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pregnant women dental problem

What Dental Problems Can Women Face During Pregnancy?

The hormonal changes that take place when you’re pregnant may affect more than just your mood. They can also impact your teeth and gums, adding to the discomfort you already face. It’s important to take extra care of your oral health at this time, to keep both you and your baby healthy.

Knowing what to expect and how to handle it can help, so let’s look at 5 common dental issues women face during pregnancy:

  • Third Molar Problems – Pain or swelling may take place in the area near your wisdom teeth (third molars) due to hormonal changes or improper oral care. Partially-erupted wisdom teeth or crowding in the back of the mouth can also cause discomfort and raise the chance of tooth decay.

    Don’t ignore wisdom tooth pain, inflammation or other symptoms when you’re pregnant. Without timely treatment, you could end up dealing with a serious infection that threatens your health as well as the health of your baby, especially if it gets into your bloodstream.

  • Pregnancy Gingivitis – Gum swelling, tenderness, redness and bleeding are quite common during pregnancy, as a result of hormonal surges. These cause your body to respond more aggressively to bacterial toxins found in dental plaque, so it’s important to maintain proper oral hygiene and get regular checkups as well.

    Use a fluoridated toothpaste to brush your teeth twice a day, and make sure to floss your teeth daily as well. If your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, visit your dentist for a checkup right away. Untreated gingivitis can turn into serious periodontal disease, so follow your dentist’s instructions for dental cleaning and care.

  • Tooth Decay – Most pregnant women have cravings for sweet or sour foods, which increase the risk of tooth decay as well as sensitivity. In addition to frequent snacking, the acid exposure from morning sickness can also damage the protective enamel of your teeth, affecting your oral health tremendously.

    It’s essential to keep up with oral care and dental checkups throughout your pregnancy, since tooth decay can lead to infection, tooth loss and other problems. If brushing or flossing causes you to vomit, rinse your mouth with clean water and try using a fluoridated mouthwash to minimize bacterial buildup.

  • Dental X-Rays – It’s best to avoid getting X-rays when you’re pregnant, even though today’s technology has made this process far safer than it used to be. Still, your dentist may need an X-ray of your mouth for diagnosing a problem, especially if you face a dental emergency.

    Modern diagnostic equipment is designed to minimize radiation exposure, and the X-ray technician or dentist will cover your abdomen with a protective leaded apron. Make sure they also shield your throat to protect your thyroid, and only get an X-ray if it’s absolutely necessary.

  • Antibiotics & Painkillers – You may need numbing medication for root canals, fillings or tooth extractions. These dental procedures can be performed under local anesthesia, which is completely safe for you and your baby. However, inform your dentist that you’re pregnant, so they give you just enough medication to keep you comfortable.

    Heavy painkillers, antibiotics, and other medication may harm your unborn baby, so avoid taking anything on your own without first discussing it with your dentist or physician. If possible, procedures that require general anesthesia should be scheduled for after your baby’s birth.

What a Dentist Suggests: Pre-Pregnancy Dental Checkup

If you schedule a complete dental examination and X-ray before getting pregnant, you can ensure that oral problems are diagnosed and treated in advance.

It’s safe to get dental cleanings during your pregnancy as well, which can help you prevent dental problems. Many other procedures can also be performed as normal, but it’s best to get them out of the way as early as possible. What are you waiting for? Call Monarch Dental Clinic to schedule your checkup now!

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Single Visit Root Canal Treatment: What’s the Fuss About?

One of the most common causes of unbearable toothache is an infection in the space within a tooth, which affects its nerve tissue and the tissue surrounding its roots. Ranging from mild and intermittent pain to a constant and debilitating ache in the jaw, this kind of infection warrants a visit to the dentist for root canal treatment.

Traditional root canal treatments are conducted in multiple sittings. On the first sitting, the dentist opens the tooth to gain access to the nerve of the tooth in order to remove it. The following visits will focus on cleaning and shaping, and then filling and sealing of the tooth. With a single visit approach, however, the treatment procedure is completed in one sitting.

