East Building 3 Oracle Boulevarde,
Broadbeach, Gold Coast 4218
To Root canal or not root canal that is the question………………
The aim of Root canal or Endodontic treatment, as it is known, is to save a badly decayed or infected tooth from needing to be extracted. This is done by cleaning out the inflamed & infected pulp, (the pulp is the soft tissue deep inside the tooth that contains nerves & blood vessels) using special instruments called files. Each root canal is cleaned out & enlarged. Medicaments are also placed inside the root canal to stop the pain & infection. You may need to come back a few times to complete the treatment. A filling or crown is then constructed to protect the treated tooth.
An infected pulp may be the result of:
• Extensive dental work to the tooth.
• Breakdown of a filling or crown.
• Deep decay
• Gum disease
• A crack in the tooth.
• Extreme wear.
Once the pulp of the tooth is infected, there are only two options; remove the infected tooth or a Root Canal treatment. This is one very good reason to get regular check – ups, make an appointment straight away if you break or chip a tooth, even if it doesn’t hurt & get any dental pain checked if it lingers for more than a couple of days. Problems if caught early can be more easily treated without affecting the pulp, preventing the need for a Root Canal………….
So should you have a Root Canal?
Many people choose to not have a Root Canal & have their tooth extracted instead; this can be due to cost, fear or lack of time. If you decide to replace a missing tooth, the best option these days is an implant (artificial tooth roots inserted into the jaw to replace the missing tooth). These are a fantastic alternative to Root Canal in many cases.
If you find yourself with a tooth that cannot be repaired by a simple filling, have a good discussion with your dentist which is the right course of treatment for you personally & if you decide to have a Root Canal make sure you have all the information you need so you are happy in your decision.
If you or your child/children play a contact sport and a lot of us do, you are at risk of injuring your teeth.
Many sports have a contact risk whether it is from an accidental knee or elbow, the equipment used or as simple as a trip or fall. Teeth nearly always end up being involved………
How do we protect our pearly whites?
The best way is with a mouthguard. A correctly fitted mouthguard works by absorbing & spreading the impact of a blow to your mouth. They can protect you from some serious & expensive injuries, such as knocked out, fractured or broken teeth, broken jaws, cut lips & tongues. They really are a must & not just for the major contact sports like boxing, hockey or football. Even non-contact sports like netball, soccer & skateboarding carry a real risk of accidental collision or a fall.
So now we know how important a mouthguard is, let’s discuss the different kinds.
There are two types of mouthguards; over the counter & custom made ones.
These guards can be bought from most pharmacies & sports stores, they usually cost around $10 to $45.00. They come out of their packaging as a smooth pre-formed u-shaped tray which covers the top row of your teeth to stop the upper & lower teeth gnashing against each other. The most popular way to fit them is to “boil & bite”. This means that the guard is placed in hot water according to instructions allowing it to soften; it is then placed in the mouth & gently bitten on so it moulds to the wearers teeth. After the guard has cooled you can make adjustments as necessary by cutting with scissors.
A custom made mouthguard is made specifically for the wearer. A dentist will usually make these types of mouthguards. You will need to make an appointment where the dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This is then poured up into a model. From this model your personalised mouthguard is made.
Custom made mouthguards are very durable & because they are made exactly to your teeth shape they are extremely comfortable. They last a long time, so unless you have a child who is in the process of their dentiton changing, a custom made mouthguard should last a few seasons.
Custom mouthguards cost around $165.00 but remember they also last a lot longer. Also, if you are in a health fund, some will cover the entire cost of one mouthguard per year as they regard them as preventive treatment. The item number is 151 if you would like to check with your fund. Other health funds give a considerable rebate which makes them more affordable.
So there you have it, the custom made mouthguard is far superior to its store bought counterpart and let’s face it we only get one set of permanent teeth so we really need to protect them as best we can.
It is estimated that 60-70% of Australian adults have some form of gum disease, so if you haven’t been brushing and flossing daily and it has been over 6 months since your last professional clean with your dentist, there is a good chance that you do have gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by our body’s response to the bacteria naturally found in our mouths. When there are significant numbers of bacteria harbored in large amounts of plaque on our teeth, an immune response is induced to fight the bacteria. Unfortunately, this same protective immune reaction also results in bleeding gums, and over time, gum recession and loss of supporting jaw bone. Ultimately this results in loss of our teeth.
The good news is that in most cases, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) can be managed. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the simpler and more successful the treatment is. Unfortunately, gum disease cannot be cured as it is the result of bacteria naturally found within our mouths, but it can be controlled with regular dental visits and good home hygiene practices.
