In Defense of Root Canals: The Unsung Hero of Dental Care

🦷 Think you might need a root canal? It’s not the end of the world, nor is it as torturous as you might think! Even though a root canal is usually the last resort for decayed teeth, when compared with other alternatives, it’s quite practical and cost-effective.

Put your fears to rest by discovering the truth about this much-maligned treatment, and find out why it’s considered by many dentists to be the unsung hero of dental care. The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

When and Why Root Canals Are Necessary

Left untreated, tooth decay can eventually result in bacteria infiltrating the very core of the tooth, infecting its sensitive nerve tissue (otherwise referred to as “root” or “pulp”). Once the pulp has been infected, a pocket of pus known as an abscess can form and wreak havoc beyond the problem tooth itself. From swelling of the mouth, jaw, and face, to bone loss and even the spread of infection into the skin, the cost of delaying treatment can compound rather quickly.

If the problem is caught in time, a root canal may be possible, allowing the dentist to clear the infected pulp without having to sacrifice the whole tooth. Keeping your natural tooth not only helps maintain proper chewing and speech but also it requires less time and money compared to tooth removal and implant.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

If you experience any of these symptoms, you might need a root canal:

  • Acute, shooting pain when pressure is applied to a tooth
  • Noticeable darkening or discoloration of the tooth compared to neighboring teeth
  • Lingering tooth sensitivity, particularly to extremely hot or cold foods
  • A pimple on the gums that never seems to go away
  • Swelling of the gums near the problem tooth
  • Continuous pain or throbbing even when not chewing or using the tooth

See your dentist to know for sure, and let him or her know about your situation when scheduling an appointment to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. Like most dental problems, it’s best to be proactive. The sooner the dentist is able to diagnose and treat the infected area the better — and it could decrease the amount of post-procedure discomfort.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

The length of time for treatment can vary widely depending on the complexity of each patient’s situation, but it’s safe to say that multiple visits are required to complete a root canal. Anesthesia may be applied, but it is not always necessary since the nerve is already dead. The first phase of a root canal involves thoroughly ridding the tooth of any infection and decayed matter — usually by drilling an access hole, flushing out the pulp, and applying medication to the tooth and surrounding gums. The dentist will then seal off the area completely, or in extreme cases, wait several days for the infection to clear before sealing off the tooth.

The second phase of treatment focuses on filling the tooth. To do this, a dentist normally uses sealer paste or a rubber-like compound to fill the empty nerve canal and interior of the tooth. After the tooth has been filled, a metal post is inserted into the tooth to further strengthen it.

Restoration, in which a crown is created to cap off the tooth, is the final step of treatment. Once the custom crown arrives, the dentist covers the tooth and shapes the crown to function as optimally as possible.

Post Treatment Care

As with any lengthy dental procedure, temporary tooth and gum sensitivity are to be expected but should go away within a day or two. If the permanent crown has been applied, you can return back to your normal routine immediately.

Root canals have a very high success rate, but it’s important to remember that there is always a possibility for the filling to become infected. To avoid complications and additional root canals down the road, make oral hygiene a top priority and schedule regular visits to your dentist.

Sources:

Dental Health and Root Canals. (2015, January 26). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-root-canals

Johnstone, G. (n.d.). The Latest on Root Canals. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/root-canals/

What is Root Canal Treatment and Why Would You Want It? (2010). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/root-canal/

Thrush — the White Stuff Growing in Your Mouth (and How to Get Rid of it)

By: Cleveland Clinic

👅 What’s that white stuff on your tongue? And why does your mouth feel “funny” — maybe a little bit like sandpaper? Well, you may have a case of thrush.

Learn the symptoms, treatments, and steps to prevent the growth of thrush in your tongue via Cleveland Clinic. The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Thrush can strike anyone, but some people are far more vulnerable: “We usually see thrush in children whose immune systems are developing, or older adults, whose immune systems are starting to fail,” says otolaryngologist Tony Reisman, MD. “People who have conditions that affect the immune system are also more susceptible.”

Do I have thrush?