Dr. Aesha Patel of Monarch Dental Clinic is one of the few endodontists who perform single sitting root canal treatment in India. With 3 years of study and training for this procedure, she has made it her specialty and encourages patients to explore the comfort and convenience it offers.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment, also called just a “root canal” or RCT, involves the treatment of the infected pulp chamber in the interior of a tooth. It is the treatment of choice for degenerative tooth nerve tissue, exposed nerves, recurrent pimples on gums, acute tooth abscess and various other tooth root pathologies.

It comprises of three steps:

  • Tooth Opening: This is done in order to gain access to the nerve of the tooth, which is the pulp chamber, to remove the infected pulp.
  • Cleaning: The necrotic or infected pulp is taken out, and the space is cleaned to ensure there is no infected tissue left behind.
  • Sealing: The space is sealed off to avoid further contamination of the interior from outside and vice versa.

Most people have nightmares about root canal treatments, but with advancements in dental techniques as well as newer instruments and technology (rotary endodontics, protaper system, radiovisuography, etc.), all of this is possible in a single visit, without compromising the safety and efficacy of the treatment.

Single Visit RCT Advantages and Procedure

The main advantage of this treatment is that you don’t have to take out two or more days from your schedule for multiple root canal sittings, and there is little to no difference in cost as compared to traditional multi-visit procedures. In fact, since you will typically pay separately for each visit, a single sitting RCT works out more affordable too!

Here’s what happens during the treatment:

  • Access is created to the pulp chamber.
  • Infected pulp and damaged nerve is taken out using rotary files.
  • The space is washed with antiseptic solution.
  • Once dry and clean, the space is sealed with special biocompatible material called G.P. (Gutta Purcha) Points.
  • Temporary filling of cavity is done, which will later be replaced by permanent composite filling.
  • Ideally, capping of the tooth should follow the root canal treatment.

The entire procedure typically takes only 30-60 minutes, but in case of multi-canal systems it can take up to 90 minutes.

Eligibility

Any patient who needs a root canal is eligible for single visit treatment, and there is only one prerequisite that needs to be met – no pus accumulation/swelling. X-Ray can confirm the absence or presence of pus in the form of Periapical Radiolucency.

In case there is pus/swelling, the dentist will clean the space, allow the pus to drain and then apply an ointment and close up the opening with a temporary filling. The rest of the procedure will then be conducted in a second sitting, after the swelling and pus formation has subsided.

If you’ve been told to get a root canal and have been holding off just because you can’t set aside the time for multiple dental visits, schedule a single sitting RCT right away!

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What You Should Know about Dental Implants before Getting One

Tooth loss by way of gingivitis, tooth decay or injury has become a worldwide dental problem. Poor oral hygiene and unhealthy dietary habits have accelerated the incidence of this issue for many people everywhere. Tooth loss not only causes functional difficulties but is also of cosmetic significance to the affected individual, often leading to lower self-esteem.

However, the advent of dental implants has revolutionized the treatment options available for tooth loss in the modern day and age.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants comprise of a metallic frame and posts or roots (usually titanium) that are compatible to the human body for the placement of a replacement tooth. They are surgically implanted into the jaw bone below the gum line, and help lay down a strong foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth that are made to resemble your natural teeth.

The Dental Implant procedure is conducted in five phases:

  • Phase 1 – A trained dental surgeon devises a treatment plan specific to you.
  • Phase 2 – The dental implants are placed surgically under local anesthesia. Those who have undergone the procedure remark that the pain is less than that of a tooth being pulled out.
  • Phase 3 – This is the phase of healing and osseointegration, where the bone heals. The bone tissue that forms integrates with the implant so it’s securely fitted. This phase takes 3 months.
  • Phase 4 – Once the bone has healed and bonded to the frame, a metallic round post or “gingival former” is placed for 15 days, which helps to form the gap in the gums to place the next post and teeth.
  • Phase 5 – A connector post or “abutment” is attached for the replacement tooth.
  • Phase 6 – This phase involves the reconstruction of the replacement tooth from the model of your bite made by taking impressions of your teeth. These help the dentist know the structure and arrangement of teeth specific to you. This process can take time and the dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to carry out routine functions like talking or eating.

Once your replacement tooth is ready in all aspects including the color, it is placed onto the implanted post. In case of more than one implant, a single attachment can be placed to support dentures, instead of separate individual crowns.

