Answering Clinical Questions Improves Patient Safety
I had a toothache and my dentist told me I need a root canal. He put me on antibiotics and it stopped hurting. Do I still need the root canal?
Yes. Even though your tooth feels better since your dentist prescribed antibiotics, the underlying disease process did not change. Patients sometimes believe that antibiotics will “cure” a dental infection in the same way they can cure a medical infection such as strep throat. However, this is not the case. Once the inside (pulp) of a tooth becomes diseased, a root canal (or extraction) is necessary even if you are not experiencing pain or swelling.
Do you think extra fluoride would help prevent cavities, or is there enough fluoride in toothpastes?
Fluoride has reduced the rate of cavities more than any other method of decay prevention. However, too much ingested fluoride can cause un-aesthetic spotting on teeth. Most community water supplies in our area are optimally fluoridated, so between using fluoridated toothpastes and using community water supplies, additional fluoride might not be needed for most people.
However, for added cavity protection for teens and adults, daily rinsing with fluoride mouth rinses also can be beneficial. If you see a dentist who determines that you are at high risk for development of cavities, he/she might prescribe some prescription dispensed fluoride that is even more concentrated, so consult your dentist to determine how much fluoride is best for you.
Is it true that the teeth that have been broken due to an accident can be reattached?
A frequent trauma related dental injury is a fractured tooth. To increase success with this emergency situation, your dentist should be contacted immediately. If possible the tooth fragments should be found, rinsed with water and kept moist. In some situations, the fragments may be reattached to the tooth. If this is not possible, the tooth often can be restored with resin composite with excellent aesthetic results and minimal removal of the tooth structure.
If the fracture is severe, root canal treatment and eventual crowning may be necessary. Remember that most sports related dental injuries may be prevented by using a mouth guard.
Can I help prevent oral cancer?
Your dentist should look for signs of oral cancer in your mouth at every routine check-up. You can help your dentist by advising him/her of any unusual color changes in the tissues in your mouth (red or white areas), abnormal growths, ulcerated areas that don’t heal, areas of numbness or pain, or any problems with chewing or swallowing.
Oral cancers often are found on the sides of the tongue, under the tongue, and on the soft palate, though they can occur on any soft tissues throughout the mouth. People who drink alcohol or smoke are more likely to get oral cancer, but anyone can get it, which is why early detection is so important.
I thought cavities were a problem for kids but not adults. As an adult, can I still get cavities?
As long as you have teeth, you can get cavities. Cavities result from bacteria in your mouth that feed on carbohydrates in your diet. As the bacteria feed on the carbohydrates, they release acid that dissolves away tooth structure.
As people age, they tend to get cavities around old fillings or crowns, or on root surfaces that have become exposed due to receding gums. People with dry mouth tend to have more problems with cavities than other people who have normal salivary flow. Everybody has bacteria in their mouth, so if you still have teeth and still eat carbohydrates, you can still get cavities.
I haven’t been to the dentist in 10 years because nothing hurts. Wouldn’t my teeth hurt if they had a problem?
Most often, cavities don’t start to hurt until they are very large; most people who have had fillings had them before they knew there was a problem. Also, most often gum disease doesn’t hurt at all, so you would only know there was a problem when a tooth became loose, and by then sometimes it’s too late to deal with.
Oral cancer sometimes can hurt but many times it doesn’t. If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen a dentist, it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive oral examination and dental radiographs (x-rays) made, just to be sure you haven’t developed any problems that you don’t know about.
I would like to improve my smile. What options do I have?
Many options are available nowadays to improve people’s smiles, such as braces, whitening or bleaching, crowns and porcelain veneers. Every smile change needs to start with a proper diagnosis to evaluate individual considerations and desires, your bite and your smile.
We believe in minimal and conservative intervention to improve your smile. We have all the diagnostic knowledge, experience, and state-of-the-art tools to provide you with an understanding and with realistic treatment options so that we can help you select the best way to achieve the smile you seek.
I have heard that soda pop can affect my teeth. What problems does it cause and is diet soft drinks OK?
High frequency consumption of soda drink is one of the major risk factors that cause dental decay. A twelve ounce can of soda such as aerated coloured soft drinks has eleven teaspoons of sugar and is very acidic. The acid can dissolve enamel and when combined with sugar provides the perfect environment for bacteria which cause decay.
Diet soda does not have the sugar, but has the same acidity and therefore can create erosion. If drinking soda, minimize its use, choose diet over regular, and drink it quickly with a meal or snack. It is preferable to select water or other sugar-free non-acidic beverages.
I do not like the spaces between my front teeth. What can I do?
Before we can present you with appropriate options, we first need to determine why you have those spaces. Depending on your individual circumstances, the options may range from braces to bonding. Bonding a tooth colored material to your existing tooth, to close those spaces, is quite often the most conservative and reversible option.
In most cases this “Bonding” option does not require removal of any part of your tooth. New materials are capable of imitating natural tooth structure very realistically, so nobody can tell you have had anything done!
My teeth are sensitive when I drink something cold. What can I do about it?
Tooth sensitivity can be due to a variety of causes. These can include decay, faulty fillings, and exposed root structure. It is best to visit your dentist to determine the cause. If it is decay or defective fillings, the problem should be fixed by the dentist. If it is exposed root structure, there are a variety of options including varnishes or solutions that the dentist can apply in the office.
There are also other at home options such as fluoride gels and desensitizing pastes. Some sensitive situations will resolve and not return, but others may have to be retreated periodically.