How to make use of Medisave for dental services

Dental white fillings at Smilepoint

We have all been told that we should see the dentist at least once every six months. Besides maintaining our oral hygiene, seeing a dentist regularly can also nip problems such as tooth decay and gum disease early. 

But some of us put off seeing the dentist because dental services —especially ones that are performed for medical reasons— may not necessarily be affordable. 

The good news is some of these dental procedures can be covered by MediSave. In this article, we’ll cover which dental services can be paid for using MediSave, the claims process, and what to do if you don’t have enough in your MediSave account.

MediSave in Singapore

All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) are required to set aside a portion of their monthly salary —usually between 8-10.5%, depending on their age— into their MediSave account. Funds in your MediSave account can be used to pay for selected medical services for yourself or for your immediate family members. This includes some outpatient services, day surgeries and hospitalisation.

There are withdrawal limits, however, to ensure that there will always be sufficient funds in your MediSave account to pay for basic healthcare needs when you are much older. Nonetheless, most of the charges incurred at outpatient services and subsidised inpatient wards are well within the withdrawal limits.

Which dental services are MediSave claimable?

As a general rule of thumb, MediSave can be used to pay for dental treatments that involve surgery and are performed due to medical reasons. Such treatments would include:

The amount claimable depends on the type of surgery outlined in the Table of Surgical Procedures (TOSP) by the Ministry of Health. The TOSP highlights the list of procedures for which MediSave can be claimed. Each procedure in the TOSP has an assigned code which informs you of the amount according to the Table of Operations:

A table of medisave surgical limit


 Image via https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/medisave

Can I use MediSave to pay for wisdom teeth removal?

Dr Low examining wisdom tooth at Smilepoint-min

Wisdom tooth extraction involves surgery to remove impacted wisdom tooth teeth that are blocked from erupting. In this case, MediSave can be used to cover up to $300 per day for daily hospital charges, as well as a fixed limit for the surgery itself ranging between $250 (Table 1A) to $7,550 (Table 7C). If there is more than one surgery, the total amount claimable cannot exceed $7,550 or the actual amount incurred, whichever is lower.

ProcedureMedisave Withdrawal Limit
Without tooth divisionUp to $650
With tooth division Up to $1250
Deep and with tooth divisionUp to $1550

At Smilepoint Dental Centre, wisdom tooth extraction is MediSave claimable. It costs anywhere between $1,016.50 to $1,605 per site (inclusive of GST). Of which, $1,250 can be claimed through your MediSave.

Read more to find out about wisdom tooth removal in Singapore.

Which dental services are non-claimable via MediSave?

Non-surgical dental treatments are not claimable. These include: 

Can I use MediSave for dental crowns?

Dr Andrea doing consultation in Smilepoint

You may pay for dental crowns via insurance (depending on your insurance provider) if it is required as a result of accidents and medically necessary. For example, if you got into an accident and cracked a tooth so much so that chewing becomes unbearably painful, you may medically require a dental crown. A cracked tooth is a serious condition and can sometimes require root canal treatment if the crack goes below the gum line.

At Smilepoint Dental Centre, dental crowns cost between $1,016.50 to $1,712 per piece, depending on your unique clinical circumstances.

What is the claims process like?

If you intend to use your MediSave for the dental procedure, you should first ensure that the dental procedure qualifies to be claimed via MediSave. If the procedure can be claimed through MediSave, you should then let the dental clinic know that you would like to make payment via your MediSave. 

At this point, the clinic staff will get you to endorse a Medical Claims Authorisation Form (MCAF) which essentially authorises the clinic to make deductions from your MediSave account. At the point of application, the clinic staff should advise you on the cost of the procedure, amount claimable, any outstanding amount to be paid in cash, as well as verify the details of your MediSave account. Once the application is approved and claims processed, you will receive a MediSave Claims Statement summarising the transaction.

What if I don’t have enough in my Medisave account?

In the event that you do not have enough funds in your MediSave account, you may use your immediate family member’s i.e. your spouse, children, parents, siblings or grandparents MediSave account to pay for the procedure, subject to MediSave withdrawal limits. 

The reverse applies too where you may pay for your immediate family member’s medical procedure using your MediSave funds. Such applications to either use your immediate family member’s MediSave or use your own MediSave for a family member will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Do you have any questions? Feel free to drop our friendly team a message and we will get back to you! 

References

  1. CPFB: Can I use my medisave savings for non-surgical dental treatments? Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB). (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.cpf.gov.sg/member/faq/healthcare-financing/medisave/can-i-use-my-medisave-savings-for-non-surgical-dental-treatments 
  2. Medisave. Ministry of Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/medisave
  3. CPFB: Can I use my medisave to pay for the medical treatments received by dependants other than my spouse, children, parents, grandparents and siblings? Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB). (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2022, from https://www.cpf.gov.sg/member/faq/healthcare-financing/medisave/can-i-use-my-medisave-to-pay-for-the-medical-treatments-received 

How much do veneers cost in Singapore?

Veneers-Fitting

If you’ve always dreamt of having that perfect pearly smile, you must have at one time considered dental veneers. They are thin, tooth-coloured shells which are adhered to the front surface of teeth, designed to help hide or correct dental damage. This may includes stains and discolouration, chips and fractures, large fillings, crowding and spacing issues between teeth.

Dental veneers are quick and a minimally invasive procedure. Each one is customised to the requirements of the patient including the shape, shade and number that is needed. Treatment can normally be completed within two appointments.

However, for many patients, the cost of getting dental veneers in Singapore is what sets them back; typically, veneers can cost up anywhere from $300 for composite resin veneers and around $1100 for porcelain veneers per tooth, depending on the degree of treatment required.

While this might seem costly, the procedure does require very high quality materials, a tailor made approach and an eye for aesthetics and detail from an experienced dentist. Furthermore, with proper care and maintenance, porcelain veneers can last up to 20 years. Many forward-thinking patients who have had veneers placed with us have said that getting veneers was one of the best investments they have made in themselves.

In this article, we will explain what goes behind that price tag of getting dental veneers, from the procedure to materials used.

What is the process of getting porcelain veneers like?

Stage 1: Consultation appointment

Veneers-Consultation

Before you receive your veneers, your dentist will schedule a consultation appointment to discuss the options that suit you best. You will have a discussion regarding concerns and requirements, and your suitability for veneers. The dentist will look at factors including the shade, shape and type material that should be used, as well as the number of veneers that you should have fitted.

At this stage, your dentist will perform a full dental examination and take x-rays to assess your dental health, and look out for signs of tooth decay and gum disease which will require treating prior to placement of veneers. Photos may also be taken which will help in designing the shape and size of your veneers.

After an in depth discussion with your dentist, a treatment plan will be proposed with full breakdown of costs which you can take away and think about.

Stage 2: Preparation of teeth

After approval of your treatment plan, you will return for an appointment where the teeth are prepared so that veneers can be placed onto them.