Advantages of Dental Implants

  • They look and feel like your own teeth
  • Clear speech without the worry of slipping teeth or ill-fitting dentures
  • Hassle-free eating, without the difficulty in chewing caused by sliding dentures
  • Comfortable, pain-free and durable option (with proper care, implants can last for a lifetime)
  • Convenient, without the hassle of removing dentures or using messy adhesives
  • Easy to maintain oral hygiene in case of individual crowns
  • As opposed to tooth-supported bridges, no reshaping of surrounding teeth required
  • More of your own teeth are preserved, proving beneficial for long term oral health
  • They look natural, and help raise your self-esteem

Who Can Get Dental Implants?

Anyone fit for dental extraction or oral surgery can get implants, if they have healthy gums and enough bone width and height for implantation. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a prerequisite, and diabetics, heart patients, chronic smokers or those with chronic diseases need to be individually assessed.

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What’s All the Fuss about Dentophobia?

The term ‘dentophobia’ pretty much explains itself – it’s the fear of dentists or anything related to dental work. At some point in life (usually childhood), everyone is scared to visit a dentist and for many, this fear carries over into adulthood too.

This could be due to a dental experience gone wrong or just the discomfort associated with dental work. Having to sit still in a dentist’s chair while sharp pointy tools are stuck in our mouth, besides the constant buzzing sound of the drill and that peculiar odor that accompanies dental procedures and continues as an aftermath, can be quite unnerving!

What Causes Dentophobia?

Patients with dentopobia tend to avoid dental treatment at all costs, at least till an emergency that requires immediate treatment. The factors known to cause dentophobia can be both direct and indirect experiences that instill a fear, which can be disastrous in the long run.

  • Indirect Causes – Indirect causes can stem from hearing about horrid experiences from family and friends. The way dentistry is portrayed in the various forms of media can also go a long way in traumatizing children and adults alike. Children grow up watching cartoons where dentists torture their patients even in animated settings. Doctors in white coats with bright lights overhead naturally end up signaling danger in pretty much every movie on screen too!
  • Direct Causes – Then of course there are the direct causes in the form of painful root canals, extractions and even cavity filling, that program the mind against opting for dental treatment. A past experience can bring back bad memories that lead people to avoid seeing a dentist altogether at least till it’s the last resort.

Dental health varies dramatically from person to person – some people can last years without a trip to the dentist with no negative consequences, while others suffer pain simply by indulging in desserts or drinking cold water.

Possible Symptoms and Effects of Dentophobia

Here are some of the common symptoms and effects associated with this condition:

  • Dentophobia is a common fear amongst both children and adults, ranging from mild to severe and can also be exaggerated with the added fears of needles, doctors, hospitals and pain in general.
  • Patients with severe dentophobia are easily susceptible to a full-fledged panic attack simply at the mention of the term dentist. They feel nauseated, scared and might even break down crying.
  • Escapism is the most general symptom wherein people avoid a trip to the dentist for even general checkups, which leads to unhealthy decaying teeth, raking a higher dentist bill in the future besides a prolonged fear of intensive dental work as a result.
  • Bad teeth can cause social havoc, leaving a person feeling insecure, lonely and depressed. It could have a negative impact on ones self-esteem which can in turn affect their work and personal relationships.

According to research, an estimated 75% of adults have a certain degree of dental fear, with women more likely to fear dental work than men.

Various Means of Treating and Overcoming Dentophobia

Since tooth decay can only get worse over time, it’s necessary to take the required steps to manage dentophobia in order to retain healthy teeth and gums:

  • Seeking professional assistance is essential to overcome the anxiety caused by dentophobia. Applied gentle dentistry is known for certain practices that aid in regulating anxiety by playing soft music or using a stress ball during ongoing treatment.
  • Hypnotherapy is another format that allows a serious dentophobia patient to attain the necessary treatment without having to suffer the fear of dentistry by reprograming the mind and eradicating the fear.
  • Various psychologists also recommend deep breathing relaxation methods before and after treatments to calm the nerves and control anxiety to be able to sit through a necessary treatment.

It’s best not to take a chance with oral health, and preventative measures like regular dental checkups are the only way to stay on top of it!

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Advantages of Regular Dental Check Ups

While it is common to assume that your teeth are in good shape, regular dental checkups are highly recommended, especially for young children. It is very important to take care of your oral health and to visit your family dentist on a bi-annual or at least annual basis to get your teeth checked for diseases.

