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Posts for: September, 2016

By Healthwest Dental Associates
September 29, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

What your dentists in Dothan want you to know about tooth extraction

If you’ve been told you need a tooth extraction, it’s natural to feel a bit nervous. Years ago, teeth were extracted by barbers, usually with tooth extractionno anesthetic other than whiskey. Thankfully, times have changed. If you need a tooth extracted, there is no need to worry because modern dental extractions are a routine procedure with minimal discomfort. Your dentists at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL want to help you discover just how easy a dental extraction can be.

When you come in for a dental extraction, your dentists will numb the tooth and surrounding tissue with local anesthetic, so you don’t feel anything. In addition, you can try mild sedation using one or more of these methods:

  • Oral sedation--taken in pill form; this form of sedation helps you relax and feel sleepy, but you will still be able to respond.
  • Inhaled conscious sedation--using a nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture inhaled through a nosepiece; this sedation helps you relax and can be used in combination with oral sedation for more profound relaxation.

After you are completely numb and relaxed, your dentists will use precise tools to loosen the ligaments and fibers which attach your tooth to the supporting bone. As the ligaments and fibers loosen, your tooth begins to move. Eventually your tooth becomes totally separated from the surrounding tissue and can be easily removed.

Sometimes the reasons for a tooth extraction are obvious, but your dentist may suggest tooth extraction for a tooth that is:

  • Traumatically damaged or broken
  • Badly decayed or unrestorable
  • Painful even after root canal treatment
  • Crowded out of position
  • Split along the root
  • Compromised from periodontal disease and bone loss

You may also need teeth removed for upcoming orthodontic treatment. Wisdom teeth are the most common teeth to be extracted because they are difficult to keep clean and often erupt out of position to be a functioning tooth.

Whatever the reason for your tooth extraction, your dentists in Dothan are committed to providing excellent care before, during and after your appointment. Don’t let tooth extraction make you fearful! Get some help from the experts. Call your dentists at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL today and find out more about tooth extraction options to help your smile!


By Healthwest Dental Associates
September 21, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
NeilPatrickHarrisWhattheOscarsHostTreasuresMost

A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”

How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.

The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.

If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.

If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
September 06, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dry mouth  
CurbingDryMouthCouldBoostYourOralHealthasyougetOlder

There is much to contend with as we grow older, including a higher risk for dental disease. One possible contributing factor: dry mouth from a lack of saliva.

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands secrete less than the normal two to four pints a day. Saliva performs a number of functions, but perhaps the most important for dental health is as an acid neutralizer. Within a half hour to hour after eating, saliva can restore the mouth's normal pH level to prevent acid from softening tooth enamel. When there isn't enough saliva, acid levels stay high leading to erosion of the enamel. This vastly increases the chances for tooth decay.

Although there are several causes for dry mouth, one of the more common is as a side effect from certain medications. It's estimated over 500 drugs — many taken by seniors — can cause dry mouth, including diuretics for high blood pressure and heart failure, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Some diseases like diabetes or Parkinson's may also reduce saliva flow, as well as radiation and chemotherapy.

If you've developed chronic dry mouth, there are some things that may help restore adequate saliva flow. If medication is the cause you can talk to your doctor about an alternative medication or add a few sips of water before swallowing the pills and a full glass afterwards. You should also drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages (water is the best) during the day and cut back on sugary or acidic foods. And a cool-air humidifier running while you sleep may also help keep your mouth moist.

We may further recommend an over-the-counter or prescription stimulant for saliva. For example, xylitol, a natural alcohol sugar that's found in many gums and mints, has been found to stimulate saliva and reduce the risk of tooth decay as an added benefit.

Last but not least, be sure to brush and floss daily to remove disease-causing plaque and see us at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups (if your mouth is very dry, three to four times a year is a better prevention program). Managing chronic dry mouth along with proper oral hygiene will help ensure your mouth continues to stay healthy as you grow older.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatment for dry mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.”