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Archive for October, 2014

Will a root canal save my tooth?

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

 dentist 60611Endodontic therapy (also known as a root canal) has been on the receiving end of much negative conversation and jokes. But this treatment can mean the difference between losing and keeping a much needed tooth. When symptoms appear, your dentist can provide a diagnosis and the needed action to salvage your tooth.

When the dental nerve is damaged from trauma, disease, or decay the options for treatment are few:

  1. Ignore – This is usually not possible due to the eventual throbbing toothache that usually accompanies this type of dental issue.
  2. Root canal – your dentist can complete this treatment with minimal discomfort usually in less than one hour.
  3. Extraction – If left untreated, the result is most often tooth loss. If an abscess occurs, the patient may experience more severe discomfort and require antibiotics in addition to treatment. If extraction or tooth loss occurs, the time and financial investment to return to oral health may be extensive.

Symptoms that may eventually require a root canal include sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweet foods and/or beverages; cold air might even produce discomfort. A toothache may accompany sensitivity – symptoms are different for everyone. 

When symptoms appear, your dentist can provide a diagnosis and the needed action to salvage your tooth.

Your dentist will determine the tooth involved using a blast of cold air or tapping the teeth; once the tooth is identified, an x-ray is taken to determine the number of roots to be treated, the direction they lay, and whether infection is present.

Some type of anesthetic is administered; the tooth is segregated to keep the area dry; an access point is drilled into the tooth; and the root canal can be completed. An instrument called a file is used to remove the contents of the dental canals. They contain the nerve, pulp tissue, and blood primarily. Each root canal is cleaned out, flushed to remove all contents, and treated for infection (if needed).

The final step for a root canal may be completed right then, but very often your dentist might want to wait a week or so to make sure treatment was successful.

To close the access point, the dentist will either use composite resin or resort to a dental crown. A substance called gutta percha fills the vacant canals, and the final restoration is completed. Whether resin or a crown is used, the restoration is undetectable and potential tooth loss is prevented.

If you are experiencing pain and suspect you might need a root canal, contact our dental team today.

What are “periodontal pockets?”

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

dentist 60610Patients that regularly see their dentist receive periodontal checks (also known as periodontal charting).  This occurs when your dentist or hygienist measures the pocket depths (the distance between the base of the tooth and the gum tissue) in several locations on each tooth in millimeters.

An accepted pocket depth is three or less. If an area measures at four or greater, this means bacteria have grown creating the potential for gingivitis, or the more serious gum disease, periodontitis.

When deeper pockets of bacteria exist, they permeate the bone that holds your tooth in place. Without treatment, gum disease is allowed to progress resulting in the possibility of unpleasant oral conditions including:

  1. Bleeding, swollen gum tissue – This is usually the first sign of gum disease. Gums that bleed from brushing with a hard bristle brush or scrubbing too hard creates a different type of problem (premature gum recession); but gum tissue should be pink and firm. If gums are red, swollen, or bleed without provocation, it’s time to see the dentist for diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Chronic bad breath – Halitosis due to strong foods and beverages can be treated by brushing the teeth or using a mouthwash. However, when bad breath is the result of infected gum tissue, no amount of at home oral care will eliminate the problem.
  3. Teeth appear to be pulling away from gums or feel loose – Your gum disease has advanced to periodontitis. There are dental treatments available to prevent tooth loss if caught early enough. Root planing and scaling is often the first step, which involves the deep cleaning to remove the bacteria below the gum line.
  4. Abscess – Infection that must be treated to prevent tooth loss, and the potential for more serious illness.

The primary culprit with gum disease is inadequate oral hygiene. Although illness and some medications may play a role in contributing to gum disease, with regular dental cleanings gum problems are usually kept in check.

Some patients blame their ancestors for their oral condition; although genetics may play a small role in oral health, these can be overcome with the correct hygiene regimen of daily flossing (critical to care since flossing removes bacteria a tooth brush can’t reach); brushing at least twice per day with a fluoridated paste or gel; and twice yearly visits to the dentist for a thorough cleaning and dental exam.

Contact our dedicated dental team at Ora Dental Studio to schedule an appointment today.

A Healthy Mouth is a Gateway to a Healthy Body

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

dentist 60603A visit with your dentist every six months is a great first step to have a healthy mouth. In addition, a daily hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing will contribute to great teeth and gums. But are there any other advantages to maintaining excellent dental care?

Research is ongoing to connect oral health to overall health … it is already well documented that a person with diseases of the immune system are more likely to suffer dental problems. Many medications, the illness itself, and the side effects of diet and lifestyle are all things that may contribute to dental problems like gum disease.

Heart disease has been linked with gum disease. And many patients suffering with heart issues may also deal with other “unhealthy” habits; i.e. tobacco use, consuming a diet loaded with fat and sugar, excessive alcohol use, and/or illicit drug use.

The link between oral and overall health is easily connected. Imagine trying to get through the day or night with an agonizing toothache? And could you maintain a happy, healthy relationship with friends and family if your breath was atrocious due to bleeding, infected gum tissue? And imagine trying to eat healthy fruits and vegetables if you don’t have any teeth!

A daily healthy lifestyle can contribute to an excellent oral condition – things we can do to improve our odds for healthy teeth and gums include:

  1. Proper hydration – Just as the body needs sufficient water to keep us propelled throughout the day, the mouth uses fluids to flush unwanted bacteria. A dry mouth can result in bad breath and dental decay.
  2. Limit sugary beverages and snacks – Excessive sugar consumption can add unwanted pounds; but on the teeth, sugar clings to the bacteria on teeth leading to plaque build-up. If allowed to grow, plaque can result in dental decay and/or gum disease.
  3. Sufficient rest – Fatigue is never an excuse for oral hygiene neglect, but it happens.
  4. Eliminate smoking or tobacco use – One of the leading causes for periodontal disease is contributed to the use of tobacco. Smokers are at greater risk to develop gum disease, often escalating to tooth loss.
  5. Visit the dentist twice per year for a thorough cleaning and dental exam.
  6. Floss daily; brush at least twice per day with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel.

Schedule your bi-annual appointment with our dentist by calling 312-328-9000 today.