Root Canals Help to Save Your Teeth

One of the reasons for being afraid of going to the dentist, especially if you have a painful toothache, is that you think will get off the dentist’s chair with one less tooth in your mouth. Fortunately, tooth extraction is not favoured any more, as there are other treatments available to restore a painful and badly infected tooth which does not involve tooth loss. The main one is called root canal treatment, which is intended to repair a damaged tooth without removing it.

When a root canal is performed

This procedure is often recommended if the pulp, the soft tissue found inside your tooth which includes blood vessels, becomes infected. This can happen for a number of reasons including:

  • the presence of a deep cavity;
  • a number of repairs performed on the tooth that have disturbed the tissue;
  • damage to the tooth caused by an accident.

If this damage is not treated quickly enough the tissues surrounding the tooth’s root may become infected.  When this takes place, you will typically feel pain and the presence of a swelling. An abscess could form in the tooth and spread to the surrounding bone at the end of the tooth’s root. If an infection has occurred you could end up losing your tooth because the bacteria may damage the bone that’s responsible for keeping your tooth firmly connected to the jaw.

Your dentist will decide if a root canal is the best treatment for you after a thorough examination. The treatment usually takes up to two dental appointments to complete.

Procedure for a root canal

Before commencing treatment, an x-ray will be taken of the affected area so your dentist knows precisely the state of the tooth in the part that can’t be seen.

  • The area will be numbed so you don’t feel any pain.
  • The next step is creating a hole in the top of the affected tooth so the tooth’s nerve can be removed from inside the tooth from what’s called the root canal.
  • The dentist will then clean each of the two root canals.
  • Each of the root canals will be filled with a rubbery-like material which seals against any future infection.
  • A temporary filling will be fitted in place which can later be replaced with a permanent filling and a crown.

After root canal treatment

You will have to attend a follow-up visit once the root canal has been completed. This is when the temporary filling is removed and a permanent one is put in place. Sometimes a post is fitted into the tooth for a crown to be placed which improves the appearance of the tooth. This is a choice you can make after discussing the option with your dentist.

A root canal can be a permanent solution

Even though this is a tooth restoration, it can still last a life time if proper twice daily brushing and flossing takes place and twice yearly visits to your dentist are followed.

How You Will Know You Have a Cavity?

Cavities are dreaded by virtually anyone for a number of reasons one of the most important of which is the pain that is felt. It can prevent you from going about normal activities and it requires the taking of painkillers to reduce the effect. One important thing about a toothache caused by the presence of a cavity the pain won’t subside until the tooth has been treated by your dentist. The sooner you make an appointment the better.

The effect of a cavity

When bacteria are allowed to remain on your teeth for too long an outer coating called plaque begins to cover your teeth. When the bacteria feed off the plaque it leaves acid behind which starts to erode away the enamel on your teeth. This is the outer, tough coating which allows you to cut and chew food without doing damage to the structure of your teeth. Once a cavity is formed it allows bacteria to settle inside the hole causing further decay and in the end the tooth may have to be extracted to prevent the spread of the damaging bacteria.

How to detect a cavity

  1. The presence of pain in the area of a tooth whilst chewing.
  2. Pain is experienced while drinking and eating hot or cold substances or even sweetened products.
  3. The start of chips and cracks developing on your teeth.
  4. Noticeable darkened areas forming on your teeth.
  5. White spots or chalky areas can be spotted on your teeth indicating essential mineral loss.

The action you should take when you have discovered a cavity

You shouldn’t put up with any discomfort or even relieve the pain caused by the cavity by taking painkillers, as there are a number of different treatment options available. Therefore you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

What happens at the dental appointment?

Usually your dentist will begin with cleaning any damaging material from the cavity including bacteria. The hole will then be filled to bolster up the rest of the tooth so that it looks and feels intact. You can be rest assured that your dentist will use a filling material that’s both harmless and matches the colour of the adjacent teeth.