It can be challenging to know if your mouth woes are related to the Candida fungus that causes thrush. Common signs include:

  • A white, cottage cheese-like coating.
  • Redness, burning or soreness.
  • A change in the ability to taste.
  • Cracking of the tongue or corners of the lips.
  • A dry, cotton- or sandpaper-like feeling.

Is thrush treatment necessary?

“You may not even need a diagnosis because thrush often goes away on its own once you stop whatever caused the problem,” says Dr. Reisman. “For example, if antibiotics led to thrush, just waiting a few weeks may give the body time to return to a natural yeast balance.”

Dr. Reisman recommends using good oral hygiene for three to four weeks to see if thrush resolves on its own.

When oral thrush just won’t go away

Well, it’s been a few weeks. You’ve been dutifully rinsing your mouth twice a day. But the white stuff is still there. It’s time to call your primary care provider.

Your provider will want to look at your mouth to rule out other causes, including:

  • Burning mouth syndrome (a burning sensation in the mouth that has no obvious cause).
  • Geographic tongue (harmless patches on the top and sides of the tongue with no known cause).
  • Precancerous or cancerous lesions.

If it is thrush, your provider will likely order an antifungal rinse. You’ll swish, swish, swish for 10 to 14 days, which will help the body regain the natural yeast balance.

But if your symptoms still don’t improve, or you have recurrent episodes of thrush, visit an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) to discuss the diagnosis and treatment.

Prevent thrush from creating chaos in your mouth

People who are prone to thrush — whether from dentures, immune system-suppressing drugs or a condition such as HIV — can take steps to avoid it (because you can’t be on an antifungal medication forever).

Dr. Reisman recommends these behaviors to prevent thrush:

  • See the dentist: Practice good oral hygiene, including professional dental cleaning twice a year.
  • Rinse: If you need steroid inhalers, make sure to rinse your mouth after using them.
  • Drink water: Keep yourself hydrated so your mouth doesn’t get dry.
  • Watch your sugar: Limit the sugary foods yeast feeds on, and maintain good blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes.
  • Quit smoking: No explanation needed!

Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/thrush-the-white-stuff-growing-in-your-mouth-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

Brushing and Flossing Could Reduce Your Risk of This Cancer

By: Lara DeSanto, HealthCentral

Do you know that improper dental care and hygiene can increase your risk of developing liver cancer?

📊 People with poor oral health, including painful or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or mouth ulcers, maybe a whopping 75% more likely to get liver cancer, according to a study of 469,000 people in the U.K. The findings likely apply to people in the U.S. as well, where liver cancer rates are on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Learn the risks via HealthCentral! The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Brushing and flossing your teeth is tied to far more than just impressing your dentist—in fact, showing your gums and teeth some TLC could reduce your risk of several chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. And recent research shows that it may significantly reduce your risk of liver cancer, too.

People with poor oral health—including painful or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or mouth ulcers—may be a whopping 75% more likely to get liver cancer, according to a study of 469,000 people in the U.K. The findings likely apply to people in the U.S. as well, where liver cancer rates are on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research, published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, originally set out to discover whether there was a link between mouth health and digestive cancers like those of the colon and rectum. While no link was found there, a substantial link was found for liver cancer and oral health conditions.

But why does poor mouth health set you up for greater risk of liver cancer? Right now, it’s unclear, according to the study authors—but it may be related to the role of oral and gut bacteria in disease development.

“The liver contributes to the elimination of bacteria from the human body,” says lead study author Haydée WT Jordão, Ph.D., from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast. “When the liver is affected by diseases, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer, its function will decline and bacteria will survive for longer and therefore have the potential to cause more harm.” Another possibility is that people with poor mouth health change their diet to accommodate loose teeth and other issues—for example, eating only softer and possibly less nutritious foods—which could contribute to cancer development.

More studies are needed to better understand the connection, researchers say. Until then? Take steps to reduce your other risk factors for liver cancer, like minimizing alcohol consumption—and tend to those teeth!

