Posts for: March, 2012
The term “root canal” strikes fear into many dental patients. But rest assured that this procedure is the best solution to many severe dental problems. It can be pain-free and will actually relieve pain and suffering from infections and dental injuries.
Why would you need root canal treatment? This procedure becomes necessary when the pulp, the nerve tissue on the inside of a tooth's root, becomes inflamed or infected because of deep decay, or when it has suffered a severe injury as a result of an accident or blow to the mouth. The pulp is composed of living tissues including nerves and blood vessels.
Root canal treatment may be necessary if you have a wide variety of signs or symptoms. The pain can feel sharp or intense when biting down, or linger after eating hot or cold foods. Sometimes it can be a dull ache or there may be tenderness and swelling in your gums near the site of the infection.
After trauma, the pulp of a tooth can be exposed or damaged because a tooth has fractured or cracked, necessitating root canal treatment. And the procedure is often needed for permanent teeth that have been dislodged or knocked out.
What exactly is root canal treatment? Root canal treatment is also called endodontic treatment, from the Greek roots “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning “tooth.” During the procedure, the area is numbed to relieve pain. A small opening is created in the chewing surface of the tooth and very small instruments are used to remove dead and dying tissue from the inside. The pulp is needed during a tooth's growth and development, but a mature tooth can survive without it. The canal is disinfected and then sealed with filling materials. Sometimes root canal specialists use microscopes to work at an intricate level of detail on these tiny areas of the tooth's root.
By having root canal treatment, you prevent inflammation and infection from spreading from the root of a particular tooth to other nearby tissues. Infection can result in resorption, an eating away of the root and its anchoring bone, and you could lose your tooth or teeth. So please don't hesitate when we recommend this treatment. It's not as bad as you think, and you will feel significantly better afterwards.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”
Dental professionals agree that effective removal of plaque, the film of bacteria (also called a biofilm) that gathers on everyone's teeth, is the key to good dental health. Daily brushing and flossing are the usual recommendation for plaque removal. It is important to ask us about effective brushing and flossing. At your next appointment, ask us for a demonstration.
Effective brushing removes plaque from the easily accessed surfaces of the teeth. To remove plaque from between the teeth, you must floss.
Some people find it awkward to hold the floss with their fingers as they move it around their teeth. One technique for flossing, suggested by a dentist in Dear Doctor magazine, may make it easier than more traditional methods, although it does take a little practice.
This method requires tearing off a 10 to 12 inch length of floss and tying it to form a circle big enough for your fingers, but not your thumbs, to fit within it. The circle should be knotted with a double knot.
To Clean Teeth and Gums
Keep the floss taut at all times, with about and inch or less between your thumb and index fingers for your upper teeth, or index fingers only for your lower teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and gently move it up and down until you hear a squeaky clean sound. Extend the downward movement of the floss to just below the surface of the gum, without being too harsh and causing injury. As you move from tooth to tooth, move around the floss circle so that each tooth gets a clean section of floss.
Place all your fingers in the ring, with the floss over your left thumb and right index finger to floss your upper left teeth, and over your right thumb and left index finger to do the other side.
Use both index fingers to floss all your lower teeth.
You may only need to floss once a day before or after brushing to keep your gums health and ward off periodontal (gum) disease. Your dentist will guide you as to how often you may need to floss your teeth. Try this technique and see how it works for you.
Can chewing gum prevent cavities? Yes! It can if the gum is sweetened with xylitol.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of “sugar alcohol,” similar to sorbitol and mannitol, sugar replacements that are used in many low calorie foods. Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is obtained from the bark of birch trees, coconut shells and cottonseed hulls. It looks and tastes like sugar and is a diabetic-safe, low-calorie carbohydrate.
How does xylitol stop cavity formation?
Decay starts when certain bacteria break down sucrose (regular table sugar) and produce acids that dissolve the minerals in the enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. When the decay-causing bacteria try to consume xylitol, they are unable to break it down, and instead they begin to starve.
A normal mouth contains a large population of bacteria, and it is better for your teeth to have more “good” bacteria of the kind that do not cause cavities. Xylitol also stops your saliva from becoming acidic, so your mouth becomes a better environment for the “good” bacteria.
Chewing xylitol gum also increases your flow of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and fluoride and helps give these minerals back to your teeth (re-mineralization), undoing some of the effects of the cavity-causing bacteria. This makes chewing xylitol gum a particularly good solution for people who suffer from dry mouth.
