Posts for: November, 2017
More than likely your great-grandparents, grandparents and even your parents had a common dental experience: when one of their teeth developed a cavity, their dentist removed the decayed portion (and maybe a little more) through drilling and then filled the cavity. In other words, treatment was mainly reactive—fix the problem when it occurred, then fix it again if it reoccurred.
You may have had similar experiences—but the chances are good your dentist’s approach is now quite different. Today’s tooth decay treatment is much more proactive: address first the issues that cause tooth decay, and if it does occur treat it with an eye on preventing it in the future.
This approach depends on maintaining equilibrium between two sets of competing factors that influence how your teeth may encounter tooth decay. This is known as the caries balance (caries being another name for tooth decay). On one side are factors that increase the risk of decay, known by the acronym BAD: Bad Bacteria that produce acid that dissolves the minerals in tooth enamel; Absence of Saliva, the body’s natural acid neutralizer; and Dietary Habits, especially foods with added sugars that feed bacteria, and acid that further weakens enamel.
There are also factors that decrease the risk of tooth decay, known by the acronym SAFE: Saliva and Sealants, which focuses on methods to boost low salivary flow and cover chewing surfaces prone to decay with sealant materials; Antimicrobials, rinses or other substances that reduce bad bacteria populations and encourage the growth of beneficial strains; Fluoride, increased intake or topical applications of this known enamel-strengthening chemical; and Effective Diet, reducing the amount and frequency of sugary or acidic foods and replacing them with more dental-friendly choices.
In effect, we employ a variety of techniques and materials that inhibit BAD factors and support SAFE ones. The foundation for prevention, though, remains the same as it was for past family generations—practice effective oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily and regular dental cleanings and checkups to keep bacterial plaque from accumulating and growing. Your own diligent daily care rounds out this more effective way that could change your family history of tooth decay for you and future generations.
A woman as gorgeous and funny as Sofia Vergara surely planned to be a model and actress from the get-go, right? Wrong! Sofia’s first career choice actually was to be… a dentist! That’s right, the sexy star of TV’s Modern Family actually was only two semesters shy of finishing a dental degree in her native Columbia when she traded dental school for the small screen. Still, dental health remains a top priority for the actress and her son, Manolo.
“I’m obsessed,” she recently told People magazine. “My son thinks I’m crazy because I make him do a cleaning every three months. I try to bribe the dentist to make him to do it sooner!”
That’s what we call a healthy obsession (teeth-cleaning, not bribery). And while coming in for a professional cleaning every three months may not be necessary for everyone, some people — especially those who are particularly susceptible to gum disease — may benefit from professional cleanings on a three-month schedule. In fact, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to having professional teeth cleanings — but everyone needs this beneficial procedure on a regular basis.
Even if you are meticulous about your daily oral hygiene routine at home, there are plenty of reasons for regular checkups. They include:
- Dental exam. Oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease are much easier — and less expensive — to treat in the earliest stages. You may not have symptoms of either disease early on, but we can spot the warning signs and take appropriate preventive or restorative measures.
- Oral cancer screening. Oral cancer is not just a concern of the middle aged and elderly — young adults can be affected as well (even those who do not smoke). The survival rate for this deadly disease goes up tremendously if it is detected quickly, and an oral cancer screening is part of every routine dental visit.
- Professional teeth cleaning. Calcified (hardened) dental plaque (tartar or calculus) can build up near the gum line over time — even if you brush and floss every day. These deposits can irritate your gums and create favorable conditions for tooth decay. You can’t remove tartar by flossing or brushing, but we can clear it away — and leave you with a bright, fresh-feeling smile!
So take a tip from Sofia Vergara, and don’t skimp on professional cleanings and checkups. If you want to know how often you should come in for routine dental checkups, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor articles “Dental Hygiene Visit” and “Dental Cleanings Using Ultrasonic Scalers.”
You have dental symptoms you can't ignore. Can your family dentists in West Columbia, SC, save that tooth? Dr. Peter Stoltz or Dr. Brooke Stoltz at Three Fountains Family Dental can tell you what's best for your tooth and your overall oral health. A root canal procedure may be an option. Learn here about what signs tell your dentist that you need one and also about details of this common dental treatment.
Signs you need a root canal
Root canal therapy--also called endodontic therapy--has been a reliable treatment for a long time. Removing diseased pulp from a tooth's interior chamber and up to four root canals (hence, the name), endodontic therapy relieves symptoms and brings new life to a compromised tooth. The American Association of Endodontists, dentists who specialize in this procedure, say that Americans undergo 15 million root canals annually, and most succeed.
Why would you need a root canal? A dental abscess is a leading cause. A deep injury is another. Additionally, your family dentist in West Columbia, SC, may choose root canal therapy to prevent extraction when a tooth has multiple restorations, and the structure above the gum line is weak.
So, your team at Three Fountains Family Dental urges you to seek advice if you have some or all of these symptoms:
- Throbbing toothache
- Redness and swelling at the gum line
- Extreme sensitivity to pressure, heat or cold
- Drainage from the tooth
- Bad breath
- Darkening of tooth enamel
Dr. Stoltz will examine and X-ray your tooth to confirm a diagnosis and to determine if your tooth is a candidate for root canal therapy.
The root canal procedure
A root canal procedure removes diseased interior tooth pulp and damaged tooth enamel, disinfects and fills the tooth and restores it with a porcelain crown. Your dentist usually uses a local anesthetic to numb the tooth.
Dr. Stoltz cleans the root canal with several tiny metal files. The dentist also disinfects the chamber and adds a material called gutta-percha to seal it. Your dentist repeats the treatment on the other root canals and places a temporary filling or crown over the tooth. Dental impressions go to a trusted lab where the new crown is fabricated.
You go home for a week or so of healing and eating a soft diet. Most people experience pain relief after a root canal procedure.
On your return appointment, Dr. Stoltz checks the site, removes the temporary restoration and bonds the new crown in place. Your tooth looks and feels great and will serve you for many more years.
Find out more
If you have concerning dental symptoms, don't wait. A root canal procedure may help you regain and keep good oral health. Call Three Fountains Family Dental for an appointment: (803) 755-0039.