32 teeth

Is something wrong if you don’t have 32 teeth

There are typically 32 teeth in an adult mouth. Many people have to have their wisdom teeth removed, reducing the total to 28. However, some people never develop their wisdom teeth. In some cases they may be missing other permanent teeth! And not from tooth loss due to injury or decay, the teeth just never developed in the first place. Is something wrong if you don’t have 32 teeth? That depends…

Why do some teeth not develop?

Short answer, genetics. There is a term that’s used when a person is missing 6 or fewer permanent teeth, hypodontia. It’s a birth defect that is caused by abnormal changes in the genes. When a person is missing more than six permanent teeth, it’s called oligodontia. If a person has either of these, it is no fault of their own. It’s just something that can happen. The most important thing to do for both of these conditions is to diagnose and start treatment early. And not just for cosmetic reasons.

Treating hypodontia and oligodontia:

When a person is missing teeth, several things can happen:

  • Their teeth can shift, causing misaligned bites and other tooth damage
  • Their body can reabsorb the jawbone
  • They may have trouble eating or speaking

These things can have a major effect on a person, from a dental and emotional standpoint. That’s why it’s so important to catch it early so your dentist can begin a treatment plan. While we can’t force the missing teeth to grow, they can be replaced. Dental implants, dentures, crowns, and bridges can all be used to fill in any missing teeth. If left alone for too long, the teeth that shift will need to be moved back into their proper positions with braces or other means before any replacement teeth can be installed.

Missing wisdom teeth:

There is a small percentage of the population that never develop some (or all) of their wisdom teeth. This isn’t a bad thing at all! That’s one (or more) less teeth for the oral surgeon to remove. Like hypodontia, missing wisdom teeth is caused by a genetic anomaly. Thousands of years ago, a mutation developed that suppressed the formation of wisdom teeth. Fossils have been found in China dating back 300,000 to 400,000 years old that are missing third molars. So this mutation has been around for a while.

If any of these apply to you, it’s nothing that could have been prevented, as it happened on the genetic level. The important thing is to have the teeth replaced before any other issues develop. Call Dr. Chauvin’s office if you have more questions!

wisdom teeth xrays

How often should I have dental x-rays taken?

We’ve all had to bite that weird little piece of plastic and have a strange machine take pictures of our face. Although a bit unpleasant, dental x-rays are incredibly valuable, allowing the dentist to identify:

  • Root canal or bone changes caused by infection
  • Decayed areas of teeth that indicate cavities
  • Bone loss associated with gum disease
  • Abscesses
  • Tooth decay beneath pre-existing fillings
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Incoming wisdom teeth

They’re also used to ensure that a child has enough room for incoming adult teeth, and to help the dentist prepare for things like braces, implants, dentures, and other procedures. Being that they’re so useful – you may wonder how often you should have dental x-rays taken. The answer is entirely up to you.

Dental x-rays may need to be done as often as every six months, or as little as once every few years. There are a few factors that will determine how often you have them done. Each dentist will have their own policy, but to give you an idea of what to expect:

New adult patients to a dentist’s office will most likely have x-rays done to establish a baseline if they have a history of tooth decay. The dentist will need to see what work, if any, has been previously performed, as well as establishing current overall dental health. After that, x-rays will be taken every 6-12 months. If the adult has healthy teeth, with little to no history of tooth decay, x-rays will only be taken every 2-3 years.

When it comes to children without any permanent teeth, x-rays will need to be taken if all surfaces of their teeth cannot be probed or visualized. If decay is present, x-rays will be taken every 6 months until the decay is gone. If there’s no decay, x-rays are only needed every 1-2 years.

As their permanent teeth begin to erupt, a full series of x-rays will be taken to ensure that the teeth are coming in correctly, that the mouth has enough room for the adult teeth, and to keep an eye on the wisdom teeth. If there is decay, they will have 1-2 dental x-rays a year. If there’s no decay, then x-rays are only needed every 18-36 months.

In a nutshell, the healthier your teeth, the less necessary x-rays are, especially as an adult. Practice good oral hygiene, and you won’t need as many. Have more questions about dental x-rays? Contact Dr. Chauvin’s office.

tongue scraper dr. chauvin lafayette

Will using a tongue scraper solve the problem with my breath?

