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Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been infected due to a deep cavity or cracked tooth. If the treatment is not performed, infection of the nerve can spread into the surrounding bone which may spread for years unnoticed. However, it is more likely that an acute infection will develop, which will probably require removal of the tooth. What are the signs that a root canal is needed? Severe tooth pain while chewing Your tooth pain wakes you up at night Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time. Discolouration or darkening of the tooth Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth What does the treatment involve? An opening is made into the pulp chamber (middle of the tooth) The pulp is removed. (A tooth’s pulp and nerve is not important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has fully emerged from the gums.) The root system is thoroughly cleaned. A temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth, if the dentist decides to complete the root canal therapy in multiple visits.  When you return, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal and pulp chamber, fill the root canal system with a plastic-like filling material, and place a permanent filling and/or crown over the tooth. Root canal therapy has a high rate of success (>95%) and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime. However, root canal treated teeth are more brittle and they are more susceptible to fracture.  It is highly recommended to protect root canal treated teeth with crowns to prevent future breakage.

Tooth Extractions

A dental extraction is most commonly required if one of your teeth is damaged beyond practical repair. The most common reasons for tooth extractions include: Severe tooth decay or infection may make it impossible or too costly to repair a tooth Advanced gum disease may require a tooth to be pulled so it doesn’t affect the supporting tissues and bone structures of your mouth A tooth may be extracted if it is blocking other teeth from coming in During orthodontic work, teeth may need to be extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place Wisdom teeth are often extracted either before or after they come in What to expect Your dentist will first administer anesthetic to numb the area and reduce discomfort. During the extraction, you will feel the pressure of the tooth being removed, but will not feel any pain.  Typically, the dentist is able to remove your tooth within a matter of minutes A small amount of bleeding is normal and a patch of gauze will be placed in the affected area. The area may bleed minimally for the next 24 hours or so and taper off after that.  Follow your dentist’s instructions on how often to change the gauze, and what other post-procedure steps to follow. It is important to decide if you want to replace the tooth being removed. There are several different options for tooth replacements e.g. Bridges or Implants. Depending on the situation, your dentist will be able to discuss the best long term option for you.

Composite Fillings

When treating a cavity, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and fill it with another substance. This procedure is called a filling. There are multiple options for the material to be used in the filling, the most common of which are composite fillings and amalgam fillings (silver-coloured filling material). A composite filling is also known as a tooth-coloured filling, since the material used in the filling can be closely matched to the colour of your teeth. Composite fillings provide good durability for small to medium cavities, and the procedure typically involves removing less of a tooth than you would during an amalgam filling. They are well suited for treating front or highly visible teeth because of their natural look. When can a composite filling be used? Decayed tooth (i.e. cavity) Chipped or broken teeth Decreasing the gap between teeth How its done The dentist numbs the area where the filling is to be placed. He/she will remove any decayed portion of the tooth. A bonding agent is applied, and hardened and cured with a special light. The filling is applied in thin layers to slowly form the complete filling. The dentist will smooth and polish the filling to be comfortable and fit your bite.

Dental Exams and Cleanings

Routine dental exams are important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. They can help to avoid the financial costs associated with large treatment plans later on. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends checkups twice a year for people of all ages. At this frequency, most problems can be caught while they remain in an early stage. How it’s done The dentist first examines your mouth visually, using dental equipment such as mouth mirrors, dental picks, and high intensity lights. They will look for cracked and decayed teeth, as well as review other important items such as: Medical history review: The dentist will assess how any new medical conditions or illnesses may affect your dental health. Examination of tooth decay: with the help of xrays, we are able to assess the presence of decay in between your teeth and under existing fillings. Our instruments will also aid in detecting cavities starting in the pits of teeth and around the margins of existing restorations. Oral cancer screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer. Gum disease evaluation: Your gums and bone around the teeth will be checked for any evidence of periodontal disease. Examination of existing restorations: Current fillings, crowns, and other restorations are made sure to be in good order. Additionally, your dentist will take diagnostic x-rays to reveal any other hidden problems, especially in the areas below the gums. Bitewing x-rays are typically taken every 12-24 months (to detect the presence of cavities in between teeth and under existing fillings) and a panographic x-ray, which revolves around the head, is taken every 3-5 years (to assess the location and eruption pattern of adult teeth and to assess the entire head for possible lesions). Dental Cleanings Routine dental cleanings are important in maintaining good oral hygiene. Professional cleaning by a hygienist can remove mineralized plaque (called calculus or tartar) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach. The overall health of the gums (based on clinical pocket depths) and the amount of calculus present will dictate how often it is recommended that you go in for a cleaning. Your dentist and hygienist will recommended what interval is right for you, whether it is to come in every 3 months, 4 months, 6 months or 9 months. How it’s done You can