The most rewarding part of our jobs here at the office is seeing the immediate results of our work on how a patient feels. Having stained and decayed front teeth, especially for a young woman, can be socially difficult and can seriously affect self esteem.
This morning, we saw one such young lady and, in about 90 minutes, were able to give her some of her self esteem and confidence back. We used a tooth colored filling material, cleaned out the decay, and polished some of her existing fillings. The left side is how she looked before, and the right side shows the after. The bleeding around her gum tissue is a result of slightly tucking the filling material under and polishing to make it look as seamless as possible. Her gums will heal and adapt to the new fillings in a couple of days.
How long this treatment will last depends on how well the patient maintains her teeth. Dental caries is a disease caused by bacteria, and the patient has to keep the bacteria under control as well as provide her teeth the building blocks to strengthen themselves. One product we use often in the office for such cases is MI paste, a prescription strength fluoride paste with proprietary enamel-like molecules to help rebuild and strengthen teeth. More information about the benefits of MI paste can be found here.
Did you know it’s Root Canal Awareness Week? May 7-13, the American Association of Endodontics has put together a campaign to educate patients on one of the most maligned but useful procedures in dentistry.
Root canal therapy is one of the most predictable ways to save teeth for the long haul. Despite the fear often associated with treatment, it is often painless. At its most basic, a root canal is a way to “mummify” and preserve a tooth after the nerve has been traumatized and died inside. Usually this can be accomplished in 1-2 visits depending on the complexity and level of infection present.
Root canal therapy is necessary in cases where the nerve of a tooth has been exposed, either mechanically or by decay and bacteria eating away at the tooth. In these cases, bacteria has infected the nerve canal, causing swelling that causes the nerve eventually to die inside the tooth. Once the nerve dies, the canal fills up with bacteria, often causing pain, infection, swelling, and localized destruction of the supporting bone. Root canals are performed by most general dentists, or by specialists in more complicated cases. The procedure calls for isolation of the tooth with a rubber dam, accessing the nerve chamber of the tooth, mechanically and chemically cleansing the dead and/or infected tissue and bacteria, and then sealing the whole thing up with a piece of rubber. In most cases, a crown is necessary to protect the tooth from fracture.
In the case pictured below, the patient was scheduled to get a crown on the molar (the tooth in the center) due to decay around his existing silver fillings. When we took an x-ray to ensure the health of the roots before starting the procedure, we noticed the destruction around the tooth on the right side (circled in red). The patient was having no pain, but had a filling done a number of years ago that was quite close to the nerve space (the dark line through the center of the tooth). We discussed the situation with the patient and completed the root canal that day. As you can see, some of the sealer material extruded into the empty space in the bone left by the bacteria.
Not the clearest pictures, but here are some photographs after the crowns were completed. The patient had no postoperative pain and loves his new teeth!
For more information on root canal therapy, click here for the Awareness Week website and informational videos.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished you had whiter teeth? The good thing is there are many options between what you can buy at home and what can be done professionally to help you get to your dream smile.
One of the most rewarding things we do here at Old Town Dental is give people their confidence back with a new smile. We have many options to make this happen, from removable temporary solutions to fixed permanent ones.
We had a patient come in recently with multiple broken and missing teeth and no confidence in her smile. She asked us to help her with a new smile before her daughter’s wedding. We took care of her underlying pain and decay and built her a Snap-On-Smile, a temporary complete smile makeover that replaces missing teeth and covers poorly positioned ones. She is planning to wear this until she is ready to move forward with permanent porcelain crowns, implants, and veneers.
Snap-On-Smile is painless, done in two appointments, and often covered by insurance. Call us to learn more about your options in achieving the smile you’ve always wanted!