Nobody likes bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) is typically caused by a dry mouth. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, typically when you aren’t adequately hydrated, the cells on your tongue begin to die. As we all know, the human mouth is home to tons of bacteria. Those dead cells are then broken down by said bacteria, which produces a foul odor – giving us bad breath. It can also be caused by improper dental hygiene, or certain types of food. And while there are a number of things you can do for bad breath, such as drinking more water, brushing better, or using mouthwash, one method of alleviating bad breath is the use of a tongue scraper.

But do tongue scrapers actually work?

Since we know that the most common cause of bad breath is decomposing cells on the tongue, if this is in fact what is causing your bad breath, then yes! Tongue scrapers will help with bad breath. They remove the volatile sulfur compounds that are left behind on your tongue as cells are eaten away. As a matter of fact, this is the most effective method of eliminating bad breath… in the short term.

How to use a tongue scraper:

After you brush and floss, use your tongue scraper, in the morning and at night. If you notice a resurgence of symptoms in the middle of the day, scrape then too. Place it at the back of your tongue and drag it towards the tip. Do this a few times, rinsing the scraper in-between uses. If your tongue becomes irritated or you see cuts or sores developing, you’re scraping too hard, or too often. Allow the tongue to heal before you try again.

Are tongue scrapers a long-term solution?

Not really! While tongue scrapers do remove the offending bacteria, they do not address the underlying cause. They’ll take care of the bad breath as long as you continue to use them regularly, but for a permanent solution, you should try some other things in conjunction with the tongue scraper. Issues that cause bad breath include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • An undiagnosed medical condition

Try drinking more water and brushing better, while still using the tongue scraper. After a while, skip the tongue scraper. If you find you still have bad breath, you will need to pay a visit to your dentist to determine what the cause is.

kids at dentist chauvin dental lafayette la

What age should kids start seeing the dentist

It’s a question all parents have, when should you take your kids to the dentist for the first time? And the answer is something a lot of people get wrong. Most children don’t see the dentist for the first time until they’re about two and a half. In reality, they should be seeing one far earlier. How much earlier?

Children should see the dentist within six months of their first tooth erupting, or by age one.

You may be wondering why they need to see a dentist so early. Especially since they’re just going to lose the primary teeth anyway. However, proper dental health is crucial, even in young children. They need to learn how to eat, speak properly, and learn good dental hygiene. If they lose teeth too early due to decay or other factors, that can have a serious impact on their development. That’s why it’s so important that children have all of their teeth until they fall out naturally.

Dental visits can be scary.

If you take your child to the dentist around age one, they most likely won’t be very scared. And if they do get scared, regular dental checkups will make the dentist’s office seem like a regular occurrence. A child that’s over two years of age may be substantially more anxious if the dentist is a new thing. There are some things you can do to prepare your child for the dentist:

  • Take them with you the next time you visit so they can see what it’s like
  • Teach them about the importance of healthy teeth
  • Play dentist with your kids – take turns examining each other’s teeth so they get used to the experience

Make sure you take them to a pediatric dentist. While some normal dentists treat children, pediatric offices are much more suited to children. They’ve been trained on how to deal with kids, and there are often toys and games to keep the children entertained.

Their future dental health can be greatly impacted by proactive dental checkups.

Pediatric dental visits, in addition to caring for your child’s current teeth, will make sure your child’s permanent teeth are developing correctly. Their permanent teeth are visible on x-rays, and their dentist will make sure that all of their teeth are forming correctly, and in the right place. And if there’s going to be a problem, the dentist can take steps to prevent it. For example, stubborn primary teeth may need to be extracted to ensure that the underlying permanent teeth come in the right way.

Pediatric dental health is very important, so make sure you take your kids to the dentist when they’re supposed to go. If you are afraid of or dislike the dentist, try to keep that to yourself so you don’t frighten your kids. Oral health is very important, and linked with heart disease, so make sure they take proper care of their teeth! If you’re having trouble finding a pediatric dentist, call our office and we can recommend a good one.

nitrous oxide chauvin dental lafayette la

Why is nitrous oxide not offered for all procedures?

Have you ever been laying in the dentist’s chair, maybe nervous or bored, and wondered why you aren’t being given nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas)? Short answer, it depends on the patient! Nitrous oxide is a form of sedation called “inhalation sedation.” Although it’s considered an ideal clinical sedative, there are some things to consider.

