Posts for tag: tooth decay
Nothing grabs your attention like a sharp tooth pain, seemingly hitting you out of nowhere while you’re eating or drinking. But there is a reason for your sudden agony and the sooner you find it out, the better the outcome for your oral health.
To understand tooth sensitivity, we need to first look at the three layers of tooth anatomy. In the center is the pulp filled with blood vessels and nerve bundles: it’s completely covered by the next layer dentin, a soft tissue filled with microscopic tubules that transmit sensations like pressure or temperature to the pulp nerves.
The third layer is enamel, which completely covers the crown, the visible part of a tooth. Enamel protects the two innermost tooth layers from disease and also helps muffle sensations so the tooth’s nerves aren’t overwhelmed. The enamel stops at about the gum line; below it the gums provide similar protection and sensation shielding to the dentin of the tooth roots.
Problems occur, though, when the dentin below the gums becomes exposed, most commonly because of periodontal (gum) disease. This bacterial infection caused by dental plaque triggers inflammation, which over time can weaken gum tissues and cause them to detach and shrink back (or recede) from the teeth. This can leave the root area vulnerable to disease and the full brunt of environmental sensations that then travel to the nerves in the pulp.
Tooth decay can also create conditions that cause sensitivity. Decay begins when certain oral bacteria multiply and produce higher than normal levels of acid. The acid in turn dissolves the enamel’s mineral content to create holes (cavities) that expose the dentin. Not treated, the infection can eventually invade the pulp, putting the tooth in danger of being lost unless a root canal treatment is performed to remove the infection and seal the tooth from further infection.
So, if you begin experiencing a jolt of pain while eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages, see your dentist as soon as possible to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. And protect your teeth from dental disease by practicing daily brushing and flossing, as well as seeing your dentist for regular dental cleanings and checkups. Don’t ignore those sharp pains—your teeth may be trying to tell you something.
If you would like more information on tooth sensitivity, 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 “Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity.”
Over the last century effectively treating a decayed tooth has often required removing any decayed structure with drilling and then filling the remaining cavity. While this approach does save teeth that might otherwise be lost, it can also result in a fair amount of healthy structure removed in the process.
But continuing advances in dentistry are now making possible a new approach to tooth decay treatment that preserves as much of the healthy portions of tooth as possible. This new way is often referred to as minimally invasive dentistry (MID).
The primary goal of MID treatment is to intercept and treat decay as early as possible to minimize tooth damage. It begins with helping patients identify their own individual risk factors for decay such as the presence of disease-causing bacteria, the adequacy of their saliva flow, or their lifestyle and dietary habits. We then recommend changes or preventive measures to reduce those risks.
The next step in MID is using various diagnostic technologies to find decay as early as possible. X-rays continue to play a major role, but dentists are also using dental microscopy to magnify the earliest forms of decay. Many also utilize laser fluorescence, infrared photography and optical scanning to further “see” decay difficult to detect with the naked eye.
In regard to treatments, MID adopts the adage “less is more.” If caught early enough, we can encourage the re-mineralization of enamel that acid has eroded with CPP-ACP, a substance acquired from milk, or strengthen teeth with topical fluoride applications. Instead of the dental drill, many dentists now turn to air abrasion for decay removal, equipment that emits a fine stream of abrasive particles that harms less healthy structure than a drill.
And if lasers continue to develop at their current pace, we’ll be able to use this technology to perform much more precise decay treatment than possible with manual instruments. As a result, we’ll be able to treat decayed teeth with less invasive means to preserve as much healthy structure as possible.
As these and other developments continue, MID promises a bright future for preventing and treating tooth decay. As a result, there’ll be less tooth structure loss and more attractive and healthy smiles.
If you would like more information on the latest techniques for treating tooth decay, 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 “Minimally Invasive Dentistry.”
Are you concerned that a root canal may be in your future? Dr. Nicholas Papapetros, Dr. Leo Kharin and Dr. Jessica Ristuccia, your Bedford, MA dentists at Great Meadows Dental Group, explain why you may need a root canal and how the procedure can help protect your smile.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canals are performed when the pulp at the center of your tooth becomes inflamed or infected. If the pulp isn't removed during a root canal procedure, the only other option is an extraction of the tooth. Losing a tooth unnecessarily is a bad idea for several reasons. Chewing is more difficult when you lose a tooth, particularly if it's a molar. Losing a tooth can also lead to jawbone weakening because your tooth roots no longer provide the stimulation the bone needs to stay strong. Tooth loss doesn't just affect one tooth, but can change your entire smile if your teeth start to shift.
If you have an abscess, an infection at the center of your tooth, a root canal will protect your oral and general health. The bacteria in the infection can travel to other parts of your body via your bloodstream. If it reaches your heart or brain, it could trigger a heart attack or stroke. Root canal treatment and antibiotics will help you avoid these serious health problems. An abscess is a dental emergency and requires prompt treatment.
How will I know if I need a root canal in Bedford?
Signs and symptoms that may indicate that you need a root canal include:
- Pain: Pain in the tooth may worsen when you eat or put pressure on the tooth. Pain may be constant or intermittent and can be severe if you develop an infection in the tooth.
- Gum Changes: Swollen, inflamed gums may be a sign that you need a root canal. If you have an abscess, you may notice a small pimple-like bump on the gum next to the tooth.
- Sensitivity: Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages may occur if you need a root canal.
- Fever, Swollen Lymph Nodes and Facial Swelling: These symptoms typically occur if you have an abscess.
Tooth-saving root canals can safeguard your smile. If you're concerned about a tooth, call Drs. Papapetros, Kharin and Ristuccia, your Bedford, MA dentists at Great Meadows Dental Group, at (781) 275-7707 to schedule an appointment.