Posts for: August, 2016
Root canal treatments are an essential part of dental care — countless teeth with deep decay would be lost each year without it. Now, this traditional dental care procedure is advancing to a new level of precision through lasers.
Root canal treatments have a simple goal: access a tooth's infected pulp and root canals, clean out the infected tissue and fill the empty pulp chamber and canals with a special filling. Once filled, the access is sealed and a porcelain crown later placed for additional protection against re-infection.
In the traditional procedure, we perform these steps manually with a dental drill and hand instruments. We may also need to remove a good portion of tooth structure, both healthy and infected tissue. A laser, on the other hand, is a highly focused beam of light with the ability to interact with healthy and infected tissues differently: destroying infected tissue while having no effect on nearby healthy tissue. The end result: we may be able to remove less healthy tissue with lasers than with the conventional procedure.
Lasers are also helpful with softening and precisely molding the filling material within each canal's particular shape. And, early reports seem to indicate a higher degree of comfort for patients (less drill noise and need for anesthesia), less bleeding and faster recovery times than the conventional approach.
But as a tool for root canal treatments, lasers do have a couple of disadvantages. While light travels in a straight line, root canals are rarely straight — conventional instruments with curved designs usually accommodate odd canal shapes better than a laser. Lasers can also raise temperatures within a tooth that can damage healthy tissue, both within the pulp and outward into the dentin.
Still, lasers for root canal treatments appear promising with some dentists using a combination of lasers and manual techniques to garner benefits from both approaches. While you won't see lasers replacing the traditional root canal treatment anytime soon, the future looks bright for more efficient ways to treat deep tooth decay.
Everyone has to face the music at some time — even John Lydon, former lead singer of The Sex Pistols, arguably England’s best known punk rock band. The 59-year old musician was once better known by his stage name, Johnny Rotten — a brash reference to the visibly degraded state of his teeth. But in the decades since his band broke up, Lydon’s lifelong deficiency in dental hygiene had begun to cause him serious problems.
In recent years, Lydon has had several dental surgeries — including one to resolve two serious abscesses in his mouth, which left him with stitches in his gums and a temporary speech impediment. Photos show that he also had missing teeth, which, sources say, he opted to replace with dental implants.
For Lydon (and many others in the same situation) that’s likely to be an excellent choice. Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement today, for some very good reasons. The most natural-looking of all tooth replacements, implants also have a higher success rate than any other method: over 95 percent. They can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth, or an entire arch (top or bottom row) of teeth. And with only routine care, they can last for the rest of your life.
Like natural teeth, dental implants get support from the bone in your jaw. The implant itself — a screw-like titanium post — is inserted into the jaw in a minor surgical operation. The lifelike, visible part of the tooth — the crown — is attached to the implant by a sturdy connector called an abutment. In time, the titanium metal of the implant actually becomes fused with the living bone tissue. This not only provides a solid anchorage for the prosthetic, but it also prevents bone loss at the site of the missing tooth — which is something neither bridgework nor dentures can do.
It’s true that implants may have a higher initial cost than other tooth replacement methods; in the long run, however, they may prove more economical. Over time, the cost of repeated dental treatments and periodic replacement of shorter-lived tooth restorations (not to mention lost time and discomfort) can easily exceed the expense of implants.
That’s a lesson John Lydon has learned. “A lot of ill health came from neglecting my teeth,” he told a newspaper reporter. “I felt sick all the time, and I decided to do something about it… I’ve had all kinds of abscesses, jaw surgery. It costs money and is very painful. So Johnny says: ‘Get your brush!’”
We couldn’t agree more. But if brushing isn’t enough, it may be time to consider dental implants. If you would like more information about dental implants, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants” and “Save a Tooth or Get an Implant?”
If it’s time to have a tooth extracted, you may be nervous about the idea as you wonder what to expect. Tooth extraction is a fairly routine procedure that can put you back on track for good dental health. Here are a few common reasons you might need to have a tooth extracted from your Colesville dentist, and what to expect on the day of the procedure.
What Is Tooth Extraction?
Tooth extraction is the surgical removal of a tooth from its socket. Common conditions that may require extraction include teeth that are:
Impacted: Teeth that are stuck inside the gums, such as wisdom teeth, may need to be removed to prevent complications.
Too badly damaged to be saved: When a filling or root canal isn't enough to restore a tooth to health, the tooth will need to be extracted to prevent infection.
Blocking or intruding on other teeth: Baby teeth may need to be extracted if they don't come out on their own by the time the adult tooth is trying to come in. Wisdom teeth are frequently extracted if they are trying to grow into spaces where adult teeth already exist.
How Does Tooth Extraction Work?
There are two main types of extractions:
Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are fully visible below the gumline. Your Colesville dentist loosens the tooth with a tool called an elevator, then removes it with forceps. Simple extractions often require just a local anesthetic, but stronger anesthesia may be needed for very young patients or those with dental anxiety.
Surgical extractions are performed when a tooth is still inside the gum or has broken off at the gumline. Sometimes a small amount of bone surrounding the tooth needs to be removed in these cases. IV or general anesthesia may be needed for a surgical extraction.
After the tooth is removed, you'll bite down on pieces of gauze to stop the bleeding. If you're receiving more than a local anesthetic, you'll need to have someone ready to drive you home. Your dentist will send you on your way with complete instructions about caring for your mouth during the healing process.
Most of the bleeding and swelling should be over within a day or two, and full healing takes about two weeks. Your dentist will prescribe pain medications to support your comfort during healing. You can also apply an ice pack to the jaw as needed to ease your pain and reduce swelling.
General Dentist in Silver Spring, MD
The decision to have a tooth extracted can be difficult. At Colesville Dentistry, we're committed to making sure that you fully understand and are comfortable with every treatment you receive. To learn more about your treatment options, call your Silver Spring general dentist at (301) 384-6000 or request your appointment now.