Posts for: April, 2016
A tooth extraction is a procedure to remove a whole tooth from its socket. This procedure is done for a number of reasons, but most often as a way to protect you from serious oral and general health concerns. It is considered the last option when all other treatment options have been explored. Learn when tooth extractions are necessary so that you and your Stamford dentist can make the right decision for your overall dental health.
When a Tooth Is Completely Decayed
In many cases, a tooth can be saved if it is decayed due to an infection with root canal therapy. But if an infection isn't treated promptly, it can advance to the point where an extraction may be necessary. If a rotted tooth stays rooted for a long period of time, the infection can cause other complications in the body.
When Your Wisdom Teeth Are Causing Problems
One of the most common reasons why your Stamford dentist might recommend a tooth extraction is if you're having a problem with your wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth, also called the third molars, are teeth that emerge around the age of 20 years old, and unfortunately, they sometimes bring pain and dental problems. When they become impacted (don’t emerge completely) or grow in crooked, an extraction may be necessary.
When Gum Disease Has Progressed Beyond Repair
Gum disease is an infection that causes the gums to separate from the teeth. They become red, inflamed, painful and bleed when you brush them. This can be rectified with root planing, periodontal surgery, and bone grafting, but if it’s allowed to progress to the point where there is no more bone tissue to anchor the tooth, an extraction may be recommended.
Talk to Your Dentist
After viewing your X-rays and examining your teeth, your dentist can determine if your teeth can be saved with therapy or if an extraction may be necessary. It’s important to explore all options to keep your original teeth whenever possible. Call the Stamford office of Philip J. Bauer, DMD & Associates at (203) 327-1613 today to request an appointment.
Most first-time root canal treatments achieve their purpose in saving an internally decayed tooth and extending its life to match those of the patient’s non-decayed teeth. Occasionally, though, a root canal-treated tooth may become re-infected by decay.
There are a number of reasons for this: the permanent crown meant to add further protection against decay may have been delayed, giving bacteria an opening to re-infect the tooth; it’s also possible the original seal for the pulp chamber and root canals after filling wasn’t sufficient to prevent bacterial contamination.
There‘s also another reason that’s very difficult to foresee — the presence of narrow, curved root canals in the tooth that can pose complications during the procedure. Some of these known as accessory or lateral canals branch off the main canals to create a complex network that’s difficult to detect during the initial procedure. If they’re not cleaned out and filled during the procedure any tissue trapped in them can remain infected and ultimately die. If these canals also open into the periodontal membrane at the attachment between the teeth and bone, the infection can spread there and become a periodontal (gum) infection that can trigger future tooth loss.
Fortunately, a reoccurrence of infection isn’t necessarily a death sentence for a tooth. A second root canal treatment can correct any problems encountered after the first treatment, especially complications from accessory canals. It may, though, require the advanced skills of an endodontist, a dental specialist in root canal problems. Endodontists use microscopic equipment to detect these smaller accessory canals, and then employ specialized techniques to fill and seal them.
If you encounter pain or other signs of re-infection for a tooth previously treated with a root canal procedure, contact us as soon as possible. The sooner we can examine and diagnose the problem, the better your tooth’s chances of survival by undergoing a second root canal treatment.
If you would like more information on tooth preservation through root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Accessory Canals.”
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”