Who needs nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is an odorless, colorless gas that eliminates pain and induces euphoria after breathing it in for about five minutes. There may be visual or auditory effects, as well as lightheadedness or “the giggles.” Once the gas is no longer being inhaled, it wears off in three to five minutes. It is often administered in the following cases:

  • For long dental procedures to reduce stress, fatigue, and awareness of time
  • To calm frightened children
  • To ease the nerves of patients
  • To control gagging

In these cases, the use of nitrous oxide makes the patient more at ease, which allows their jaw to relax. Know how your jaw tightens when you’re stressed? Imagine feeling that way at the dentist, and having to force your mouth to stay open for an extended period of time. It’s difficult for the patient and the dentist. Some dentists allow laughing gas on request, but keep in mind, if it’s not absolutely necessary, your insurance may not cover it. The cost of sedation will come directly from your own pocket.

Certain factors don’t allow for the use of nitrous oxide.

While nitrous oxide is a relatively safe and effective method of sedation, there are some cases where it should not be used. The gas is administered via a mask that fits over the nose, and the tubes that pump the gas into the nose hang down the sides of the head. If you can’t breathe through your nose (perhaps due to a cold, or you typically breathe through your mouth) then nitrous oxide cannot be administered. Claustrophobia can also prevent the use of nitrous oxide. A claustrophobic person may not be able to have something sitting on their face for an extended period of time. Patients that have obstructive pulmonary disease are also not good candidates for nitrous oxide, as they have a reduced ability to move gases in and out of the lungs. People with emphysema cannot use it either. Other conditions that prevent the use of nitrous oxide include multiple sclerosis, pregnancy, or psychiatric patients.

As with any other dental procedure, ask your dentist if you would like to use nitrous oxide. They can go over the benefits and risks with you, and determine whether you’re a good candidate. Call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment today!

braces chauvin lafayette

Can you whiten your teeth with braces

Taking proper care of your teeth when you’re wearing braces is tough. And you can be as diligent as an oral hygienist while they’re on, but sometimes, either based on our diet or other habits, our teeth yellow. And you may want to correct it! Can you whiten your teeth with braces? Yes. The real question you need to ask is “Should you whiten your teeth with braces?” And the answer depends on the type of braces you have. Here’s what we mean.

You shouldn’t whiten your teeth with metal bracket braces on the front:

When you have your teeth professionally whitened, you’re not going to affect the area that is directly covered by the braces. After all, they’re stuck to your teeth! Even though they’ll look better in the short term, when the braces come off, you’ll have spots of uneven color where the braces were attached. And the only way to correct this is to have your teeth whitened again. Depending on the severity of the staining, you still may not be able to get the two colors to match – resulting in uneven color. Having your teeth whitened isn’t cheap either – best to wait until the braces come off.

You can whiten your teeth if the brackets are on the back, or you use Invisalign:

If the brackets reside on the backsides of your teeth, getting your teeth whitened is fine, as the backs of your teeth don’t need to be bleached anyway. Invisalign braces can easily be removed, so having your teeth whitened is not a problem. There’s nothing that can get in the way or be potentially damaged since they are removed entirely.

Methods of teeth whitening:

Additionally, you need to take care not to damage the braces in the whitening process. Ask your dentist what method you should use, because they’ll be able to tell you what options are safest for your braces. There are several methods of tooth whitening:

  • In-office bleaching involves a bleaching agent being put on the teeth, and exposure to a special light that will accelerate the effect.
  • At-home bleaching involves strips or trays that are placed on the teeth. If you have metal brackets, you’ll need custom trays for the bleach that allows for the extra room the braces take up.
  • Whitening toothpaste is the simplest and safest method of tooth whitening for all types of braces.

Keep in mind that your gums, teeth and jaws may be more sensitive, or more prone to irritation while you’re wearing braces. Ask your dentist what their recommendation is for whitening your teeth. If you have more questions, call Dr. Chauvin’s office!

gum health chauvin lafayette

The link between gum health and heart health

You’ve always heard that gum disease and heart health are linked, even though you may not understand exactly how. And, while there definitely seems to be a correlation, some scientists are not 100% on what causes it yet. Here is what we know.

