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Root Canals: FAQs about treatment that can save your Tooth

If you have a severely damaged tooth or a genuine tooth infection (abscess), your dentist may suggest a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to fix and save your tooth instead of removing it. 

What is a Root Canal?

During root canal therapy, the pulp (or the nerve tissue on the inside canal of the tooth) is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned, and then the space inside the tooth is filled and sealed. 

What is the pulp and Why does it need to be removed?

The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves and veins, which provides blood flow to the living tooth structure.

Pulp can become damaged due to: 

·         A profound cavity 

·         Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue

·         A cracked or fractured tooth

·         Damage to the tooth 

When pulp is damaged, it breaks down, and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other dying pulp remnants can cause an infection, pain, swelling, and ulcers inside the tooth. If the damage is untreated, the tissues around the base of your tooth can form an abscess, a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of a tooth’s root. 

Damaged pulp needs to be removed to eliminate the infection, and to prevent it from spreading, which can put you in danger of losing your tooth totally because bacteria can harm the bone that holds your tooth in place in your jaw. Hence, damaged pulp needs to be removed to avoid infection and other more serious consequences.

Can I get this Treatment done during my regular check-up visit?

No, your dentist will need to schedule a separate follow-up appointment, or they might refer you to a dentist who specializes in root canals and similar procedures dealing with the pulp and tissues surrounding the teeth. This specialist is known as an endodontist.

What should I expect?

A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to finish. Your dentist will utilize local anesthesia so you don’t feel the procedure. Root canals are used to treat seriously damaged teeth that are often already causing pain. During the procedure you won’t feel any more discomfort than having a regular cavity filled. When the procedure is finished, you should never again feel the torment you felt before having it done.

What will happen before treatment begins? 

Your dentist will take X-rays to get a clear perspective on your tooth and the encompassing bone. Then, he/she will numb the zone around your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment. Finally, they will put a slight sheet of latex rubber over your tooth to keep it dry, and clean during the procedure, protecting the tooth from bacteria and fungus that are normally in the mouth.

What will happen during treatment?

First, your dentist will make an opening in the exposed surface of your tooth. Then, they will take out the pulp, or the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the regions of the root, known as a root canal. Then, they clean inside the tooth and the root canal. Your dentist may treat the tooth with a germ-killing drug, and fill the root canal with a rubber-like material to seal them against future contamination. Finally, your dentist will place a temporary filling on the tooth to protect it until a definitive restoration like a permanent filling or crown that can be placed at the earliest opportunity.

What will happen after root canal treatment?

Your tooth and the area around it might feel delicate for a couple of days, similar to having a cavity filled. You can request your dentist to prescribe painkillers for pain and discomfort. Your dentist may recommend antibiotics to prevent a risk of infection spread. If so, make sure to use as directed, and follow-up with your dentist if you have any problems taking it.

Your dentist will likely schedule a subsequent visit after the root canal treatment. At this visit, your dentist will take off the temporary filling on the tooth and replace it with a permanent filling or a crown to shield your tooth from further harm. A metal or plastic post may also be placed in the root canal to help make sure the filling materials stay in place. This helps support a crown if you need one.

How long can a root canal filling last?

With proper care, root canal treatments have a high success rate, and your restored tooth can last forever. Make it a point to brush two times every day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, clean between your teeth once per day with floss, and see your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth are strong and healthy.

Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health

Do I Need to Change My Daily Habits?

If you are brushing two times every day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once per day, keep doing awesome! If not, there’s no better time to begin, as bad habits during pregnancy have been related to unexpected labor, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Talk with your dentist about your daily oral hygiene routine and ask for suggestions for any improvements. 

Why Are My Gums Bleeding?

Pregnancy brings many changes to your body and hormones, which can include gum inflammation and bleeding most often between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. It often goes away on its own after the baby is born. Pregnancy hormones make your gums more susceptible to plaque which can make your gums red, delicate and sore. Brush two times a day for two minutes, clean between your teeth once every day, and talk with your dentist about what you can do to keep your gums healthy.

Do You Lose a Tooth with Each Baby?

No! This is an old wives’ tale. Losing a tooth is certainly not an ordinary part of pregnancy. If you are experiencing dental pain you might have a dental issue that is unrelated to pregnancy, and you should see your dentist. 

I’m Struggling with Morning Sickness. What Should I Do?

Sadly, morning sickness is experienced by many pregnant women. Vomiting can cause stomach acids to come in contact with your teeth, so be sure to flush your mouth to keep those acids from doing harm. You might be tempted to reach for your toothbrush right away, but if you are vomiting frequently, try rinsing your mouth with a blend of some water and 1 tsp. of baking soda, as the baking soda will neutralize the acid. 

Is It Safe to See the Dentist During Pregnancy?

Yes! Actually, your dental specialist may prescribe extra cleanings during your second trimester and early third trimester to help control gum disease. If your last dental visit was over 6-months ago or you see any changes in your mouth, visit your dentist. Let your dentist know if there are any changes in the medications you take or any chance that you have gotten any unique counsel from your doctor. Always let your dentist and dental hygienist know that you are expecting.

Help! Brushing Makes Me Gag.

If anything (and potentially everything) may make you gag, move slowly and find what works for you. Changing the kind of toothpaste used, utilizing a brush with a smaller head, or brushing at various times of the day may help. If you absolutely cannot stomach brushing your teeth, make sure you at least rinse and spit regularly, and return to brushing your teeth as soon as possible. The most important thing is to keep up your routine because you’re at somewhat greater risk for cavities, on account of corrosive acid from morning sickness, potential dietary changes, and feeling too worn out to even consider brushing.

