General Toothache Care
While toothaches can be symptomatic of a larger issue, they are sometimes caused by a simple piece of debris lodged between two teeth. Before heading to the dentist, try to rinse your mouth out with warm water and gently floss the area. Do not place aspirin or any pain medications directly onto your teeth or gums as tshis does far more harm than good. If rinsing doesn’t help, and the pain does not subside, contact your dentist so they can help you determine the cause.
Root Canal Therapy
The root of your tooth is the lower 2/3 that anchor into to your jaw and contains the nerve-packed pulp. When infections damage this inner nerve center, it can spread deeper into the bone and surrounding area, causing swelling or an abscess. If the infection is severe enough, root canal therapy is used to remove the diseased pulp, refill the tooth, and top it off with a crown to prevent further damage and restore your bite.
First, an opening is made at the top of the tooth and a file is used to remove the inflamed tissues, thus halting the spread of infection. The now emptied canals are refilled with a permanent material and a crown is placed on top to help rebuild the tooth. While this procedure can be uncomfortable, it is designed to save a tooth before extraction is required. The procedure may span a few appointments if time is needed to heal the tooth before a permanent crown is placed on top.
A filling is a way to remove damaged pieces from teeth without affecting the tooth’s function and shape. Overtime, fillings have become increasingly natural looking by switching from gold or silver (amalgam) materials to ceramic or plastic compounds that more closely resemble real teeth.
Kinds of fillings:
Traditional – While most prefer more natural looking fillings, traditional restoratives like gold, or other metal based alloys and amalgams are still used for their strength and resilience. However, they are the most expensive option and take two appointments to complete.
Composite fillings – These are made of a mixture of plastic resins and glass-like particles that produce a natural colored tooth restoration. While they’re not suitable for larger or heavy load-bearing teeth, they provide good durability and resistance to fracture and staining. Because they require less of the tooth to be removed than traditional, the dentist can make a more conservative alteration.
Glass and Resin Ionomers – Glass and resin ionomer fillings are easier to place and are typically only used between teeth and near root surfaces where they don’t have to withstand chewing pressure. They have the added benefit of releasing small amounts of fluoride that help prevent further decay. It should be noted that resin ionomers can sometimes have difficulties bonding to root surfaces and are more commonly used between teeth.
Porcelain (ceramic) dental materials – When it comes to versatility, durability, and aesthetics, porcelain fillings are by far the best option. They are custom made to repair damage to a tooth’s biting surface because their color and translucency look like natural tooth enamel and can handle a heavy chewing load. However, not all patients can bond with porcelain and it can wear opposing teeth if the filling’s surface becomes too rough.
Throughout life, our teeth see a normal amount of wear and tear. Small pits and fissures that even the best brushing or flossing can’t help can form and make way for bacteria and infection to grow. Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of teeth and act as a barrier against cavity-causing food particles. They not only prevent cavities but in some cases stop them from growing by cutting off supplies to the bacteria.
The earlier a sealant is applied, the more effective it becomes. They are best suited for the permanent first and second molars that erupt between the ages of 6 and 12. Because of this, children are ideal candidates for sealants.
To apply, the dentist paints the material made of a plastic resin directly onto a cleaned tooth wear it bonds, fills in the grooves, and hardens the sealant with a special curing light. Sealants should be reapplied every 5 to 10 years depending on your personal dental health plan.
When fillings, crowns, and root canals aren’t enough to repair a decaying tooth, your dentist may have to extract it. In this case, everything down to the root and bone is removed to either let a child’s primary tooth come in healthier or allow space for an implant in adults. Thanks to modern advancements in anesthetics and sedatives, the procedures today are far less painful than they used to be. You may experience minor postoperative bleeding and will most likely be required to take an antibiotic or certain precautions to avoid infection during the healing process. For example, using ice packs on the outside of your cheek to reduce swelling, only drinking through a straw, sticking to soft, cool foods, and rinsing with warm salt water. Avoid smoking, vigorous brushing, or hot liquids as these can not only hinder healing but cause the wound to open back up.
Scaling and Root Planning
When cases of gum disease do not respond to self-care like flossing or a medicated rinse, scaling and root planning is used to remove the disease-causing plaque build up. A local anesthetic is used to reduce discomfort while a small instrument called a scalar or an ultrasonic cleaner clean below the gum line. The surfaces of the root are then smoothed to help gums reattach themselves to the structure. If the periodontal pockets persist, antibiotics are placed in the pockets, or more extensive surgeries take place.
If you suffer from periodontal disease, tissue and bone around your gum line can be destroyed by bacteria that form “pockets” around your teeth. Things like scaling and root planning or a strict daily at-home oral hygiene regimen can help reduce pocket sizes. However, if the infection isn’t responding, flap surgery is used to pull back the gums, remove the inflamed tissue, clean the areas, and then stitch the gums back in place to promote healing. This is a fairly common procedure and the pain felt after can be numbed with a prescribed pain medication or something taken over the counter. While this procedure will help remove the periodontitis, it can possibly leave your teeth susceptible to cavities and sensitivity, so regular follow ups with your dentist are an important part of the process.
While mild forms of TMD can be treated with relaxants, aspirin, or a mouth guard worn at night, more extreme cases require jaw surgery. Whenever facial reconstruction is called for, a specialist who performs procedures of the neck and head called a maxillofacial surgeon is needed.
The most common maxillofacial procedures are placing dentures or jaw surgery. However, crooked or misaligned teeth, protruding chins, bone grafts, and jaw realignments also require a maxillofacial surgeon. When someone’s jaws do not grow at the same rate, they can become misaligned to the rest of the skull, leading to strange facial features, problems with speech, and chewing difficulties. In addition, a jaw fractured in a traumatic blow to the face, surgeons use rubber bands, tiny wires, braces, screws, and plates to hold the pieces in place while they heal in the proper alignment.