Root Canal Therapy
Infection within a tooth can be treated either by extraction or with root canal therapy, the latter generally being the preferred option.
The purpose of root canal therapy is to save the tooth. This is done by removing the affected pulp and cleaning the nerve canals with an anti-bacterial preparation, followed by the placement of a temporary filling inside the tooth until a permanent filling and/or crown can be placed.
The immediate benefit of root canal therapy is significant pain relief. In the longer term, the treatment allows for preservation of the tooth. The alternative, being removal of the tooth, results in a space, which should then be filled with a dental bridge or an implant and crown – both expensive treatments that require ongoing maintenance.
At Walkerville Dental our Dr. Michael Leventis will always strive to save a tooth, where possible, rather than remove it.
The following four scenarios list typical indications for root canal therapy and how we address them.
1. Inflamed Teeth
Tooth damage involving inflammation of the pulp (nerve) can be highly painful and can only resolve with endodontic treatment.
How we can help ?
Often the patient is distressed and in considerable pain. A prompt response from one of our Dental Board–registered root canal specialists can relieve the distress and pain for the patient.
What we do?
Treatment involves the removal of the inflamed tissue, full preparation of the canal systems and full obturation (blocking up). This process ensures that bacteria are prevented from multiplying in the canal spaces. Prognosis is usually very good and success rates are generally high with this treatment.
2. Primary Infection of a Tooth
This situation is when bacteria have infected the root canal system of a tooth; it can be worse than inflammation of the tooth alone. Primary infection of a tooth can lead to an abscess in the jawbone, which – if left untreated – can spread to the rest of the body.
How we can help?
Using the most modern equipment we can make sure the canals are as clean as possible, then seal them.
What we do?
Treatment involves locating all the nerve canals in the affected tooth, then removing bacteria from the contaminated root canal system through the use of irrigants, hand instruments and rotary equipment. This three-pronged approach allows for both chemical and mechanical removal of the bacteria. Once the root canal system is clean, your clinician then places a soft rubber-like material, called Gutta Percha, extending to the tips of the root.
3. Re-treatment of a Previously Root Treated Tooth
If previous root canal treatment has not achieved a satisfactory result, or the canals have become reinfected, a further attempt can be made to remove infection by re-treating the tooth. Reinfection of a root-treated tooth is uncommon but can occur in a tooth with a complex structure. It is more difficult to disinfect teeth involved in re-treatments as the existing root filling first needs to be removed, introducing a range of procedural risks.
How we can help?
We can search for any extra nerve canals that may have been missed before.
What we do?
Re-treatment may involve the removal of the original root filling. We also check for any further factors that could compromise the tooth (such as perforations and fractures). We then advise you of our findings so you may choose whether or not to undergo treatment with a relatively poor prognosis.
4. Surgical Treatment
In some cases of re-treatment of a previously root treated tooth, surgery may be required. This could be due to the need to avoid damage to a relatively recent crown or if an untreated portion of the root is not accessible for, or not responsive to, routine cleansing.
We can assess the causes of failure and advise surgery only if it is the best option and has a good prognosis.
Often we can avoid surgical treatment by first repeating the original root canal treatment of the tooth, which is our preferred option if available. If, however, surgical treatment is deemed the only option, we would apply local anaesthesia before opening the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and remove any inflamed or infected tissue. A small portion of the root tip is also removed. A filling may be placed to seal the end of the root canal and a few sutures are then placed to help the tissue heal.
Each one of your teeth is meant to complement its neighbouring and opposing teeth. Losing one tooth not only has a cosmetic effect but also has a detrimental impact – which can be almost immediate – on the neighbouring and opposing teeth. A typical outcome is a misaligned bite that causes teeth to move or spread out to fill the space.
Therefore the clear advantage of root canal therapy over tooth removal is that it saves a natural tooth and, in so doing, preserves your natural occlusion (bite). Modern dentistry offers many solutions to the loss of a tooth but none of them is as desirable, in terms of both cosmetics and function, as keeping your natural tooth.
The main disadvantage of root canal therapy is that it does weaken the remaining natural tooth to some extent, though this can be significantly overcome with the fitting of a crown or similar restoration.
Immediately after root canal treatment, while the area is still numb, you should be careful with what you eat and drink so as not to cause any damage to the treated tooth. We recommend that you avoid any hot, hard, crunchy or sticky foods or drinks, and that you try to avoid chewing on the treated side of your mouth while the temporary filling is in place.
As a follow-up treatment, it is often advisable to have a crown or similar tooth restoration fitted so as to protect the already compromised tooth and aim to prevent cracking or splitting of the remaining tooth structure. Once such protection is in place you can eat and drink as normal.
It’s important to keep up good oral hygiene after root canal therapy. You can still clean your teeth as normal, though we recommend you be gentle when brushing and flossing the treated area at first. As well as your home routine, you also need to follow up with regular check-ups with your general dentist and cleans with your hygienist to ensure good oral health.
You can expect many years of functionality from any tooth treated by a specialist endodontist. However, for a tooth to require root canal therapy, it has usually already suffered decay, wear or trauma, any of which can compromise the structural integrity of the tooth. Because of this, there are instances in which root canal treatment does not achieve a definitively favourable result long-term.
Root canal therapy is not painful as it is only done when the tooth has been completely numbed. It will actually ease the pain and suffering caused by an infected tooth. However, for many people the thought of undergoing any dental treatment, no matter how simple or complex, produces feelings of anxiety.
