cause infection. Incomplete eruption can cause a cyst at the gum level, which can cause pain and difficulty eating.
  • Wisdom teeth can come in crooked or facing the wrong direction. The eruption of the new teeth may cause pressure on teeth that are already present.
  • Wisdom teeth can also become impacted in the gum, causing severe pain.
  • In some cases, the dentist can anticipate some of the problems that the eruption of wisdom teeth will cause. In these cases, he or she may suggest removal of wisdom teeth as a preventative measure.

Signs of Wisdom Tooth Problems

Problems of wisdom tooth eruption can exhibit as a number of different symptoms.

  • The patient may feel pain or stiffness of the jaw or in the area where the wisdom tooth is erupting.
  • Irritation of mouth tissues may occur from the erupted tooth or from teeth being pushed by the new tooth.
  • Swelling or puffiness may occur in gums where the new tooth has failed to erupt completely.
  • Increased tooth decay may occur in teeth surrounding the new tooth as they become crowded and harder to clean.

Diagnosing Wisdom Tooth Problems

If x-rays indicate that wisdom teeth are intruding on other teeth or causing problems with mouth tissues, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon to remove the wisdom teeth. Although removal of wisdom teeth is a relatively easy procedure, you may require some time away from work to recover from the procedure.

When Should You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?

If you are suffering a great deal of pain as your wisdom teeth erupt then they could be impacted and you should contact a dentist immediately to schedule an extraction. Even if your wisdom teeth erupt with no complications, they can often be difficult to reach and clean properly and can eventually contribute to periodontitis and tooth decay.

Halitosis: Get Yours Under Control!

a girl holding her nose next to a man with bad breath

It’s an embarrassing problem that brings many patients into the dentist’s office: Halitosi. Otherwise known as bad breath, halitosis affects everyone at some point. Just about everyone wakes up with sour breath, for example, and a tuna sandwich with extra onions is almost guaranteed to cause a cringe-worthy odor. Approximately 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, however; this means that bad breath sticks around despite good oral hygiene. Here are some of the facts you need to know about how to tame bad breath.


The obvious cause of bad breath is a lack of oral hygiene. When you wake up in the morning, a slowed flow of saliva and an increase in bacteria and their waste products is usually to blame. Brushing your teeth well usually cures the problem… at least until the next morning!

Other causes of halitosis include:

  • Dental problems. Even if your oral hygiene routine is perfect, a cavity or gum disease can cause a bad smell.
  • Food. If you eat onion, garlic or certain spices, you may think that brushing your teeth will take away all traces of odor. Unfortunately, your bloodstream absorbs pungent foods and delivers molecules of it to your lungs, where you will breathe it out even hours after ingestion.
  • Dry mouth. Whether it’s caused by sleeping with your mouth open or medications, such as antihistamines, that dry out your mouth, a reduction in saliva can contribute to bad breath.
  • Throat or sinus infections. Inflamed tonsils, pus pockets in the throat or mucus buildup in the sinuses can lead to halitosis.
  • Digestive issues. If you have extra stomach acid or reflux, this can affect the smell of your breath.

In addition, diabetes, cancers and other illnesses can cause bad breath.


If there is an infection causing your bad breath, then the only way to stop it is to get the infection under control. See your dentist if you have an oral infection, or your doctor if you have a throat or sinus infection. Acid reflux can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

If you are taking medication that is making your mouth dry, let your physician know. In some cases, you might be able to switch to a different type or brand.

Frequent brushing and flossing is another way to combat bad breath that is not caused by underlying issues. Your dentist might recommend a mouthwash that can help reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. Cleaning your tongue each day can also help.

Finally, keeping your mouth moist by chewing on sugar-free gum or sipping water or other sugar-free liquids throughout the day can help keep halitosis at bay.

If you have concerns about bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist. It’s important not to be too embarrassed to get help; treatment can save you a lot of stress and anxiety, and if there are underlying issues, it’s best if they are treated sooner rather than later.

Understanding Your Dental Insurance

dental insurance claims forms

With the end of the year just weeks away, it’s important that you understand how your dental insurance works so that you can take advantage of any remaining benefits if you need work done. While every insurance policy is different, most of them have a few characteristics in common. If you have questions about your particular plan, please call our office and one of our office staff members can help you decipher the terms of your policy.

Annual Maximum

Most PPO (preferred provider organization) and POS (point of service) plans include an annual maximum. This is the highest dollar amount that the insurance company will be responsible for in any given year. In almost every case, this is a calendar year; in a few cases, however, the maximum runs by fiscal year or beginning in the month that your policy began.

