Posts for: May, 2017
Have you ever wondered how dentists determine that a patient needs a root canal? Dr. Clinton Watson and Dr. Nicole Jackson in Macon, GA, explain when root canals are needed and share a few signs that may indicate you could benefit from the procedure.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canals are recommended due to inflammation or infection of a tooth's pulp. The pulp forms the core of the tooth and is made up of tissue, nerves and blood vessels. During the root canal, the pulp is removed and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned before being filled.
You may be more likely to need a root canal due to:
- Multiple Dental Procedures: If you've had several dental procedures on one tooth, your risk of inflammation or infection rises.
- Poorly Fitting Crowns: When crowns don't fit properly, tooth decay can develop underneath them.
- Extensive Tooth Decay: Tooth decay can reach your pulp if you don't treat cavities promptly.
- An Injury: If you experienced a blow to your tooth, or it was reimplanted after it was knocked out, you may need a root canal.
- A Crack: A crack, or even a small chip, creates the perfect pathway for bacteria to enter your tooth. Once it does, it can travel to the pulp.
How can I tell if I need a root canal?
Your tooth will probably hurt if you need a root canal. Although inflamed or infected teeth can be very painful, pain isn't always severe, at least in the early stages. Your tooth may hurt when you chew on it or push on it. Taking a sip of ice water or bite of hot pizza can trigger or worsen pain. It's important to schedule an appointment with our Macon office any time you experience pain in a tooth.
Teeth that need root canals may change color. If you notice that your tooth is darker than normal, you might need a root canal. Call the office as soon as possible if you notice signs of a dental abscess, which include severe pain, fever, facial swelling and swollen lymph nodes or gums.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Sometimes, people avoid root canals because they're afraid that the procedure will be painful. In reality, the treatment relieves pain and saves your tooth. You'll receive a local anesthetic that will numb your mouth completely before your root canal. Work won't begin on your tooth until Dr. Watson or Dr. Jackson are sure that you won't feel any pain.
Root canals protect your teeth and end your pain. Think you may need a root canal? Call Dr. Watson and Dr. Jackson in Macon, GA, at (478) 475-1976 to schedule an appointment.
A toothache means you have tooth decay, right? Not necessarily — your pain could be signaling a number of potential causes. Determining where, how much and how often it hurts will help us find out the cause and apply the appropriate treatment.
A single symptom, for example, can mean many things. A twinge of tooth pain as you consume hot or cold foods might indicate localized tooth decay easily repaired by a filling. But it could also mean the tooth's root surface has been exposed as a result of periodontal (gum) disease — aggressive plaque removal and maybe even gum surgery might be necessary. Or it could be a sign of inner pulp decay: in this case you'll likely need a root canal treatment to save the tooth.
Pulp decay can also announce itself with a very sharp and constant pain radiating from one or more teeth. You shouldn't hesitate to see us for an examination — even if the pain goes away. Pain cessation most likely means the nerves in the pulp have died. The infection, however, still exists, so you'll still probably need a root canal treatment.
If you notice severe, continuous pain and pressure around a tooth, particularly about the gums, you may have a localized, inflamed area of infection called an abscess. An abscess can be the result of gum disease, but it might also stem from a foreign body like a popcorn husk, getting stuck below the gums. We'll need to conduct a complete dental examination to determine the cause and how to treat it.
Finally, a sharp pain when you bite down could mean many things such as a loose filling or a fractured (cracked) tooth. The latter especially requires immediate attention to save the tooth.
These are just a few of the possible causes behind mouth or facial pain. Although all of them are serious, a few are true dental emergencies and can't wait if we're going to save a tooth. The sooner you see us, the sooner we can help relieve the pain, minimize any damage and avert disaster.
If you would like more information on treating tooth pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!”
Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates knows how important it is to present your best face to the world — and one of the most important features of that face is a beaming smile. But there came a point when she noticed something was a little off. “I've always had good teeth, but it seemed to me as I was getting older that they weren't looking as good,” Kathy explained in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine.
That's when she decided it was time to take action. Kathy had orthodontic treatment when she was in her fifties, and she keeps her smile bright with tooth whitening treatments. She uses a kit provided by her dentist with a safe, effective whitening solution.
Of course, a bright, healthy smile looks great anywhere — whether you're on the red carpet or “off the grid.” And you don't have to be a Hollywood star to have professional whitening treatments. In fact, teeth whitening is one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments modern dentistry offers.
The basic options for professional teeth whitening include in-office bleaching or take-home kits. Both types of dentist-supervised treatments offer a safe and effective means of getting a brighter smile; the main difference is how long they take to produce results. A single one-hour treatment in the office can make your teeth up to ten shades lighter — a big difference! To get that same lightening with at-home trays, it would take several days. On the plus side, the take-home kit is less expensive, and can achieve the same results in a bit more time.
It's important to note that not all teeth can be whitened with these treatments. Some teeth have intrinsic (internal) stains that aren't affected by external agents like bleaches. Also, teeth that have been restored (with bonding or veneers, for example) generally won't change color. And you can't necessarily whiten your teeth to any degree: Every tooth has a maximum whiteness, and adding more bleach won't lighten it beyond that level. Most people, however, find that teeth whitening treatments produce noticeable and pleasing results.
What about those off-the-shelf kits or in-the-mall kiosks? They might work… or they might not. But one thing's for sure: Without a dentist's supervision, you're on your own. That's the main reason why you should go with a pro if you're considering teeth whitening. We not only ensure that your treatment is safe — we can also give you a realistic idea of what results to expect, and we will make sure that other dental problems aren't keeping you from having a great-looking smile.
How often does Kathy Bates see her dentist for a checkup and cleaning? “I go about every four months,” she noted. “I'm pretty careful about it.” And if you've seen her smile, you can tell that it pays off. If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”