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When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?

July 7, 2022

One of the best ways to ensure good oral health is daily brushing and flossing. This habit not only helps your teeth remain attractive when you smile but also keeps them strong and functioning so you can enjoy all your favorite foods. Yet, when sudden pain develops or teeth become sensitive, you may be left wondering what could possibly be wrong.

Symptoms such as these can result from different things, but if severe and persistent, you might need a root canal treatment. While this can create anxiety or concern, it may help to understand more about what a root canal treatment is and when it is needed.

What is Root Canal Treatment Exactly?

A root canal treatment is a specific procedure to address an infected tooth and involves a thorough clearing out of the inflamed inner pulp. It is essential to prevent the spread of infection into the nearby teeth, gums, jaw, and also into the bloodstream.

Your dentist will numb the area of the tooth first, or, if you choose, you can undergo sedation during the procedure. After creating a small incision in the top part of your tooth to gain access to the pulp, your dentist will gently remove the infected tissue inside.

Once cleaned, a resin material is used to fill the inner tooth to help keep the tooth structure intact. The last step then is to seal the small hole made to reach the tooth’s root.

At some point following the treatment, you most likely will need a dental crown or other restoration fitted over your natural tooth for stronger protection.

While root canal treatments fall under the specialty known as endodontics, many dentists today offer them right in their office, making it more convenient for patients.

Signs a Root Canal Treatment May Be Needed

Confusion often surrounds knowing whether or not a root canal treatment is needed. If you are concerned, look for the following signs and discuss them with your dentist.

Sharp, Severe Persistent Pain

If you have severe pain in a tooth that doesn’t go away, it’s a sign that something is seriously wrong. It may be a throbbing pain or only worsen as pressure is applied, such as when you bite down on that tooth or lay on that side of your face. The pain can be persistent or come and go at times. It may also radiate outwards to your other teeth, jaw, or face.

Tooth Sensitivity

Your tooth becomes increasingly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, such as when sipping coffee or eating ice cream. This sensitivity may feel like a sharp, sudden pain or a dull ache and is often a sign that the nerves and blood vessels in a tooth are damaged or infected.

Cracks or Chips in Tooth

Cracks or chips can form in teeth as a result of some type of trauma, often occurring during contact sports, falls, and when chewing ice or biting into nuts or hard candies. They can also occur due to unattended decay or infection inside the tooth.

Tooth Appears Discolored (Grayish black appearance)

Discoloration or darkening of the tooth can indicate an infection in the pulp. As the pulp dies inside the tooth, the blood supply reaching it is inadequate. Such damage to the roots can make the tooth appear grayish-black as a result.

Swollen, Tender, or Discolored Gums

Changes to your gums surrounding a tooth can also indicate that you have an infected tooth. If they are swollen, feel tender, and become slightly painful to your touch, it may be a sign that a root canal is indeed necessary. A darkening color to the gums can also indicate that the tooth is dying, and the gums may decay as well.

Fistula or Abscess

When bumps, called fistulas, develop on the gums, it can also be a sign that the tooth is infected and needs a root canal. Another sign is an abscess forming, usually at the base of the tooth or hidden from view and only detectable by X-ray.

When Is a Root Canal Treatment Needed?

Certain circumstances can confirm that a root canal is needed. These include:

  • A tooth has undergone several dental procedures already, such as fillings or crown replacements, deteriorating the structure of the tooth itself and exposing the inner pulp.
  • A cavity or tooth decay reaches deep within the tooth, breaking into its pulp and allowing harmful bacteria to enter. If not treated, it can destroy the remaining tooth, and the infection itself can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.
  • Severe trauma occurs to the tooth and results in nerve tissue damage.
  • You sustain a tooth injury that causes major chips, cracks, and breaks of the tooth’s structure.
  • There are unseen injuries to the tooth’s interior, found during an X-ray by your dentist.

Contact Pike & Valega, DDS Today for All Your Dental Needs

Concern about a dental issue or particular tooth can create anxiety and even apprehension when it comes to seeking treatment. The compassionate team at Pike & Valega, DDS understands this and is here to help you through the process, whether it requires a root canal treatment or other beneficial procedure. Contact our office today and make an appointment to find out more or to help solve any of your dental needs.