Why wait until the actual pain starts to get your teeth checked? If you take regular care of your oral health, you can completely avoid the possibility of tooth pain and discomfort. People who go in for regular checkups save themselves a world of trouble, as compared to those who are negligent towards their oral health. Your teeth are a vital part of your body and, like other body parts, require regular and consistent attention and care.

How Do Regular Dental Check-Ups Help with Oral Health?

There are many advantages of getting schedule oral checkups, and we’ve listed them here so you know why it’s ‘such a big deal’:

Early Detection of Dental Problems

Diseases and defects occurring in the mouth, such as tooth decay or infections, can be detected early on and cured before they lead to serious health consequences. It is best to visit the dentist on a regular basis and have your teeth checked and cleaned so that if there is some developing disease, it can be alleviated at the very first stage.

Less Time Consuming

Regular visits to the dentist also help you save a lot of time over the long run. It may seem like a contradiction, given the difficulty of taking time out from your busy schedule to go for dental checkups. However, this is way more effective than the constant, stressed-out and often repeat visits you will have to make if an undetected disease, swelling or infection develops in your mouth.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Regular visits to the dentist can save you from being afflicted by any number of oral health problems. Dental problems like tooth decay, mouth sores, tooth infections and gum diseases are very painful and will leave you feeling weak and exhausted for days, not to mention the time and money you will spend to have them cured. At the risk of sounding clichéd, “Prevention IS better than cure”.

A dentist can help you make sure your teeth and gums remain healthy and can suggest ways to prevent dental problems. Like the rest of your body, your oral health is not something to be trifled with. Even the most basic negligence or laxity on your part can lead to serious problems. It is an intelligent strategy to make time for regular dental checkups today and save yourself a world of trouble tomorrow!

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The Link between Diabetes and Oral Health

We keep hearing about how medical conditions like diabetes can affect our dental health, but why is there a connection? It seems like these are entirely separate issues, but there are good reasons why dentists and doctors all over the world keep stressing on the link between these seemingly unconnected terms – diabetes and oral health.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels. This condition may be caused by the body’s inability to respond to or produce enough insulin, which is the hormone that regulates blood sugar in the body. In some cases, diabetes may result due to hereditary or lifestyle factors too.

A cure is yet to be discovered for this condition, so patients afflicted with diabetes can only manage the disease by keeping their blood glucose levels within a normal range. This can normally be achieved through diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication prescribed by your doctor.

Types of Diabetes

There are generally two major types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is also called juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, and occurs when the body stops producing insulin. This condition accounts roughly to about 10% of all cases. Anyone suffering from Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections to survive in addition to eating a special diet and performing regular blood checks to ensure glucose levels are within a normal range.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common, accounting for 90% of all cases. In this strain of the disease, the body either fails to produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to the hormone. People who are overweight and obese are more susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes. If the disease is not yet advanced, type 2 diabetic patients may be able to control the symptoms by eating healthy, regular exercise and losing weight. However, this condition is often progressive, and at some point patients end up relying on insulin tablets.

If neglected, diabetes causes blood sugar levels to spike up to abnormal levels, which can in turn cause a wide range of health complications, including dental ones like gum disease, infections and more.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacteria that attacks gums. As a result, this health problem is often referred to as gum disease. This condition damages the soft oral tissue that holds your teeth together. When it advances, it can spread and infect the bone that supports your teeth. At this stage, teeth start to become loose and may eventually fall out or need to be removed.

Connection between Diabetes and Gum Disease

While most dental health conditions are often caused by poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease can also be a complication of diabetes. Studies have shown that patients diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease. Due to this fact, it is important for diabetic patients to know how they can prevent oral health problems, the early warning signs of gum disease, as well as the treatment options that are available.

Warning Signs of Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Gum disease can be harder to treat when it is at an advanced stage. It is therefore important for diabetics to detect the disease early on. The initial telltale signs of this dental disorder include:

  • Bleeding gums during and after brushing teeth
  • Inflamed gums that may also be red and tender
  • A lingering bad taste in the mouth
  • Development of deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth

Other Dental Complications Associated with Diabetes

It is important to note that periodontal disease is not the only oral health problem that diabetic patients may develop. When blood glucose levels are left to spiral out of control, other oral health conditions may occur such as dry mouth, burning mouth syndrome, and fungal infections.

