Posts for: March, 2014
If you think you'd rather wrestle a pack of porcupines than go to the dentist for a root canal treatment — then maybe it's time to think again! This common procedure has been the butt of jokes for a long time. Let's set the record straight by answering some common questions about the much-maligned procedure.
Q: What is a root canal?
A: Coursing through the central part of each root is a hollow space or canal, which contains the pulp tissue. The pulp tissue contains the nerves which respond to temperature changes transmitted through the tooth. When the temperatures are extreme the nerves signal sensitivity and pain. It's also shorthand for the dental procedure that is performed when the pulp tissue that fills these canals develops a disease.
Q: Why do I need to get a root canal?
A: Because an infection or inflammation has developed deep inside one or more of your teeth. When the living pulp tissue — which contains nerves and blood vessels — becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause intense pain. It also releases bacterial toxins, which can lead to further problems.
Q: What happens if I don't get a root canal?
A: Your acute pain may temporarily go away, but the infection won't. It will eventually travel through the tooth's roots into the surrounding tissues. If left untreated, it may result in an abscess or even a systemic infection. That's why you need to take care of it now.
Q: Will it be painful?
A: Generally, a root canal procedure is no more painful than getting a filling. In fact, it starts the same way: An anesthetic is given to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Then a small hole is made through the tooth's chewing surface and down into the canal. Diseased pulp tissue is removed through the hole via a set of tiny instruments. Finally, the root canal is cleaned, disinfected, filled with inert biocompatible material and sealed up.
Q: What happens after that?
A: Your tooth may be sensitive for a few days after the treatment, but the acute pain will be gone. Over-the-counter pain relievers generally work well for pain relief at this point. To restore your tooth to its fully-functioning state, a crown or other restoration is usually needed after root canal treatment. Properly done, the restored tooth can last as long as any of your natural teeth.
Q: Is there an alternative?
A: Yes. You can relieve the pain by having the tooth removed. But you don't want to go there. Tooth loss can lead to unwanted side effects, like migration of teeth, bone loss and eventually the inability to chew properly. It's far better to save your natural teeth when you can.
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.”
Here’s a quick quiz: What recent activity did domestic guru Martha Stewart share via social media for the first time? Need a hint? Was she following the lead of other celebrities like rapper 50 Cent (AKA Curtis James Jackson III), actress Demi Moore and country music star LeAnn Rimes?
Give up? The answer is… she live-tweeted her visit to the dentist! Not only that, she also posted pictures of her mouth as she was undergoing an in-office whitening procedure.
Now, we understand that some might feel they don’t need to see close-ups of Stewart’s teeth under treatment. But we have to admire her for not trying to hide the fact that she’s had the same procedure that has benefited so many people, whether famous or not. Plus, her pictures actually provide a good illustration of how the treatment works.
In-office whitening treatments are the fastest way to brighten up your smile. In a single one-hour visit, your teeth can be lightened by three to eight shades — and that's a big difference! How can we achieve such dramatic results? When you’re under our direct supervision in an office setting, we can use the most concentrated bleach solutions safely and effectively. You can get similar results with custom-made trays and take-home lightening solutions we can prepare for you, but then the process will take longer.
If you look closely at her photos, you’ll see that Stewart’s lips, gums, and face are covered up to prevent any contact with the bleaching solution. She’s also wearing protective eyewear, which not only keeps chemicals away, but also guards her eyes against strong lights, which are sometimes used in conjunction with bleach. When we perform in-office whitening procedures, we use safeguards like these for all of our patients — not just celebrities!
We also perform a complete oral examination before starting any whitening procedure, to be sure you don’t have any underlying conditions that need to be treated before teeth whitening begins. That’s something you just can’t get from an over-the counter whitening product.
Teeth whitening is an effective and affordable way to give your smile a quick boost. But whether you decide to live-tweet your procedure — or keep your fans guessing about why your smile looks so good all of a sudden — that’s up to you.
If you would like more information about the teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”