Posts for: December, 2014
During pregnancy, a mother has many health concerns for both her baby and herself. Though it may not seem as important, dental health and development should be on that list of concerns, for both you and your baby. In fact, your baby's tooth development is already well underway just a few weeks after conception. Pregnancy can also present challenges to your own dental health that definitely deserves your attention and care.
Taking care of your own dietary needs and dental health is also the best thing you can do for your baby. The baby growing within you needs calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and other minerals for the healthy development of teeth and bones. That can only come from you eating a balanced diet rich in these nutrients.
During pregnancy, you are also more susceptible to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or other gum diseases because of the normal increase in the level of the hormone progesterone. In fact, some studies seem to indicate that severe gum disease might even raise the risk for premature birth and a low birth weight. It's important then to practice good dental hygiene during your pregnancy: brushing your teeth at least twice a day with an American Dental Association (ADA) approved fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and using an ADA approved mouth rinse that deters the buildup of plaque and the occurrence of gingivitis. Our office is also happy to provide you instruction on proper brushing and flossing technique to help you gain the most benefit from your daily hygiene.
By paying close attention to your own dental health and diet, you are actually doing the very best you can to provide your baby a solid foundation for a lifetime of good oral health.
If you would like more information on protecting your and your baby's oral health, 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 “Expectant Mothers: Dental facts you need to know.”
If there was an “Unsung Hero” award for dental procedures, the root canal treatment would win hands-down. Much aligned in popular culture, today’s root canal treatment is actually a valuable tool for saving teeth that would otherwise be lost. And contrary to popular belief, root canal treatments don’t cause pain — they relieve it.
To help you understand its true worth, here are some common questions and answers about the root canal treatment.
What problem does a root canal treatment fix?
A root canal treatment stops a bacterial infection that has invaded the innermost part of a tooth — the pulp — and is advancing toward the end of the root through small passageways known as root canals. Most people first notice the problem as a sharp pain in the affected tooth that may suddenly dissipate in a few days. The infection has attacked the inner pulp tissue, rich in nerve fibers; when the nerve fibers die they stop sending pain signals. The infection, however, hasn’t died: as it advances, you may then begin to experience pain when you bite down or when you encounter hot foods. You may also notice tenderness and swelling in nearby gums.
How does the procedure stop the infection?
A root canal treatment removes all the infected or dead tissue and cleanses the pulp chamber. We enter the pulp chamber through a small access hole created in the tooth’s biting surface. After tissue removal, we then “shape” and prepare the empty chamber and root canals (often with the aid of microscopic equipment) to be filled with a special filling. After filling, the tooth is then sealed to prevent re-infection (most often, we need to install a permanent crown at a subsequent visit for maximum protection).
How much pain can I expect during and after the procedure?
During the procedure, none — the tooth and surrounding gums are fully anesthetized before we begin the procedure. Afterward, you may experience mild discomfort for a few days that can be relieved with over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.
What’s the ultimate value for a root canal treatment?
The procedure can save a tooth severely damaged by the infection. Even covered by an artificial crown, a living tooth continuing to exist and function normally within the mouth is usually more conducive for optimum oral health than an artificial tooth replacement.
If you would like more information on root canal treatments, 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 “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”
Modern dentistry offers several great ways to permanently replace missing teeth, including high-tech dental implants and traditional fixed bridgework. But sometimes, for one reason or another, it isn’t possible to have these treatments done right away. If you need an aesthetic way to temporarily replace missing teeth, a flexible partial denture could be the answer you’re looking for.
Certain kinds of removable partial dentures (RPDs) can be used as permanent tooth replacement systems, especially for people who aren’t candidates for dental implants or fixed bridges. But in the past, if you needed a temporary tooth replacement, one of the few alternatives was the type of rigid RPD often called a “flipper.” This consists of a firm, relatively thick acrylic base that supports one or more lifelike replacement teeth. It attaches to the “necks” of existing natural teeth via metal clasps, which gives it stability and strength.
However, the same rigidity and thickness that gives these rigid RPDs their durability can make them uncomfortable to wear, while the acrylic material they are made of is capable of staining or breaking. Over time, the RPDs are prone to coming loose — and they are also easy to flip in and out with the tongue, which gives them their nickname.
