Friday, 26 April 2013

The Dentist in Silver Spring Maryland Talks to Us About: Root Canal Procedures, PART 3

This three-part article series takes an in-depth look at root canal therapy: what it is, why it’s necessary and what patients can expect from the procedure.

Welcome to the third and final installment of this three-part article series on root canal or endodontic therapy. So far, our qualified and experienced dentist in Silver Spring Maryland has addressed the following questions...

  • What is root canal therapy?
  • Why is it necessary?
  • What can cause someone to need a root canal?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of an inner tooth infection?

In this article, Silver Spring dentists will walk us through a standard root canal procedure, explaining what is involved and whether patients can anticipate any pain and discomfort!

The Root Canal Procedure: Say “Aahhhh”

Dentist in Silver Spring Maryland

Root canal therapy is generally performed in-office over the course of one or two appointments. First and foremost, the extent of the infection will be determined using X-ray. The Silver Spring dentist will then anesthetize the gum surrounding the tooth so that you don’t experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure. He or she will then place a small sheet of rubber around the tooth to prevent saliva from moistening the area.

Once the preparation work has been done, the procedure will commence with the drilling of a hole into the top of the tooth. The dentist will use a very fine tool or file to extract all the infected pulp, the decayed nerve tissue, bacteria and associated debris from the tooth chamber and down the entire length of its root/s. The insides of the tooth are thoroughly filed and scrubbed to completely eliminate bacteria and minimize the chance of re-infection. Sodium hypochlorite or even just water will be periodically flushed into the empty tooth to help remove debris and infected tissue.

Once the Silver Spring dentist is satisfied that the tooth is completely clean, he or she will fill it with an inert cement, or “gutta percha”. This rubbery compound flows into the interior of the tooth, filling the roots as well as the pulp chamber and leaving it impervious to external contaminants. The access hole at the top of the tooth crown is then capped with a durable ceramic restoration, such as a dental crown or filling. You may be required to return to the dentist for further restoration, but this will be discussed with you during your appointment.

Does Root Canal Therapy Really Hurt?

Silver Spring Dentists

If root canal therapy were performed without the aid of anesthesia, it would most definitely hurt, because it is by its very nature an invasive procedure. But, you will be hard pressed to find a dentist in Silver Spring Maryland who would recommend performing such a treatment without anesthesia! By numbing the area around the tooth, the patient won’t need to worry about experiencing any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

So... Is My Tooth Dead or Alive?

Many people think that a root canal leaves them with a “dead” tooth. This simply isn’t the case. The nerves and tissues inside the tooth play an important role during your dentition and jawbone’s formative years. But by adulthood, the tooth can do quite well without them. It is always better to treat a natural tooth than it is to extract it and replace it with a dental bridge or implant. No amount of sophisticated teeth replacement hardware can rival your own biological technology, which is why dentists always recommend root canal therapy prior to extraction.

Moving Forward...

Avoiding the need for root canal therapy means looking after your teeth, although this is not always enough - accidents do happen! Maintain a rigorous home oral hygiene, wear a mouth guard if you play sports and keep regular scheduled appointments with your Silver Spring dentist and you should keep your teeth in excellent lifelong condition!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Dentist in Silver Spring Maryland Talks to Us About: Root Canal Procedures, PART 2

This three-part article series takes an in-depth look at root canal therapy: what it is, why it’s necessary and what patients can expect from the procedure.

Welcome back to our three-part article series on root canal therapy. In our previous article post, the first installment of the series, we spoke to a qualified and experienced dentist in Silver Spring Maryland about what root canal or endodontic therapy is and why it’s sometimes necessary. In Part 2, we’ll delve a little deeper into the subject and find out what can cause the insides of a tooth to become infected and what the signs and symptoms of such an affliction are.

What Necessitates Root Canal Therapy?

Dentist Silver Spring Maryland

When bacteria break through the protective enamel covering a tooth, they begin colonizing the soft tissue inside the pulp chamber. Because there is no way for standard hygienic measures, such as brushing and flossing, to eliminate bacteria and their toxic by-products from inside the tooth, they begin to accumulate unchecked. This inflames the tissue, causes infection and can lead to the development of pus-filled pockets inside the tooth. An abscess left without treatment is not only excruciatingly painful, it can also have some severe health repercussions. Root canal therapy can be the only measure left for someone with an infected tooth. It’s that or tooth extraction!

So, what can cause bacteria to infiltrate your dental enamel?

  • Poor oral hygiene leading to the development of cavities, which deepen to form a direct pathway into the heart of the tooth
  • Deep decay,
  • A chip or crack in the tooth as a result of accidental trauma,
  • Repeated dental procedures, which expose the inner workings of the tooth.

How Do You Know if Your Tooth is Infected?