The correlation could simply be overall wellness in general

Robert Bonow, MD and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine says, “If it’s true that people with poor oral health have more heart attacks, it doesn’t mean the poor oral health leads to them. People with good oral hygiene may just be taking better care of themselves.” In essence, perhaps the link between oral and heart health is simply that people who brush and floss regularly just take better care of themselves. This does not mean that if you have poor oral health that you’re an unhealthy person! There are many factors that contribute to oral health such as genetics, diet, oral hygiene habits, etc.

Bacteria from the mouth can spread to other parts of the body

Our mouth is a gateway to the rest of our body, directly to our internal organs. Gingivitis, which is the beginning of gum disease, happens when the gums become inflamed and bacteria take over the mouth. These bacteria can travel from the mouth to the heart, causing inflammation and damage. This can turn into endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart.

Inflammation causes hardening of the arteries

When arteries harden and eventually become blocked, it’s due to a buildup of plaque. It’s not the same type of plaque as dental plaque though:

  • Dental plaque is a white film of bacteria that naturally builds up over time in the mouth and is removed with regular brushing up to a certain point. Eventually it hardens, necessitating removal by a dentist.
  • Arterial plaque is made of fat, calcium, cholesterol, and scar tissue, and builds up on the artery walls.

And although it’s not the same type of plaque, there is a correlation between the two. In fact, patients with gum disease have almost double the risk of having heart disease.

Warning signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen, sore, and red gums
  • Gums that bleed when brushing, flossing, or eating
  • Pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth

Delta Dental has confirmed evidence of two links to gum and heart disease. The first, moderate or advanced gum disease presents a greater risk for heart disease. And the second, your oral health can exhibit warning signs for a wide variety of other conditions, including heart disease. If you’re concerned about your oral health, and want to reduce your risk for heart disease, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment!

electric toothbrushes chauvin dental lafayette la

Are electric toothbrushes better

We have all been there. Standing in the toothbrush aisle, trying to choose from a very wide variety of toothbrush. Some have tongue scrubbers, others have gum massagers, some are soft bristled, some are not, there are electric and regular ones, and they have multiple size options. It can be overwhelming! The biggest choice you have to make is electric or regular, right? Well electric toothbrushes aren’t just a gadget designed for lazy folks, they actually come with a host of benefits you may not have considered!

They’re fun!

Do you struggle to get your children to brush their teeth every day? If so, you aren’t alone. Some kids absolutely hate it! A possible solution? Electric toothbrushes make it fun for them. It tickles, and is therefore infinitely better than a regular old toothbrush. Additionally, the electric toothbrush will do most of the heavy lifting and get their teeth much cleaner than they would on their own with a normal one. And just like normal toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes for children come with all sorts of fun characters and colors. You’re bound to find one that your child will love.

They’re effective.

If you are a stellar brusher and flosser of teeth, then you probably won’t see a big difference between a regular and electric toothbrush. However, if you are not the best brusher, an electric toothbrush can make a big difference. Up until recently, the two were considered on par with each other. After a series of studies published in 2014, electric toothbrushes actually have the upper hand. Electric toothbrushes also reduced plaque 21% more, and gingivitis 11% more than manual toothbrushes after three months of use.

They’re easier to use.

For some people, the proper brushing technique is difficult to manage. For example, people with arthritis or other manual dexterity problems could have a hard time making the small circles you’re supposed to brush your teeth with. Enter the electric toothbrush, and now the majority of the work falls on the toothbrush.

Should you switch?

Dental professionals that monitored patients using electric toothbrushes reported that a staggering 80% of their patients noted a positive effect on their overall dental health. With those numbers, it’s safe to say that electric toothbrushes are definitely superior to manual toothbrushes. If you would like to switch, but have more questions about the type you should buy, contact Dr. Chauvin’s office. We’ll make sure you make the best choice for your oral health.

burning mouth syndrome chauvin dental lafayette la

What is burning mouth syndrome

Have you ever experienced a burning, tingling, or scalding pain in your mouth for seemingly no reason? Or perhaps your mouth felt numb, tasted strange, or was overly dry? If so, you may have BMS (burning mouth syndrome).

Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome:

People can have a variety of different symptoms, as BMS affects each person differently. For the most part, you may experience the following:

  • Taste loss
  • Changes in taste
  • Dry mouth accompanied by increased thirst
  • Scalded, burning, or tingling sensation that typically affects the tongue, but can also affect the gums, palate, lips, throat, or entire mouth

Additionally, BMS can initially present itself differently from person to person. Some folks just wake up one morning with a fully fledged case of it, while in others it develops gradually over time. It can also last for months or years, although in rare cases, the symptoms will go away on their own. Eating or drinking can also temporarily alleviate the symptoms.

What causes Burning mouth syndrome?

There are two types of burning mouth syndrome, primary and secondary. If there are no abnormalities that can be identified, a person has primary or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome. There is some research that suggests it’s related to taste and sensory nerve problems.

Secondary burning mouth syndrome is caused by an underlying condition, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Other oral conditions (thrush, etc)
  • Deficient nutrition
  • Dentures
  • Allergies or other reactions
  • Acid reflux
  • Medications
  • Certain oral habits
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Excessive mouth irritation
  • Psychological factors

If you are a woman, are over the age of 50, or are postmenopausal, your risk for BMS is greater. And complications of BMS include trouble sleeping and eating, depression, and anxiety.

Treating BMS:

If you suspect you have BMS, see your doctor or dentist. They will have to run a variety of different tests to rule out all of the secondary causes. Once they know what’s causing it, when it comes to secondary BMS, the underlying condition will be treated. If no abnormalities are found, you’ll be given a medication to help alleviate the pain, or dry mouth. It’s a complex disorder, so it may take a few different types of treatment before you find one that works.

In the meantime, if you’re experiencing discomfort from BMS, try drinking something cold, sucking on ice chips, or chewing sugarless gum. And avoid spicy and hot foods, tobacco, alcohol, mouthwashes with alcohol, and foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices. Do you suspect you have BMS? Set up an appointment with Dr. Chauvin’s office today!

types of dentist chauvin dental lafayette la

How many different types of dentist are there

Think about how many different types of doctor there are. You’ve got your general practitioners, pediatricians, podiatrists, neurologists, and so on. Each different type of doctor focusing on a different aspect of the body. In a similar fashion, there are many different types of dentist! And the different dentists specialize in different things. For example:

General Dentist:

This is the person you should be seeing at least once a year. Your general dentist takes x-rays, cleans your teeth, fills cavities, and performs all of the preventative services to keep your mouth healthy. Your general dentist is like your general practitioner for your mouth. They see you regularly and have a baseline established for what your healthy mouth looks like. That way, if something is wrong, they can either correct the issue, or refer you to someone that can.

Endodontist:

The endodontist is primarily concerned with the pulp and nerves of your teeth. They are “concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases or injuries” to those parts of the tooth. They handle root canals and other root procedures that involve surgery.

Oral Pathologist:

These health care providers concern themselves with diseases that affect any oral structures, and in some cases, parts of the face and neck. These are the folks that will examine and diagnose a biopsy or other tissue sample that was sent by another oral health care professional.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon:

Did you have your wisdom teeth removed? Most likely, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon handled the procedure. They take care of many different surgical procedures in the mouth, face, and jaw. In addition to things like wisdom teeth removal and dental implant surgery, they also perform reconstructive surgery on people that have had facial injuries. They can also remove cysts and tumors from the jaw. They do a lot of different procedures.

Orthodontist:

This dental doctor specializes in bite correction. Whether the cause is hereditary, from missing (or extra) teeth, or jaws that are out of alignment, the orthodontist will straighten your bite. They use wires, bands, braces, retainers, and other tools to force teeth to move back through the bone to the correct position.

Pediatric Dentist:

This is the person who you’ll take your children to. Pediatric dentists specialize in children’s teeth, from age one, up through young adulthood.

Periodontist:

A periodontist specializes in soft tissue and supporting structures. So your gums and the bones of your mouth. They treat gingivitis, periodontitis, and can also perform simple and deep pocket cleanings, root planing, crown lengthenings, soft tissue/bone grafts, and a few other procedures.

Prosthodontist:

The prosthodontist handles the repair of teeth and the replacement of missing teeth. They use artificial teeth, crowns (gold or ceramic), or implants. They also work with patients that have deformities by replacing missing parts of the face and jaw.