Why do I need a root canal?
All teeth have a nerve inside of them that runs through the root and crown of the teeth. The nerve can become infected if you have a cavity that extends into the nerve, or the nerve can start to die on its own and cause pain. When the nerve is inflamed by either of these causes, it must be removed to prevent infection and bone destruction. During a root canal, the dentist will remove the nerve using a series of small files. The area is cleaned out and shaped for a filling. The space left in the root is then filled with a plastic-type material.
Why do I have to get a crown on my tooth after I have a root canal?
Not all teeth require a crown following root canal treatment, however, if it is a posterior tooth, or molar, then you will need a crown. After a root canal, your tooth is more fragile because tooth structure was removed during the root canal. Because your back teeth are the ones used for a lot of chewing, it is important to protect them from fracturing. The way to protect them is to place a crown over the tooth. The crown will encase the tooth and help prevent it from fracturing. It is important to have this done as soon as possible after your root canal treatment is completed.
Is the tooth-whitening bleach used in the dentist office better than the kind you get at the drug store?
Yes. The bleaching kit that comes from the dentist has custom fit trays that are made to fit your mouth exactly. The bleach that comes in the kit is stronger than the bleach in kits from the drug store. You can only get the stronger bleach from your dentist. Stronger bleach means more whitening and faster results. You normally wear your bleaching trays at night for approximately two weeks.
How often should I brush and floss?
Your mouth is full of bacteria. It is found in your saliva and increases after eating. When you eat, food is broken down with the help of saliva. Your saliva breaks down foods, especially those with sugar and carbohydrates, and the bacteria binds to the carbohydrate substances. This combination forms a sticky substance called plaque that adheres to your teeth above and below your gumline. If the plaque is not mechanically removed by brushing and flossing, it will harden on your teeth and form calculus. Once calculus has formed, only a dentist can remove it because a toothbrush will no longer be able to brush it off. However, as long as the plaque is removed by brushing or flossing at least once every twenty-four hours, it will not harden and form calculus.
The most important time of day to brush is at night, right before you go to bed and don’t eat or drink anything afterwards. When you sleep, your mouth becomes dry. This promotes the growth of bacteria and plaque. If you brush before bedtime, you will remove all of the food and plaque from your teeth and reduce the risk for developing cavities. It is best to brush twice a day, in the morning and at night, and floss once a day. Brushing in the morning will help to get rid of “morning breath” that is due to the dry environment that has formed in our mouth overnight. Flossing allows you to clean the areas between your teeth and below your gumline that the toothbrush can not reach. Bacteria live below your gumline and cause gingivitis and/or periodontal disease if not removed. When flossing, it is important to go in between each tooth, using a sawing motion, to go all the way down to the gums. Then form the floss into a C-shape around the curves of each tooth to clean below the gumline and in between each tooth. Brushing and flossing will also help you to have fresh breath.
Q. What can I do about bad breath?
Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by many factors. It affects 25-85 million Americans of all ages. In 85% of the cases, the problem arises in the mouth. There are two types of bad breath: pathological and physiological. Pathological bad breath is caused by an underlying disease, infection, inflammation or malignancy. Physiological bad breath is due to digestive breakdown of food or bacteria found in the oral cavity.
Bad Breath is caused by:
Foods such as garlic, onions, alcohol, food stuck in between the teeth and gums and at the back of the tongue.
Poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, faulty fillings or crowns, ill-fitting dentures.
Chronic lung infections, kidney and liver failure, uncontrolled diabetes, respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, GI disturbances.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
Dry mouth, decreased salivary flow allows cells and bacteria to accumulate in your mouth.
Dieters may develop unpleasant “fruity” breath from ketoacidosis, the breakdown of chemicals during fasting.
Smoking can dries your mouth and inhibits salivary flow.
Good oral hygiene and home care will help you fight halitosis. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day. The back of your tongue retains a lot of bacteria and food. It is important to brush your tongue each time you brush to help prevent bad breath. Avoid foods such as garlic, onion, alcohol, caffeine, and drink plenty of water. Snacking on vegetables, such as celery and raw carrots, will help prevent plaque from forming. If you smoke, try to quit. Baking soda can help, as well as a mixture of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water to kill bacteria. You can also chew sugar-free gum or lozenges to promote salivary flow. Try to avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they dry out your oral tissues.
Q. Is amalgam safe?
Amalgam is the silver filling material that is often used in posterior/back teeth. It is a mixture of metals, including copper, silver and tin, chemically held together by mercury. It has been used for over 100 years and is found in the mouth of more than 100 million Americans. 76% of dentists currently use amalgam when restoring a tooth.
There is controversy over the use of amalgam because there is thought that the exposure to vapors and tiny particles of mercury can lead to health problems. Studies conducted by researchers have found no link between amalgam and neurological functioning. The American Dental Association (ADA), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization, U.S Public Health Service, National Institute of Health, and FDA have said that dental amalgam is “safe, affordable, and durable.” The only time you definitely would not use amalgam is when the patient has an allergy to any single component of the filling material, however there have been less than 100 reports of a true allergy to the components.
Amalgam is the strongest, long lasting direct filling material for large, load bearing areas. It can withstand very high chewing forces, which are centered mainly on posterior teeth. An ADA press release states, “Dental amalgam remains among several safe, effective options for treating dental decay.” Other treatment options for filling material include composite resin (a tooth colored material), glass ionomer, gold, and porcelain. You can discuss the best treatment option for you with your dentist.