Impressions of your teeth and pre operative photos will be taken and then each tooth will be individually prepared by trimming down to the required amount depending on the final design and goal. Sometimes very little or no tooth preparation may be required. Further detailed impressions will be taken and these are sent to the dental technician for design and production.

Detailed-Impressions-design-production

During this waiting period, your dentist might fit on temporary veneers.

Stage 3: Fitting

custom-made-veneers

After 10-14 days, your custom made veneers will return and with your dentist you will evaluate the fit, shape, and shade of the veneers to make sure they’re perfect for you.

After which, your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth, and check the fit of the veneers on your teeth. Minor adjustments may be required to ensure an optimal fit and slight modification of tooth shape can be made also. Very strong adhesive cement is then used to bond the veneer to the tooth. Your dentist will ensure you are comfortable with the new veneers and will show you how to look after them properly.

After this appointment, you will be ready to show off your new smile. Aftercare appointments can be arranged if required.

Dentist-aftercare-fitting-cleaning

To ensure your veneers last as long as possible, we advise against:

What can dental veneers help correct?

The benefits of veneers range from cosmetic advantages to dental benefits.

In many cases, cosmetic procedures like veneers can help with oral health by preventing and helping to minimise certain dental conditions.

Which type of veneer is best for me?

The type of veneer you choose will depend on your budget, needs, and preferences. Your dentist will also assess the type of dental veneer that will work best for you. There are two types1 of veneers: porcelain and resin-based composite.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are made from thin and strong pieces of porcelain. They are placed on the tops and sides of the teeth. To attach2 them, your dentist will likely need to remove some enamel from the tooth before placing them.

Porcelain veneers are aesthetically super and can have the same colour as natural teeth, but it is possible to make them whiter too depending on your requirements. On that note – porcelain veneers are a fantastic option for patients with severe teeth discolouration that cannot be corrected with teeth whitening.

Resin-based composite veneers

Resin-based composite veneers are similar to porcelain veneers, but they tend to be less expensive and require less enamel removal. Sometimes, a dentist may not even have to remove any enamel before placing the composite veneer. These can normally be done in a single appointment.

However, compared to porcelain veneers, resin-based veneers are a less durable and are more prone to staining over time.

These are the main differences3:

FactorPorcelain VeneersResin-based Veneers
CostAround $1100 per toothAround $300 per tooth
ProcedureUsually requires enamel removal          May not require enamel removal
Length of time of the installation process2-3 appointmentsUsually 1 appointment
Longevity of the veneersLess likely to chip or fracture Will not stainMore likely to chip or break May stain over time
ReplacementCannot be fixed when damaged – needs to be replaced fullyReversible and can be repaired

Can I pay for my veneers with Medisave?

Unfortunately, dental veneers are not Medisave-claimable as Medisave claims are reserved for surgical procedures only, such as wisdom tooth removal. Veneers are considered a cosmetic procedure.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us and our team of skilled dentists will be happy to help!

References

  1. Pini, N. P., Aguiar, F. H., Lima, D. A., Lovadino, J. R., Terada, R. S., & Pascotto, R. C. (2012). Advances in dental veneers: materials, applications, and techniques. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dentistry4, 9–16. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCIDEN.S7837
  2. Calamia J. R. (1996). The current status of etched porcelain veneer restorations. The Journal of the Philippine Dental Association47(4), 35–41.J. R., C. (1996). The current status of etched porcelain veneer restorations. The Journal of the Philippine Dental Association, 47(4), 35-41.
  3. . https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dental-veneers%2523what-are-they

How can veneers help with oral health?

Dental Veneers - different shades of tooth colour

Have you ever avoided showing your teeth when smiling, or have any concerns about your front teeth when you do, such as staining, crowding or irregularly shaped teeth?

Then dental veneers could be the treatment you are looking for.

Dental veneers are thin, tooth-coloured pieces of either composite resin or porcelain which are placed onto the front surface of your teeth, and are often used1 as an oral cosmetic device to correct dental flaws, such as:

Veneers are also shaped to look like natural teeth and are tailor made to each individual so that they match harmoniously with your smile and facial features. While it’s true these thin, cap-like coverings offer an array of aesthetic benefits, did you know that veneers offer oral health benefits too?

Oral health benefits of veneers

Veneers can replace damaged enamel and prevent tooth decay

Veneers procedure

Tooth enamel can get worn down from consuming highly acidic food or from brushing your teeth too hard. Medical conditions such as acid reflux can also contribute to tooth enamel being eroded away.

Unfortunately, once tooth enamel is gone, it cannot grow back and the damage is done –eventually leading2 to enamel abrasion or erosion.

Without enamel, your teeth are more susceptible to tooth sensitivity and decay. This is when you’ll start noticing signs such as a sharp shooting sensation to hot and cold food and drinks, sharp irregular edges to your teeth and discolouration. Veneers can help by covering the front of your teeth, acting as a protective barrier and preventing your teeth from further decay.

Veneers can strengthen your teeth

Veneers have protective qualities when attached to your teeth. If your teeth are worn, weak or fractured, veneers can bond with a weakened tooth and protect it from harm. Effectively, they help to cover vulnerable and structurally unsound teeth, minimising potential damage.

In the long run, porcelain veneers may eliminate the need for more expensive treatments such as crowns or dental implants, which are typically used to treat damaged teeth.

Dental veneers can correct irregularly spaced teeth

While irregularly spaced teeth is often seen as an aesthetic fault, it can also cause health problems and issues with your bite and function. For example, spacing issues can often cause insufficient room for other teeth, leading to overcrowding in other areas. As a result, food can become trapped frequently in small spaces which can lead to food stagnation and subsequent tooth decay and gum disease.

Dental veneers might be an effective solution to counter this problem as they can cover the spaces completely or make them smaller so as to prevent food from reaching those hard to brush areas.

If your teeth have irregular spacing, porcelain veneers can also help to straighten their position by closing small gaps and correcting misalignments in a much quicker manner than traditional braces. That being said, porcelain veneers can only help correct minor gaps and misalignments. Sometimes a combined approach may be required for highly aesthetic cases to meet the patient’s expectations.

Dental veneers can correct crooked or misaligned teeth

Crooked or misaligned teeth can cause health or speech problems, and may affect3 how you bite and chew. On top of that, it can be harder to clean your teeth, thereby increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease

Straightening teeth won’t just make for a more attractive smile; it can also be key to improving dental health and relieving other issues such as jaw pain which may be caused by traumatic bites and habits.

Dental veneers can help to correct teeth alignment and spacing, especially for relatively minor cases. It is a viable option for patients who are not so keen in more complex orthodontic procedures or wish to prevent a future need for braces.

Veneers Procedure2

Dental veneers can correct chipped or cracked teeth

Chipped or cracked teeth are a common problem4 caused by accidents, cavities, poor oral hygiene or bad habits such as tooth grinding. Cracked and chipped teeth can lead to hypersensitivity and eventually trauma to the nerve within a tooth. This would put you at high risk of needing root canal treatment. If left untreated, they can lead to more serious health problems such as infections.

