Root canal therapy is a very important tool in a dentist’s list of dental services to save and maintain our teeth. For many, it can be a scary procedure we try to avoid, but with a little educational knowledge, it can take some of the fear away and put your mind at ease. A root canal should not be avoided due to fear, understanding what to expect and why may help you get the dental treatment you need when you need it.
Root Canal Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root Canal Therapy (also referred to as root canal treatment or endodontic treatment) is a dental procedure in which the diseased, decayed tooth, or damaged nerve of a tooth is removed and the inside areas (the nerve and canals within the roots) are cleaned, filled and sealed permanently to avoid infection. Without treatment, the surrounding tissues of the tooth (including the gums and bone) will become infected and a dental abscess can form.
A tooth’s nerve and blood vessel provide nutrients and hydration to a tooth as well as sense of temperature. It provides the sensation of hot or cold. The absence of a nerve will affect the strength of a tooth and make it become more brittle and susceptible to fracture if not protected by a crown.
How Do I Know If Root Canal Therapy Is Needed?
Common symptoms related to an infected tooth include tooth sensitivity (to hot or cold temperatures or even both), sensitivity to touch, toothache/sharp pain when chewing, swelling in the area of the tooth, or a bad taste in the mouth. These symptoms need to be evaluated by a dentist immediately to prevent further pain or damage.
What If I Ignore My Symptoms? Will They Just Go Away?
If the symptoms are ignored and treatment is not begun, the inflammation can progress to infection. Infection will continue to invade the tissues and tooth causing the tooth to become more painful and may become a health threat. Once the tooth “dies”, there are only two choices: extract the damaged tooth or perform root canal therapy.
How Is My Tooth Restored After Root Canal Therapy?
Depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth, your dentist can recommend a dental composite restoration to close the tooth or in most cases recommend a dental crown to protect the tooth against future damage. Over time, the tooth with the root canal therapy will dehydrate. This will make the tooth brittle and more susceptible to fracture/breaking. Most often, a crown is placed after root canal treatment is completed to protect the tooth and restore full function.
Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?
Typically, root canal therapy should cause no more discomfort than a simple dental filling). The pain most people associate with root canal therapy is due to the infection that develops. Root canal therapy actually relieves the pain by removing the dental infection and pressure.
What Are The Advantages Of Root Canal Therapy?
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
-Maintains Normal Biting Force And Sensation.
-Natural Looking Appearance.
-Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain.
Root Canal Therapy helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as other natural teeth and often for a lifetime.
Are There any Risks Or Complications?
Over 90 % of root canal therapy procedures are successful. However, there is a chance of a failed root canal. Sometimes the root canal therapy needs to be redone due to diseased canal offshoots that went unnoticed, the fracture of a filing instrument, or a fracture or perforation in the root. The signs of a root canal therapy failure are marked by a return of pain, pressure, and sensitivity.
Is There An Alternative To Root Canal Therapy?
There are other options. One includes extracting the infected tooth. Then the question becomes how to replace the tooth. A few options are possible and these include a dental bridge and a dental implant. The success rate of root canal therapy is over 90% so it is an excellent option to save your own natural tooth if at all possible.
What Can You Expect After Root Canal Therapy?
Most patients feel some sensitivity for a few days afterward. For many it is easily relieved with an over the counter pain medication (aleve or ibuprofen).
Can Root Canal Therapy Be Avoided?
Some tips include maintaining good dental hygiene, see your dentist and hygienist regularly, eat a well balanced diet, and wear a custom made sports mouthguards to decrease dental trauma. Root canals, unfortunately, are not entirely unavoidable, and may happen even with good hygiene and care.
Root Canal Therapy Conclusion
Many are fearful of the root canal therapy procedure but in reality it is not the horror that many believe it to be. Root canal therapy is an easy way to save your teeth in the event of dental trauma, decay, or dental infection. Knowing what to expect can go a long way to alleviating any fears you may have. It is important to save your natural teeth whenever possible.
Sensitive teeth can occur for a variety of reasons and in many ways. Sensitivity to temperature, sweets, touch, or pressure are the main types of tooth sensitivity. The pain and discomfort from sensitive teeth are generally a sign of trauma, tooth decay, or wear, and can range from mildly irritating to quite painful. Did you know there are effective treatments against sensitive teeth?
Types Of Sensitive Teeth
There are two very different types of sensitivity:
Dentinal Sensitivity. This occurs when the middle layer (dentin) of a tooth is exposed. Dentin is usually covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum (bone like connective tissue covering the root of a tooth) below the gum line. There are tiny openings called tubules in the dentin. Inside each tubule there is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth’s pulp (the nerve center of the tooth). When the dentin is exposed, these nerve branches can be affected by hot, cold, or certain foods. This causes tooth sensitivity.
