FAQ


Treatment

What is a Root Canal?
Root canal treatment is the removal of the tooth's pulp, a small, thread-like tissue in the center of the tooth. Once the damaged, diseased or dead pulp is removed, the remaining space is cleaned, shaped and filled. This procedure seals off the root canal. Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment saves many teeth that would otherwise be lost.

The most common causes of pulp damage or death are:

Once the pulp is infected or dead, if left untreated, pus can build up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming an abscess. An abscess can destroy the bone surrounding the tooth and cause pain.

How is a Root Canal Done?
Root canal treatment consists of several steps that take place over several office visits, depending on the situation.

These steps are:

How Long Will the Restored Tooth Last?
Your treated and restored tooth/teeth can last a lifetime with proper care. Because tooth decay can still occur in treated teeth, good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are necessary to prevent further problems.

As there is no longer a pulp keeping the tooth alive, root-treated teeth can become brittle and are more prone to fracture. This is an important consideration when deciding whether to crown or fill a tooth after root canal treatment.

To determine the success or failure of root canal treatment, the most relied-upon method is to compare new X-rays with those taken prior to treatment. This comparison will show whether bone continues to be lost or is being regenerated.

What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one's appearance.

The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.

A specialist in this field is called an orthodontist. Orthodontists receive two or more years of education beyond their four years in dental school in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program.

How do I Know If I Need Orthodontics?
Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine whether you can benefit from orthodontics. Based on diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photographs, an orthodontist or dentist can decide whether orthodontics are recommended, and develop a treatment plan that's right for you.

If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:

How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.

Fixed appliances include:

Why are Teeth Removed?
Teeth are extracted for a variety of reasons:

Many dentists recommend extracting impacted teeth that are only partially erupted. Bacteria can enter around a partially erupted tooth and cause an infection, which can extend into the surrounding bone and become extremely serious. Impacted teeth continue trying to break through the gum tissue even if there is not enough room to accommodate them. The continued pressure caused by this attempted eruption can eventually damage the roots of nearby teeth. Removing a tooth that is impacted can often prevent infection, damage to adjacent teeth and bone, and save pain in the years to come.

How are Teeth Removed?
Before a tooth is removed, your dentist will thoroughly review your medical and dental history and take the appropriate X-rays.

X-rays reveal the length, shape, and position of the tooth and surrounding bone. From this information, your dentist can estimate the degree of difficulty of the procedure and decide whether to refer you to a specialist called an oral surgeon.

Before removal, the area around your tooth will be anesthetized. Dentists use a local anesthetic to numb the area of the mouth where the extraction will take place.

For a simple extraction, once the area is anesthetized, the tooth is loosened with the help of a tool called an elevator, then extracted with dental forceps. Your dentist may also want to smooth and recontour the underlying bone. When he or she is finished, they may choose to close the area with a stitch.

What can I Expect After an Extraction?
It is critical to keep the area clean and prevent infection immediately following the removal of a tooth. Your dentist will ask you to bite down gently on a piece of dry, sterile gauze, which you must keep in place for up to 30 to 45 minutes to limit bleeding while clotting takes place. For the next 24 hours, you shouldn't smoke, rinse your mouth vigorously, or clean the teeth next to the extraction site.

A certain amount of pain and discomfort is to be expected following an extraction. In some cases, your dentist will recommend a pain killer or prescribe one for you. It may help to apply an ice pack to the face for 15 minutes at a time. You may also want to drink through a straw, limit strenuous activity, and avoid hot liquids. The day after the extraction, your dentist may suggest that you begin gently rinsing your mouth with warm salt water (do not swallow the water). Under normal circumstances, discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks. If you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, call your dentist at once.