If you are getting close to your maximum and you still need work done in 2014, please let our office staff know! In some cases, it might be prudent to wait to have non-urgent work done after the new year so you can apply the fees toward your 2015 maximum. On the other hand, if you still have a lot of benefit dollars left, it’s usually better to get your necessary work done now, before the end of the year, if possible. Remember to call us now to schedule an appointment, as the holidays and the end of the year is a busy time in our office!

Annual Deductible

Many, but not all, plans also have an annual deductible. This is the dollar amount that you must pay before any insurance money is paid out. In many cases, your routine cleanings and xrays are not included in the deductible, but some plans do require you to pay your deductible even before preventative and diagnostic care.

By now, most of our patients have met their deductibles for the year. If you haven’t, and you need to have work done, you will need to pay your 2014 deductible. If you need more work done after the new year, you’ll need to pay it again. This is another consideration to keep in mind when deciding whether to schedule non-urgent or optional work now or in a couple of months.

New Plans

Many dental plans renew on January 1, and many employers choose this time to change their employees’ policies, if they were planning to change. Be sure to ask your employer whether your dental insurance is remaining the same. If it’s not, find out what the new plan will be, and talk to our office staff as soon as possible. If we are not an in-network provider, your fees may go up in the coming year. Alternately, it’s possible that we will now be an in-network provider. Another possibility is that your fee schedule or coinsurance might be going up or down; this, too, will impact the fees you will need to pay next year.

Dental insurance can be confusing, but our office staff is familiar with the most popular plans in our area. Give us a call if you need help navigating your dental insurance policy as we head into the new year.

Common Dental Emergencies and What to Do About Them

a man with a severe tooth ache

It’s easy not to think much about your teeth: They’re there for you all the time, looking great and painlessly helping you to speak and chew your food. Except, of course, when they’re not. If you find yourself with a tooth problem, you’ll quickly notice that that’s about the only thing on your mind. Whether you have to wait a few hours or a few days to see the dentist, here are some things you can do when you have an unexpected dental emergency.

Broken Tooth

Have you ever bitten down wrong on a popcorn kernel or a piece of ice and broken a tooth? This is a potentially very painful pitfall of chomping on things that you shouldn’t! Your immediate reaction will be to first gauge whether you are in pain; if you’ve cracked the tooth or otherwise impacted the pulp area in the middle of your tooth, you might be in quite a lot of pain.

First, take a deep breath. Call your dentist for an immediate appointment if possible. Go ahead and take a couple of ibuprofen if you can take this medication; it will temporarily dull the pain within a half hour or so. If you cannot get to your dentist because you are away from home, go to any dental clinic or office that you can. If it’s at night or on a Sunday, your regular dentist might recommend that you go to the emergency room if the tooth is very painful.

If you have a piece of tooth wiggling in the socket, be extremely careful not to crunch down on that side again while waiting for dental care!

Lost Filling

Less traumatic and dramatic than a broken tooth is a lost or chipped filling. Fillings, particularly the tooth-colored ones, tend to wear out and chip over time. If you end up with decay growing under an existing filling, it can make the whole thing loose and cause it to fall out.

The best-case scenario with a lost filling would be that you have no pain. Don’t be tempted to let this situation go, however: once you lose a filling, you raise the possibility that the tooth will break or develop a bigger cavity in the hole. So even if it doesn’t hurt and isn’t bothering you a bit, call your dentist and get an appointment as soon as possible.

If the area is rough on your tongue or is painful, try going to the pharmacy for a temporary filling material to help tide you over until you can see the dentist. One brand is Dentemp, but there are others available over-the-counter. Follow the directions carefully.

Knocked-Out Tooth

Having a tooth knocked out is a true dental emergency, and in order to save the tooth, you need to see a dentist as quickly as possible. If the tooth is still in your mouth, you can try gently putting it back in the socket. If you can’t do that, try holding it in your mouth, but you need to be careful not to rub the roots with your tongue or teeth, as this can damage them.

If the tooth fell out of your mouth, try rinsing it off with cool milk or cool water before placing it in your mouth. If you cannot hold it in your mouth for some reason, you can keep it in a cup of milk or rinse it with the milk and then put it in a ziplock bag to keep it moist.

On weekends or at night, head to the emergency room; otherwise, head to the dentist and have someone call while you are on the way. The odds of the tooth being able to be reattached decline after about a half hour, so time is of the essence.

If you experience any dental emergencies, please give us a call right away. Even on the weekends or during the night, someone will get back to you quickly.

What Kind of Braces Are Right for Me?

Braces - are they right for me?

