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If you think you'd rather wrestle a pack of porcupines than go to the dentist for a root canal treatment — then maybe it's time to think again! This common procedure has been the butt of jokes for a long time. Let's set the record straight by answering some common questions about the much-maligned procedure.
Q: What is a root canal?
A: Coursing through the central part of each root is a hollow space or canal, which contains the pulp tissue. The pulp tissue contains the nerves which respond to temperature changes transmitted through the tooth. When the temperatures are extreme the nerves signal sensitivity and pain. It's also shorthand for the dental procedure that is performed when the pulp tissue that fills these canals develops a disease.
Q: Why do I need to get a root canal?
A: Because an infection or inflammation has developed deep inside one or more of your teeth. When the living pulp tissue — which contains nerves and blood vessels — becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause intense pain. It also releases bacterial toxins, which can lead to further problems.
Q: What happens if I don't get a root canal?
A: Your acute pain may temporarily go away, but the infection won't. It will eventually travel through the tooth's roots into the surrounding tissues. If left untreated, it may result in an abscess or even a systemic infection. That's why you need to take care of it now.
Q: Will it be painful?
A: Generally, a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a filling. In fact, it starts the same way: An anesthetic is given to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Then a small hole is made through the tooth's chewing surface and down into the canal. Diseased pulp tissue is removed through the hole via a set of tiny instruments. Finally, the root canal is cleaned, disinfected, filled with inert biocompatible material and sealed up.
Q: What happens after that?
A: Your tooth may be sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but the acute pain will be gone. Over-the-counter pain relievers generally work well for pain relief at this point. To restore your tooth to its fully-functioning state, a crown or other restoration is usually needed after root canal treatment. Properly done, the restored tooth can last as long as any of your natural teeth.
Q: Is there an alternative?
A: Yes. You can relieve the pain by having the tooth removed. But you don't want to go there. Tooth loss can lead to unwanted side effects, like migration of teeth, bone loss and eventually the inability to chew properly. It's far better to save your natural teeth when you can.
If you would like more information about root canals, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”
Dental implants are now the gold standard for tooth replacement. Why? Because not only do they offer the longest-lasting method of restoring missing teeth, but they also help mitigate one of the greatest problems associated with tooth loss — the loss of underlying bone structure. While standard dental implants have been around since the 1970s, mini-implants are a smaller version of the same technology that have recently come into their own. Here are a few things you should know about them.
Mini-implants rely on the same structure and principles as their larger relatives.
Like standard implants, mini-implants are screw-shaped devices made of titanium which are set into the bone of the jaw. Put in place permanently, they become fixed to the bone itself, which grows around and fuses to the implant. Or, they can be used as temporary anchors for the attachment of other dental work.
Mini-implants are a great option for attaching lower overdentures.
Overdentures (implant-retained dentures) are now considered the standard of care for people who have lost all of their teeth in one or both jaws. But the undesired movement of lower dentures has been a perennial problem for many denture wearers. One key use of mini-implants is to anchor overdentures to the lower jaw. Just two mini-implants provide the stability needed to attach a set of lower dentures sturdily, giving the denture wearer increased dental function — and a restored sense of confidence.
Mini-implants offer some real benefits in orthodontics.
TADS (Temporary Anchorage Devices), another type of mini-implants, are finding increasing use alongside of orthodontic appliances (braces). Braces move teeth by placing small forces on them, which are transmitted by a wire. The wire must be anchored at a “fixed” point: usually, other teeth; but it may cause these teeth to move as well! TADS offer an anchorage point that's truly immovable. They help to speed up orthodontic treatment, and give more accurate control as well.
Placing mini-implants is a relatively simple process.
It's an office procedure done by an experienced clinician, normally under local anesthesia. Most patients tolerate the procedure very well, experiencing only minor discomfort. In some cases, a single two-hour visit is all that's needed for implant placement, and the patient can go home and eat a steak afterward!
Mini-implants may be more economical than you think.
These smaller cousins of standard implants are often easier to place. They save treatment time, and, if you're a denture wearer, they may be compatible with your existing dentures. If your dental situation could benefit from using mini-implants, you should give them serious consideration.
If you would like more information about mini-implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw,” “The Great Mini-Implant,” and “What are TADS?”
When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, we have numerous techniques that we can use to produce a dazzling smile while restoring or helping you maintain optimal oral health. From tooth whitening and gum contouring to bonding and veneers, see how much you really know about cosmetic dentistry by playing our matching game.Words to match:
Answers: 1) H. 2) A. 3) B. 4) F. 5) C. 6) A. 7) G. 8) D. 9) E. 10) B
To learn more about cosmetic and restorative dentistry, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.
Of all the teeth in the mouth, the ones receiving the most discussion and controversy would have to be the wisdom teeth or third molars. And this is not just a recent phenomenon, as people have been discussing them for centuries! See how much you really know about wisdom teeth by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.
Answers: 1) True. 2) True. 3) True. 4) True. 5) False. While wisdom teeth can be a factor in crowding, some people have no issues with these teeth. For them, they grow into proper position and are healthy teeth. 6) True. 7) False. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the way wisdom teeth will erupt. 8) True. 9) False. In some scenarios, impacted wisdom may cause no pain. 10) True.
To learn more about wisdom teeth and in particular, impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.
While the goal of restorative dentistry is to return all of the destroyed or lost dental tissues of the teeth to full form (shape) and function, when you blend this goal with the artistry of cosmetic dentistry, the results can be dazzling. Today's modern techniques and materials enable replacement of missing tooth structure that allows bonding directly to the tooth so that it not only is an exact color match but also actually strengthens the tooth. And tooth-colored fillings are not just for front teeth. They can dramatically improve the appearance of all teeth — even your back molars — so that it appears you've never had tooth decay at all!
All of this is accomplished through the use of either tooth-colored dental porcelain or composite resins. Porcelains are a form of ceramic material formed by the action of heat. They are available in many colors and shades made from a powder corresponding to the primary color of the natural tooth structure that is mixed with water and placed into an oven for firing (hence their ceramic nature). When built up in layers by highly trained dental ceramicists, they can be made to mimic the exact natural translucency, staining and contours of tooth enamel.
Dental composite resins are the most common materials used for tooth-colored adhesive restorations today and have properties similar to tooth structure. They consist of resin or special plastics and fillers that are made of silica, a form of glass. The fillers give the composites wear resistance and translucency (see through properties).
It is important to note that besides providing the appearance of beautiful teeth, properly restored teeth function and wear better. But most important to you, they appear indistinguishable from natural teeth! Furthermore, scientific studies and clinical experience have validated their use as both safe and predictable. In fact, these techniques are also suitable for children's teeth and can incorporate fluoride to reduce decay. Together, all of these changes have so significantly impacted the way modern dentistry is practiced that many believe we may have entered into the so-called “post-amalgam (silver metal-colored dental fillings) era.”
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth-colored fillings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”
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