When the outer protective layers of enamel or cementum wear away the dentin becomes exposed. This can affect one tooth or multiple teeth. Dentin exposure can be be caused in a variety of ways. These can include:
1. Aggressive brushing. The enamel layer can be worn away from brushing too hard.
2. Plaque build up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
3. Tooth wear that occurs over time from clenching and grinding.
4. Untreated dental cavities.
5. Gingival recession. When the gums recede they expose the tooth’s roots. Receding gums are often caused by periodontal diseases or by aggressive brushing. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.
6. Periodontal surgery (gum surgery) that exposes the tooth’s roots.
7. Tooth whitening.
8. Frequently eating acidic foods or liquids.
Pulpal sensitivity. This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. The pulp consists of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Sensitivity of the pulpal tissue tends to affect only one tooth. Causes of this type of sensitivity can include:
1. Dental cavities or infection.
2. Placement of a recent filling.
3. Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.
4. A cracked or broken tooth. If you feel a sharp pain upon biting, you may have a broken or cracked filling. Pain when you release your bite is a sign of a cracked tooth.
Your dentist will be able to diagnose the type of sensitivity you have.
Can Sensitive Teeth Be Strengthened?
Your dentist can strengthen your weakened teeth in two ways. These include the following:
-Attempt to rebuild the worn enamel. Fluoride treatments are highly effective at strengthening weakened tooth enamel. Fluoride contains minerals that can help to strengthen your teeth enamel. Exposing your teeth to more fluoride can be done in several ways:
-In Office Fluoride Treatment. This is the most concentrated fluoride treatment available. During this procedure, trays of fluoride gel, varnish, or foam are placed over your teeth, and allow the fluoride to take effect for several minutes to several weeks.
-At Home Fluoride Treatment. You can also use fluoridated toothpaste, gel, or mouthwash at home for gradual enamel maintenance.
-Create A New Enamel-like Layer. The cosmetic dentistry procedures that are highly effective are dental bonding, crowns, and porcelain veneers.
Dental bonding gives the dentist the ability to add tooth colored material to cover the areas lacking in tooth enamel. This effectively creates a protective layer between the sensitive areas of your teeth and the outside stimulants in the outside world.
Sometimes the sensitivity is related to the tooth nerve suffering from inflammation. This may or may not lead to a need for root canal therapy to stop the pain.
Porcelain veneers and crowns can act as a protective layer and decrease sensitivity or protect a tooth after root canal therapy.
Sensitive Teeth Conclusion
Dealing with sensitive teeth can be very frustrating. Oftentimes sensitivity can be treated effectively and quickly. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, consult your dentist to see what can be done for you to relieve your discomfort and address problems which may be occurring. The sooner the sensitivity is addressed the less chance of more serious problems.
As we get go down the inevitable path of aging, health problems arise that we never expected. This includes oral health changes that can be kept at bay with proper care. Below you will find a list of some of the common dental health issues seniors face.
Common Dental Health Issues For Seniors
-Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). This occurs when salivary flow is reduced. This can occur from many factors such as medications, Sjogren’s syndrome, or even from radiation therapy to the head and neck area. Saliva is the body’s natural defense against the bacteria and food debris that can build up in our mouths. Without proper flow, tooth decay and periodontal disease has an increased chance of developing creating problems for your oral health.
-Darker Smile. This is a cumulative effect of thinning enamel (exposing more of the underneath layer, the dentin) and a lifetime of eating and drinking stain causing food and drink. For many a simple teeth whitening can bring back the bright, white shine for others it may require more extensive cosmetic dentistry.
-Decay Along The Roots Of Teeth. As we age and are not as diligent over time with our dental hygiene, the gum tissue surrounding our teeth can recede as we lose bone. This recession will expose portions of the tooth known as the root. These areas are much less protected and more vulnerable to developing tooth decay. Simce this area is thinner, this tooth decay can progress rapidly leading to tooth sensitivity and possibly the need for root canal therapy.
-Changes In Taste. We have all heard the sayings how our tastes change as we get older. We make different choices in our nutrition as we get older. Other items that can contribute changes to our taste sensation include disease, medications, and even dentures.
-Periodontal Disease. This is not just a disease for young or old. It affects both equally but tends to rear itself more in the older population. This is due to usually slow progression of the disease. It is important to note keeping periodontal disease at bay will stave off tooth loss as we age. A full smile is a youthful looking one.
-Tooth Loss. This can occur for many reasons including periodontal disease, trauma, or untreated tooth decay. It is important to replace lost teeth whenever possible as it prevents your bite from shifting creating issues with your Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ).
-Temperomandibular Joint Disorder. This is generally a slow developing disorder. Hence, it seems to be more likely in an older person than a younger one. The bones and the disc in this joint will break down over time from bad habits like teeth grinding or even chewing hard candy over a long period of time.
-Denture Induced Stomatitis. This is simply an inflammation of the tissues beneath a denture. This is caused by dentures that do not fit properly, poor oral hygiene, or can even be caused by a fungus (Candida Albicans, also known as thrush).
What Can Be Done To Combat These Issues For Seniors?