Cavity prevention is better than cure

Cavity formation and how to prevent it has been well researched and the simplest method to use is to brush and floss your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. There are a few people who have a higher chance of developing cavities than others. This can be partly solved by your dentist painting on a dental sealant onto the surface of your teeth. This helps to prevent the bacteria from beginning the process of cavity formation.

Pay a visit to your dentist regularly

The best thing you can do to help prevent the onset of a cavity is to ensure you don’t miss the regular six monthly dental check-up with your dentist. This will prevent the occurrence of any cavities and the likely negative effect.

Treatment Options for Painful Sensitive Teeth

Overall, if you attend regular dental appointments twice a year, your dentist will be able to advise you if your teeth need any additional care. This will help to avoid the possibility of developing sensitive teeth which are usually caused by something quite preventable. It’s not acceptable for you to ignore your teeth when they feel sensitive as you will be enduring unnecessary pain while your teeth won’t gain if you don’t make an appointment at your dentist to help identify and fix the problem.

How you will know if your teeth are too sensitive

If you have sensitive teeth when you sip a hot drink or eat something ice cold like ice cream you will feel a tinge of pain. It may not be so bad that you are holding your mouth in agony but it’s a warning sign to you that it’s time to find out what’s causing this to take place. When you floss and brush your teeth if you wince while engaged in this process it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist before it becomes any worse.

Possible causes of sensitive teeth are:

  • cavity formation and early tooth decay;
  • a fractured tooth or teeth;
  • worn fillings which expose sensitive parts of your teeth;
  • gum disease;
  • worn down tooth enamel;
  • exposed tooth root.

The above start to take place if damage has been done to the outer layer of your teeth and gums.If your teeth are totally healthy that means the enamel which is the hard protective layer covering your teeth is in good condition and no cavities are beginning to form exposing the inner more sensitive parts of your teeth. Additionally, below your gum line, there is another protective layer cementum that protects the tooth’s root. Under both the cementum and the enamel there is an inner layer called dentin.

What is the role of dentin?

Dentin isn’t quite as dense as cementum and enamel and it’s composed of tiny tubes. When the dentin has lost its protective coating of cementum or enamel these tiny tubes let the effects of both heat and cold from liquid or food as well as sticky and acidic substances gain access to the cells and nerves that are found inside the teeth causing a feeling of uncomfortable sensitivity. When gums recede the dentin can become exposed also causing uncomfortable sensitivity.

How to treat sensitive teeth

This is where your dentist fits into the picture. because he or she will decide after diagnosing the reason for the sensitivity what treatment options there are available in your situation.

  • Desensitizing toothpaste is one possible solution as it contains products that are able to block the feeling of sensitivity that is being transmitted from the surface of the tooth to its nerve.
  • Fluoride gel can be used by your dentist to strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce the sensitive feeling.
  • Your dentist can also correct the problem by using a crown, dental bonding or an inlay in order to sort out any damage or decay which is causing this uncomfortable sensitivity.
  • If necessary a gum graft could be installed if you have lost so much gum tissue that the root is too sensitive and needs an extra protective layer.
  • The final resort if nothing else would work your dentist may suggest a root canal.

Preventing sensitive teeth

Proper brushing and flossing and regular twice annual dental visits go a long way towards avoiding painful sensitive teeth.

All About Dental X-Rays

It’s a common feature of a dental visit for the dentist to take a series of x-rays of your teeth and gums. This is so your dentist knows exactly what is wrong with your teeth, particularly if you are experiencing some sort of pain, as that’s the reason you arranged an appointment.

X-rays and their purpose

X-rays are used for anyone of any age. They can pick up damage to the teeth in areas that are not visible, such as a developing cavity or gum disease and they can show how a child’s teeth are started to emerge so that both the child and the parent can be reassured that everything is developing as normal.

A panoramic dental X-ray

A panoramic dental x-ray captures the whole mouth in a single image and requires a small amount of ionizing radiation to do so. It is common practice amongst dentists and oral surgeons and is used so that the right treatment can be undertaken for both implants and extractions. It is also used to provide a plan of the mouth for custom made dentures and braces which must fit well.

