Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. Gum disease can be painless, so it is important to be aware of any of the following symptoms:
- Gums that easily bleed when brushing or flossing
- Swollen, red or tender gums
- Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth come together
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
- Sharp or dull pains when chewing foods
- Teeth that are overly sensitive to cold or hot temperatures
Following a thorough periodontal evaluation, our team of professionals will make treatment recommendations based on your individual needs. Treatment of Gingivitis is easily accomplished with professional cleanings and proper home care. Treatment of Periodontitis requires additional treatment in the form of scaling and root planing or “deep cleaning”. A deep cleaning is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. Scaling and root planing is sometimes followed the placement of local delivery antimicrobials. Most patients do not require additional active treatment following the completion of scaling and root planing. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health.
Endodontics (Root Canals)
It is necessary to have endodontic or root canal treatment when the inside of your tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of deep decay, dental trauma, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns or a crack or chip in the tooth. Trauma to your tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, in can cause pain or lead to an abscess. Root canal treatment includes the cleaning, shaping and decontamination of the internal chamber and canals of infected teeth and their subsequent obturation,or filling with an inert filling material. The need for a full coverage restoration such as a crown will be evaluated on a case by case basis following the completion of treatment.
If a tooth has been significantly damaged and can not be repaired, it will likely need to be extracted, or removed, from its socket in the bone. Significant damage that often renders a tooth non-restorable can include: root fractures and teeth fractured at the gum-line, extensive decay that extends underneath the gum-line, advanced gum disease and impacted wisdom teeth. If it is determined that your tooth needs to be extracted, our team will discuss what options you have to best replace your missing tooth. Once the tooth has been pulled, a blood clot usually forms in the socket. A socket typically take between 5-7 days to heal over. However, sometimes, the blood clot in the socket breaks loose, exposing the bone in the socket. This is a painful condition called dry socket. If this should happen contact our office immediately for treatment.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMD, occurs when there are problems with the muscles and jaws in the face. Signs and symptoms of TMD included the following:
- Pain in front of the ears (during opening, closing, chewing)
- Changes in your bite
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Pain or fatigue in the chewing muscles
- Jaw locking closed or open
- Clicking, popping, grinding, swooshing noises in the joints
For most patients, TMD pain is nothing more than either acute muscle pain and/or a strained/ sprained joint related to past trauma to the joint, chronic overloading of the joint by clenching and grinding and systemic disease including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. While there is no single cure for TMD pain, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your symptoms dramatically. Modifcations such as reducing caffeine, avoiding gum chewing and chewy foods, and reducing stress can all result in improvement. If symptoms persist, we may recommend one or more of the following:
Trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medications such as muscle-relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs. Reducing the harmful effects of clenching and grinding by wearing an oral appliance, sometimes called a nightguard or splint. Custom-made to fit your mouth, the appliance is worn over the teeth and acts like a shock absorber to relive pressure on joint complex.
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. We will consult with you, taking into account the size and location of your cavity, to determine what treatment and material will be best used to repair you tooth. The two types of filling material used at Spring Creek Dental include the following: Amalgam (a mixture of silver, mercury, copper, tin and other trace metals), or silver fillings, are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
Composite resins (a synthetic mixture of glass or quartz filler) are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings (generally from 3-10 years).