Diabetic patients who seek treatment for severe periodontal disease through surgery are more likely to develop complications. It is therefore important to follow the guidelines suggested by the American Dental Association after going through oral surgery for gum disease treatment.

What Does the Treatment Involve?

The right treatment for periodontal disease in diabetics will largely depend on how advanced the condition is. Dental specialists can recommend a wide variety of treatment methods that range from maintaining regular oral hygiene and soft tissue grafts, to guided tissue regeneration and bone surgery. In most cases, the dentist and physician need to work together in order to come up with the best treatment for a diabetic patient.

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Dental Veneers and Laminates

Over time, your teeth can get damaged, stained, or even look unsightly as a result of improper care, lifestyle damage or even some other dental work you may have had in the past. Dental veneers and laminates are thin shells that are bonded to the front of your teeth, to cover up any imperfections in your natural teeth.

Veneers can fix the way your teeth look, to give you a gleaming smile that grabs the right kind of attention!

Problems that can be fixed with Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are used to target most problems that make the front part of the teeth look unattractive.

These can include:

  • Discoloration and stains from medication, excessive fluoride use, fillings that have discolored, tobacco, and the like.
  • Signs of wear, like chipped, cracked, worn-out and broken teeth.
  • Uneven, irregularly-shaped and misaligned teeth or teeth with gaps between them.

Dental laminates or veneers are one of the most popular ways to improve the appearance of the front part of the teeth. Veneers are basically very thin shells that are custom-made to match the shape, length and shade of the surrounding teeth. Depending on the material used, they can resist stains to quite an extent, as well as mimic the look of your natural teeth.

What Does the Procedure Involve?

Getting veneers isn’t very time-consuming, with the entire procedure usually being completed in just three visits to your dentist:

  1. Diagnosis and Planning

    Your first visit will typically be a consultation with the dentist, so he or she can inspect your teeth closely, diagnose their condition and chart out a plan of action. At this stage, you can discuss your expectations from the laminates. The doctor may need to take an impression of your teeth or an X-ray, to properly determine the extent of damage.

  2. Preparation and Temporary Veneer

    Usually on the second visit, the dentist will prepare your teeth for the eventual veneers. This involves removing a small layer of the enamel, typically the same thickness as the veneer, about ½ millimeter. The removal can be carried out under local anesthetic if you prefer, or if the dentist feels it would be necessary.

    Another model is made after the removal, so technicians can shape the final veneer to be unnoticeable. In case the tooth is extensively damaged or unsightly, a temporary veneer can be used until the final veneer is ready.

  3. Bonding and Placing

    This is the final visit is when the customized veneer is inspected and installed. The dentist will first place the veneers without any cementing material, to ensure they fit well and look natural. Once they are trimmed as needed, the surface of your teeth will be cleaned thoroughly, polished to remove any surface imperfections and then ‘etched’.

Etching roughens up the surface that will be in contact, so the veneer adheres better. After the tooth has been positioned correctly with the bonding cement, a special light is applied to help the cement cure quickly and thoroughly. Any excess cement or protruding surfaces are then ground down to size.

Pros and Cons of Dental Veneers

While veneers have better aesthetic qualities, they do not prevent or halt cavities, infections and other tooth problems.

Advantages

  • Laminates can be very closely matched to your natural teeth and are not very noticeable.
  • Porcelain veneers resist stains well and they don’t disturb the gums.
  • Unlike dental crowns, veneers don’t require extensive reshaping of the whole tooth, just the front surface.
  • Laminates are relatively non-invasive and don’t carry the risks related with major dental work.

Disadvantages

  • Veneers are more expensive compared to composite resin bonding.
  • They are permanent and usually can’t be repaired in case they chip or crack. Additionally, they cannot be recolored.
  • Though it’s very rare, veneers have been known to fall off if they’re strained too hard.

Aftercare and Expected Life

Veneers do not require any special attention other than normal oral hygiene, though it is generally a good idea to avoid stressing them too much. This includes avoiding biting fingernails, or chewing very hard objects. Your tooth can still decay under the veneer and if it gets out of hand, you might need a root canal or crown.