Does What I Eat Affect My Baby’s Teeth?

Your baby’s teeth start to develop between the 3rd and 6th month of pregnancy, and eating a healthy diet while pregnant can help to make sure they develop correctly. Make sure your diet includes enough nutrients– including vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous. While you’re at it, drink a lot of water with fluoride to keep your own teeth solid.

Are X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy. Your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a protective cover that limits exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a collar to shield the thyroid from radiation.

Is It Safe to Have a Dental Procedure?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that dental fillings and crowns are safe during pregnancy, and that it is important to seek dental care promptly. It might not be comfortable to sit in a dental seat very late in pregnancy, so make sure to keep up with regular dental appointments, and plan to have any dental work in your first and second trimester, if possible. Cosmetic procedures such as whitening, on the other hand, can wait until after the baby arrives. In the event that you need emergency treatment, work with your dental office on the best arrangements for you and your child.

Erosion: Reflux, Upset Stomach, and Your Teeth

Frequent upset stomach can cause a gradual eroding of the protecting enamel on your teeth, a process called tooth erosion. This may have an effect on the physical appearance of your teeth and can also open the door to harmful bacteria that cause cavities.

How do stomach issues have an effect on my teeth?

Your stomach produces natural acids that facilitate your body in digestion of food. Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth, particularly after an oversized meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the acid levels in our mouth naturally, and everything’s fine. 

But for people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, stomach acids reach the mouth throughout the day. Reflux can be especially damaging during sleep because you swallow less than normal and your mouth manufactures less saliva when you are sleeping.

Another concern is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, which can be caused by medications, including several acid reflux medicines.  Saliva not only helps neutralize the acids caused by acid reflux, but also helps to clean away food particles and cut back on bacteria that can attack your tooth enamel. This is often why lower saliva production might increase your risk for cavities. 

What will Reflux-Related Erosion do to my teeth?

Acid reflux might wear away the enamel on the surfaces of your teeth. Your dentist can check for this at your regular dental exam.

Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has begun to wear away, you may:

• Feel pain or sensitivity when you consume hot, cold or sweet drinks

• Notice a discoloration of the teeth

• Find that your fillings have changed

• Face larger risks for cavities over time

• Experience tooth loss

Once erosion of the enamel happens, you might need dental treatment such as: fillings, crowns, a root canal, or even tooth extraction in order to prevent pain and further risk. For cosmetic discoloration, veneers can help to restore the look of your smile. 

How to defend your teeth and obtain relief?

• Chewing sugar-free gum will encourage saliva production, which helps neutralize and wash away the acids in your mouth. Check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the gum you choose.

• Using prescription or over the counter fluoride and desensitizing toothpaste can help to strengthen tooth enamel. 

• Avoiding alcohol and smoking and refraining from eating for three hours before bed might cut back the frequency of acid reflux episodes.

• If heartburn, acid reflux or alternative stomach issues are a part of your everyday life, work together with your dentist and physician to treat the underlying causes of your stomach troubles. 

• If you suffer from acid reflux, see your dentist frequently so that they will check that your teeth stay healthy, suggest ways to stop tooth erosion, and recommend ways to prevent dry mouth.

Diet and Dental Health

Your body is a complex machine. The foods you select and the way you eat them will have an effect on your general health and therefore the health of your teeth and gums, too. If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweet fruit drinks, or non-nutritious snacks, you may be in danger of tooth decay. Diet can be especially important for children’s dental health, as tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood illness, however, the good news is that it’s entirely preventable.

Tooth decay happens once plaque comes in contact with sugar within the mouth. Plaque bacteria feed on sugar, and cause acid which eats away at the tooth enamel.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to decay. To manage the quantity of sugar you eat, scan the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and opt for choices low in sugar. Your doctor or a registered specialist may offer suggestions for a healthy diet. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it’s going to be harder for tissues in your mouth to resist infection, which can contribute to gum disease. Severe gum disease may be a major reason behind tooth loss in adults. Several researchers believe that gum disease is more severe and progresses more quickly in people with poor nutrition.

To learn what foods are best for you, visit ChooseMyPlate.Gov, an internet site from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The site contains dietary recommendations for kids and adults based on their levels of physical activity.

Wise selections

For healthy living and for healthy teeth and gums, think before you eat and drink. It’s not only what you eat, but also when you eat that may have an effect on your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you’re on a special diet, keep your physician’s recommendation in mind when selecting foods.

For good dental health, keep the following tips in mind when selecting your meals and snacks:

• Drink plenty of water.

• Eat a variety of foods that include

         o Whole grains

         o Fruits

         o Vegetables

         o Low-fat and fat-free dairy foods

Limit the number of snacks you eat. If you are eating a snack, opt for one thing that’s healthy like fruit or vegetables or a piece of cheese. Foods that are eaten as a part of a meal cause less damage to teeth than eating multiple snacks throughout the day, because a lot of saliva is discharged through a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effect of acids, which may hurt teeth and cause cavities. For good dental health, keep in mind to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, floss daily, and visit your dental practitioner frequently. With regular visits, your dentist can help to catch any potential problems, and provide the necessary treatment right away while the problem is manageable and simple to treat.

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