Root Canal Therapy

Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury.

 

The Procedure:

  • A filled or decayed tooth with an abscess.
  • The filling is removed to access the cavity.
  • The root canals are cleaned and shaped to remove the tooth nerves.
  • Filling material (Gutta-perchas) are inserted to fill the root.
  • These are then cut-off, sealed and the tooth filled.
  • The abscess will reduce.
  • A crown may be necessary later.

Why is root canal treatment needed?

If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess.

If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.

Does it hurt?

No. A local anesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.

WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?

The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.

At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.

The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.


 

What will my tooth look like after treatment?

In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.

What if it happens again?

Root canal treatment is usually very successful. However, if the infection comes back the treatment can be repeated.

What if I don’t have the treatment?

The alternative is to have the tooth out. Once the pulp is destroyed, it can’t heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth.

Although some people would prefer an extraction, it is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible.

Will the tooth be safe after treatment?

Yes. However, it is better to restore the tooth with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.

What about aftercare?

Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth at least twice a day, preferably with fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary snacks, and keep them only to mealtimes if possible. See your dentist for regular check-ups.

 
 

Gum Disease Care

 

Why might I be susceptible?

Periodontal disease is the Number One cause of tooth loss amongst adults. This is because a certain number of people (15-20%) have immune systems that overreact to the bad bacteria in their mouths. When this overreaction occurs, the immune system attacks and breaks down the bone and tissue that surround the tooth. This destruction is not predictable and can occur sporadically. None of us knows if we are part of this 15-20% because we can’t usually feel or notice the onset of gum and bone (periodontal) disease. Both adults and children should be routinely checked for gum disease.

Keeping your gums in shape

Keep in mind that healthy gums DON’T BLEED. You are the key player on the hygiene team. If you don’t do the essential daily brushing and flossing, the rest of your dental team (the dentist and hygienist) is playing short-handed. And sometimes with everyone fighting the good fight, stubborn plaque and bacteria will require some new maintenance techniques for battling gum infection.


GUM DISEASE IS NOT CURABLE,
BUT IT IS TREATABLE,
AND IN MOST CASES, CONTROLLABLE.

 

Are you living at high risk for gum disease?

 

Smoking

Numerous studies have shown that smokers have more gum disease. Smokers have increased levels of tartar in the mouth, and experience more tissue irritation, which makes their gums more susceptible to disease. Smokers have more bone loss and heal less quickly than non-smokers.

Stress

When our immune system is stressed it is difficult to fight off the bacteria that cause gum infections.

Dental neglect

Avoiding the dentist is a lifestyle choice that puts you at risk of contracting diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums.

Floss or die!

Your hygienist or dentist works to prevent infection in your mouth from entering the bloodstream and reaching vital organs.

Heart disease

Gum inflammation products and bacteria in gum disease can cause heart disease, and in some cases, double the risk of a fatal heart attack. In addition, bacteria from your mouth may combine with blood-clotting cells called platelets, forming heart-stopping blood clots.

 

Stroke

New studies show that 70% of the fatty deposits of stroke sufferers contain bacteria, of which 40% comes from the mouth.

Diabetics

This group of people are more likely to have gum disease than most people and gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

Premature birth

Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be as much as seven times more likely to have a baby born early. Some research suggests that gum disease may increase the level of hormones that induce labour.

 

BRIDGES & CROWNS

 

BRIDGES

Bridges are usually made of a precious metal. If the bridge will show, porcelain is then bonded to the base. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base for strength.

ARE BRIDGES EXPENSIVE?

Although a bridge may seem costly they can be a wise investment that will give many years of good service. It will also improve your appearance and bite. A bridge uses the considerable skill of the dentist and technician, and in this way, it’s similar to ordering a piece of hand-made jewellery.

HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY BRIDGE?

You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.

CROWNS

A crown is a cap that is placed over a tooth and held in place by dental adhesive or cement.

CROWNS ARE USED FOR SEVERAL REASONS:

as a protective cover for badly decayed teeth or fractured teeth
as a permanent restoration for teeth with large fillings
to correct minor problems in natural teeth like spacing and irregular shape or severe discolouration.

WHAT ARE CROWNS MADE FROM?

Crowns can be made from a variety of materials. They can be made from plastic, ceramic or metal alloys. A combination of metal and ceramic is also possible to maximise strength and simulate the appearance of natural teeth.

 

HOW ARE CROWNS MADE?

Firstly, a thorough clinical examination is conducted with radiographs, by the dentist. The suitability for crowns is assessed and any preparatory work is carried out. Your dentist will also be able to advise on material choices, treatment sequence and any other concerns you may have.

At the second appointment, the teeth to be crowned are prepared. This involves reduction of the tooth size (usually under local anaesthesia) followed by an impression or mould of the prepared tooth. This trimming of the tooth is required to create space for the crown to be fitted. The mould taken is then sent to a laboratory where skilled technicians will fabricate the crown. In the meantime, a temporary crown is made and fitted onto the trimmed tooth.

At the third appointment, the temporary crown is removed and the tooth surfaces cleaned. The completed crown is tried on the tooth for fit, harmony with the bite, and appearance. Finally, the crown is cemented onto the prepared tooth with dental cement.

 

HOW LONG DO CROWNS LAST AND HOW DO I CARE FOR THEM?

Crowns are made of inert materials that do not deteriorate over time. However, the underlying tooth is still prone to decay and gum disease.

Ceramic on the surface may chip or fracture. Avoid chewing excessively-hard substances like ice or bones. Daily brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining good oral health as well as keeping the crown trouble-free. The most vulnerable portion of the crown is the margin or the junction between tooth and crown.

Regular check-ups will enable your dentist to detect any problems with your crown and recommend necessary treatment.

White Fillings

 

Most people have fillings of one sort or another but today, because we are much more conscious of our smile, we can choose a natural looking alternative – the composite or tooth-coloured filling.

A composite resin is a tooth-coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) first introduced in the 1960s. Originally only used for front teeth because of their softer nature, modern improvements to their composition make them generically suitable today.

Composite fillings are more difficult to place than silver fillings so may take your dentist 15-20 minutes longer to complete. Cosmetically they are superior to other fillings and are long lasting as well.

 

The main advantage of composite fillings is their aesthetic appeal. White fillings have always been considered less long lasting than silver amalgam fillings but there are now new materials available with properties comparable to silver amalgam, and these are proving to be very successful.

The life expectancy of your composite filling can depend on the depth of cavity and its position in the mouth. Your dentist is best positioned to advise you.