Are dental implants painful? What You Need to Know

April 22nd, 2020

Whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease, or injury, millions of people suffer tooth loss. Dental implants provide a strong replacement tooth root for fixed replacement teeth that are designed to match your natural teeth. Of course, there is one question all patients have about dental implants: are they painful?

Dental implant placement is performed under local or general anesthesia and is not considered a painful procedure. However, if the surgery is more complicated and involves bone or tissue grafts, there may be slightly more discomfort and swelling. At the same time, every patient has a different threshold for pain, so what may bother one person may not bother another. If you experience any pain from dental implants, there are several things can do to relive it.

Relieving Pain from Dental Implants

1. The initial healing phase can last up to seven to ten days. Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Motrin work well to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience. However, only take these if instructed to by Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega.

2. Once you leave our Poolesville and Rockville MD office, you can reduce inflammation and any swelling to your cheek or lip by holding an ice-pack on your face over the implant area.

3. Your gum will be tender for the first few days. We often recommended that you bathe your gums with warm salt water.

4. Steer clear of crusty or hard foods for the first day or two. Ice cream, yogurt, and other soft foods are ideal as your gums will be tender.

5. Dental implants are a relatively straightforward oral procedure. Many people take time off from work to have dental implant surgery, and then return to regular activities. However, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, there is nothing wrong with taking the day off, relaxing, and putting your feet up.

There is typically no severe post-operative pain with dental implants. When most people return for a follow-up appointment about two weeks later, they often say that getting a dental implant was one of the least painful procedures they’ve experienced.

The History of Dental Implants

April 15th, 2020

The earliest endeavors for dental implant tooth substitutes on record dates back to the Mayan civilization, to 600 AD. Archeologists recovered primeval skulls in which the teeth had been replaced with materials the ranged from wood, stones, and jewels to small pieces of seashells.

Like most scientific progresses, the finding of what makes todays dental implants so successful was unexpected. In 1952, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, named Dr. Branemark, placed a very small titanium cylinder into a bone to learn how the bone would heal. What he discovered was that the titanium cylinder had fused (melded to the bone.) Out of this experiment dental implants would be born within two decades.

In 1970s, modern dental implants made their first appearance. Of course, over the past four decades, the original dental implant has undergone several improvements in both structure and design, but has always been based on the original theme.

Dental implants were first made available to individuals who had lost all of their teeth and had difficulty wearing dentures, mainly because they had lost of much of their jawbone were dentures set. Today, most dental implants are used in place of dentures, for multiple teeth that are missing, or to replace a single tooth.

When dental implants were first designed, they were a one size fits all. The original dental implants were all the same circumference, while the length of each tooth varied depending on the type of tooth it was replacing. The dental implants were smoothed out and polished by a machine, but still did not produce the natural looking dental implants we have today.

Now, with the help of state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology, implants come in a wide variety of sizes and shape to match the teeth that are missing. The surfaces of today’s dental implants give them a more natural look and feel. In addition, the surface of the dental implant also attaches to the bone much easier and for a longer period of time.

Dr. Branemark's discovery has left an impression on dental professionals, all over the world, including Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega. If you are considering dental implants to improve your smile’s health, beauty, and function, be sure to contact our Poolesville and Rockville MD office to schedule an appointment.

How do I care for my dental implant?

April 8th, 2020

Dental implants are designed to be strong and durable, able to withstand the everyday rigors of chewing and biting, but to keep them functioning the way they should and looking their best, you need to care for them properly. Luckily, dental implant care is fairly straightforward; in fact, your implants can be cared for the same way you care for your natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing performed correctly, as well as regular visits with Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega to ensure your implants, the neighboring teeth, and your gums are as healthy as possible.

Before the actual replacement tooth is attached to the implant post, you may want to avoid harshly abrasive toothpastes, such as those with baking soda or those designed to get rid of significant staining. These abrasives may damage the threads of the posts or irritate the gum and soft tissue surrounding the posts, causing inflammation or bleeding.