Generally, veneers can last anywhere between five years to a decade and they can be replaced after that. Even though they resist staining quite well, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that can cause stains, like red wine and coffee – better safe than sorry!

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Everything You Need to Know about Cavities

The most common causes of tooth decay are cavities, which most of us ignore until they start to hurt. That’s the wrong way to go about it, and we’ll explain why.

Different Parts of the Tooth

Tooth Decay

Each tooth in your mouth consists of two major parts – the crown and the root. The crown is the visible part of a tooth while the root is the portion that you cannot see, since it is anchored within the bone.

Within these sections, a tooth is composed of four different kinds of tissues, which are:

  • Enamel – Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and is charged with the task of protecting your teeth against the wear and tear of chewing. It is the durable covering that makes up the protective outer surface of the crown of a tooth.
  • Dentin – Dentin consists of a yellow bone-like material that makes up most of the inner surface of a tooth. It supports the enamel and carries some nerve fibers of the teeth too.
  • Pulp – The term ‘pulp’ is used to define a soft tissue at the center of the tooth that contains blood, nerves and lymph vessels.
  • Cementum – This tissue covers most of the root of a tooth and helps it attach to the bones in the jaw.

What Does Your Oral Cavity Contain?

The oral cavity is the structure within your mouth that allows you to taste, chew, and swallow food, as well as form words. It consists of two alveolar arches, which hold teeth, and is bordered at the back by the isthmus and the fauces. Other parts of the oral cavity include the floor of the mouth, lips, check mucosa, hard palate and mobile tongue.

How Does Your Tooth Decay?

DecayingBacteria which are normally found in the mouth change carbohydrates (starch and sugar) into acid. This acid combines with food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to the teeth. Plaque forms after every meal and snack and begins to build up on the teeth 20 minutes after eating.

If not removed, the acid in the plaque begins to damage the enamel covering the teeth and creates holes in the tooth, which are referred to as cavities or caries. These are basically permanent structural damages to the outer surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes.

A cavity can affect part of a tooth or the entire tooth, depending on how early it is detected and treated. It begins as a white spot, then spreads to the enamel, dentin and cementum, and can even cause an abscess if left untreated, so make sure you include regular dental check-ups in your schedule!

Prevention of Cavities

Aside from good brushing and flossing habits, the best way to prevent cavities is to treat the onset of tooth decay before it develops into a cavity. Therefore, regular dental checkups are necessary whether or not your mouth is feeling fine. Through a dental checkup, the earliest sign of tooth decay (which is indicated by a soft tooth surface) can be detected and appropriately addressed.

Other preventative measures that can help prevent cavities include:

Use of Fluorides – Oral fluorides taken in the form of fluoride tablets or fluoridated water are recommended by dentists to protect against cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by filling the pores of immature enamel or small early cavities.
Following a Proper Diet – Since cavities are caused by sugary, starchy, chewy, and sticky foods, practicing good eating habits can help prevent cavities too. This includes consuming fewer foods that cause cavities, as well as avoiding snacks between meals.
Using Sealants – Sealants are thin plastic-like coatings applied on the surfaces of molars and premolars to prevent the buildup of plaque in the deep grooves of these teeth. Sealants are normally applied on the teeth of young children shortly after their molars come in, however, they can also be used by adults when prescribed by a dentist.

Treatment of Cavities

The ideal treatment for a cavity depends on how extensively it has spread. Generally, the less advanced the cavity, the less pain and expense you will have to bear for the treatment. Various cavity treatment options that your dentists may suggest include:

  • Fillings – In the case of not-so-serious cavities, your dentist can remove the decayed tooth material with a drill and replace it with fillings made of gold, silver, alloy, porcelain or composite resin. All of these materials are completely safe, but porcelain and composite fillings are preferred since they closely match the appearance of natural teeth.
  • Root Canals – This procedure is necessary when the nerves in a tooth have died because of a cavity. The dentist will remove portions of the damaged tooth along with the nerve and blood vessel tissues at the center of the tooth. The roots will be filled with a sealing material and a crown placed over the filled tooth.
  • Crowns – When a cavity is so bad that there is minimal tooth structure remaining, a treatment which includes fitting a crown (made of porcelain, gold or porcelain fused to metal) will be required. This procedure includes the removal and repair of the entire damaged area followed by the fitting of a crown over the remaining part of the tooth.