With veneers, the chip or crack can be effectively covered. Moreover, it is a long-lasting treatment that doesn’t involve severe modification of the tooth thus minimizing the biological cost!

Find Out More

Depending on the problems encountered and the severity, your dentist will always recommend the treatment that is in your best interests. If you are interested to find out more about the advantages of dental veneers, Book an appointment with our dentists today!

References

  1. Fletcher, J. (2020, May 29). Dental veneers: Cost, procedure, and results. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dental-veneers
  2. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2020, Jan 16). What are misaligned teeth and jaws? InformedHealth.org, 2006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553375/?report=reader
  3. Pavesi Pini, N., Henrique Baggio Aguiar, F., Alves Nunes Leite Lima, D., & Roberto Lovadino, J. (2012). Advances in dental veneers: materials, applications, and techniques. Clinical, Cosmetic Investigational Dentistry, 4, 9-16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652364/
  4. Wyatt, A. D. (2020, June 7). Tooth Enamel: Erosion and Restoration. WebMD. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tooth-enamel-erosion-restoration

Wisdom Tooth Removal in Singapore: A Guide by Smilepoint Dental Clinic

Dr Low examining wisdom tooth at Smilepoint-min

We all agree that wisdom tooth pain is probably one of the most painful experiences we can have. What we can do is to remove them, either through a simple extraction or surgery. 

Why do some of us need to remove our wisdom tooth, what are the benefits of wisdom tooth removal, and what is the procedure like? These are some of the questions we will be answering in this pocket guide, and tell you all you need to know about wisdom tooth removal in Singapore. 

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Your wisdom teeth are your third permanent molars1. In this X-ray diagram below, you can see that they are the very last teeth at the back of your mouth, with one at each end of the row of teeth. Most adults will have a total of 4 wisdom teeth – 2 at the top and 2 below. They usually appear or erupt much later than any other teeth at about 17-25 years old. 

X-ray of Wisdom tooth

What Purpose Do Wisdom Teeth Serve?

So, why do we need wisdom teeth? From an evolutionary perspective, anthropologists have revealed that the last set of molars, called wisdom teeth, were necessary for our ancestors to help them chew very coarse, tough or hard foods like nuts, roots, leaves and meats.

But it doesn’t take a scientist for us to know that our wisdom teeth now no longer serve their original purpose – we have soft, cooked food and modern tools like knives, forks and spoons to help us when we’re eating.

What’s the Development Process of Our Teeth?

As expected, teeth grow very systematically - from the temporary or milk teeth to permanent teeth followed by the wisdom teeth. The first and second sets of molar teeth form at ages 6 and 12. Wisdom teeth start to develop around 10 years old but do not erupt until you are 17-25 years old. This is why children are encouraged to see a dentist early because the dentist can spot wisdom teeth growth and monitor their progression to prevent problems.

Not everyone develops wisdom teeth, but for those who do, they generally have about 1 to 4 of them, or even more in some cases. Scientists haven’t found a reason for why there are inconsistencies in the number of wisdom teeth appearing for each person.

Similarly, not everyone will experience issues with their wisdom teeth or experience wisdom teeth pain. But if they do, there will likely be a series of dental problems until they have been extracted.

What causes Wisdom Tooth Pain?

When our wisdom teeth hurt, it is likely a result of the following reasons:

Growth

If your wisdom teeth hurt, it could simply be because they are growing in. The process of breaking through the gums might cause slight pain, tenderness and swelling.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

This is the case where wisdom teeth are impacted because they don’t have enough room to erupt as per normal. The various types of impacted wisdom teeth are as follows2:

Mesial Impaction

Mesial Impaction

  • Most common
  • Partially erupted
  • Angled towards the front of the mouth
  • May or may not cause any issue
Vertical Impaction

Vertical Impaction

  • Full impaction
  • Tooth is in the correct position but is below the gums
  • Extraction rarely needed
Horizontal Impaction

Horizontal Impaction

  • Full impaction
  • Tooth is lying horizontally under the gums and moves sideways
  • Most painful type
  • Must be surgically removed
Distal Impaction

Distal Impaction

  • Rarest
  • Angled towards the back of the mouth
  • Partially or fully impacted
  • May or may not need extraction

Cavity

Because it is so cramped at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth often grow very close to other teeth. The lack of space makes it hard to clean, which means cavities could appear and cause pain. 

Cyst Development

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, a cyst may form at the impacted tooth’s follicle, causing pain in the tooth and jawbone.

Gum Disease

Gum disease can be a result of wisdom teeth formation because their location makes it harder to clean.

How do I relieve Wisdom Tooth Pain?

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Removing your wisdom teeth is the most straightforward way to solve wisdom teeth-related issues and prevent future problems. Most people tend to resort to methods like a cold compress and painkillers. However, these are only temporary methods to relieve immediate pain and you will not be able to solve the root of the problem. The best long-term solution is still to remove your wisdom teeth.

Why should I remove my Wisdom Tooth?

When wisdom teeth fail to erupt completely and stay receded, oral issues occur and this includes overcrowding or dislocation of permanent teeth. Some other oral issues that could occur include3:

Tooth Decay

Since your wisdom teeth are located further behind in your mouth, it is often hard to keep them clean. They may accumulate plaque and food particles, which can lead to the decay of both your wisdom teeth and other surrounding teeth.

Gum Disease

If your wisdom teeth do not form properly, food debris might accumulate in the gums, leading to bacterial growth and even infection. The gums may become inflamed, causing pain, bad breath and swelling. In severe cases, gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis could occur.

Teeth Crowding

If your wisdom teeth are not aligned when they erupt, they could push your other teeth into a state of disarray. Malpositioning of the teeth may affect not just the way you eat, but also other important aspects such as your appearance, speech and oral hygiene.

Cysts

In rare cases, a cyst may develop in the soft tissues of the affected area. The cyst may cause the jaw to expand or damage the surrounding bone and teeth. Tumours could also form in the cyst, causing the jaw to break if they grow bigger. 

As mentioned earlier, not everyone will have problems with their wisdom teeth. Some may find that they do serve their purpose of chewing tough foods well. It really depends on the individual situation and the condition of your teeth.

Dr Low examining wisdom tooth at Smilepoint-min

How do I know if I have Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

How do I know if my wisdom teeth are causing me problems? What if it’s just the normal process of wisdom teeth erupting? We’re here to let you know the signs and symptoms you should take note of when your wisdom teeth come in, so you know when it is necessary to get them removed

Impacted wisdom teeth do not always cause symptoms. However, an impacted wisdom tooth might become infected, damage other teeth or cause other dental problems4, causing signs and symptoms as mentioned below:

Red, swollen or bleeding gums

One of the first signs of the wisdom teeth erupting is any tenderness or discomfort in the back of your mouth. This may occur on either side or both sides of the mouth. There may also be swelling or bleeding of the gums.