The earliest stage of gum disease is GINGIVITIS. It is characterised by bleeding gums and you may notice bad breath (halitosis) or a bad taste in your mouth. You might also be aware of a hard yellowish buildup (calculus) behind your lower front teeth and there will usually be harder-to-see areas of plaque and calculus in other areas of your mouth. At this stage the condition is localised to your gums and has not yet affected the jaw bone holding your teeth in place.
Fortunately, gingivitis is easily managed with a good scale and clean by your dentist every 6 months and by following an effective home hygiene routine including brushing and flossing and other individualised cleaning products or techniques recommended by your dentist.
EARLY PERIODONTITIS develops as more plaque and calculus develops and starts to build up under the gum line. On the surface, this stage looks similar to gingivitis however damage to your jaw bone is starting to occur. Dentists can detect this by using a measuring probe between your gum and teeth to determine the depth of your ‘periodontal pockets’. In a healthy mouth, pocket depths measure 1-2mm. In early periodontitis, probing depths commonly measure 3.5-5mm, indicating loss of your jaw bone and swelling of your gums.
In most cases, this stage can be treated by your dentist, however cleaning your teeth will take much longer and will be more in depth to ensure your deeper pockets are being accessed. It is possible that you may need to be numbed up to allow this to be done comfortably and effectively. It is vital that you then maintain a regular cleaning routine with your dentist to ensure your home hygiene practices are working and that the disease is not progressing. Your recall time may vary from 3, 4 or 6 months depending on your individual case.
(This picture shows the buildup of calculus & red, inflamed gums.)
MODERATE AND ADVANCED PERIODONTITIS.
Up until now, gum disease is very often painless and you may not even be aware of a problem. As more plaque accumulates and bacteria multiply in deep pockets, the disease continues and you will notice your gums receding away, teeth may be feeling sensitive, feeling lose or becoming sore to chew on. There may be pus oozing from the gums. Acute gum infections can cause swelling and be very painful. Probing depths will now be greater than 6mm and can extend right down the length of your tooth’s root (indicating total loss of bone from around your tooth). Once this occurs, it is likely that your teeth will start needing to be removed or may even fall out on their own.
If you have more advanced forms of periodontal disease, it is likely that you will require referral to a PERIODONTIST. This specialised dentist uses specific instruments and advanced techniques to better access and clean the deep pockets around your teeth. If this stage of gum disease is not treated properly it will lead to the loss of more and more teeth and unfortunately this will mean having to consider uncomfortable dentures or expensive implants (if there is even enough bone remaining to support implants).
RISK FACTORS. The underlying cause of gum disease is the presence, type and amount of bacteria that accumulates in our plaque; however certain conditions can make you more susceptible to, and increase the rate of progression of the disease. They can also affect the success of treatment. The most common factors are:
– MEDICATIONS AND ILLNESSES
Gum Disease can also increase the risk of serious systemic conditions. Recent studies support an association between active periodontal disease and CARDIOVASCULAR/HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, PRE-TERM OR LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES.
So now you know a bit more about gum disease & the causes, you can understand how important it is to come in for your regular 6 monthly examinations & cleans.
A healthy mouth is a happy mouth!
A dental x-ray is a fantastic diagnostic tool that dentists use to assist in the diagnosis of dental problems. Let’s face it, our dentists at Oracle Dental are good…. in fact they are really good…. but they don’t have x-ray vision.
During a routine dental examination your dentist will thoroughly check all your teeth, your gums & the soft tissues inside of your mouth & tongue. However, they cannot see what is happening on the inside of your teeth, between your teeth or in the supporting bone. This is where an x-ray is invaluable! Dental problems picked up on x-rays include decay, abscesses, gum disease, fractures, impacted teeth and pathology such as cysts.
We generally recommend taking x-rays approximately every 2 years at one of your regular examination & cleaning appointments. X-rays can pick up very early signs of decay that the eye cannot see yet. The x-ray also shows us how far the decay or other problem has progressed so that we can then do the appropriate treatment.
To put it simply: regular x-rays = early diagnosis = less dental treatment required!
Now, for some interesting examples:
Many patients are concerned about having x-rays due to the fact that they emit radiation. This is one of the reasons we only take them every 2 years(unless you have dental pain) rather than at each 6 monthly exam.However, we should point out that dental x-rays emit an extremely minimal amount of radiation & the new digital x-rays which we use at Oracle Dental emit even less. To put it into perspective, the radiation dose of two routine dental x-rays is less than one day of natural background radiation or about the equivalent of a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
So next time you are due for your examination & x-rays are recommended, you now know how important they are for keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape!
Here at Oracle Dental we see teeth every day so we thought we would share some really interesting facts about our favourite past time, teeth!
Pretty cool, hey. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly & visit us twice a year to keep your pearly whites, gums & general health in tip top condition.