The bottom line is – In the event of a cavity, immediate dental attention is required. Cavities that are left untreated get larger and soon start to affect the deeper layers of the teeth. This can lead to severe toothaches, pain while eating, infections and eventual tooth loss, which really is no fun at all!

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What is a Dental Abscess?

A dental abscess or dentoalveolar abscess is a condition caused by the spread of plaque buildup within the soft tissue in the teeth or gums. It’s more dangerous than most of us think it is, especially when people ignore the symptoms in the beginning stages or are not careful about proper oral hygiene.

A dental abscess is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition

To get a better understanding of abscess and how it can be dealt with, let’s take a closer look at this dental condition.

Dental Abscess

What Causes a Dental Abscess?

To put it as simply as possible, a dental abscess is the accumulation of pus inside the teeth or gums. It usually originates from a bacterial infection that has manifested itself in the soft pulp of a tooth. The main cause of this dental condition is severe tooth decay, but it can also be caused by prior dental work or trauma which results in the chipping or breaking of a tooth.

Dental Abscess Types

The various types of dental abscess include:

  • Gingival abscess, which occurs in the gums and does not affect the tooth or its connective tissue fibers.
  • Periodontal abscess, which starts in the supporting bone tissue structures of the teeth.
  • Periaphical abscess, which begins in the soft pulp of the tooth.

What are the Symptoms of the Condition?

The main symptom of dental abscess is gnawing, sharp, throbbing, or shooting pain, which occurs in a variety of degrees. In most cases, the discomfort starts suddenly and becomes more intense and unbearable with time. In case of a severe abscess, the pain may spread from the affected area to the ears, neck, and jawbone.

Some other symptoms of a dental abscess include:

  • Fever
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Discomfort causing lack of sleep
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Pain in the affected area when biting and chewing
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks/food
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Swelling in neck glands, upper or lower jaw
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Red and swollen gums

How is it Diagnosed?

Gingival Abscess

A dental abscess can be diagnosed by a dentist using a dental instrument or performing an X-ray of the mouth. The X-ray looks for erosion of the bone around the abscess while the dental instrument probes the affected area for pain and sensitivity. The diagnosis needs to be performed by a qualified dental expert.

Treatment for a Dental Abscess

The treatment of an abscessed tooth aims at treating the infection, preserving the tooth, and preventing further dental complications. Various treatment options can be suggested by your dentist, depending on the severity of the condition. These include:

  • Incision – This option includes cutting the abscess and draining the pus, which contains bacteria, allowing healthy tissue to replace the previously infected parts of the gum.
  • Surgery – In the event of a recurring infection, surgery may be done to remove the diseased tissue or reshape damaged gum tissue. The surgery procedure depends on the extent and area of the bacterial infection.
  • Painkillers – These are used to reduce pain while a patient is awaiting treatment or to help manage any pain during the healing process. Painkillers should only be taken when prescribed by a dentist.
  • Antibiotics – To keep the infection from spreading, dentists may prescribe antibiotics, which can be taken together with painkillers. These will normally be prescribed both before and after the main procedure (incision/surgery).

Prognosis

The prognosis of dental abscess depends on how deep a dental infection has spread. If the infection is localized to the tooth, and is caught and treated in good time, the prognosis is usually very good and the patient does not suffer irrevocable damage.

However, if the infection is left untreated, it can penetrate into the jaw bone, parts of the head or neck and even throughout the body, resulting in a situation that is difficult to control. In worst-case scenarios, dental abscess can escalate to a life-threatening condition when swelling in the jaws and neck affects the airway.

Prevention is Better than Cure!

The best way to prevent a dental abscess is to ensure good dental hygiene through daily and proper brushing and flossing of the teeth. Both of these oral hygiene practices are extremely important as they help to remove plaque, thus ensuring it does not build up on the teeth or gums.

Regular dental check-ups can also help prevent abscess as they ensure tooth decay is discovered early and treated immediately, which prevents it from developing into a dental abscess in the future.

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Common Myths about Dental Treatment (and the Truth about Them!)