Swelling around the jaw and jaw pain

When wisdom teeth erupt, they can push against other teeth and cause them to shift. This may cause pain or discomfort in your jaw such as stiffness and soreness, and difficulty in opening it. This can hence cause swelling of the gums in the back of the mouth or the side of the jaw.

Bad breath

If your wisdom teeth are impacted and cannot erupt cleanly, they can trap food particles and allow bacteria to grow. This may cause bacterial infection that leads to bad breath.

An unpleasant taste in your mouth

If there is an infection or tooth decay going on, they can cause a nasty, bitter taste in your mouth.

Difficulty opening your mouth

Wisdom teeth can cause misalignment that make opening or closing your mouth difficult.

At what age should I have Wisdom Tooth Removal?

If you are considering wisdom tooth removal, we recommend that you carry out the procedure while you’re young. This means between ages 18-24, when the root of the tooth is not yet fully formed. The more developed the tooth, the harder it is to manipulate during surgery. Older patients also tend to face more complications and longer healing periods.

What are the benefits of Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Reduction in headaches

When wisdom teeth emerge, they tend to cause unwanted movement of the teeth, which can cause headaches. Removing your wisdom teeth may relieve your gums of the pressure and soothe the headaches that they cause.

Prevention or Relief from pain

Orofacial pain is pain in the face or mouth that can occur due to wisdom tooth crowding, gum disease or tooth decay. If you want to be free from the shackles of pain, opt for wisdom tooth removal.

Reduced risk of oral disease

With wisdom tooth removal, you can prevent oral diseases like tooth decay and gum disease that may happen because you are unable to properly clean your teeth.

Fewer oral injuries

Wisdom teeth may come in at an angle that can cause you to bite your cheeks while chewing. Or, teeth that point inwards may scratch the sides of the tongue. These issues can be easily prevented with wisdom teeth removal.

Cleaner teeth

You might know that wisdom teeth are notoriously hard to clean. When they are partially erupted, it can be impossible to brush the entire tooth surface. This means that dental plaque and tartar may build up and lead to dental decay. If you remove your wisdom teeth, it will be much easier to clean and floss your teeth and this can prevent any oral problems.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom tooth removal can refer to the extraction of wisdom teeth where local anaesthesia is used before extracting the tooth. However, if the tooth is impacted or difficult to extract, the dentist may recommend a wisdom tooth surgery, which can be performed under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. Fun fact: 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted from about 5 million people in the United States every year.5

What is the Wisdom Tooth Surgery Procedure like?

Consultation

During the consultation with the dentist, you may discuss your problems regarding your wisdom teeth with your dentist, such as any pain or swelling you may be experiencing.

Wisdom tooth assessment at Smilepoint Dental

The dentist will carry out a full dental assessment where X-ray scans may be taken to determine the position of your wisdom teeth. Then, they will come up with a treatment plan tailored specifically for you.

Wisdom tooth X-ray at Smilepoint Dental

Wisdom Tooth Removal

We want you to be as comfortable as possible, so local or general anaesthesia will be applied to ensure you do not feel any pain or discomfort.

What are the risks of Wisdom Tooth Surgery?

Wisdom tooth surgery is a very safe procedure carried out routinely by dentists and oral surgeons. However, as with any surgery, wisdom tooth surgery carries its own set of complications such as infection. This can be avoided by strictly following the aftercare instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon.

Is Wisdom Tooth Surgery painful?

At Smilepoint, we go the extra mile by applying topical anaesthetic gel before any numbing injection, so that you do not feel any pain at all. During the process of wisdom tooth removal, you may feel some pressure or vibrations, or hear some cracking noises, but you should not feel any pain. 

Once the tooth is removed, the area will be sterilised and your gums will be stitched back together.

How long does a Wisdom Tooth removal process take?

Normally, wisdom tooth removal surgery takes about 45 minutes. At Smilepoint however, the oral surgeon works fast and can safely do the procedure in just 30 mins. He has more than 20 years of experience for oral surgeries alone.

What should I do after Wisdom Tooth Surgery?

After the procedure, the healing process may take a few days for full recovery. Here are some things you may wish to do or avoid for proper aftercare to aid the recovery process:

Avoiding these helps to maintain the blood clot that forms over the extraction region. If the clot becomes dislodged, there may be bleeding and pain, as well as a complication that may develop termed as dry sockets.

You can eat solids only 4-5 hours after the extraction.

Stay away from popcorn and potato chips.

It is best to drink lots of plain water but without using a straw. 

Do this to avoid disturbing the gums and allow for healing. 

It’s a blood thinner and will disrupt clot formation.

Try not to skip your medicines as it may be hard to soothe the pain later. 

There may be some minor bleeding from the wound that can be controlled by biting down on a piece of gauze. 

Apply ice packs for 15 minutes with a 15-minute interval for 1-2 hours. 

Instead, apply a hot compress on your jaw to soothe your pain and promote healing.

It may delay your healing or cause bleeding, or worse – cause a dry socket.

If you rinse too harshly, the force could dislodge the blood clot and cause complications. Gargle gently with saltwater instead. You may resume gently brushing your teeth after 24 hours. Avoid brushing the extraction site. 

Facial swelling and discolouration of the overlying skin may develop for the first three days and then subside. You may not be able to open your mouth too wide at first. The discomfort after a wisdom tooth removal should dissipate within 3-4 days. 

How many days of rest (MC) will I be issued after a wisdom tooth surgery?

For a simple wisdom tooth extraction, you will be given 1-2 days MC. For wisdom tooth surgery, you will be given 5-7 days of MC.

What is the cost of Wisdom Tooth Removal in Singapore?

Wisdom teeth extraction can cost between $250 and $350 depending on where you go to.

Wisdom teeth surgery can cost anywhere from $650 to $1800. Please note - wisdom teeth surgery should only be performed by a specialist. 

Impacted wisdom tooth surgery may be Medisave claimable. 

The table below shows a summary of the costs of teeth extraction at Smilepoint.

Regular Extraction$65 – $190
Wisdom tooth extraction$250-$350
*Impacted wisdom tooth removal (Surgery)$650-$1800 per operation site
*Medisave claimable

Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Medisave-claimable?

Yes, wisdom tooth removal in Singapore can be Medisave-claimable. The actual amount would depend on approval. 

Those who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents can claim up to $350 for wisdom teeth surgery without tooth division, and up to $950 with tooth division. For cases with deep wisdom teeth and tooth division, patients can claim up to $1250.

Procedures CoveredMedisave Withdrawal Limit (S$)
Without tooth divisionUp to $650
With tooth divisionUp to $1250
Deep & with tooth divisionUp to $1550
Note: The amount claimable is stipulated in surgery tables set by MOH in Singapore. The above table is only a simple guide and the final amount may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the withdrawal limits set by MOH. The final amount deductible from the Medisave Account is dependent on the final approval by MOH.