Silver Spring Dentist

When the insides of a tooth become infected, you’ll know! The primary symptoms are severe toothache when eating or clenching your jaw and prolonged sensitivity to extremes in temperatures (when drinking a hot or cold beverage, for example). The pain is a result of the nerve, which resides inside the tooth. The tooth structure itself doesn’t contain any nerves, which is why it’s difficult to tell when you have a cavity or a crack in your tooth. But as soon as bacteria infiltrate the tooth and infect the pulp chamber, the nerve - whose primary function is sensory - becomes incredibly sensitive to pressure and temperature.

Other signs you may require root canal therapy include:

  • Swelling and sensitivity of the surrounding gum tissue,
  • Discoloration of the tooth,
  • A recurring pimple on the gums, which is a sign that an abscess has developed.

Having said all this, in some cases, there are no signs and symptoms present, which highlights the importance of going for regularly scheduled appointments with the dentist in Silver Spring, Maryland. Only a trained and experienced eye will recognize the signs of infection and decay and, should treatment be provided in time, be able to save the tooth from extraction.

Stay Tuned for Part 3

Stay tuned for the final installment of this three-part article series on root canal therapy. In our next article, the Silver Spring dentist will discuss in detail what is involved in the root canal procedure, as well as why its always preferable to choose a simple tooth extraction and replacement.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Dentist in Silver Spring MD Talks to Us About: Root Canal Procedures, PART 1

This three-part article series takes an in-depth look at root canal therapy: what it is, why it’s necessary and what patients can expect from the procedure.

Little else strikes fear in the heart of the patients quite like the words “root canal” do. This procedure has such a bad reputation that the expression “was more painful than a root canal” has become a popular English language idiom! But, is this procedure deserving of such a reputation? What exactly IS root canal therapy anyway? And what necessitates this procedure?

In this three-part article series, the dentist in Silver Spring MD speaks to us about root canal therapy and why it could be the only thing that stands between you and a gappy smile!

The Anatomy of a Tooth

Dentist Silver Spring MD

Technically, a root canal is not actually a procedure... root canal therapy, also referred to as endodontic treatment, is. Root canals are the tiny spaces inside the roots of your teeth. They, together with the pulp chamber (see image below) house the living “guts” of the tooth, including the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue: collectively referred to as the “pulp”.

Root canal therapy becomes necessary when these delicate tissues become infected. Usually, the body deals quite effectively with diseased tissue by sloughing it off or expelling it in some form or manner. In the case of your teeth, however, this pulp is trapped within the exceptionally hard casing of the tooth. So, when bacteria infiltrate the protective dental enamel and infect the pulp, the health of the entire tooth becomes critically endangered.

There’s simply no way the body can deal effectively with the infection. This leaves the patient with two options: (1) root canal therapy or (2) tooth extraction. Either way, action needs to be taken or else the tooth will decay excruciatingly in the mouth and eventually fall out on its own. Having a decaying tooth in your mouth is not only terribly unpleasant, but it can actually make you sick.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Dentist in Silver Spring

“Root canal therapy involves the elimination of diseased tissue inside an infected tooth,” explains the dentist in Silver Spring MD. “We do this by drilling a hole in the top of the tooth and removing all of the pulp from the inner tooth chamber and the root canals. Once the insides of the tooth have been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, we fill it with “gutta percha” - a rubber compound - and a special sealer paste, which will prevent bacteria from getting inside the tooth again. We then cap the tooth, usually with a durable and aesthetic ceramic crown so that the tooth appears as though nothing ever happened to it.”

The procedure is, of course, a little more detailed than this and we shall provide a blow-by-blow account of what goes on during a root canal in part 3 of this article series.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Stay tuned for the second installment of this three-part article series on root canal therapy. In our next article, the dentist in Silver Spring MD will provide us with a little more detail on what can cause a patient to require such a procedure in the first place and how we can recognize the various signs and symptoms of an inner tooth infection.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dentists in Silver Spring Discuss: Wisdom Teeth 101

This article provides some information on wisdom teeth, what they are, why we still have them and why it is typically necessary for them to come out in our early adulthood.

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt from our jawbones and this usually happens between the ages of 18 and 26. We wouldn’t mind them so much were it not for the simple fact that they tend to be troublesome; very troublesome. Why do we need wisdom teeth? Why are some people born with only two or none at all? And why do they typically need to be extracted? Let’s find out what dentists in Silver Spring MD have to tell us about our wisdom teeth!

The Truth about Wisdom Teeth

Dentists in Silver Spring

We used to need wisdom teeth and now we don’t. A few thousand years ago, having a third set of molars used to be extremely handy when our diet consisted of chewier, unprocessed foods and grains. Back then, our jaws were much larger and more robust (think caveman), which helped us to cope with a diet heavy in fiber. With the evolution of our species and our gradual civilization, our diets shifted to softer, more processed and cooked foods. Over many thousands of years, our bodies adapted to our changing diet and one of these adaptations was a smaller and more gracile jawbone.