We’ve all heard a few urban legends and myths, like ‘Chewing gum takes 7 years to dissolve in your stomach’. Like that particularly unsettling myth that underestimates the human digestive system, dental healthcare is plagued by a variety of half-truths and fables that are absolutely baseless, but many of us still believe what our parents or friends said to scare us!

Dental myths have been around as long as dentists have!

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If anything, dozens of organizations have researched myths centered on a visit to the dentist and found some of them to be completely the opposite. In fact, you may well have been putting off an important treatment because of something you heard as a child, which can cause you a great deal of pain and trouble in the future.

Here’s a list of some common myths related to dental treatments, and the reality about them:

  1. Getting My Teeth Cleaned by a Dentist Will Make Them SensitiveYour teeth are well-protected, covered one of the strongest substances found in the human body – enamel. Sensitivity is primarily caused by exposure of dentine, the soft part of the tooth. Another common cause is a receding or diseased gum, which directly exposes the lower part of the tooth (which doesn’t have any enamel).Dentists use specially-designed blunt instruments that vibrate to shake off any build-ups, to minimize the erosion of the enamel. The truth is that you’re most likely to develop sensitivity in your teeth by brushing too vigorously or using too hard a toothbrush, not by getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist’s!
  2. Teeth Cleaning Can Make My Teeth LooseTeeth are not held in place by the ‘gunk’ between them, like plaque and tartar, as they’re actually anchored in the jawbone. When they’ve been cleaned and the build-up of plaque, tartar or bits of food (yes, those can get stuck where you can’t reach them) removed, the tooth may feel a little loose for a while, but that’s completely natural.In fact, tartar can bind teeth together unnaturally and cause your gums to become inflamed, to a point where they might need to be cut back. The slight mobility after cleaning is necessary, so the support structures around your teeth
    have an opportunity to re-align and recover.
  3. Teeth Cleaning Can Create Gaps Between My Teeth/Cause Blood LossTartar gradually builds up on your teeth and fills in any gaps in between them. Your tongue is a very sensitive organ and when you get your teeth cleaned, it suddenly discovers gaps where the tartar has been removed. This newly-discovered space is often thought to be damage caused by the cleaning.Nothing could be further from the truth! Your teeth naturally have a slight gap and these spaces only become apparent because of the sudden removal of the tartar that was stuck between them. When it comes to blood, there is next to none, unless you have an infected gum which was already bleeding before the procedure.
  4. Root Canals are Extremely Painful and Time-ConsumingRoot canals are pretty invasive and involve removing damaged tissue inside the tooth. The myth about them being excruciatingly painful would definitely have been true a couple decades back, because dentists back then didn’t have the sophisticated equipment and technology that’s the norm nowadays.Modern dental procedures and significant advances in anesthetics as well as tools have made root canals much less painful than they used to be. The other benefit from advancing technology is the ‘single-sitting root canal’, which cuts down the time and discomfort to a single dental visit.
  5. Bleaching Can Weaken My TeethWhen you get your teeth whitened by a dental expert, they use a weak peroxide solution. Unless it’s done too often, tooth whitening only removes stains and discoloration from the surface of your teeth, without affecting their strength or health. Rest assured that getting your teeth whitened at the dentist’s is quite safe and won’t ruin your teeth!There are a variety of products available for bleaching teeth (even in retail stores or at your local pharmacy), but dentists do not recommend these ‘DIY kits’. Bleaching should be done in moderation as it can cause sensitivity and weaken the enamel if it’s used excessively.
  6. If I Have My Upper Teeth Removed, I’ll Go Blind/Removing Lower Teeth Will Lead to Loss of VoiceThese particular dental myths should be quite apparently false, and of course, they have been completely disproven. Common sense should tell you that the eyes function on the basis of the optic nerves and your voice comes out of your vocal chords, which are both in no way dependent on the teeth, but hearing this fable in the schoolyard did give many of us a delicious shiver of fear, didn’t it?

Most dental procedure today are almost painless and aided by technological advancements, the chances of any complications arising are also much lower. While it’s unclear how and when these myths originated, one thing is for sure – they’ve been busted and completely debunked.

So if you’ve been putting off the visit to a dentist because of something you’ve heard or read about, think again and ask your dentist about them. Minor problems that aren’t dealt with in time can grow worse and might require major surgery later, so it’s a matter of a stitch in time (though hopefully, you won’t need one)!

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