There are certain things you need to do if your dentist has suggested a panoramic x-rays such as:

  • telling your dentist you are pregnant;
  • removing jewellery and glasses that could interfere with the image produced by the x-ray;
  • wearing the lead apron provided by your dentist which helps to protect the major part of your body from exposure to radiation.

Are dental x-rays dangerous?

Exposure to radiation is often a concern, but there has been no indication that dental x-rays or any other types of x-rays pose any danger at all to people’s health. In fact, dental x-rays are rated as posing the least threat as the radiation dose is so low. When compared to a CT scan it would take 1,200 mouth x-rays to be equal to a single CT scan.

Small amounts of radiation are present on a single air flight and an X-ray taken of your mouth is around 50 percent of the radiation found on a seven hour plane flight. The amount of radiation exposure in an x-ray examination which includes four intraoral images is equivalent to a 1-2 hour airplane ride. Another way of putting it is that a dental x-ray produces less radiation than the amount of natural radiation anyone is exposed to in a single day.

Safety always comes first in a dental surgery and the level of radiation is kept to the utmost minimum, as the dentists are experienced and know how to use x-ray equipment safely.

You can help your dentist

If you are a first time visitor to your dentist let the practice know about any previous x-rays you have had and if you have your medical records from your previous dentist these will be a great help. This will indicate to the dentist what sort of treatment you have had and if x-rays have been used before.



The Pitfalls of Avoiding the Dentist

When you are young and living with your parents they decide when you should go to the dentist. More often than not, you have no choice but to agree. As you get older, unless you have an imperfection with your teeth that embarrasses you – like crooked teeth or overcrowding, you may never think about going to the dentist until you get a toothache. You may never need to suffer from a toothache if you attend your dentist once every six months just for a check-up.

Some of the things that can happen if you don’t attend regular dental appointments

1. Plaque forming on your teeth

Brushing and flossing helps to reduce the build-up of plaque but it can’t remove everything. Eventually the plaque hardens into tartar and becomes the breeding ground for damaging bacteria. This can be removed if you attend your dentist every six months.

2. Tooth decay can go undetected

You won’t know if you have a cavity developing in your teeth until you start to feel pain. By the time this happens it may be hard for your dentist to treat this without you losing your tooth. A six monthly check-up will alert your dentist to the chance of a cavity forming and can stop it before further decay has set in.

3. Tooth loss can happen with little notice

There are many things that could lead to tooth loss and it’s not just age. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 years have on average 5 teeth missing already. Diet could be one factor while neglect could be another. This could be avoided by visiting your dentist regularly so any issues with your teeth can be detected and treated early.

4. Gum disease can start without pain

Your gums may be puffy and red but they may not hurt. This could signify gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease. This will be noticed by your dentist as long as you attend regularly.

5. Bad breath due to teeth neglect

You may just clean your teeth a bit more often or even use a breath freshener to cover up bad breath. In the long run this won’t do any good as the best remedy for this affliction is getting your dentist to remove all that build up of plaque and tartar. It’s the bacteria forming in the plaque that releases an unpleasant smell which can be removed by regular cleaning by your dentist.

6. Cavities need treating early

If you don’t get plaque and tartar removed by your dentist, cavities are more likely to form unnoticed. A small cavity is easy to remedy but larger cavities are sometimes impossible to fill and may need longer and more expensive treatment like a root canal and crown. A 6 monthly dental check-up can sort these sorts of problems out before it’s too late.

7. Tooth stains can be hard to remove

Even your regular brushing and flossing won’t be able to keep your teeth white and sparkling but a dentist can give your teeth that extra clean so you can be proud of the appearance of your teeth.


Just by visiting your dentist twice a year can save you from tooth loss and painful gum disease.

How White is White?