Flexible partial dentures, by contrast, are made of pliable polyamides (nylon-like plastics) that are thin, light and resistant to breakage. Instead of using metal wires to attach to the teeth, flexible RPDs are held securely in place by thin projections of their gum-colored bases, which fit tightly into the natural contours of the gumline. Their elasticity and light weight can make them more comfortable to wear. Plus, besides offering aesthetic replacements for missing teeth, their natural-looking bases can cover areas where gums have receded — making existing teeth look better as well.
All RPDs must be removed regularly for thorough cleaning — but it’s especially important for flexible RPD wearers to practice excellent oral hygiene. That’s because the projections that hold them in place can also trap food particles and bacteria, which can cause decay. And, like most dentures, RPDs should never be worn overnight. Yet with proper care, flexible RPDs offer an inexpensive and aesthetic way to temporarily replace missing teeth.
Root canal, or endodontic (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) treatment, is often wrongly perceived as a highly unpleasant experience and one that causes tremendous pain. However, the truth is that the procedure actually relieves the pain being caused by an infected and inflamed tooth pulp (inside of the tooth). Advances in dentistry have made treatment virtually pain free and it can be completed relatively quickly, usually in a single visit. Left untreated, infection can spread into the bone immediately around the tooth's root, so prompt attention is the best course of action.
If the term “root canal” still sends shivers down your spine, don't despair. Here is some information that should help put your mind at ease.
- Root canal treatment is necessary when deep decay or trauma has caused the inside (pulp) of the tooth to become inflamed or infected. Symptoms of infection can include sharp pain when biting down, lingering pain after consuming very hot or cold foods, a dull ache and feeling of pressure near the infected tooth, and tender gum tissue surrounding the infected tooth.
- After a local anesthetic is administered to numb the infected tooth and its surrounding area, we will make a small opening on the chewing surface of the tooth. This will allow us to remove dead and dying tissue from the pulp and to then clean and disinfect the root canals. Using small instruments, we will shape the canals and seal them with biocompatible filling materials.
- You may feel slight tenderness at the treated site for a few days, but this is quite manageable and can be relieved with over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. You should refrain from chewing on the treated tooth until your follow-up appointment. A crown or other restoration may be needed to protect the tooth and restore it to full function.
If you think you might be a candidate for a root canal treatment, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you would like to learn more about the process of root canal treatment, please read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”
Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), better known as aspirin, is an effective pain reliever and fever reducer. More recently, its anti-inflammatory properties have become part of the management of cardiovascular disease. But while regular use may benefit your general health, it could complicate your dental care.
Aspirin helps reduce inflammatory pain or fever by blocking the body’s formation of prostaglandins, chemicals that contribute to inflammation after trauma or injury. It also prevents blood platelets from sticking and clumping together. While this can prolong normal bleeding and bruising, it also helps the blood move freely through narrowed or damaged blood vessels, which reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke in at-risk cardiovascular patients. Due to side effects from prolonged aspirin use like kidney damage, stomach bleeding, or ulceration, physicians normally prescribe a low aspirin dosage (81 milligrams) to minimize these effects.
Because of its effect on bleeding and clotting, it’s important that every member of your healthcare team — including your dentist — knows how much and how often you take aspirin. The change it causes in your body’s clotting mechanism may also affect how dental procedures are carried out; by knowing you take aspirin regularly we can take extra precautions to ensure your safety.
In fact, if you’ve been prescribed aspirin for a heart condition, you may be tempted to stop taking it before a dental procedure out of fear of profuse bleeding. This is highly unadvisable — the sudden discontinuation could increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or even death. You should only discontinue aspirin treatment at the direction of your prescribing physician.
Another aspirin-related effect may involve your gums and other soft tissues. You may notice gum tissue bleeding after brushing or flossing; while this is normally a sign of periodontal gum disease, it could also be the result of your aspirin therapy. The only way to know for sure is to schedule a visit with us to examine your gums.
When it comes to aspirin or other blood-related therapies, the key is to communicate your health status with us, including all medications you are taking. With that knowledge we can provide you with the most informed and safest dental care we can.
If you would like more information on the effects of aspirin on your dental care, 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 “Aspirin: Friend or Foe?”