4 Steps to a Healthier Mouth

You already know that you’re supposed to brush your teeth twice a day. Here’s what else you can do to take care of your mouth and reduce your risk of liver cancer—not to mention other diseases, according to the Oral Health Foundation:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day. Experts recommend brushing right before you go to bed and at least one other time during the day. Use a fluoride toothpaste, which helps protect your teeth from decay, and spit after brushing instead of rinsing so that the fluoride can stay on your teeth and work its magic longer. Look for a toothbrush with a small- to a medium-sized brush head and with soft to medium bristles. You can also go for an electric toothbrush, which can often be better at cleaning your teeth with less movement needed on your end.
  2. Floss daily. Floss at least once a day with a gentle rocking motion between the teeth. At the gum line, curve the floss into a C-shape around each tooth and gently scrape up the side of the tooth. Don’t forget the back of the last tooth!
  3. Go to the dentist. When was the last time you went in for a dental cleaning and checkup? Going to the dentist is important because if the plaque on your teeth hardens into tartar, it can no longer be removed by simple brushing—only a dental hygienist can help you remove it during cleaning. If you let tartar continue to build up, it can lead to inflammation, pain and gum disease.
  4. Eat well. Try to avoid consuming sugary foods and drinks frequently throughout the day. These are the foods that cause the bacteria in plaque to produce harmful acids that can eat away at your tooth enamel. And that’s when cavities form. The longer these sugar acids remain on your teeth, the more time they have to do their damage. If you just need an occasional sweet, make sure you brush your teeth (or drink a glass of water) immediately afterward to help cancel out some of the acids right away.

Source: https://www.healthcentral.com/article/mouth-health-liver-cancer-risk

Oral Piercings: What You Should Know

By: WebMD

👅 While piercing the tongue, lip or cheek may be attractive to some, there are a number of health-related risks associated with oral piercing. Find out the dangers of oral piercing via WebMD. The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

An oral (mouth) piercing is a small hole in your tongue, lip, cheek, or uvula (the tiny tissue at the back of your throat) so you can wear jewelry.

It’s a way to express your style, but it can be dangerous. Your mouth is filled with bacteria that can lead to infection and swelling. A swollen tongue can make it hard for you to breathe. In some people with heart disease, bacteria can lead to a condition that can damage your heart valves.

Tongue piercings also can put you at risk for bleeding and blood loss. You have a lot of blood vessels in the area.

The jewelry can cause issues as well. It can break off in your mouth and make you choke. You can chip your teeth on it while you eat, sleep, talk, or chew on it. If the break goes deep into your tooth, you can lose it or need a root canal to fix it.

Mouth piercings also may:

  • Make it hard to speak, chew, or swallow
  • Damage your tongue, gums, or fillings.
  • Make you drool
  • Make it hard for your dentist to take an X-ray of your teeth
  • Lead to serious health problems, like gum disease, uncontrolled bleeding, long-term infection, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Lead to an allergic reaction to the metal in the jewelry

Because of these risks, the American Dental Association warns against oral piercings. And you especially shouldn’t get one if you have a job or do things that would make it more likely to cause you trouble.

People with certain conditions that might make it hard for the piercing to heal are particularly at risk for health problems. Those include heart diseasediabeteshemophilia, and autoimmune diseases.

Safety

If you’ve decided to get an oral piercing, make sure you’re up to date on vaccines for hepatitis B and tetanus.

Pick a piercing shop that appears clean and well run. Look for a piercer who has a license, which means he was specially trained. The piercer should wash his handswith germ-killing soap, wear fresh disposable gloves, and use sterilized tools or ones that are thrown away after one use.

