(This is the final post in our 3-part series, which focuses on the useful videos featured on our Patient Education page.)
As our oral healthcare patient, we believe that it’s our responsibility to ensure that you understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it. This is one of many reasons why we provide you with easy access to the resources that serve to properly educate you on a specific dental procedure or topic. Our goal? 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: endodontic abscesses, fillings vs. crowns, prophy vs. scaling & root planing, bone grafts with immediate implant replacements, and fixed hybrid dentures.
…and now, onto the final set!
Composite vs. Amalgam Fillings
The two most common materials used to repair cavities are composite and amalgam fillings. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two when it comes to restoration:
- Amalgam is a silver filling made of a mixture of metals. It’s an extremely durable material and is often used to repair cavities located in the back of the mouth. One of the drawbacks of amalgam fillings is that these do not mimic the tooth’s natural color and they do not bond to the tooth material. This means that cracks can develop and that your teeth will be more heat and cold sensitive.
- Composite fillings more closely match the shade and natural color of your tooth. They are optimal for restoring teeth located in the front of the mouth and, because they’re physically bonded to the tooth, they’re the more aesthetically attractive option.
Always consult with your dentist about which filling option is most suitable for your unique needs.
Root Canal (Re-)Treatment
A root canal retreatment may be performed when the initial treatment doesn’t properly heal. A root canal may not fully heal due to tooth decay or trauma, so the root canal retreatment is done to remove the infection and save the tooth.
- During the root canal retreatment procedure, the dentist will remove existing restorative materials in order to regain access to the root canal.
- Once these materials are removed, the canals are cleaned for retreatment.
- The root is then refilled with a special sealing material and the opening at the top of the tooth is re-sealed.
Once the infection is removed, a new crown is placed over the tooth restoring it to proper tooth form and function.
Bridge vs. Implant
Bridges and implants are both reliable solutions for replacing a missing tooth and restoring function to the affected area. Generally, both require multiple appointments to complete. Here is a closer look at each option:
- A bridge is a restoration that attaches a replacement tooth by using the teeth on either side of the missing tooth for support. The primary advantage of a bridge is the time it requires to fully complete. A disadvantage of a bridge is that it requires reducing the neighboring teeth for support, which may involve removing healthy tooth material. Because a bridge does not replace the missing root structure, you do run the risk of experiencing increased bone loss over time. Additionally, bridges require extensive maintenance to keep them clean & healthy over time, including frequent cleaning with a special threaded floss.
- A dental implant serves as an artificial root that anchors a replacement tooth in place. A major advantage of a dental implant is that it substitutes the root structure of the missing tooth, meaning that it continues to help protect and preserve the area. Because it’s a self-supporting restoration, it can be cared for like any natural tooth. One drawback is the time span needed to complete the procedure, though your dentist can typically place a temporary tooth in the space while you heal.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that causes significant damage to the gums and bone, and can eventually jeopardize the health of your teeth. Here is some more information:
- Healthy gums are typically a pinkish color; symptoms of periodontitis may include: red, swollen gums, gums that recede from your teeth, loose teeth and bad breath.
- If the infection is deep below the surface, then your gums may not display many external symptoms.
- If periodontitis is not treated, it can lead to major gum recession and bone loss, which can lead to tooth loss as well as other health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease.
Once your dentist has restored your mouth to a healthy state, you can prevent further complications by scheduling regular dental appointments and by maintaining a proper home hygiene routine.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that involves the joints, muscles, nerves and teeth involved with jaw movement. It could be related to one or all components noted above. If these components are not working in sync or the chewing system is not properly aligned, then the result may be uncomfortable and/or painful symptoms. Here is additional information:
- TMD is a complex hinge that joins the lower jaw & skull together. It works much like a ball & socket, but boasts the unique ability to glide forward via muscles, ligaments and fibrous tissues.
- Factors of TMD may include: misalignment of the jaw, the way your teeth touch, tooth clenching or teeth grinding, arthritis, posture issues and even anxiety or stress.
- This may lead to the inflammation of the TMD joint and/or its surrounding tissues, which triggers pain receptors throughout the head, neck and face.
- You may experience jaw pain or soreness throughout the face and neck, jaw clicking, restricted jaw movement (or locking), sensitive teeth, loose teeth, earaches and headaches, among other symptoms.
Because of the wide range of TMD symptoms, it can be challenging to correctly diagnose. If your dentist suspects that you may be experiencing TMD, s/he will likely perform a physical examination of the area and chewing system as well as take diagnostic images to get a closer look. makes it challenging to correctly diagnose
There are a variety of treatments available to assist with alleviating TMD discomfort, so it’s critical that you work closely with your doctor to create a treatment plan that best meets your needs.
As always, feel free to contact us at any time with any oral health questions!