If you are an older person who looks into the face of your smiling son or daughter you can’t help but notice the radiant smile which shows off white shiny teeth. You turn your face to your mirror next time you’re in the bathroom and see this rather dull, off white colour which is nowhere near the same shade of white as your children’s teeth. As you age, the outer dental enamel wears away slowly and beneath it there lies dentin, which is not a brilliant white colour, but off white. It slowly starts to show through over time. So you see your teeth going through different shades of whiteness over time.

Food and drink may affect your teeth’s colour

It’s not just the eroding of your teeth’s enamel that causes this shade of colour change but also the types of food and drink you consume. If you smoke, tar and nicotine can stain your teeth. These stains are very difficult to remove by simply brushing and flossing. Red wine, coffee and curries may also leave behind an annoying stain. Restoring your teeth to their former glory requires a bit more than religiously brushing and flossing twice a day.

Your dentist may offer a teeth whitening solution

Dentists know how important it is for people to keep a charming, glowing smile that encourages happiness and brings about a higher self-esteem and more confidence. So these days they offer what is called in-office teeth whitening. Your dentist will discuss with you how white you want your teeth to be as there are different shades that can be achieved through in-office teeth whitening methods.

It is possible to achieve up to 9 shades whiter, but generally people are happy with improving the appearance of their teeth by 2 to 3 shades. A change of only two or three shades may make a significant difference to almost anyone’s smile. How white you can keep your teeth depends on how willing you are to give up the products that contribute to your stained teeth.

What happens at an In-Office Teeth Whitening appointment?

Your teeth will be polished using pumice first of all. Your dentist will then prepare your mouth for the teeth whitening solution. Because the product used is either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, it’s important your dentist protects the rest of your mouth and gums with a barrier, like rolls of gauze. Once this is done your dentist will paint on the whitening solution and sometimes a curing light is used to activate the product.

The process takes between 30 and 60 minutes. When the desired shade has been reached your dentist will ask you to rinse out your mouth and s/he may apply some fluoride which helps to relieve any sensitivity that sometimes occurs with this sort of treatment. Your dentist may ask you to come back for further treatment if the shade you desire has not been quite reached.

How to keep those newly whitened teeth.

You can help to reduce the frequency of visits to the dentist for teeth whitening if you minimise or avoid the following teeth staining products:

  • wine;
  • coffee;
  • tea;
  • sports drinks;
  • hard sweets;
  • curried food;
  • staining berries;
  • tomato sauce;
  • tobacco products.

If you can’t give up your favourite beverages, try using a straw, as this help to keep the products from coming into contact with your teeth.

Overall, in-office whitening is a safer way to improve the shade of your teeth and boost your self-esteem and confidence for years to come.

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How Good For Your Teeth is Charcoal?

What is called “activated charcoal” has been in use medically for some time, but only recently has it been promoted as a teeth whitening product. What do dentists think about it?

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not very much different from the charcoal that you might use on a barbecue. The main difference is that it has been treated with a gas that leaves it with small empty cavities. It’s a bit like a hard, black sponge! It is odourless, tasteless and completely safe if swallowed, but dentists are not convinced that it can’t do harm to the exterior of teeth if used without caution.

The claim that activated charcoal is good for teeth whitening

Activate charcoal can be bought in tablet form in pharmacies and health shops. You grind the tablets up and smear it onto your teeth where there are unsightly stains, preferably with a small amount of water mixed with the charcoal as a paste. Toothpaste with added charcoal can also be bought already mixed up.

Because charcoal is an abrasive and because small foreign objects stuck to your teeth adhere to the pores in the charcoal it does actually work to remove some stains and plaque on your teeth. These external stains tend to make your teeth appear unnaturally yellowish, so in fact the charcoal does work to some extent.

The limits of charcoal as a teeth whitener

Because the charcoal mostly acts as an abrasive, it only really affects external grittiness and superficial stains. It doesn’t penetrate any further into the teeth, so does not remove deeper stains. For this, your dentist can advise you of teeth whitening products that you can use yourself and buy at the same pharmacy as the charcoal. Even better, they may suggest that you book yourself in for a teeth whitening session or sessions with them as their techniques are much more effective in the long run.

