Sunday, June 26, 2016

A dilemma!

Dear Dr. T,

I was just going through the queries and your answers and I thought I had to ask this.

I am usually very careful about my teeth. I have got beautiful choppers and obviously I would like to have them for as long as I can.

I used to brush twice a day, scrap my tongue twice and also used a mouthwash. I have never had cavities or any tooth related problems and I am 28. 

The problem began when I started having those wisdom teeth. They don't pain much but they seem to be taking their sweet time in coming out completely. Every month or two they seemed to try to push themselves and when it happened my gums turned all sore and I would bleed while brushing. I also do oil pulling occasionally with coconut oil and few drops of clove oil. But the bleeding scared the hell out of me.

It's then that I started flossing. Even now I have not mastered the art of flossing and I find it very difficult to reach the last eight. I usually do a warm saline water mouth rinse after supper and then floss followed by brushing, tongue scrapping and Listerine. The bleeding has stopped but I am still confused with the order of my routine. 

Please suggest the best way. I really love my teeth.


Dear Smita,

From one tooth lover to another - it was great to hear from you!

Thanks for writing and sharing what you do for your personal dental care! Unlike you, there are people who have good teeth and no cavities but wind up losing teeth to gum disease because they don't do regular dental care.

In order to speak to your question we have to agree that there will never be any one way to do things as complex as dental care, so let's focus on what's seems to be your current significant dental issue - your emerging wisdom teeth.

Since you mentioned that you're 28, the wisdom teeth are a bit late, but not something so unusual by itself. The age range for their eruption runs between 16 & 30. Some wisdom teeth never emerge.

The gum irritation or inflammation you describe is not uncommon as wisdom teeth erupt and is an important factor affecting how you should currently care for your mouth.

Wisdom teeth are not my specialty, so I shared your question with Dr Jay W. Friedman, DDS, MPH who's had a long career in clinical dentistry and written a very important article on the unnecessary removal of wisdom teeth.

                             Dr. Jay W. Friedman, DDS, MPH

In his reply, Dr. Friedman commented that if you have persistent or periodic pain around an emerging wisdom tooth, with or without bleeding, it might be justifiably removed. Of course this is something you have to discuss with your dentist who will have x-rays of the teeth to help make a decision. Dr. Friedman also noted that if the teeth can erupt or have erupted, sometimes all that is necessary is to remove the gum tissue around the tooth rather than the tooth itself (called a operculectomy). Be sure to ask your dentist about this option!

Best of luck with your “growing pains.” I'm sure you'll return to “Peace of Mouth” after a little time.

One other matter for your consideration is something Dr Friedman points out in his excellent book, Complete Guide to Dental Health, - too frequent use of Listerine or other antibiotics can upset the natural balance of organisms in the mouth. When the balance gets upset, a normal resident can bloom, causing over growths that produce mouth problems. Please keep this in mind when your possibly infected wisdom teeth aren't an issue. Dr Friedman says the warm salt water that you're already using is probably the best and cheapest mouthwash.

Let's close by saying something about floss - I'm sure you'll get good at flossing once your new teeth have settled in and given you a chance to practice!

Floss on!

Dr. T

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