Posts for: September, 2014
Everyone's heard the jokes about root canals. Now, let's go beyond the myths and get to the “root” of the matter. Here are a few things everyone should know about this relatively painless and beneficial procedure.
1) If you experience discomfort after eating hot or cold foods, sharp pain when biting down, swelling of the gum tissue, or acute tooth pain, you may need root canal treatment.
All of the above are symptoms of disease in the pulp tissue, which lies deep within the roots of teeth, inside tiny canals that go from one end of the root to the other. Pulp tissue can become infected or inflamed for a variety of reasons, such as trauma or deep tooth decay, causing pain and leading to further complications.
2) Diseased pulp tissue in the root canal must be removed to prevent more problems.
The acute pain may go away — but without treatment, the infection in the pulp tissue won't. It will eventually travel through the ends of the tooth's roots and into surrounding areas. This can lead to dental abscesses, and may even cause systemic problems and diseases in other parts of the body.
3) Root canal treatment is effective.
Removing the diseased pulp tissue removes the infection. Pulp tissue itself is a remnant of tooth development which the tooth no longer needs. After the tissue is removed, the root canal is filled with a biocompatible material, and then it is sealed. A crown or other restoration is usually done after root canal treatment to restore the tooth to its full function.
4) Root canal treatment is generally pain-free.
Just like having an ordinary filling, the process begins with an anesthetic administered to numb the tooth and the nearby area. A tiny hole in the tooth's biting surface provides access to the canal, and minute instruments are used for the procedure. Afterwards, over-the-counter pain relievers are typically all that's needed to relieve the sensitivity that may persist for a day or two following the treatment.
5) A properly done root canal preserves your natural teeth.
A tooth that has had appropriate root canal treatment and restoration can last just as long as a natural tooth. That's important, because the other option — removal of the tooth — can lead to issues like unwanted tooth movement and bite problems. Saving your natural teeth should be the first priority in proper dental care.
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.”
If you were a well-known actor, how far would you go to get inside the character you’re playing in a movie? Plenty of stars have gained or lost weight to fit the role; some have tried to relate to their character by giving up creature comforts, going through boot camp, even trying out another occupation for a time. But when Jamie Foxx played a homeless musician in the 2009 film The Soloist, he went even further: He had part of his front tooth chipped out!
“My teeth are just so big and white — a homeless person would never have them,” he told an interviewer. “I just wanted to come up with something to make the part unique. I had one [tooth] chipped out with a chisel.”
Now, even if you’re trying to be a successful actor, we’re not suggesting you have your teeth chipped intentionally. However, if you have a tooth that has been chipped accidentally, we want you to know that we can repair it beautifully. One way to do that is with cosmetic bonding.
Bonding uses tooth-colored materials called “composite resins” (because they contain a mixture of plastic and glass) to replace missing tooth structure. The composite actually bonds, or becomes one, with the rest of the tooth.
Composite resins come in a variety of lifelike tooth shades, making it virtually impossible to distinguish the bonded tooth from its neighbors. Though bonding will not last as long as a dental veneer, it also does not require the involvement of a dental laboratory and, most often, can be done with minor reshaping of the tooth.
Cosmetic Bonding for Chipped Teeth
A chipped tooth can usually be bonded in a single visit to the dental office. First, the surface of the tooth may be beveled slightly with a drill, and then it is cleaned. Next, it is “etched” with an acidic gel that opens up tiny pores. After the etching gel is rinsed off, the liquid composite resin in a well-matched shade is painted on in a thin layer, filling these tiny pores to create a strong bond. A special curing light is used to harden this bonding material. Once the first layer is cured, another layer is painted on and cured. Layers can continue to be built up until the restoration has the necessary thickness. The bonding material is then shaped and polished. The whole procedure takes only about 30 minutes!
If you have questions about cosmetic bonding, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin.”
Although your teeth feel as if they’re rigidly set in the jawbone, they’re actually capable of movement. In fact, dynamic tooth movement is an essential mechanism in good dental function — it allows your teeth to adapt to changes brought on by age and other factors.
The periodontal ligament is a key component in this mechanism. This elastic tissue actually holds the teeth to the bone through tiny fibers that attach to the tooth root on one side of the ligament and to the jawbone on the other. The teeth move within the ligament to maintain contact with both adjacent and opposing teeth in response to changes like the normal wear that occurs due to aging.
This is a primary reason why a missing tooth should be replaced by an artificial one as soon as possible. Because of the tendency just described, teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth will begin to move (or drift) into the space at an accelerated rate. The end result is teeth out of their normal position and range, which could seriously disrupt their normal function as well as adversely affect your appearance.
This is especially important for back teeth. Because they’re not easily visible to others when we open our mouths, many people will forgo replacement when they’re lost. But missing back teeth can set off a chain reaction of movement that could eventually hinder jaw function.
The best option for a tooth replacement is a dental implant. Life-like and durable, dental implants encourage bone growth at the implant site and adjacent teeth will respond to it as they would a natural tooth. If an implant isn’t feasible, then a fixed bridge is also a viable replacement option that will prevent drift. As a result, tooth movement should continue normally with no adverse effects on function.
If you’ve lost teeth or are about to undergo tooth extraction, it’s in your other teeth’s best interest to consider a permanent replacement. A new implant or bridge will vastly improve your smile and prevent more serious problems in the future.
If you would like more information on the importance of teeth replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Replacing Back Teeth.”