Posts for: August, 2012
We pride ourselves on educating our patients regarding oral health and dental treatment. This is why we are providing you with these frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding root canals. Our belief is that by being informed about this important dental treatment, you will be more comfortable should you ever require a root canal.
Exactly what is root canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure (“endo” – inside: “dont” – tooth) in which the living pulp tissues are housed, including the nerves. When a severely decayed or damaged tooth begins to hurt, it is because the pulpal tissues are inflamed or infected, and the response of the nerves is varying degrees of pain — letting you know something is wrong. If the pulp is dead or dying it must be removed and the root canal of the tooth is filled and sealed to stop infection and to save the tooth.
Who typically performs them?
Endodontics is a specialty within dentistry that specifically deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of root canal issues affecting a tooth's root or nerve. While endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment, general dentists may also perform root canal treatment and are usually the dentists you will consult with when you first have tooth pain and who will refer you to an endodontist if necessary.
What are the symptoms of a root canal infection?
Root canal symptoms and the character of the pain may vary depending on the cause. For example, symptoms may be:
- 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
Does root canal treatment hurt?
A common misconception is that a root canal treatment is painful when, in actuality, it is quite the opposite. The pain associated with a root canal occurs prior to treatment and is relieved by it — not visa versa.
If you have tooth pain, you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact us today (before your symptoms get worse) and schedule an appointment to find out what's causing the problem. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”
Studies have shown that as many as 75 out of every 100 people fear dental visits; and for 10 to 15 of them, the fear is so great that they never get treatment — leading to serious dental problems and worse. Untreated disease in your teeth and gums can negatively affect the health of your entire body.
How can you conquer your fears so you can get the treatment you need? The answer includes (a) working with us to overcome your fears and have a positive experience while undergoing dental treatment, and (b) using oral sedation or anti-anxiety medication to help you quell your fears and relax.
Overcoming Your Fears
People develop fear of the dentist when they have a bad dental experience themselves, or sometimes when they hear of a bad experience someone else has had. The more you are afraid, the more you feel the symptoms of fear, and the more you connect those symptoms with the experience. You need to stop this negative memory sequence and replace the feelings of fear and loss of control with memories of good experiences and feelings of being in control.
It helps to know that you are not alone in your fears and that you can do something positive about them. First, make an appointment to discuss your fears with us, your dental professionals. Start with small procedures that cause only mild anxiety, and give yourself adequate time to get over your fears.
Using Oral Sedation
You have already gradually reduced your fear through your discussions and previous appointments. When you are ready to go to the next step, consider using oral sedatives or “anxiolytics” (meaning that they dissolve anxiety) to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
Oral sedation — so called because you take it by mouth — allows you to let your guard down and focus on feeling peaceful, yet you remain awake and in control. The medication is either placed under your tongue and dissolved there (sublingual) or swallowed whole. Since it is taken by mouth, it does not require an injection, so it is easily taken by people who are afraid of injections.
The oral sedative and anxiolytic medications dentists use have been subjected to rigorous research and testing and have a long safety record after decades of use.
By using this two-step process you can reduce your fears and begin to get the care you need. And we, your dental professionals, are able to work more efficiently because we can focus on the work at hand, knowing that you are comfortable and relaxed.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety” and “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”
During Nancy O'Dell's interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the former co-anchor of Access Hollywood and new co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight could not resist her journalistic instincts to turn the tables so that she could learn more about a baby's oral health. Here are just some of the facts she learned from the publisher of Dear Doctor about childhood tooth decay, pacifier use and what the right age is for a child's first visit to the dentist.
Many moms-to-be and parents or caregivers of young children are surprised to learn that around age 1 is the ideal time to schedule a child's first visit to the dentist. This visit is crucial because it sets the stage for the child's oral health for the rest of his or her life. It can also be quite beneficial for the parents, too, as they can be reassured that there are no problems with development and that the child's teeth appear to be growing properly. And if by chance we identify any concerns, we will discuss them with you as well as any necessary treatment strategies.
Nancy also wanted to learn more about pacifiers — specifically, if it is a good idea for parents to encourage their use. Obviously, children are born with a natural instinct for sucking, so giving a child a pacifier seems totally harmless. Pacifiers definitely have some advantages; however, if used for too long — past the age of 18 months — they can cause long-term changes in the child's developing mouth (both the teeth and the jaws).
Another problem that parents and caregivers need to be aware of is baby bottle syndrome. This is a condition that develops in children who are perpetually sucking on a baby bottle filled with sugary fluids such as formula, fruit juices, cola or any liquids containing a large amount of sugar, honey or other sweeteners. It is important to note that a mother's own breast milk or cow's milk are good choices for feeding babies, as they both contain lactose, a natural sugar that is less likely to cause decay. However, if these liquids are placed in a bottle and a child is allowed to suck on it throughout the night, they, too, can promote tooth decay. The key is to feed your child properly while avoiding all-night feedings and liquids loaded with sugar.
To read the entire Dear Doctor magazine article on Nancy O'Dell as well as to learn more about a baby's oral health, continue reading “Nancy O'Dell — A life full of smiles.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination, listen to your concerns, answer your questions and discuss any necessary treatment options.
We've all heard of morning sickness, but did you know that it's also not unusual for pregnant women to experience oral discomfort? This is what Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O'Dell discovered when she was expecting her daughter, Ashby. In an exclusive interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Nancy described how her gums became extra-sensitive during pregnancy, leading her dentist to diagnose her with “pregnancy gingivitis” (“gingival” – gum tissue; “itis” – inflammation).
“While my dental health has always been relatively normal, pregnancy did cause me some concern about my teeth and gums,” Nancy said. “With my dentist's advice and treatment, the few problems I had were minimized,” she said.
It's especially important to maintain good oral hygiene during pregnancy with routine brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings. This will reduce the accumulation of the dental bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. Both mother and child are particularly vulnerable to these bacteria during this sensitive time. Scientific studies have established a link between preterm delivery and the presence of periodontal (gum) disease in pregnant women. Also, the elevated hormone levels of pregnancy cause the tiny blood vessels of the gum tissues to become dilated (widened) and therefore more susceptible to the effects of plaque bacteria and their toxins. Gingivitis is especially common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
Excess bacterial plaque can occasionally lead to another pregnancy-related condition in the second trimester: an overgrowth of gum tissue called a “pregnancy tumor.” In this case, “tumor” means nothing more than a swelling or growth. Pregnancy tumors, usually found between the teeth, are completely benign but they do bleed easily and are characterized by a red, raw-looking mulberry-like surface. They can be surgically removed if they do not resolve themselves after the baby is born.
If you are experiencing any pregnancy-related oral health issues, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Nancy O'Dell, please see “Nancy O'Dell.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Pregnancy and Oral Health: Everything You Always Wanted To Know But Never Knew To Ask.”