Conclusion

Wisdom teeth can bring about a lot of unnecessary pain and trouble, but this can be resolved with a simple wisdom tooth extraction or surgery. While the risks of a surgical procedure remain, it is a widely-performed procedure that is mostly safe and very effective at preventing future problems. Cost-wise, it is Medisave-claimable so it reduces your burden greatly. Smilepoint is always here to help you with any oral issues, so contact us to book your appointment today.

References

  1. https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/486/oral_maxillofacial_surgery_sdhf 
  2. Jaroń, A., & Trybek, G. (2021). The Pattern of Mandibular Third Molar Impaction and Assessment of Surgery Difficulty: A Retrospective Study of Radiographs in East Baltic Population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(11), 6016.
  3. Ghaeminia, H., Nienhuijs, M. E., Toedtling, V., Perry, J., Tummers, M., Hoppenreijs, T. J., Van der Sanden, W. J., & Mettes, T. G. (2020). Surgical removal versus retention for the management of asymptomatic disease-free impacted wisdom teeth. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 5(5), CD003879. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003879.pub5 
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/wisdom-tooth-extraction/about/pac-20395268 
  5. Friedman J. W. (2007). The prophylactic extraction of third molars: a public health hazard. American journal of public health, 97(9), 1554–1559. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.100271

Is your brushing technique causing you to have receding gums?

Lady holding onto toothbrush

The twice-daily brushing habit that you’ve followed from a young age is probably so ingrained in your routine that you’ve probably not given it a second thought. But beyond just going through the motion, it’s important to carry out proper brushing techniques that will protect your gums and teeth. For instance, unknowingly, if you brush too aggressively or use the wrong type of toothbrush like a hard-bristled1 version, this can result in receding gums. 

What are receding gums?

If you’ve noticed that your teeth look a little longer or your gums seem to be pulling back from your teeth, it might be a sign2 of receding gums. If left untreated, it could lead to tooth loss in the long run.

Other telltale signs include: 

Clean teeth

Photo from BBC

What causes receding gums?

Periodontal diseases

Bacterial gum infections like gum disease can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place.

Insufficient dental care

Inadequate brushing and flossing makes it easy for plaque to turn into tartar -- a hard substance that builds on your teeth which can lead to gum recession

Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman's lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.

Grinding and clenching your teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.

Smoking or the use of any tobacco product

Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove and can cause gum recession.

Aggressive tooth brushing

If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.

How do I tell if I’m over brushing or under brushing my teeth? 

The general rule of thumb is that harder isn’t always better for brushing. While it might feel like you’re deep-cleaning your teeth by brushing forcefully, it can actually do more harm3 than good, wearing down your tooth enamel and irritating your gums. 

If you’re unsure whether you’re over brushing your teeth, a no-brainer way to tell is to take a look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are flattened, you’re probably brushing too hard. It’s probably high time for a change of toothbrush, and an overhaul of your brushing technique!

Used toothbrush
Source

Other than the bristles on your toothbrush, here are some warning signs as to whether you’re brushing your teeth too hard and too much:

On the other hand, if your brushing routine takes shorter than 2 minutes each time and there’s residue plague after brushing, it’s highly likely you’re under-brushing your teeth.

How to brush your teeth properly

Brushing your teeth too hard may also cause your gums to recede. Here’s an easy4 6 step procedure for you to follow:

  1. Gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes.
  3. Brush carefully and gently along your gum line.
  4. Lightly brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help keep your mouth clean.
  5. Brush at least twice per day, and for at least two minutes at a time.

Remember to replace your toothbrush regularly every 3 to 4 months to prevent bacteria from building up in the bristles.

Preventing Gum Recession

Apart from practicing proper brushing techniques, having good oral hygiene habits like flossing between the teeth at least once per day and using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria can help to prevent gum recession.

Gum recession can happen slowly, so it’s important to take a good look at your gums and teeth regularly. If you notice receding gums and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s best to make an appointment soon.

Unfortunately, gum recession cannot be reversed - but you can prevent the problem from worsening. At Smilepoint, our dental hygienists will guide you on developing good brushing techniques. If need be, they’ll perform deep cleaning treatments like scaling and root planing, which help to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline, where regular brushing cannot reach.

Feel free to contact us if you need help! 

References

  1. A, K., & G, S. (1993). Gingival recession in relation to history of hard toothbrush use. Journal of periodontology, 64(9), 900-905.
  2. Cherney, K. (2018, September 17). Receding Gums: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and More. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health-receding-gums
  3. Lillis, C. (2019, August 12). Do receding gums grow back? Treatments and prevention. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326022#treatment
  4. National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth#clean)
  5. Raypole, C. (2019, April 1). How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth? Plus, Other Brushing FAQs. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth#brushing-too-much

Don’t have cavities? It’s possible you still have gum disease

Here’s a common misconception that many have – if I’m cavity-free, I won’t have gum disease.

However, contrary to popular belief, there’s no direct link between both dental issues. In fact, gum disease might be more common than you think. The Singapore Burden of Disease Study 2010 estimates that 51% of Singapore citizens spend 25 to 44 years of their entire lives with gum disease and 39% of Singapore citizens spend 45 to 65 years of their lives with gum disease. 

Over 20 years is a long time to live with gum disease - surely most people would have the common sense to go for gum infection therapy at one point. Except maybe they aren’t even aware they have the condition. 

What causes gum disease? 

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, usually caused by a bacterial infection. This can be a result of bits of food and plaque being trapped between the teeth and gum. If plaque is not removed, it can cause your gums (gingivae) to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets where more bacteria can collect1.

While typically this can be attributed to poor oral hygiene, another less-known factor2 that can cause gum disease is impacted wisdom teeth. When there is insufficient space in the mouth to develop, wisdom teeth may become impacted, and this may lead to the wisdom tooth growing towards the other teeth at irregular angles. When this happens, it is more difficult to clean and brush the teeth and food gets trapped more easily, increasing the risk of gum disease.

How do I tell if I have a gum infection? 

If you suspect that you might have a gum infection, these are some symptoms to look out3 for:

If you do notice these signs, it’s best to consult a dentist as it is crucial to treat the gum disease in the earliest stage possible. If left untreated, you run the risk of developing a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth, bone loss and a lower gum line.

Why being cavity-free doesn’t indicate you’re risk-free from gum disease 

Even if you’re cavity-free, it doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of gum disease. This is because different bacteria are usually responsible for cavities and gum disease

In other words, the bacteria that cause cavities don’t cause gum disease and vice versa. As such, it’s possible to have gum disease even if you don’t have cavities.

Good oral hygiene habits to prevent gum disease

Here are some tips to keep gum disease at bay:

How is gum infection treated at the dentist? 

