Posts for: October, 2011
Nearly everyone has either said or heard the expression, “I'd rather have a root canal...” when comparing worst-case scenarios. However, this comparison is a common myth for a treatment that is typically successful with little to no pain. In fact, the pain associated with a root canal problem occurs prior to treatment and is relieved by it, not visa versa.
To begin with, let's define what root canal treatment is as well as the field of dentistry that specializes in it. Endodontics (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) is the branch of dentistry that addresses problems affecting a tooth's root or nerve. It is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the root canals of the teeth. The canals inside the tooth roots contain the living tissues called the dental pulp, which also contain the nerves of the teeth. When the pulp inside a problematic tooth becomes inflamed or infected it responds by becoming painful, and pain is a warning sign of a problem. The nature of the symptoms can define the character of the pain and the problem. They include the following:
- Sharp, acute pain that is difficult to pinpoint
- Intense pain that occurs when biting down on the tooth or food
- Lingering pain after eating either hot or cold foods
- Dull ache and pressure
- Tenderness accompanied by swelling in the nearby gums
Each of these different categories of pain signify a different problem, but all are related to root canal issues. Nevertheless, you should contact us today (before your condition worsens) to schedule an appointment. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “I'd Rather Have A Root Canal....”
While the long-term success rate for a dental implant is well over 95%, there are factors that can compromise their success. For this reason, our office has put together this list so that you can be prepared should you ever need a dental implant. We feel that by providing our patients with this type of easy-to-understand information, we can educate, address any concerns and help produce the best results.
The three most common categories for classifying factors that influence dental implant success are: general health concerns, local factors and maintenance issues. As you may suspect, general health concerns include factors such as:
- Whether or not you smoke or use tobacco products.
- Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications you are currently taking or have recently taken.
- If you have or have a family history of osteoporosis (“osteo” – bone; “porosis” – sponge-like).
- If your medical history includes any cancer or radiation treatment to the jaws.
- Or if you have a compromised immune (resistance) system.
The second category is “local factors” and includes bone quantity and quality — there must be sufficient bone to anchor implants. Other considerations that fall into this category include whether or not you clench or grind your teeth or have additional bite concerns, as all of these can have negative impacts on both the short and long-term success of an implant.
The last category concerns maintenance. While dental implants are superior works of technology that can last a lifetime and produce results that are nearly identical to natural teeth in looks and durability, they do require routine maintenance. This includes daily cleaning (brushing and flossing) and routine visits to our office for evaluation and professional care to make sure they are functioning properly.
To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Factors which can influence implant success.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental implants.
Tooth sensitivity is an issue that can range from a slight twinge at times to downright excruciating pain. However, before we continue, understanding the cause of tooth sensitivity is helpful to both relieving and treating it.
Tooth enamel is inert in that it has no nerve supply and thus it protects the teeth from temperature and pressure changes — the main cause of sensitivity. Once it is compromised, worn thin, or exposed due to gum recession, it leaves the delicate nerve fibers within the dentin vulnerable to touch, acid, and temperature change. These nerve fibers most often grab your attention when they come in contact with heat, cold, or a “double whammy” combination of both cold and sweet. They also become sensitive to touch — even the bristles of a soft toothbrush can irritate exposed dentin.
As for the causes of tooth sensitivity, one common cause we see is aggressive brushing. Yes, too much brushing can be bad for you! To be more specific, excessive, improper brushing with a sawing back and forth motion can erode the gum tissues, expose, wear, and even groove the dentin. Another cause for sensitivity can be from the destructive process of tooth decay that eats through the enamel and into the dentin.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have questions about this condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Or you can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”
When involved in high impact sports or vigorous activities, it is important to protect your mouth and teeth. This statement is backed by the fact that there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the US each year according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In addition to absorbing and distributing the forces that impact the mouth, teeth, face and jaws an athlete receives while participating in sports such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey (ice and field), skateboarding and wrestling, the American Dental Association (ADA), also recommends the use of custom mouthguards for other activities such as acrobatics, bicycling, handball, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting.
These facts make two things clear: (1) it is vital that you obtain a professionally made mouthguard that you wear during these types of activities and (2) that you also understand how this mouthguard protects you. Below are just a few ways.
- Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from lacerations that can occur from a blow or sudden jolt.
- Mouth Impact. Just as a mouthguard protects against soft tissue lacerations, it can also help prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth. This includes but is not limited to chipped teeth, fractured teeth, broken teeth and teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
- TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard can reduce the potential for jaw displacement and joint fractures by cushioning the jaws against damage from an impact.
- Direct Jaw Impact. Anytime a person receives a direct impact to his/her jaw, having a mouthguard in place may help prevent more serious injuries to teeth and jaws. This is especially important for anyone diagnosed with TMJ.
- Jaw Fracture. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard both absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.
- Under Chin Impact. Receiving a blow under the chin can obviously damage teeth; however, it can also cause damage to the jaws as well as inflame or cause TMJ issues.
When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about:
- All medical conditions for which you are currently being treated.
- All prescription medications you are taking.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. This even includes aspirin, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava. (Why? If taken daily for good heart health, aspirin thins your blood and thus may interfere with blood coagulation. And St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may be beneficial in helping relieve depression, but they can negatively impact how oral sedation medications work.)
- Foods and drinks you consume, such as alcohol and even grapefruit (juice or the fruit), can negatively impact how your body responds to both your treatment and sedation medications.
- And lastly, we need to know if you are a tobacco user — especially if you are a smoker. In addition to increasing your risks for oral and other cancers, tobacco can negatively influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.