The main thing is to maintain dental hygiene throughout life. This includes brushing at least 2x per day, flossing at least 1x per day, and using an antibacterial rinse. Dental hygiene tends to become more difficult for many as they age due to arthritis. This makes hands dexterity and strength an issue. Luckily, there are many wonderful products on the market to help with these situations. And it is also important to keep up with your scheduled dental visits for examinations (including oral cancer screenings) and professional cleanings. Doing the right things can be hard sometimes but doing them will pay off over the long run leading to a happy, healthy more youthful looking smile as we age.
Crooked teeth (also referred to as a malocclusion) can affect approximately 75% of all American adults. Malocclusion can significantly affect dental and oral health over the course of a lifetime, leaving you with increased chances of developing periodontal disease and increased wear and trauma to teeth.
Types Of Malocclusion
-Crossbite – A crossbite is when the lower teeth overlap or come out even with the upper teeth. In a normal occlusion the upper teeth overlap the lower ones but when a crossbite (can occur on either side or both) is present, the opposite is true. This can lead to premature wear, increased risk of chipping or fracturing your teeth, development of abfraction (small notch in tooth at the gumline), and periodontal disease.
-Excessive Overjet – This occurs when the upper front teeth are too far out in front of the lower teeth. This can lead to increased trauma as well as an increase to chipping or fracturing of teeth (especially the front ones).
-Edge To Edge Bite – This occurs when the teeth touch one another edge to edge (or cusp to cusp). The teeth do not fit together propely allowing the biting surfaces to touch. This will lead to increased risk of chipping and fracturing, Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain, as well as short, worn down teeth.
-Open Bite – This is a common occurence from thumb sucking or can be genetic. It is when there is a space between the front upper teeth and the front lower teeth upon closing. Not only is this an unesthetic option but it can lead to abfraction, is difficult to bite and tear food ,and causes excessive, premature wear of the back teeth.
-Over Bite- This is when the upper front teeth completely cover the lower front teeth. Often, the lower teeth hit into the backs of the upper teeth and sometimes into the roof of the mouth.
-Under Bite- This occurs when the lower jaw has grown more quickly than the upper jaw. The lower front teeth and jaw have grown in front of the upper teeth.
-Tooth Size Arch Length Discrepency- When your teeth are too large for your jaw space and cause extreme crowding or when your teeth are too small for your mouth. Crowding can lead to decay, fracture, and periodontal disease. Small teeth are generally a major cosmetic issue.
The General Health Danger
Periodontal disease is commonly found right along with malocclusion, due to difficulty in maintaining good oral hygiene when teeth are not in proper position.
Periodontal disease has been linked to many systemic diseases through various studies. Some of these diseases include heart disease, diabetes, and alzheimer’s. Periodontal disease generally takes years of neglect to develop. There are various stages of periodontal disease progression, they include:
-Gingivitis – The earliest stage. The only stage that is reversible with proper dental care. This stage is characterized by swollen, red gum tissues, bleeding upon brushing, as well as bad breath (halitosis). If treated before it progresses, it can be reversed back to a normal, healthy, gingival state.
-Periodontitis – This is the stage that develops following ginigvitis. It is not reversible but can be controlled. Damage to teeth, bone, and gums can be limited with proper dental care. During this stage, the supporting tissues around the teeth may break down leading to gum recession and bone loss around the teeth.
-Advanced Periodontitis – This stage increases the bone loss and gum recession leading to loosening of teeth with the real possibility of losing one or more teeth.
How Do Crooked Teeth Affect Our Mouths?
When teeth are crowded and not aligned properly, the plaque and bacteria that forms on our teeth during everyday food consumption becomes much more difficult to remove. This makes it difficult to maintain a good state of health. Many times, flossing and brushing areas of overcrowded teeth will become very difficult. These areas are generally called a “plaque trap” for their ability to constantly trap food and debris. As mentioned earlier, without proper care, plaque traps can lead to bone loss, gum recession, and even tooth loss.
Another cause for concern is wear and trauma to the teeth. Poorly aligned teeth can create unnatural stresses on the teeth and the jaws. Teeth subjected to excessive pressures can develop chipping, fracturing, and abfractions. Premature wear can also lead to lost teeth, loose teeth and even root canal therapy.
Finally, crowded teeth affect your systemic health by allowing bacteria to grow and flourish unabated in these crowded areas. Over time, this can lead to devastating life threatening effects like heart disease and stroke.
What Can Be Done To Combat Crooked Teeth?
Fortunately, in many cases the simple solution is increased visits to the dentist for professional cleanings as well as diligent home care. When there is undue stress placed on the teeth that can cause trauma and wear over time, Orthodontics is the answer in most cases. Orthodontics is a type of dentistry dealing with crowded or misaligned teeth. Proper orthodontic treatment can, in many cases, restore your smile and make it easier to maintain it.
Orthodontics is not just for cosmetic reasons. We are not all born with perfectly straight teeth and sometimes we need a little help to get there. The bottom line is to have beautiful teeth and gums that make you feel confident and healthy. Your smile should last you a lifetime!