During a dental exam, your gums will be probed with a small ruler. This probing is a way to check for inflammation. It also measures any pockets around your teeth. A normal depth is 1 to 3 millimetres. Your dentist may also order X-rays to check for bone loss.

Talk to your dentist about risk factors for gum disease as well as your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, you will be referred to a periodontist. 

Professional cleaning

There are several techniques that can be used to deep clean4 your teeth without surgery. They all remove plaque and tartar to prevent gum irritation.

The first kind of treatment is scaling, which removes tartar from above and below the gum line.

Root planing smooths rough spots and removes plaque and tartar from the root surface.

Additionally, lasers may remove tartar with less pain and bleeding than scaling and root planing.

Antibiotics

In some cases, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to help with persistent gum infections that haven’t responded to cleanings. The antibiotic might be in the form of a mouthwash, gel, or an oral tablet or capsule. 

Surgery

In serious cases, surgery may be carried out.

Conclusion

Early detection is key to controlling and treating gum disease before it becomes worse. If you suspect that you might have gum disease, it’s best to go see a dentist

References

  1. American Dental Association (ADA) Division of Science. (2011). What is gum disease? American Dental Association (ADA) Division of Science, 142(11), 111. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)61881-X/fulltext#relatedArticles
  2. Healthline Editorial Team. (2019, October 31). Gum Disease: Causes, Risk Factors and Symptoms. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/gingivitis#treatment
  3. Impacted wisdom teeth - Symptoms and causes. (2018, March 10). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wisdom-teeth/symptoms-causes/syc-20373808
  4. Newman, T. (2018, January 5). Gingivitis: Causes, symptoms, and treatment. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241721#signs-and-symptoms

Why you shouldn't worry about teeth sensitivity after teeth whitening

picture of a girl suffering from toothache

You may have heard that teeth whitening is not healthy for teeth in the long run, and can cause undesirable side effects like teeth sensitivity. For these reasons, many patients steer away from this procedure - especially in-office ones. As a dentist who has performed countless teeth whitening procedures, this fear is in my opinion exaggerated and unwarranted for. Let me explain. 

Some tooth sensitivity after a tooth whitening procedure is absolutely normal. More than 50% of patients1 experience mild sensitivity that goes away after a few days.

So while some sensitivity is not uncommon, it can be easily prevented with some simple steps before, during and after the whitening treatment. 

Why do teeth become sensitive after whitening? 

During teeth whitening, dental-grade bleaching agents are often so powerful that they go really deep into the tooth enamel to whiten and brighten. In some cases, these bleaching agents get through the enamel into the dentinal tubules to the nerve endings below, thereby causing pain. 

This sensitivity is known as dentinal hypersensitivity; the most prominent symptom of which is a sharp pain that worsens with pressure or exposure to hot or cold liquids. 

Here’s something to note - while sensitive teeth can develop after teeth whitening, it is NOT the only reason why people get sensitive teeth. It is estimated that sensitive teeth affect about 57% of all dental patients2, with the most common causes being brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth and regularly consuming acidic food and beverages. 

The good news is that dentinal hypersensitivity from teeth whitening rarely lasts longer than 48 hours, and there are steps you can take to prevent sensitive teeth after whitening.

Picture of a tooth paste

How can we prevent sensitive teeth after whitening?


Before treatment

Change to a sensitive teeth toothpaste3 or gel at least one week before the teeth whitening treatment. These special toothpastes and gels are able to cover up the dentinal tubules or desensitise the nerve endings in the dentinal tubules.

During treatment

If you are doing teeth whitening at home, adjust the timing according to the level of sensitivity experienced. If there is any tooth sensitivity, try having more sessions for shorter periods of time. 

Be sure to apply only the necessary amount of whitening gel to coat each tooth. Using more gel doesn’t necessarily mean your teeth will be whiter, but can instead lead to more sensitivity. This is a common mistake patients make - more does not always reap better results! 

Never sleep with your teeth whitening kit in. Wearing the kit for a prolonged period of time will only allow more of the bleaching agent to enter the dentinal tubules to reach the nerve endings. Furthermore, if you sleep very soundly, you may miss minor discomfort which are warning signs of sensitivity. 

After treatment

After teeth whitening, you may want to ask your dentist to prescribe or recommend a prescription-strength toothpaste or gel that is specifically used for reducing sensitivity. 

Brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinse your mouth with lukewarm water rather than cold water. Leave the desensitising toothpaste or gel in your mouth for an additional few seconds to give it some time to work its magic. 

Avoid hot or cold drinks as they can stimulate your nerve endings to cause pain. 

Lastly, if you wish to have longer-lasting whitening results, I strongly urge you to avoid staining beverages like coffee or tea. If you can’t avoid them, you may want to use a straw to help liquids to bypass sensitive teeth.

Conclusion

While it is a fact that some people might experience sensitive teeth after whitening treatments, there are many things you can do before, during and after treatment to prevent it. If you have any questions, feel free to speak to our team of dentists who will give you more tips and advice on how to properly care for your teeth so that you can avoid any pain or sensitivity after the whitening treatment.

Go for frequent dental checkups with your dentist to ensure there are no problems with your teeth. With a little bit of effort, you no longer have to worry about sensitive teeth after teeth whitening. 

References

  1. Jorgensen, M. G., & Carroll, W. B. (2002). Incidence of tooth sensitivity after home whitening treatment. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939), 133(8), 1076–1095. https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.2002.0332
  2. Splieth, C. H., & Tachou, A. (2013). Epidemiology of dentin hypersensitivity. Clinical oral investigations, 17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S3–S8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-012-0889-8
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-toothpaste-for-sensitive-teeth#:~:text=Best%20overall%3A%20Colgate%20Sensitive%20Pro,Fluoride%2DFree%20Natural%20Sensitive%20Toothpaste 

Teeth whitening can be permanent. Here’s how.

lady with white teeth

Teeth whitening is an excellent way to achieve the pearly whites of your dreams — but like every other dental treatment, its effects do not last forever and require consistency to prolong longevity. 

On average, in-chair teeth whitening lasts about 2-3 years. But you CAN have whiter teeth longer by listening to your dentist’s instructions and doing your own touch-up whitening at home or in the clinic. Here’s the rundown. 

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to lighten its colour. It doesn’t turn your teeth completely brilliant white, but it can lighten your teeth by several shades at a time. 

How is teeth whitening done?

Professional whitening can be done in a dentist’s office in about an hour. The dentist will apply a teeth whitening gel containing about 25-40% hydrogen peroxide, then aim a special heating lamp at your teeth for 3 20-minute intervals, and then reapply the gel between intervals. Some dentists may also use lasers, which can accelerate or activate the whitening process. A protective barrier will be used to keep your lips, gums and tongue away from the whitening gel so that it stays on your teeth. 

Your dentist will normally give you whitening trays moulded specifically your teeth so that you can make follow-up touches at home with bleaching solutions. 

Can I whiten my own teeth at home?