Dangers of using charcoal

Although charcoal in powder or paste form is completely inert and safe if you swallow it, dentists do say that it can be dangerous if used too abrasively. The risk of using charcoal with too much pressure is that it can lead to erosion of the enamel on the outside of the teeth. Enamel helps to protect the more delicate and biologically important interior of the teeth.

Better teeth whitening techniques

There are a number of substances that can help to penetrate the outer layers of your teeth quite well and tend to oxidise the stains on them. Dentists prefer to use a bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide to remove deeper stains.

Prevention is best

Even better than dealing with unsightly and embarrassing stains after they have appeared, there are several ways to prevent them from developing. Being careful of your diet and avoiding food or drinks that stain teeth like coffee, red wine and curry, can help as well as regular but thorough brushing and flossing can keep your teeth a more natural white appearance.

All-on-4 The Denture Solution You May Not Know About

There are many reasons for early tooth loss and it might not just be associated with poor oral hygiene. You may have had a car accident or have hit your face while playing sports leading to lost or damaged teeth. Not paying attention to your teeth throughout your life may lead eventually to tooth loss.

Once it happens you are faced with several basic issues. One is that you may find difficulty cutting and chewing your favourite foods, as well as foods like apples and crisp vegetables that need a bit of preparation by your teeth before they can be swallowed.  The second is whether you still have enough teeth or do you need some replacements? There are a number of tooth replacement solutions available which really depend on how many teeth need replacing.

The use of All-on-4 dentures

Fortunately, denture research is constantly looking at better ways to fit replacement teeth and has now come up with what is called the All-on-4 denture. This denture solution is comparatively new as it was first available in Portugal in 2000 but plays quite a different role from conventional removable dentures as it is permanently fixed into the mouth and cannot be removed. This advantage means that the recipient no longer has to be worried about the denture slipping out of place or falling out completely at precisely the wrong time.

The process for fitting All-on-4 dentures

It might seem a bit odd that all remaining teeth have to be removed before the new dentures are fitted. On the same day that the remaining teeth are extracted 4 dental implants are placed into position in different areas of the mouth. After 24 hours the new denture is fixed permanently into place using the dental implants as the fixing points.

Before the fitting of All-in-4 is confirmed a full dental examination will need to take place first. At this point a CT scan will be run. This is the key to assessing your suitability for the implants. Your jaw bone needs to be checked for density as this helps to decide exactly where the implants can be placed in firmly enough.  If all goes well with this and once further x-rays have been taken an appointment will be made to remove any remaining teeth.

Once this has been completed the mouth will be cleaned thoroughly to eliminate any bacteria. After this 2 titanium implants will be fixed in the front part of your mouth while 2 longer implants will be fixed in at the back. On top of these will be glued permanent dentures that use the titanium posts as anchors.

The advantages of All-on-4 permanently fixed dentures

  • New teeth are quickly put in place permanently;
  • Facial appearance is markedly improved;
  • Food choices are greater;
  • Easy to care for.

An All-on-4 denture has no problems handling all the most nutritional foods and at long last you can smile confidently with your family and friends. There will be no secret whispers behind your back as the dentures won’t slip out at an embarrassing time.

See your dentist today to see if All-on-4 is right for you.

Mini Dental Implants May Help Restore Your Smile

Most of you these days don’t like the embarrassment of missing teeth, especially in the front of your mouth, which can have such a profound effect on your smile.  There have always been ways to help restore the unsightly appearance of a gap filled smile such as installing a bridge using two good adjacent teeth and filling the gap with a new artificial tooth supported by the bridge.

However, this is not such a permanent solution as installing a dental implant into the place where teeth are missing. The larger dental implants do have some drawbacks but these have been replaced by mini dental implants as they don’t require the presence of so much bone as full dental implants do.