You’ll want to make sure that:

  • The piercer is happy to answer your questions
  • The people who work in the shop have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B (It’s fine to ask.)
  • The shop doesn’t use a piercing gun
  • The needle is new and has never been used
  • The needle is placed in a sealed container after it’s used
  • Jewelry is made of surgical steel, solid gold, or platinum

Take Care of Your Piercing

Once you leave the shop, you’ll need to make sure your piercing heals and doesn’t get infected. Healing usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. During that time, you should:

  • Rinse your tongue or lip piercing after every meal or snack and before bed. Use warm salt water or an antibacterial, alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Not kiss anyone while you heal (avoid contact with someone else’s saliva)
  • Not share cups, plates, forks, knives, or spoons
  • Eat small bites of healthy food
  • Not eat spicy, salty, or acidic foods and drinks
  • Not have hot drinks, like coffeetea, or hot chocolate

While it heals, you should be able to remove the jewelry for short periods of time without the hole closing. If you get a tongue piercing, the piercer will start with a larger “barbell” to give your tongue room to heal as it swells. After the swelling goes down, dentists recommend you replace the large barbell with a smaller one that’s less likely to bother your teeth.

After your tongue has healed, take the jewelry out every night and brush it like you brush your teeth. You might want to take it out before you go to sleep or do anything active.

When to Get Help

You can expect short-term symptoms like pain, swelling, and extra saliva.

Watch out for signs of infection such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Lots of Bleeding
  • Discharge
  • A Bad Smell
  • Rash
  • Fever

If you have any of these, see a healthcare provider. Also, get help if you just feel that something isn’t right.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-piercing

Understanding Pediatric Fluoride Treatment

It’s undeniable that fluoride has played a major role in the decline of dental cavities in the United States. However, what isn’t so clear to many parents is whether or not fluoride treatments are safe and/or beneficial for children.

After all, children receive fluoride on a regular basis from many different types of foods and even water. Through these sources alone, minerals lost due to plaque, bacteria, and sugars are remineralized on teeth.

So, is an additional fluoride treatment at the dentist necessary and if so, at what age are the treatments most beneficial? Read on to find out.

Why You Should Consider Fluoride Treatments for Your Child

While it’s true that fluoride found in foods and water can replace lost minerals, it sometimes isn’t enough to strengthen teeth and protect against cavities. In fact, if you don’t consume enough natural fluoride, demineralization will occur much more quickly than remineralization, leaving enamel at risk and causing tooth decay.

Fluoride treatments speed up the natural remineralization process, providing prolonged protection against demineralization and related tooth decay. They are particularly effective in children because they can reverse early decay while protecting permanent teeth as they develop.

Scheduling Your Child’s Fluoride Treatments

Children should start fluoride treatments at around 6 months of age and continue at least until they turn 16 (and ideally, beyond this age as well). Treatments vary based on age and also on whether they are done at home or at the dentist’s office:

  • Drops, Chewables, Tablets, or Lozenges – These treatments are typically used at home for children 6 months and older who don’t receive enough fluoride in their water.
  • Fluoride Toothpaste – After the age of two, children’s teeth should be brushed using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Fluoride Varnish – Once baby teeth have appeared, children should have a fluoride varnish applied to protect against tooth decay. Typically, varnishes are applied by a dentist twice per year for children two and older.
  • Gels and Foams – As children get older, a dentist commonly applies gel or foam fluoride treatments using a mouthguard. This typically takes about five minutes.
  • Mouth Rinses – A fluoride mouth rinse may be prescribed for children over 6 years of age who are at risk for tooth decay due to genetics or other factors. A mouth rinse is typically used in combination with other fluoride treatments.

Protecting Your Child from Too Much Fluoride

The most common concern about fluoride treatments is that large amounts can be toxic to the brain, bones, kidney, and thyroid. However, products intended for home use have extremely low levels of fluoride, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry.

Still, there are precautions you can take to ensure you’re not only keeping potentially dangerous products away from children but also using fluoride properly:

  • Store any fluoride supplements or products out of reach of young children.
  • Use limited amounts of fluoridated toothpaste on a child’s toothbrush.
  • Don’t allow children to use fluoridated toothpaste without supervision until the age of 6.

Fluoride Treatments Play a Vital Part in Your Child’s Smile

Although some parents view fluoride skeptically, professional treatments are integral to your child’s smile starting at 2 years of age.

By doing your part at home and scheduling regular appointments, you can help prevent cavities and give children the strong teeth they need both now and in the future.

Source: http://newsletter.lh360.com/article-content/16fe29e2-7d79-476a-8369-ca2d4d45a738.html