While there are cheaper options in the market, they’re not necessarily safe or effective. If the product contains a high amount of some active ingredient that is prohibited, you may very well end up doing more damage to your teeth than you would be without the whitening treatment. So, don’t scrimp and save when it comes to your teeth – it’s just not worth it. 

In a budget treatment that you may buy from online retailers or a store, there are two common ingredients in teeth whitening treatments – hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. If the percentage is too high or if you use them for too long, they could be damaging to your teeth.

The allowed percentage is a mere 0.1%, but the products you find outside contain an average of 3% 1, way more than should be allowed. This poses a real risk to your oral health and is something you want to take note of.  

Many patients also tend to put on their whitening strips longer than instructed; this is not only unnecessary but also unsafe. Studies have shown that excessive use of peroxide-based products damages enamel, leading to more teeth discolouration, sensitivity and also pain.2

You can find a wide range of home whitening kits between the price of $13 to $60. Just remember to check whether they contain potentially harmful amounts of peroxide. Also, keep in mind that these treatments may not do very much for your stained teeth if your condition is already bad.

For these reasons, I highly recommend in-chair whitening at your dentist. 

How long does teeth whitening last? 

Teeth whitening can last about 2-3 years varying from person to person, but you can prolong its longevity by carrying out some simple steps. It includes avoiding things that stain your teeth, such as: 

Other things you can do to ensure your teeth stay sparkling is to touch-up your teeth regularly using the bleaching solutions and techniques that the dentist has taught you. 

Of course, these are on top of the everyday hygiene of brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Remember to go to the dentist for regular appointments to get your teeth checked too. 

Dentist checking patient's teeth

Who is teeth whitening not suitable for?

Teeth whitening is not suitable for those with: 

How much does teeth whitening cost in Singapore? 

During an in-chair whitening process, your dentist will perform an oral examination to make sure you are a suitable candidate, such that using a high percentage of peroxide on your teeth will not cause you any problems. 

The cost of in-chair whitening in Singapore ranges between $800 and $1300. You often only need a single session to see the results. 

They are also likely to recommend some at-home whitening kits to make touch-ups at home. So, if you’re considering doing teeth whitening by yourself at home, try asking your dentist next time. They are more likely to recommend whitening kits that actually work or that are safe for whatever conditions you have with your teeth. Getting professional advice is worth every cent, that we’re sure. 

For prescribed at-home whitening kits from the dentist, prices range from $400 to $600 and often require you to repeat usage for 30 to 60 minutes daily for 2 weeks. 

Conclusion

Your pearly whites can last for long if you go for in-chair whitening and then do touch-up whitening at home, and go for dental appointments regularly to get your teeth checked. Remember to avoid food and drinks that can stain your teeth. Brush and floss regularly and you’re good to go! 

References

  1. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/hsa-dentists-warn-against-popular-diy-teeth-whitening-kit-995671
  2. Cvikl, B., Lussi, A., Moritz, A., & Flury, S. (2016). Enamel surface changes after exposure to bleaching gels containing carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Operative dentistry, 41(1), E39-E47.

Will smoking and drinking cause dental implant failure?

Smoking Teeth Photo

You know the drill — avoiding tobacco and nicotine is one of the key factors for good gum health. But how do these substances affect prosthetics like dental implants, and will lifestyle habits like smoking result in implant failure? 

Let’s find out. 

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are a type of dental prosthesis that can help to replace a missing tooth. The process requires surgery and implantation of a titanium screw that will act as a replacement for the root of the missing tooth. Dental implant surgery is usually not uncomfortable as there will be local anaesthesia. Dental implants are permanent and made to match your natural teeth. 

How long should dental implants last?

A dental implant should last you a lifetime, given that you care for it properly by regularly brushing, flossing and going for follow-up dental appointments with your dentist. 

What causes dental implant failure?

The success rate of dental implants is up to 98%. Very rarely, things can go wrong. 

Peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis is an inflammation of the gums or bones around the dental implant due to bacteria and poor dental hygiene. Out of the rare complications that could occur from dental implant surgery, peri-implantitis is the most common. There will typically be swelling or pus near the implant site, causing bone loss and implant failure. Smokers are at higher risk of getting infections around the dental implant. 

Failed osseointegration

There could also be failed osseointegration where the dental implant becomes loose and falls out of place. Osseointegration is the process of forming a fusion between the bone and the titanium implant; this process is integral for your implants to work. Osseointegration takes place over several months after your procedure. Sometimes, the jawbone may fail to fuse with the implant, causing implant failure. This may happen if you do not have enough jawbone volume or density. 

Overloading

There are also instances where dental implants become overloaded by excessive pressure. Such forces may cause the failure of the implant to osseointegrate. If you tend to grind your teeth, you may find yourself with such a problem — consider getting a mouthguard from your dentist! 

Nerve and tissue damage

This is a rare problem where the implant is placed too close to the nerves, causing chronic pain, numbness and tingling at the implant site. The nerve damage may be permanent or temporary, and the implant may need to be replaced.

Sinus inflammation or infection 

Sinus inflammation may occur in those who use dental implants to replace teeth from the upper jaw. When the implant protrudes into the sinus cavity, the area can become inflamed or infected. 

What happens if you smoke with dental implants?

Time and again, the literature shows that tobacco use is associated with increased implant failure. A 2012 study revealed that smoking increases the incidence of peri-implantitis, and heavy smokers (>14 cigarettes a day) experience the greatest marginal bone loss around their implants. 

Why is this so? 

Cigarette smoke can damage or block salivary glands in the mouth, leading to dryness which can result in tooth decay and gum disease. This weakens the bones and gums supporting the implants. 

Nicotine in cigarettes also restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the bones and oral tissues, impeding the healing process. All these impacts the osseointegration process, which as earlier mentioned is crucial in dental implant success. 

Why can’t you drink alcohol after dental surgery?

Dental implants are most vulnerable within the first 72 hours after implantation surgery. This is because the body needs to rebuild tissue, bone cells and blood vessels for osseointegration. Alcohol may very well disrupt this healing process, thereby delaying recovery or worse – causing dental implant failure. 

Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on the body, and dehydration of the oral cavity will impede proper healing of the oral tissues, and lead to increased sensitivity. 

Moreover, alcohol may cause vessels and capillaries in the gums to dilate, increasing the amount of pain and tenderness experienced. 

Something even more terrifying is that alcohol increases fat content in the blood, which can cause the formation of clots in the jaw and complicate surgery. 

After the initial healing phase, you may be able to have an occasional glass or two but remember that excessive alcohol consumption disrupts blood supply and can cause dental implant failure. So, be sure not to take too many of those shots. We’re not saying you can’t; the idea is to do it in moderation. 

Alcohol and Smoking Teeth Photo

What should I do or not do to prevent dental implant failure?

Dos

Don'ts

After the dental implant procedure, do not drink alcohol for the next 72 hours while the body is healing and recovering. You may drink in moderation thereafter. 

