Posts for: February, 2014
You have a beautiful smile, but with one noticeable flaw — there's a small gap between your two front teeth. It's a common occurrence that can be corrected with orthodontics.
There are a number of causes for this wider spacing, including an excessive overlap bite of the upper teeth over the lower, habits such as tongue-thrusting or finger-sucking, or extra (or even missing) teeth. But one of the most common is the presence of an overly large muscle attachment called a frenum or, as it's sometimes referred to, frenulum. If that's the case, you may need a minor surgical procedure in addition to orthodontic treatment to ensure the space remains closed.
The frenum is the fold of tissue that contains some muscle tissue that connects the gum to the lip. In certain people, a larger than normal frenum may extend further to the front of the roof of their mouth, just behind the teeth, and may also extend lower between the teeth and contribute to the gap. Unless some of this tissue is removed, it can force the teeth apart again after the gap has been closed through orthodontics.
This simple procedure is called a frenectomy. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, we remove the excess tissue from the frenum extended into the space between the teeth, using either a small scalpel or a special laser. The resulting wound is generally very small and may require only a few stitches, if any. Healing usually takes no more than a week and any discomfort is easily managed by anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen.
As a general rule, a frenectomy is best performed after the orthodontic treatment so that scar tissue resulting from the procedure won't interfere with the gap closure. With proper dental follow-up, the gap should stay closed — and your new enhanced smile won't fade away.
If you would like more information on treating spaces between teeth, 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 “Space Between Front Teeth.”
We've all heard of morning sickness, but did you know that it's also not unusual for pregnant women to experience oral discomfort? This is what Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O'Dell discovered when she was expecting her daughter, Ashby. In an exclusive interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Nancy described how her gums became extra-sensitive during pregnancy, leading her dentist to diagnose her with “pregnancy gingivitis” (“gingival” – gum tissue; “itis” – inflammation).
“While my dental health has always been relatively normal, pregnancy did cause me some concern about my teeth and gums,” Nancy said. “With my dentist's advice and treatment, the few problems I had were minimized,” she said.
It's especially important to maintain good oral hygiene during pregnancy with routine brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings. This will reduce the accumulation of the dental bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. Both mother and child are particularly vulnerable to these bacteria during this sensitive time. Scientific studies have established a link between preterm delivery and the presence of periodontal (gum) disease in pregnant women. Also, the elevated hormone levels of pregnancy cause the tiny blood vessels of the gum tissues to become dilated (widened) and therefore more susceptible to the effects of plaque bacteria and their toxins. Gingivitis is especially common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
Excess bacterial plaque can occasionally lead to another pregnancy-related condition in the second trimester: an overgrowth of gum tissue called a “pregnancy tumor.” In this case, “tumor” means nothing more than a swelling or growth. Pregnancy tumors, usually found between the teeth, are completely benign but they do bleed easily and are characterized by a red, raw-looking mulberry-like surface. They can be surgically removed if they do not resolve themselves after the baby is born.
If you are experiencing any pregnancy-related oral health issues, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Nancy O'Dell, please see “Nancy O'Dell.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Pregnancy and Oral Health: Everything You Always Wanted To Know But Never Knew To Ask.”