After your root canal treatment your tooth may be sore or tender. This is a normal symptom of your body’s healing process and usually lasts only a few days following your treatment.
It is important to establish a good oral hygiene routine from a young age, and at Smile Solutions we want to make going to the dentist a positive experience for all children. We believe this can prevent any future anxiety associated with dental check-ups or treatment and will set the foundation for good oral hygiene habits into adulthood.
We have a great dental team on hand to address all of your child’s dental needs, as well will refer to a specialist orthodontists if your child needs orthodontic treatment. Laughing gas is available for your child if need be
Our team of hygienists and dental therapists is integral to our practice. While we should all be brushing and flossing our teeth twice a day, it’s also important to schedule regular appointments for dental check-ups and oral hygiene services. Oral hygiene is not just about cleaning teeth; hygienists focus on maintaining optimum gum health and the prevention of dental conditions such as decay and erosion.
Unless you require specialist dental care (which means you need treatment more often), you should be seeing your hygienist every six months to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy. S/he will remove any plaque and calculus (tartar) from your teeth, and if any fundamental problems are found these can be addressed by our other clinicians without delay.
When harmony between the teeth, the facial muscles, and the temporomandibular joints no longer exists, symptoms of what has been identified as TMJ/ TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) arise. TMD is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed or non diagnosed conditions, and many patients may go for years without treatment. The symptoms number in the hundreds and don’t affect people equally and has made accurate and consistent diagnosis of the condition very difficult. Although this problem may arise on it’s own, it may be brought on by things such as increased physical and emotional stresses as well as physical injuries, such as whiplash. Menopause or other hormonal changes, are also factors that may impact chronic pain as some patients unconsciously grind and/or clench their teeth in response to increased stress. Most people who grind their teeth do it while they are asleep and may not know they are doing it. Other causes are loss of molar teeth, a “bad” bite or arthritis. The effects of TMD are far reaching and range from mild to severe. A list of the most common symptoms appears to the right, and it’s not unusual to have multiples of them all at the same time. Children as well may be affected at any age.
Symptoms of TMJ include:
Clicking or popping of the Jaw
Neck Soreness or Stiffness
Pain in the Jaw Joints
Unexplained Tooth Loss
Headaches and Migraines
Worn, Chipped, Cracked or Broken Teeth
Numbness in the Arms and Fingers
Shoulder, Neck and Back Pain
Difficulty Swallowing Receding Gums
If a thorough examination shows that the bite may be a contributing cause of your problem, then a temporary appliance may be fabricated that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. This appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it all your teeth meet at exactly the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed. Long term use of pain medications can often mask the symptoms, do not treat the underlying cause and may have undesirable effects side effects. The goal is a conservative, non-surgical and preventive approach for long term comfort and overall health. Trust your teeth to a dentist who does much more than improve the appearance of your smile.
As the medical profession continues to make advancements, our population has been seeing greater life spans and better control of once dreaded diseases to make our quality of life better.
Our increasing number of seniors is a testament to how far the medical profession has come. With longer life spans come more situations unique to dentistry. Our older patients are taking more medications than ever. They are, however, more mobile than ever, with lifestyles to match.
We understand that certain parts of the aging process can affect the oral environment. As our bones and teeth get older, they get more brittle. They are more prone to fracture. The old dental work often has lasted well, but was not meant to last forever and must be replaced. It can be difficult for our aging patients to perform their oral hygiene routines as effectively. Some of the medications they might be taking can affect their teeth and gums, and some of their medical problems, whether controlled or not can also affect the mouth.
We are well trained in how to help our older patients cope with these problems. We take special care with our geriatric patients to keep their mouths as healthy as possible. We will review the conditions and medications of our patient, and adjust our treatments accordingly. We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to get our aging patients out and around, so we will try to keep the number of appointments for treatment at a minimum. We will try to avoid invasive procedures when possible. Of course, we will help our elderly with any hygiene concerns they may have.
We also understand that with their situation often comes a change in financial status. Our caring staff will help arrange a treatment plan tailored to what our seniors are comfortable with financially.
It is our goal to keep this treasured segment of our population as dentally healthy as possible.
Sleep Apnea & Snoring most of us don’t think of snoring as something to be overly concerned about, but frequently loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep.
Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized. Untreated sleep apnea can be dangerous and detrimental to your health, so it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect that you or a loved one might have it. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
The most common type of Sleep Apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Patients suffering from OSA literally stop breathing during sleep, as their breathing airway is obstructed or blocked. In fact, the word, “apnea” means “without breath.” When the body is deprived of oxygen, it responds by gagging or gasping for air. These gasping episodes, or “apneic events,” can last anywhere from 10 – 60 seconds, interrupting the patient’s sleep, even though the patient may not fully “wake up.”
These constant arousal explain why OSA patients chronically feel so tired, even after a full night of sleep. The exact prevalence of OSA is unknown, but most experts agree the prevalence of OSA is significantly under-diagnosed and untreated.
Common Symptoms Snoring
Labored breathing while sleeping
Episodes of gasping for air during the night
Restless sleep and sleeping in unusual positions
Chronic morning headaches
Chronic fatigue, even after a full night’s sleep
Inability to reach deep sleep (this is called Level 3 sleep and is required for growth and healing hormones to be formed and released into the body)
High blood pressure (90% of people with hypertension have sleep apnea and 60% of sleep apnea
patients develop hypertension)
Increased risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke
Personality, alertness, memory, and behavior changes
Acid Reflux (G.E.R.D.)