Posts for: July, 2013
It was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe it was years ago, or maybe it was yesterday — at some point in your past life you had your tongue pierced and a metal bolt inserted. But now you are wondering whether you made a bad decision. If you have the bolt removed from your tongue, will your mouth go back to being the way it was before the piercing?
The answer is yes, your oral health will improve when you remove a tongue bolt. There are many reasons for this. Your tongue has a rich blood vessel supply to fuel its energy needs and heals quickly.
Some people suffer from chronic pain as long as the bolt is in place. In addition to pain, tongue piercing is associated with other risks. The bolt can chip your teeth or cause tooth sensitivity. It can also cause your gums to recede from your teeth. You may also suffer from inflammation and infection in your gums. This can lead to bone loss and ultimately to loss of teeth.
A piercing and tongue bolt can also cause damage to the nerves in your tongue. This causes pain for some people until the bolt is removed. Your tongue is well supplied with nerves as well as blood vessels. That is why biting your tongue hurts and bleeds a lot, another good reason for not having a piercing.
So what happens if you have the bolt removed? In most cases conditions in your mouth will return to normal. We will want to monitor your condition after removing the bolt to make sure it has not caused collateral damage to your gums and teeth and other oral structures.
Removing the bolt will leave your tongue with a hole that is likely to close spontaneously. If it does not close, a small surgical procedure can remove the skin that lines the holes, which are then stitched closed. This procedure is done with local anesthesia so you don't feel anything, and healing is usually quick and without complications.
Did you know that millions of Americans have some degree of gum recession? Are you one of them?
Gum recession is the loss of the pink gum tissue that surrounds your teeth and can lead to exposure of the root surface of your teeth. In addition to the obvious aesthetic issues, recession can also result in tooth loss in very severe cases.
So, what causes gum recession? Well, first of all, if you are genetically predisposed to having thin gum tissues, your gums will be more prone to receding than those with thick tissues. However, other factors include ineffective oral hygiene, excessive brushing and mal-positioned teeth. In addition, poor fitting appliances, such as partial dentures can also cause gum recession.
If you think you are suffering from gum recession, you should make an appointment with us immediately, so that we can perform a thorough examination to accurately diagnose your condition. We'll look at your teeth and their position within the supporting bone and surrounding gum tissue. Depending upon our diagnosis, we may recommend a technique known as gum or soft tissue grafting, which allows us to regenerate lost or damaged gum tissue. Grafting is the surgical manipulation of tissue, taking it from one site and moving it to another, so that it can attach and grow.
There are two basic gum tissue grafting techniques, the free gingival graft and the connective tissue graft. Here is a description of each:
- Free Gingival Grafting. With this technique, we remove a thin layer of tissue from the roof of your mouth or any other site where the tissues are identical to gum tissue (the donor). We then shape and transplant it to the recipient site to create new gum tissue. Both donor and recipient sites heal within two to three weeks.
- Connective Tissue Grafting. This technique is used to cover exposed roots in the treatment of gum recession. It involves more microsurgical maneuvers to prepare both the donor and recipient sites. We take donor tissue from beneath the surface of the roof of your mouth and then cover it with the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. Another alternative is to use processed tissue rather than your own tissue as a donor material.
When you visit us for an appointment, we will assess which procedure is best-suited to your needs.
If you would like more information about gum recession and plastic surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Don't ignore tooth pain hoping it goes away. No matter how mild or fleeting it may be, it's a sign that something's wrong. Healthy teeth shouldn't cause discomfort because the parts containing the nerves — the interior pulp and the dentin around it — are shielded by dental enamel and gums.
Here are some common reasons that teeth ache:
- Gum Recession. Over time, gums can recede. Improper or excessive brushing can affect them, especially if you are genetically predisposed by having thin gums. When gums retreat, dentin can, or eventually will, be exposed. Besides its susceptibility to sensation, dentin is also more vulnerable to erosion and decay than enamel.
- Tooth Erosion/Decay. When acid-producing oral bacteria get the upper hand, they can eat through the tooth's protective enamel to the dentin. You may start feeling sensitivity as the decay gets deeper and closer to the pulp (nerves). Only removal of the decay and filling the cavity can stop the process.
- Old/Loose/Lost Filling. Fillings seal off areas of past decay. If they don't fit right or are dislodged altogether, air or food particles can slip inside and irritate exposed nerve endings. A crevice to hide in makes it prime real estate again for bacteria, too.
- Cracked Tooth. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can have a similar impact on teeth that a miner's pick has on rock. At first thin lines in your enamel can develop, then cracks develop that may expose the dentin, and finally the tooth might fracture, exposing the pulp. The earlier this process is caught, the better.
- Pulp Tissue Infection/Inflammation. This can be caused by deep decay or trauma and suggests your tooth may be in its death throes. Sometimes the pulp infection travels into the surrounding periodontal (peri – around; odont – tooth) tissues and causes an abscess to develop. This absolutely requires immediate attention.
- Residual Sensitivity from Dental Work. Removal of decay before placing a filling can cause tooth sensitivity. It can take 1-4 weeks or so to improve.
- Sinus Pain. Congestion can cause “referred” pain in the upper teeth. When the congestion subsides, the pain should, too.
As you can see, it's risky to discount tooth pain and “wait ‘til it goes away.” Our office can help you determine the origin of your pain and the best course of action to resolve it. When in doubt, it's always better to err on the side of caution!
If you would like more information about tooth pain and ways to prevent or treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!” and “Sensitive Teeth.”