As the implant heals and “settles in,” a special kind of protective tissue called “keratinized” tissue will form where the implant meet the gum. This natural development in healing helps ensure the implant post and the soft tissue beneath the gum line are protected from bacteria.

As you care for your implants, always look for signs of infection, like swollen, tender, or bleeding gums – just as you would with your normal teeth. If you're nervous about caring for your implants or you feel you may be reluctant to floss around them, ask our team to provide you with care tips and walk you through the process of flossing.

Your implants represent a considerable investment both in time and money, so it's only natural you'd want to be sure you're doing all you can to keep them in top shape. Remember: dental implants are designed to replace your natural teeth, and they're also designed to be cared for in much the same way as you care for your natural teeth. Although you may be a little nervous at first, you'll soon become as used to your new implants as you are to your natural teeth, and caring for them will become second nature.

More questions? Simply as at your next visit to our Poolesville and Rockville MD office!

This April, Let’s Celebrate National Facial Protection Month!

April 1st, 2020

Poor April. While other months celebrate romance, or giving thanks, or costumes and candy, April has—April Fool’s Day and a tax deadline. We might be forgiven for thinking these two dates seem more like warnings than celebrations.

So here’s a new topic for the April calendar: National Facial Protection Month! Take the opportunity this month to review your safety practices while you’re enjoying your favorite activities.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! In any activity or sport where humans come into contact with solid objects (including other humans) tooth injury is possible. A mouthguard will help protect you from dental injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And it’s not just your teeth—mouthguards protect your lips, tongue, and jaw as well.

You can buy mouthguards in stock sizes or shape-to-fit options, or you can have a guard custom made especially for you at our Poolesville and Rockville MD office. Custom mouthguards fit perfectly and are designed to make breathing and speaking easy and comfortable. And if you wear braces or have fixed dental work such as a bridge, a custom mouthguard can protect your smile and your appliances. Talk to Dr. Pike and Dr. Valega about mouthguards for some great advice on how to protect your teeth and mouth.

As long as we’re discussing facial protection, let’s look at some other ways to keep safe as you keep active.

  • Helmets

If there’s a helmet available for your sport, use it! Helmets are especially important for protecting athletes from brain injury and concussion, and they help protect the face and jaw as well.

  • Face Guards

If you’ve experienced a puck speeding toward you, or a defensive tackle hurtling your way, or a fast ball coming in at 90 miles an hour, you know the importance of wearing a face guard. These guards can help protect your eyes, face, teeth, and jaws. Many sports now recommend using face guards—it’s worth checking to see if your sport is one of them.

  • Eye Protection

And let’s not forget eye protection. Whether it’s safety glasses or a visor, protecting your eyes and the bones around them is extremely important. You can even get sports goggles or protective sports glasses with prescription lenses to keep you safe and seeing clearly.

We have the training and experience to help treat and restore injured teeth. But we will be the first to tell you, the very best treatment is prevention!

So here are a few suggestions for your calendar this month:

  • If you haven’t gotten a mouthguard yet, now’s the time. Tooth and mouth injuries occur in sports beyond hockey and football. If you play basketball, ski, skateboard, ride a bike—in fact, almost any sport where you can fall or make contact with a person or object—a mouthguard is a must.
  • If you need to replace an ill-fitting or damaged helmet and face guard, do it before your next game. And do replace a bike helmet if you’ve been in a crash—most likely it won’t be as protective, even if damage isn’t visible.
  • Talk to your eye doctor about protective eyewear if off-the-rack products don’t work for you.
  • If you are a parent or caregiver, make sure your child athlete has the proper facial protection—and uses it.
  • If you are a coach, make sure your athletes have the right protective gear—and wear it.
  • It’s also a great time to commit to using your protective gear every single time you’re active.

But, wait—these reminders are helpful and important, but weren’t we promised something to celebrate this April? Good catch! The great news is, using facial protection for sports and athletic activities gives you rewards you can celebrate all year: fewer injuries, fewer visits to the emergency room, and a beautiful, healthy, intact smile. Suit up!

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