Mini dental implants

They have exactly the same structure as the larger implants but they are smaller. They are made up essentially of 2 parts. One of these is a titanium post at the end of which a ball is attached and the other is a socket which has a rubber O-ring.  This enables the artificial tooth to be fixed to the post. Once in place they are able to provide support for crowns, bridges and dentures.

Dentists can normally install mini implants in just one single visit and only a local anaesthetic is required. By the end of the same day the new teeth are quite usable.

Benefits of mini dental implants

Mini dental implants let you eat and speak normally again, as well as giving you the confidence to smile without worrying about revealing unsightly gaps between your teeth. An implant doesn’t loosen up like a denture could. Because the dental implants are fixed independently they benefit your oral health overall because they are not anchored to adjacent teeth as happens with bridges. This means you can keep your remaining teeth and gums free.

Caring for mini implants

Once the mini dental implants are in place they only require the care you normally give to your natural teeth. That is you brush twice a day and floss once a day using a fluoridated toothpaste. The gums may be a little sensitive following the mini dental implant so you could use a soft-bristled toothbrush which will be to your benefit.

Who makes a good candidate for mini implants?

Your dentist will offer his or her opinion on the suitability of mini dental implants to replace any of your missing teeth. You will need to have healthy gums and sufficient bone which can support the titanium post that is fixed into it. Normally, mini implants don’t face quite the same problems as usual sized dental implants and they don’t require as much bone.

There is a process for fixing in place a mini implant and once it’s in place it will need to heal before a permanent artificial tooth is fixed permanently in position. In the meantime a temporary restoration like a crown will be fitted enabling you to use the new mini implant.

Regular Dental Check-Ups Should Start at a Young Age

The most recent advice for child oral hygiene is that your child should start regular visits to your family dentist as soon as he or she has reached the age of one year or within six months of the emergence of the first tooth.

Why a child needs to start dental check-ups so early

As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure” and the earlier you get your child to the dentist the better. Your child is exposed to much the same diet as you are, so it’s necessary to ensure that no early dental problems occur as a result of this. You can help your children start a good oral health routine by teaching them how to keep their teeth clean. There are two important recommended tooth cleaning techniques which are brushing and flossing.


This is the most important teeth cleaning method and should commence as soon as your child has teeth that need a clean. Plaque will build up just as much on a young child’s teeth as your own and if left can start the spiral of tooth decay. As soon as you see your child’s baby teeth starting to emerge this is the time to begin to gently clean them. At this stage up to the age of 3 years you can use a damp soft cloth. After that you can introduce a soft bristled toothbrush dabbed with a small amount of toothpaste.  You should be in charge of the tooth cleaning at this stage and make sure your child doesn’t accidentally swallow the paste. When your child is 7 years old you can introduce him or her to brushing on their own with supervision to begin with.

How to use the best brushing technique

There is a right way to brush teeth and your child should start with this as described below:

·         Brush gently along and above the gum line in small circles

·         Hold the brush against each tooth at an angle

·         Brush each tooth carefully and slowly

·         The back and surface of each tooth

·         Brush the mouth’s roof and the tongue

·         Brushing time should be at least 2 minutes

·         Rinse the mouth of surplus toothpaste.

How often should brushing take place?

Children aren’t treated any different from adults and brushing at least twice a day is recommended. The suggested time is just after rising in the morning and just before going to bed. This is the minimum and if you can encourage your child to brush after meals all the better.


This cleaning method is just as effective as brushing and can begin as soon as your child’s first 2 baby teeth erupt next to one another. You should use soft, but flexible, floss.


How to carry out the best flossing technique

There is a technique to flossing and it’s not just running the floss between 2 adjacent teeth.

·         First of all you should teach your child to wrap the floss’s ends around the index fingers leaving a little extra at the end

·         The floss should be held taut and run up and down each tooth’s side at the gum line

·         A new section should used for each 2 teeth.

·         The molars at the back shouldn’t be neglected.

How often should flossing take place?


This process should happen once a day at least, if your child has eaten something sweet, or if a piece of food has become lodged between some teeth.

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