Many of our adult patients feel self-conscious about their smiles. One common reason is that that may have crooked teeth that were never straightened during childhood. Do you count yourself in this group? Have you ever considered having braces, even as an adult? If the thought of orthodontic braces immediately brings you back to junior high, where half the kids had metal “train tracks” on their teeth, you might be surprised to learn that there are now many options when it comes to getting your teeth where you want them. Here are some of the products available:

  • Metal Braces  These are similar to the type worn by pre-teens 20 or 30 years ago, but today’s metal braces are actually quite a bit smaller. They tend to be the least expensive type and are still a very popular choice, particularly for teens and young adults. Kids in particular usually like them because the bands can be just about any color they can think of, so they might choose their school colors, orange and black for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, and so on.
  • Ceramic Braces  Many adults who decide to get braces choose those made of ceramic. They are the same size as metal braces, but a lot less noticeable because they are either clear or tooth-colored. In some cases, you can see the wires, but in others, they are made to match your teeth. These are more expensive than metal braces, but the extra price can be worth it if you don’t want everyone to notice your braces right away. Another potential drawback is that if you drink red wine or coffee frequently, they can become stained.
  • Lingual Braces  Lingual braces are metal braces that are attached to the back side (or lingual surface) of your teeth. You will be able to smile at everyone, and no one will know that you have braces unless you tell them, or unless you open your mouth wide to show them off. These are not appropriate for every type of bite; if you have a rather severe misalignment, then lingual braces might not be an option. Also, your orthodontic therapy might take longer, and adjustments may be more difficult as well as more painful than if you went with traditional metal or ceramic braces.
  • Invisalign  You may have heard of Invisalign, which are touted as invisible braces. Instead of being fixed to the teeth, Invisalign braces can be taken in and out. The way it works is this: A mold is taken of your teeth, and your orthodontist will fabricate your first set of Invisalign braces to move your teeth slightly. You wear the plates for at least 20 hours per day, taking them out only to eat when you are brushing and flossing your teeth. After about three weeks, you return to the orthodontist to get your next set of Invisalign, which will move your teeth a bit more, and so on. If you have a severe misalignment, Invisalign might not be for you, but they are quite effective for mild crookedness. These are great for people who want nearly invisible orthodontic therapy. On the other hand, they are quite a bit more expensive than fixed braces, and because they can be taken in and out, there’s sometimes the temptation to leave them out too much, rendering them ineffective. Of course, as with any removable appliance, they can also get lost or accidentally thrown away, which would raise the cost substantially.

If you want to have your teeth straightened, talk to us about all of your options. We can refer you to an orthodontist if necessary. We want you to be proud of your smile, so don’t hesitate to get dental braces simply because you don’t want to have a “mouth of metal.” With so many options available, there is one that’s just right for you. Call us if you have any questions about how you can enjoy straighter teeth as an adult.

Why Do I Have Bleeding Gums?

why do i have bleeding gums?

Do you experience bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth? You might be tempted to just ignore it, particularly if you don’t have any swelling or soreness at other times. The American Academy of Periodontology cautions against having a laissez faire attitude however: Up to 80% of adults have periodontal disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to periodontitis, a more severe condition that could lead to bone recession and tooth loss. Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you have bleeding gums.

Brush and Floss Properly

It’s very possible that you are brushing your teeth too vigorously and injuring your gums, leading to the bleeding. It might be more likely that you are not brushing or flossing effectively or often enough to remove the plaque that can lead to the bacteria which causes gingivitis.

Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to go over proper technique with you. Many adults don’t know how to floss properly, so there is no shame in asking for help. Your dental health professional wants to help you to successfully keep your gums in great condition.

Use a soft or medium toothbrush, being sure to choose one that will allow you to get into the nooks and crannies of your mouth, behind your last tooth and against the inner surfaces of your front teeth. Ask your hygienist for a recommendation for a dental floss type that will work best for your dental anatomy; some patients do better with thicker or thinner floss, depending on how close together or far apart their teeth are from one another.

Check Your Diet

Do you have a sweet tooth? The fact is that overindulging on cookies, doughnuts, candy and other sweet treats can wreak havoc on more than your waistline. In order to keep your gums healthy, you need to crunch and munch on fruits and veggies each day. For good overall health, you should be getting five servings of produce per day; raw fruits and vegetables will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. In addition to your daily green (and yellows and purples!), concentrate on filling your diet with whole grains, low-fat dairy products and sensible portions of protein, like eggs, chicken and fish. Your gums and teeth will thank you!

Have a Check-Up

It goes without saying that you should see your dentist twice yearly at a minimum, and more often if you are experiencing bleeding gums. In addition to your dentist, however, you should also make an appointment with your doctor if you are having dental problems that don’t clear up easily with good oral hygiene.

Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to swollen and bleeding gums. So can hormonal changes during pregnancy and around the time of menopause. In addition, some medications can make your gums more susceptible to bleeding and soreness.

Take bleeding gums seriously. When you get the proper care for your condition, you can turn mild gingivitis around before it turns into periodontitis. See your dentist regularly, and if you have any concerns, give us a call to schedule an appointment.