Posts for: July, 2017
When a tooth is sensitive to heat, pressure or cold, something is wrong. You should see Dr. Stephen Dickey or Dr. Kevin Conroy at Total Dental Care right away. After careful evaluation, they may recommend root canal therapy in their Pekin, IL office. "A root canal?" you say. "Doesn't that hurt?" In fact, root canal therapy relieves many painful dental conditions, leaving healthy tooth structure in place to function for many years. Learn more about root canals, or endodontics, and why you may need this restoration.
What is a root canal?
The American Association of Endodontists, specialists in root canal therapy, says this often-used restorative treatment started back in the mid-1800s. The idea was simple: remove the pulp deep inside a tooth to eliminate infection and preserve the tooth. A comfortable treatment that removes the pulp, seals the interior chambers (root canals) and crowns the tooth, root canal therapy in Pekin preserves teeth injured by:
- Extensive tooth decay
- Several restorations such as fillings
- Oral trauma
- Deep fracture
To decide if your tooth could benefit from root canal therapy, Dr. Dickey and Dr. Conroy examine:
- Your teeth and gums
- Digital X-rays of the tooth
- Your symptoms
Signs you may need root canal therapy
Most patients who would benefit from root canal therapy come to Total Dental Care with:
- Throbbing toothache pain
- Sensitivity to cold or heat
- Pain when biting
- Reddened gums
- A pimple or sore on the gums
- A crack in the tooth
- A damaged filling or crown
- Drainage due to infection
- Bad breath
While these symptoms are very worrisome, they can be eliminated with this two-visit procedure. Root canal therapy also avoids the harmful effects of tooth extraction--namely, weakening of neighboring teeth, smile gaps, compromised speech and chewing, and deterioration of gum tissue and bone at the extraction site.
The root canal procedure
Most likely, you'll need nothing more than local anesthetic for your root canal. However, Dr. Dickey and Dr. Conroy also offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oral conscious sedation to relax patients during their treatments.
When you are comfortable, the dentist drills a small hole into the tooth, accessing first root canal. Large teeth, such as back molars, may have up to four canals.
Then, the doctor removes the diseased inner pulp (nerves, connective tissue and blood supply) using some small metal files. He instills antibiotics and fills the canal with gutta-percha, a natural and elastic sealant. He covers the tooth with a filling or crown which will stay in place until the next visit.
At the next visit, your dentist removes the temporary restoration and installs a customized porcelain crown. Your tooth will be pain-free and functional for many years with routine hygiene at home and at Total Dental Care.
Come see us
At the first sign of discomfort, please contact Total Dental Care in Pekin, IL for an appointment. The dentists and their staff want to preserve your teeth so you have strong, healthy smiles for a lifetime. Call (309) 857-7580.
One of the top concerns in public health today is exposure to the metallic element mercury within the environment. At abnormal levels, mercury can have a toxic effect on our nervous systems and cause other health problems.
These concerns over mercury have also increased attention on one material in dentistry that has included the metal in its makeup for over a century — dental amalgam for filling teeth. Amalgam is a metal alloy that can include, in addition to mercury, silver, tin, and copper. When first mixed dental amalgam is a moldable material used for fillings in prepared teeth. It then hardens into a durable restoration that can withstand biting forces.
While the use of amalgam has declined with the introduction of life-like colored fillings, it's still used for teeth like molars subject to high biting forces. With what we now know about the ill effects of mercury (which can make up to half of an amalgam mixture) is it safe to continue its use?
The American Dental Association has performed extensive research into amalgam safety. They've found that mercury is stabilized by the other metals in the amalgam. This prevents "free" molecules of mercury, the real source of harm to health, from escaping into the blood stream in the form of vapor. Although trace amounts of mercury vapor from the amalgam are released as a person chews, those levels are well below the threshold that could cause harm.
From a patient standpoint, the biggest drawback to dental amalgam isn't safety — it's the appearance of teeth it's used on. Silver fillings aren't considered attractive. And now there are viable filling alternatives that not only look like natural teeth but can withstand biting forces almost as well as amalgam. These materials include composite resins, mixtures of glass or quartz within resin, or glass and resin ionomers. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages depending on how and where they're applied.
After a thorough dental examination, we'll be able to advise you on what filling material will work best to produce the best result. And if we do suggest dental amalgam you can rest assured it will be a safe choice.
If you would like more information on the safety of dental amalgam, 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 “Silver Fillings — Safe or Unsafe?”
During his former career as a professional footballer (that's a soccer star to U.S. sports fans) David Beckham was known for his skill at “bending” a soccer ball. His ability to make the ball curve in mid-flight — to avoid a defender or score a goal — led scores of kids to try to “bend it like Beckham.” But just recently, while enjoying a vacation in Canada with his family, “Becks” tried snowboarding for the first time — and in the process, broke one of his front teeth.
Some fans worried that the missing tooth could be a “red card” for Beckham's current modeling career… but fortunately, he headed straight to the dental office as soon as he arrived back in England. Exactly what kind of treatment is needed for a broken tooth? It all depends where the break is and how badly the tooth is damaged.
For a minor crack or chip, cosmetic bonding may offer a quick and effective solution. In this procedure, a composite resin, in a color custom-made to match the tooth, is applied in liquid form and cured (hardened) with a special light. Several layers of bonding material can be applied to re-construct a larger area of missing tooth, and chips that have been saved can sometimes be reattached as well.
When more tooth structure is missing, dental veneers may be the preferred restorative option. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. They can not only correct small chips or cracks, but can also improve the color, spacing, and shape of your teeth.
But if the damage exposes the soft inner pulp of the tooth, root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth. In this procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp tissue is removed and the tooth sealed against re-infection; if a root canal is not done when needed, the tooth will have an increased risk for extraction in the future. Following a root canal, a tooth is often restored with a crown (cap), which can look good and function well for many years.
Sometimes, a tooth may be knocked completely out of its socket; or, a severely damaged tooth may need to be extracted (removed). In either situation, the best option for restoration is a dental implant. Here, a tiny screw-like device made of titanium metal is inserted into the jaw bone in a minor surgical procedure. Over time, it fuses with the living bone to form a solid anchorage. A lifelike crown is attached, which provides aesthetic appeal and full function for the replacement tooth.
So how's Beckham holding up? According to sources, “David is a trooper and didn't make a fuss. He took it all in his stride." Maybe next time he hits the slopes, he'll heed the advice of dental experts and wear a custom-made mouthguard…
If you have questions about restoring damaged teeth, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma and Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “Children's Dental Concerns and Injuries.”