6* Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Root canal therapy is designed to correct disorders of the dental pulp -- the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Teeth with abscessed, or infected, nerves were once removed with corrective therapy. But now, in 95 percent of these cases of pulpal infection, the natural tooth can be saved through modern endodontic procedures. (Also called pulp specialists, endodontists have undergone specialized training in performing root canal therapy.)
The most common causes of pulpal nerve damage are:
* physical irritation - generally brought on by aggressive tooth decay (cavity) reaching down to the nerve or through deep fillings, which allows harmful bacteria to reach the nerve resulting in infection and decay
* trauma - a blow to a tooth or the jaw can cause damage to sensitive nerve tissue within the tooth.
* pain in the tooth when biting down
* tooth pain while chewing
* oversensitivity of the teeth with hot or cold drinks
* facial swelling
The symptoms of pulpal nerve damage may resemble other oral health conditions. Consult a dentist, or other oral health specialist, for diagnosis.
Without treatment, the infection of the dental pulp will spread to the bone around the tooth, making it not longer able to hold the tooth in place.
Once the root canal therapy is completed, there will be changes to adapt to, including:
* brittleness - a pulp-less tooth is more brittle than a non-treated tooth and great care should be used to avoid fracture and chipping
* discoloration - a non-vital tooth may become discolored over time, which can be treated with bleaching. In most cases, the discoloration poses no threat to the health of the tooth.
In addition, soft tissue inflammation may be a source of irritation in the weeks following surgery. Consult your dentist, or other oral health specialist, for a treatment approach to help control any post-operative swelling and discomfort.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic films painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth -- molars and premolars -- and are highly effective in the prevention of tooth decay (caries and cavities). Dental sealants are particularly effective on the back teeth, as the back teeth contain more hard-to-reach pits and grooves that serve as a host to food debris and plaque build-up.
Sealants are especially beneficial for children because their newly erupted, permanent teeth are most susceptible to cavities and least benefited by fluoride. However, patients of all ages can benefit from dental sealants.
With proper oral hygiene, sealants may last 5 to 10 years.
For some people, particularly persons with loose or poor fitting dentures due to flat ridges, or persons with multiple missing teeth who need support for crowns and bridges, implants may be considered a more appropriate alternative to fix the appearance of missing teeth than dentures. According to the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics, implants help to accomplish the following:
* reduce movement of dentures, bridges, and/or crowns
* facilitate proper chewing
* provide support and improved stability for removable dentures or fixed bridge work
* approximate the "feel" of natural teeth better than dentures
* promote "denture self-confidence", as speech and appearance are often improved
There are many variables to be considered before placing an implant:
* the patient must be healthy
* healing abilities affected by a disease may affect the successfulness of an implant
* a proper diagnosis must be made before an implant can be placed
* placement and technique is specific to each individual candidate
* to further prevent complications, the implant(s) must be treated properly by the patient and the dentist
* heavy smoking and drinking may affect the successfulness of an implant
There are many different types of dental implants from which to choose, including:
* an artificial bone substitute
This type of implant involves a synthetic bone substitute being fitted on top of the bone to help rebuild the shrinking ridge and provide sturdy support for dentures. Because it is made of the same type of mineral found in natural bone, this type of implant bonds to the existing jaw bone.
* endosteal implants
This type of implant is inserted into the jaw bone to serve as the tooth's root.
* subperiosteal implants
This type of implant, usually an option for persons who can no longer wear conventional dentures, involves a specially-designed implant that fits directly on the existing bone.
Dental implants may either be inserted by a dentist specially training in implantology, or by an oral surgeon in a hospital.
* dental amalgams
Dental amalgams, also known as silver fillings, are comprised of a mixture of mercury (45 to 50 percent), and an alloy of silver, tin, and copper (50 to 55 percent). When it is combined with other materials in dental amalgam, mercury's chemical nature changes and it is no longer considered harmful to the body.
* composite resins
Also know as white fillings, a composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) that is used primarily for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
* porcelain veneers - a ceramic material is bonded to the front of teeth to change the tooth's color, size, and/or shape
* crown - a "cap" that covers a cracked or broken tooth, unfixed by a filling, to approximate its normal size and shape
* cast gold restorations - this type of restoration is often more costly and may require more than one dental fitting