With less space along the jaw for wisdom teeth, the emergence of our third molars in our early twenties has become increasingly problematic. In many cases, the lack of space causes the wisdom teeth to push up underneath the second molars or even to emerge at odd, unnatural angles. This can cause damage to the neighboring dentition, severe over-crowding and a risk of infection and painful abscesses forming. Furthermore, the physical act of these teeth pushing through the gums, which leaves them torn and exceptionally painful, can lead to infection.

Dentists Silver Spring MD

So as you can see... wisdom teeth are generally problematic, but for a very interesting reason. Just like our appendix, wisdom teeth are evidence of how we have evolved as a species. In fact, as proof of their redundancy, more and more people are being born without them!

Why Wisdom Teeth Need to Come Out

For all the reasons mentioned above, it can be in the best interests of the individual to simply have their wisdom teeth extracted by a qualified Silver Spring dentist. Rather than endure the pain and discomfort and the risk of over-crowding and infection, a dental healthcare professional may opt to extract the offending teeth, especially if they’re impacted (emerging under the second molars). A simple X-ray will reveal the orientation of your wisdom teeth and whether you’re jaw is spacious enough to accommodate them.

The surgery required to remove wisdom teeth is typically quick and straightforward. In many cases it can be done in the offices of dentists in Silver Spring MD with only a local anesthetic and - if you desire - a sedative. If your case is more complex, the teeth may need to be broken down and removed piece-by-piece in which case you will be fully anaesthetized so that you don’t experience any pain. Post-operative recovery can involve facial swelling, bruising and some discomfort, but most patients are back up on their feet within a few days.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Dentist in Silver Spring MD: Understanding What Causes Bad Breath, PART 2

This two-part article series discusses the predominant causes of halitosis, helping people understand what they need to do (or NOT do) to prevent bad breath!

Welcome back to our two-part article series on the various causes of bad breath. In our previous article installment, the dentist in Silver Spring MD explained that the predominant cause of halitosis is bacteria and that this can quite easily be combated with good oral hygiene and regular visits to the oral hygienist for a professional cleaning. It was also discussed that various foods can turn your breath sour and that onion, garlic and alcohol, in particular, are absorbed by the bloodstream and exhaled out through the lungs. This means that no amount of brushing or flossing will eliminate their lingering pungency.

In this article, we shall move on and take a look at a few other causes behind bad breath, starting with quite an unexpected source... your respiratory system!

3. Respiratory Health and Bad Breath

Dentist in Silver Spring MD

Actually, perhaps it isn’t quite so unexpected… the air that is expelled out your mouth (your breath) may either smell bad because of the bacteria inhabiting your mouth, or because of the bacteria inhabiting your respiratory system. A sinus, lung or throat infection can therefore quite easily cause halitosis. After all, by no stretch of the imagination does diseased, infected tissue smell pleasant! So, if you do suffer from chronic bad breath in spite of your efforts to keep your teeth clean, you may need to see a medical doctor.

There are, in fact, a whole host of illnesses and conditions linked to bad breath, or rather they share a close relationship with periodontitis or gum disease; an advanced bacterial infection of the soft tissues surrounding the teeth and the underlying jaw bone. To put it quite simply, chronic bad breath may have potentially serious causes and you should book yourself an appointment with your dentist in Silver Spring MD as soon as possible.

4. Another Reason to Kick the Habit Before You Kick the Bucket

Silver Spring dentists

As if cigarettes don’t do enough damage, they also make your breath pong. It’s more than just that old ashtray smell, though. The smoke is so hot that it sears the soft tissue in the mouth, causing it to become red and inflamed. The smell of this, coupled with increased bacterial activity, causes something aptly referred to as “smokers halitosis”. If you are a die-hard smoking fan (pun intended), then try to avoid hitting on the non-smokers in the bar... chances are your breath will turn them off.

Keep it Clean!

Just to sum it up, the best ways to avoid bad breath are:

  • To maintain a high standard of oral hygiene,
  • See your Silver Spring dentist and oral hygienist on a regular basis,
  • Avoid pungent, stinky foods, unless you’re willing to wait a day for it to work its way out of your system,
  • Stop smoking and avoid alcohol,
  • Stay away from sugary, starchy foods that encourage bacterial activity,
  • Drink plenty of water,
  • Rinse with an ADA-approved anti-bacterial mouthwash,
  • Chew sugar-free gum after meals if you don’t have access to a toothbrush.
  • If none of these measures have any long-term effects, then book an appointment with a medical doctor.

If you follow the recommendations of the Silver Spring dentists and keep your mouth clean, you should succeed in doing more than just keeping bad breath at bay; you should also keep your teeth in a healthy and beautiful condition! Now that’s a win-win!