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There’s one sure thing about tooth decay: you can’t ignore it. In fact, the best outcomes result from finding it early and treating it before it enters the pulp in the center of the tooth, often a filling or similar treatment.
If it does advance to the pulp, you may need a root canal treatment to save the tooth. This is a moderately invasive procedure where we access the pulp and root canals, tiny passageways leading to the root and supporting bone. We then remove all the diseased tissue and fill the empty pulp chamber and root canals with a special filling. Later we’ll crown the tooth for added protection against future infection or fracture of the tooth.
But there’s also another less-invasive method than a root canal called pulp capping. It’s only appropriate to use, however, if the pulp has become exposed or almost exposed by decay, but hasn’t yet shown signs of disease.
Pulp capping can be either direct or indirect. We use direct pulp capping if the healthy pulp has been exposed by the disease process. We first isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth to prevent contamination and then proceed to remove all of the tooth’s decayed dentin structure. We then apply a biocompatible material directly over the pulp to protect it from further decay and to facilitate healing. We then restore the tooth, usually with a filling, to its proper function and life-like appearance.
When the pulp is threatened by decay but not yet exposed, we may then use the indirect method. In this approach we first remove most of the decayed dentin, but leave a small amount next to the pulp to keep it covered. We then treat this remaining dentin with a material to help it heal and re-mineralize, followed by a temporary filling of the tooth. A few months later we’ll remove this filling and inspect the treated dentin. If it has regenerated sufficiently, we remove any remaining decay and permanently restore the tooth.
As we said, pulp capping is only used with patients with deep decay whose pulp tissue is healthy. But when we can use it we can avoid some of the permanent alterations that often come with a root canal treatment and still save the tooth.
If you would like more information on treatments for tooth decay, 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 “Pulp Capping: A Procedure that May Save a Decayed Tooth.”
At the first-ever Players Weekend in August 2017, Major League Baseball players wore jerseys with their nicknames on the back. One player — Cleveland Indians shortstop, Francisco Lindor — picked the perfect moniker to express his cheerful, fun-loving nature: “Mr. Smile.” And Lindor gave fans plenty to smile about when he belted a 2-run homer into the stands while wearing his new jersey!
Lindor has explained that he believes smiling is an important part of connecting with fans and teammates alike: “I’ve never been a fan of the guy that makes a great play and then acts like he’s done it 10,000 times — smile, man! We’ve got to enjoy the game.”
We think Lindor is right: Smiling is a great way to generate good will. And it feels great too… as long as you have a smile that’s healthy, and that looks as good as you want it to. But what if you don’t? Here are some things we can do at the dental office to help you enjoy smiling again:
Routine Professional Cleanings & Exams. This is a great place to start on the road toward a healthy, beautiful smile. Even if you are conscientious about brushing and flossing at home, you won’t be able to remove all of the disease-causing dental plaque that can hide beneath the gum line, especially if it has hardened into tartar, but we can do it easily in the office. Then, after a thorough dental exam, we can identify any problems that may be affecting your ability to smile freely, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or cosmetic dental issues.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments. If your oral health is good but your smile is not as bright as you’d like it to be, we can discuss a number of cosmetic dental treatments that can help. These range from conservative procedures such as professional teeth whitening and bonding to more dramatic procedures like porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Replacement. Many people hide their smiles because they are embarrassed by a gap from a missing tooth. That’s a shame, because there are several excellent tooth-replacement options in a variety of price ranges. These include partial and full dentures, bridgework, and dental implants. So don’t let a missing tooth stop you from being Mr. (or Ms.) Smile!
If you’d like more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Early Detection Saves Lives
In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Two Rivers Family Dental-Chris J. Hansen, DDS will be offering free oral cancer screenings on Thursday, April 14th 1pm-4pm. Oral cancer is not a rare disease. Approximately 48,250 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer every year in the US. It kills one person every hour of every day, and approximately 130 new individuals will be diagnosed with it each day. The good news is that it can often be found early in its development, through a simple, painless, and quick screening.
Who should get screened?
Every adult. Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects are from treatment are at their lowest. Like other screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages. Make them part of your annual health check-ups.
What are the risk factors?
There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population are young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.
Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Any sore which does not heal within 14 days.
Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.
A sensation that something is stuck in you throat.
Numbness in the oral region.
Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.
Difficulty in swallowing.
Ear pain which occurs on one side only.
A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.
A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.
An oral cancer screening should be conducted every year, so take advantage of this free offer and get screened today. Call Julie or Cheri at 794-8947 to make an appointment for your complimentary screening.
For more information about oral cancer, please log onto The Oral Cancer Foundation’s official website at www.oralcancer.org. Go to the screening events page to find more information about the Two Rivers Family Dental screening event.
The Schuster Center for Professional Development is the preeminent dental office management school for dentists in the nation. Founded in 1978 by Dr. Michael Schuster, a practicing dentist, thousands of dentists have graduated from this dental office management program and are enjoying the benefits of a well organized practice while respectively providing their patients with the highest care they expect and deserve.
Brenda Penwell is the President and Chief Financial Officer of The Schuster Center for Professional Development located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Chris Hansen is an alumni of Dr. Schuster's Management Program and has invited Brenda to facilitate a staff retreat September 28-29th. The event will be held at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc. The retreat will be a refresher course of the management and team building program designed to have everyone approaching the practice from the same perspective.
For more information about The Schuster Center for Professional Development go to:http://schustercenter.com/