(This is the second post in our 3-part series, which focuses on the useful videos featured on our Patient Education page.)
As our oral healthcare patient, we strive to ensure that you understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it. We believe that it’s our responsibility to provide you with easy access to the resources that serve to properly educate you on a specific dental procedure or topic. Our mission? To ensure that you feel comfortable with any dental health care decisions that we make together.
On our Patient Education page, you’ll find a series of informational videos that outline some of the more common services and treatments that we provide. In this three-part blog post series, you can expect an overview and a summary of the content in these videos to help prepare you for what to expect. In our previous patient education post, we took a look at: manual vs. electric toothbrushes, proper brushing technique, proper flossing technique, progression of tooth decay, and gingivitis.
…and now, onto the next set!
An endodontic abscess can be described as a pocket of pus that forms at the root of the tooth due to a bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can spread to other areas and cause consequences to your overall health. Here are additional details:
- An endodontic abscess generally originates in the inner pulp of the tooth, and is caused by either tooth decay or dental trauma.
- If/when it spreads, our bodies form a sac to attempt to contain it; this can cause pressure and painful sensations.
- Signs & symptoms may include: throbbing toothache; swelling in the face, gums and jaw; pain while chewing; foul breath; and a foul taste in the mouth if the abscess is draining pus.
Do note that an endodontic abscess will not heal on its own. Further, if it’s not treated, it can spread to the jawbone and other parts of the head and neck. It’s imperative that you work closely with your dentist to treat an endodontic abscess as early as possible to minimize the harm.
Filling vs. Crown (CAD/CAM)
When the structure of a tooth has been compromised by decay, your dentist may recommend repairing it with a filling or a crown. There are some differences to note:
- A filling is a great option when repairing a small area of decay. It replaces the damaged portion of the tooth while preserving the majority of the tooth’s natural structure.
- A cavity can be filled with a material called composite, which mimics the original tooth’s natural shade and sheen, and often performs for a number of years.
- The benefits of a filling include: less in cost than a crown & often completed within a single appointment. Drawbacks are that a filling typically has a shorter comparative life span for restoration than a crown, and they do pose the potential for long term issues with recurring decay and cracking. When a filling cracks, a more extensive procedure is required to return the tooth to its optimal shape and function.
- A crown over the tooth is the best treatment option for when the tooth has been weakened by extensive decay. With a crown, we reduce the surface area of the entire tooth to remove the decay and cover it entirely with a restoration made of ceramic or composite.
- The benefits of a crown include: durability and longevity that eventually offset the higher cost; although they’re more involved than fillings, with the use of digital scanning, an in-office fabrication can mean the procedure may be completed in one appointment.
Both fillings and crowns are good solutions in the right situation when it comes to repairing decayed or damaged teeth.
Prophy vs. Scaling & Root Planing
If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, then your dentist may recommend an advanced cleaning procedure called scaling & root planing as the first step in treating it. Do note that there are differences between a routine dental cleaning and scaling & root planing:
- A routine dental cleaning is designed for prevention and is performed every 6 months. Its purpose is to keep gum disease & tooth decay from developing and involves a hygienist: cleaning teeth above the gum line; removing plaque, tartar and stains; as well as polishing your teeth.
- Scaling & root planing is a specialized procedure that is meant to be an initial treatment designed to remove plaque and bacteria deposits that caused periodontitis, and to halt the spread of the disease.
- During a scaling & root planing procedure, a dentist has to remove excessive calculus and bacteria deposits that have developed deep beneath the gum line. This is usually performed with a hand instrument and an ultrasonic cleaner to separate the calculus from the tooth.
- Further, any uneven surfaces of the teeth will be smoothed out to discourage additional bacteria from attaching; this may require multiple appointments in stages to ensure comfort.
A scaling & root planing procedure is a vital treatment in order to control the spread of periodontal disease & to prevent additional complications to oral and systemic health. Once the procedure is completed, your dentist will create a maintenance schedule that best promotes the ongoing rehabilitation of the gum tissue.
Bone Graft with Immediate Implant Replacement
In instances where a tooth has been lost and the surrounding bone has been damaged, a bone graft may be performed along with the implant to ensure proper structural support to endure forces placed on it by chewing. Here are the steps:
- The dentist begins by preparing the site for placing the dental implant.
- Next, the implant body is placed into the bone.
- Once it has been placed, synthetic bone is packed around the implant and covered with a special healing membrane and cap.
- The area is then given time to heal; while it’s healing, the dentist can provide a temporary tooth to fill the empty space.
- During the final restoration, the graft solidifies.
Once it has fully healed, the damaged bone will regain its original strength and stability. During a subsequent appointment, the final restoration will be placed onto the implant.
Fixed Hybrid Dentures
If you require the replacement of all teeth in the upper or lower arch of your mouth, then your dentist may recommend screw-retained dentures with dental implants. These are also known as fixed hybrid dentures. The goal is both to improve your appearance by replacing your missing teeth as well as the overall functions of eating and speaking. Do note that this added stability of fixed restoration with the use of implants will require multiple appointments to place your dental implants and design dentures.
- Screw-retained dentures are a prosthesis placed in your mouth that contain replacement teeth.
- They are mounted in a base of pink resin formed over a metal structure to create an exact fit over your existing gums.
- The dentures are secured in place using dental implants (artificial roots over the bone).
- The design is intended to preserve the surrounding bone from shrinking over time without a tooth/root structure to support it.
Your dentist will take an impression of the area to create a set of temporary dentures. The diagnostic images are taken to plan the placement of the dental implants; the area is then prepared and the implants are placed.
- If your dentist feels that the implants are stable enough to handle the force of biting, then temporary dentures are secured to abutments.
- After monitoring the healing process, new impressions of the mouth will be taken to create the final dentures once the implants have fully healed.
- During follow up appointments, your dentist will check for proper fit and bite alignment of the final denture.
- Once all adjustments have been made, your final denture will be fixed into place.
A fixed hybrid denture is a specially designed treatment to replace natural teeth in a way that improves your appearance and provides optimal function for eating and speaking.
Stay tuned for the final part of our patient education video series where we’ll take a look at: composite vs. amalgam fillings, root canal treatments, bridges vs. implants, periodontitis, and temporomandibular joint disorder.
As always, feel free to contact us at any time with any oral health questions!