How much xylitol do you need to prevent cavities?
We recommend that you chew or suck on two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy for five minutes following meals or snacks, four times daily — if you are at moderate to extreme risk for cavities. The target dose of xylitol is 6 to 10 grams (one or two teaspoons) spread throughout the day. Prolonged gum chewing is not advised, so most xylitol-sweetened products contain flavor that only lasts a short time to discourage excessive chewing. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is that it may have a mild laxative effect.
I don't like chewing gum. Is there another way to get xylitol?
People who don't like to chew gum have the option of using xylitol in mints, candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, or mouth sprays. For these individuals, a minimum dose is 5 to 6 grams (one teaspoon) three times per day.
So now you can add xylitol to the list of ways to fight cavities: daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings — and chewing xylitol gum.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”
Your teeth were designed to last you a lifetime, so you should do everything you can to protect them. This includes guarding them against dental erosion. However, many people may not know for sure what dental erosion is, much less how or why they need to guard against it.
Dental or tooth erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth enamel from chemical attack by acids. Eating or sucking acidic foods such as lemons is a good example. But most people are shocked to discover that it can also be caused by their favorite sodas (carbonated beverages), natural fruit juices, energy and sports drinks — especially with excessive consumption. It takes the saliva, nature's protection, at least 30 to 60 minutes to neutralize the effects of acid, so only one acidic drink an hour causes your teeth to be continually bathed in acid. And this is an important fact to know, because if your mouth is acidic all the time, this will promote tooth decay.
Will brushing help out with prevention?
When it comes to dental erosion, brushing immediately after acid consumption can actually make it worse by accelerating the erosion process. This is because the acids in these drinks (and some foods) actually dissolves tooth enamel and softens the tooth surface. These newly softened surfaces can literally be brushed away if you brush before your saliva has a chance to try to reverse the process. If done often, you could even brush away your enamel! For this reason, you should wait at least 30 to 60 minutes before you brush your teeth after consuming any of these products.
So what can you do to prevent dental erosion?
One important step that you (and your family) can do to help prevent dental erosion is to limit the amount of these beverages you drink. Instead, try drinking calcium-rich milk or water and saving your favorite acidic beverage for a special treat that you consume preferably with a meal. Try reducing the number of these drinks you consume over a period of time. If you must drink an acidic beverage avoid swishing it in the mouth and use a straw to reduce the contact between the acid and your teeth.
Just remember that once your dental enamel has eroded, it is gone forever. So you should follow these simple tips now to protect your smile and future.
Thanks to technological advances, today there are more than 40 types of traditional or standard implants. A traditional dental implant actually replaces the root of a tooth, upon which a crown is built — the part you see in the mouth. There are 2 others types that are quite similar to standard implants. Mini implants are most like traditional implants except they are smaller in diameter. Micro-mini implants are an even smaller variation with an even narrower, more screw-like appearance. Micro-mini implants are also designed to be used on a temporary basis, thus can easily be removed. Together all of these types of implants provide us with a wide variety of options for permanently replacing missing teeth.
The following list details the types of implant restorations:
- Single tooth replacements: As the name suggests, these implants are used to replace single teeth.
- Multiple tooth replacements: Implants can be used to replace multiple teeth in a variety of ways. This includes acting as bridge supports to permanently replace missing teeth.
- Combinations of fixed and removable bridgework: Dental implants can be used to support permanently fixed in teeth, bridgework or removable bridges or dentures. Their biggest advantage over dentures alone is that they stabilize the dentures and preserve the jawbone to which they attach, thus preventing the jawbone from melting away under the pressure of dentures.
- Over-dentures: These restorations are now considered the new gold standard. In this application two or more standard implants (or multiple mini-implants) are used to attach and stabilize full dentures. Over-dentures are especially useful for tooth replacement in the lower jaw, where denture stability is often problematic.
- Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADS): These special implants are a tool that orthodontists can use to obtain a stable, non-movable anchor for moving teeth more quickly and easily. They are small, easy to place and easy to remove once their job is done.
- Temporary bridgework: In this case, mini-implants are used to support temporary bridgework. They are placed between permanent implants and later removed when the permanent implants have healed and teeth are permanently placed on them. Mini-implants ensure that a person is never without teeth during the process of teeth replacement.