It is recommended to quit smoking at least one to two weeks before the dental implant procedure. After the procedure, it is advisable not to smoke within 72 hours to prevent blood clots from loosening, causing a painful condition known as dry socket. And, it is best to wait 2 - 3 months before smoking regularly again. This is so that osseointegration is allowed to take place.

You may rinse your mouth gently with saltwater 48 hours after surgery.

You may brush around the implant first, avoiding the surgical site. After a few days, you may begin to carefully clean the area with a toothbrush.  

How do I know if my dental implant has failed?

The first sign of a dental implant failure would be mobility. If the bone around the implant doesn’t grow properly, the dental implant may start to loosen and move around, especially when chewing or talking. Other signs of dental implant failure include pain, swelling or infection, though they don’t happen in all cases.

What can be done if my dental implant fails?

A failed dental implant can be easily removed with local anaesthesia. The dentist will take out the implant and clean the area. If the bone around the implant site is intact, a bone graft will not be necessary. If there is bone loss, there may be a new bone graft to improve the site for replacement of the implant. Healing from the bone graft may take several months before it is ready for a new implant.

You may wish to talk to your dentist about why the first implant failed, and how to prevent the failure of this replacement implant. 

Conclusion

Dental implants are a big commitment. You have to be really careful with it if you want the healing and osseointegration process to be successful. If you are not sure how you can take care of your implant, your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on proper dental care techniques. The best way to avoid failure of your dental implants is to listen to the advice of your dentist, drink plenty of water and avoid smoking or drinking – at least during the recommend stipulated time! If anything feels amiss, contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist will always be there to help you, regardless of whether your dental implant has failed. 

References

  1. Twito, D., & Sade, P. (2014). The effect of cigarette smoking habits on the outcome of dental implant treatment. PeerJ, 2, e546.
  2. Alissa, R., & Oliver, R. J. (2012). Influence of prognostic risk indicators on osseointegrated dental implant failure: a matched case-control analysis. Journal of Oral Implantology, 38(1), 51-61. 
  3. Annibali, S., Ripari, M., LA Monaca, G., Tonoli, F., & Cristalli, M. P. (2008). Local complications in dental implant surgery: prevention and treatment. ORAL & implantology, 1(1), 21–33.

Dental implants vs Dentures: Which is right for me?

Dentures Photo

If you have lost most of your teeth and find it hard to smile or eat with confidence, you may wish to get dental implants or dentures. But what are they exactly, and which one is more suitable? If you’re grappling with the decision between the two, this article is for you.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are artificial prostheses used to replace teeth. They are used to fill dental gaps, prevent bone loss, and help protect the rest of your teeth.

There is a variety of types of dental implants, but they all have 3 main components: (from top to bottom) the crown, the implant abutment and the implant post.

In your dental implant surgery, the implant post will be inserted into your jaw and act as a replacement for the root of the tooth that has been lost. This means that the fixture is permanent and can act like a normal tooth.

What are dentures? 

Dentures are a replacement for missing teeth that is removable. They consist of false teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured acrylic base that is fitted into your mouth.

We commonly identify dentures by two main types — complete or partial dentures. Complete dentures or full dentures are for those who have lost all their teeth, while partial dentures are for those who have lost some teeth but also have some good teeth remaining. There are two types of complete dentures: conventional dentures and immediate dentures.

Conventional dentures are complete sets of dentures that are fitted after removal or damaged teeth and the gum tissues have healed. However, because your mouth may not be ready for permanent dentures immediately, you might need to recover for several months before using these dentures. In this case, temporary dentures may be fitted to help tide through the recovery period.

Immediate dentures are for those who want dentures immediately after the extraction of teeth. In this case, immediate dentures are made right before extraction and inserted right after.

Meanwhile, partial dentures have gaps for your natural teeth and artificial teeth for missing teeth. 

What is the difference between dental implants and dentures?

The main difference between dental implants and dentures is their removability. Dental implants have titanium screws that are permanently fixed into your jawbone, substituting the root of the missing tooth. Meanwhile, dentures may be taken out as and when you wish to. However, recent developments have also come up with non-removable dentures, so do ask your dentist what options are available for you.


Dental implantsDentures
LongevityCan last almost a lifetime with proper care and dental checkups. Last only about 7 - 10 years before needing replacement due to wear and tear. 
ConvenienceNo need to remove dentures or use adhesives.You have to avoid hard and sticky foods.  It may be uncomfortable, difficult to eat or speak at first, but you will get used to it soon.  
Ease of useDental implants are as good as your own natural teeth. Dentures may slip and slide around, especially when laughing, coughing, eating or smiling.  If the dentures feel too loose or often go out of place, seek help from the dentist. 
Cleaning and MaintenanceDental implants can be cleaned just like regular teeth – by brushing and flossing. Dentures need to be cleaned daily using soft bristles and water.  Do not use toothpaste as it can be too abrasive for them. 
PermanentDental implants are permanent, which means you can’t back out unless you remove them surgically.Dentures are removable, so you don’t have to commit to anything permanent.  There are some dentures which can be implanted too, so explore your options with the dentist. 
SurgeryDental implants require surgery, so there may be pain, swelling and bleeding or other surgical complications.  There may be side effects from anaesthesia, or even post-op infectionNo surgery is required for dentures so there are no risks of surgical complications.
CostS$3,500-S$6,000S$250-S$800
Dental Implant Photo

Who is suitable for dental implants?

Dental implants are suitable for those with good oral hygiene and strong gums. You will also need enough jawbone for the implants to be secure. Therefore, the dentist will carry out an examination of your dental health and check for a good foundation for the implants to ensure you can be given the go-ahead for dental implant surgery.

Who are not suitable for dental implants?

If you fall into any of the below categories, you may want to consider alternatives other than dental implants:

Who is suitable for dentures?

Good candidates for dentures are those who have significant tooth loss but have enough healthy gum tissues and jawbone.

Who are not suitable for dentures?

The following are people who are not suitable for dentures, and may want to consider other alternatives:

Conclusion

It may be hard to decide on whether you want something more permanent and convenient like dental implants, or whether you want something less risky and cheaper like dentures. Let your dentist do an evaluation of your condition, and inform them about your needs and budget. They will discuss with you the various options that are available and suitable for your condition. Given the myriad of dental prostheses out there, we’re sure you’ll find a solution that works out for you.

References

  1. Stanford, C. M. (2007). Dental implants: a role in geriatric dentistry for the general practice?. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 138, S34-S40.
  2. Gaviria, L., Salcido, J. P., Guda, T., & Ong, J. L. (2014). Current trends in dental implants. Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 40(2), 50-60.
  3. Friel, T., & Waia, S. (2020). Removable Partial Dentures for Older Adults. Primary Dental Journal, 9(3), 34-39.
  4. McCord, J. F., & Grant, A. A. (2000). Complete dentures: an introduction. British dental journal, 188(7), 373-374.