What to expect after your root canal

Endodontic treatments – better known as root canals – have a bad reputation. But thanks to modern medicine, anesthetics can be applied before the procedure to eliminate a patient’s pain. Once patients get home, though, it is up to them to be aware of important practices that will help ensure the health of their teeth and a quick recovery.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, treated teeth may be sensitive for a few days after the procedure. This is particularly true for teeth that were painful prior to the treatment. Fortunately, most discomfort can be relieved with a simple over-the-counter pain medication or prescription drug. Be aware that the affected tooth may feel different for awhile; however, if you have long-lasting severe pain, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist for an exam.

Remember: Root canal treatments require a second appointment to fully repair the tooth with a crown or other restoration. Until you have completed this process, do not chew or bite with the untreated tooth, as it is at increased risk of fracturing. In most cases, teeth that undergo endodontic treatment are fully restored and will last as long as natural teeth. Rarely, teeth may need additional treatment if they become deeply decayed or experience another trauma. For more information about root canals, talk to a dentist on your True Care Advantage plan. He or she can evaluate your teeth and recommend the appropriate procedure to protect your oral health.

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Does your child need braces?

One of the benefits of taking your child to see the dentist regularly is that he or she can monitor your child’s teeth and alert you to the need for orthodontic treatment. Parents can also look for warning signs so they are prepared to ask the dentist about any problematic teeth or mouth structures. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests all children should be evaluated by the age of 7 to determine the need or timeline for orthodontic treatment. It is important to talk to your child’s dentist about your options if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Crowded/overlapped teeth or highly separated teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth do not touch when chewing
  • Upper front teeth fall behind the bottom teeth when chewing
  • Upper front teeth extend too far over the bottom teeth when chewing, or protrude at an odd angle
  • Lower jaw shifts to one side when chewing

In addition, if your child still sucks his or her thumb after age 6 or so, there may be an increased risk for crooked teeth. The same goes for people who experience early or late loss of baby teeth and consistently breathe through their mouths. Ask your child’s dentist if it’s time for an orthodontic review. By staying aware of these signs and communicating with your dentist, you can make sure your child gets the treatment she needs at the correct time.

Navigate the sweets-trap this holiday season

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, people across the country are preparing to enjoy delicious meals and even more scrumptious desserts. Contrary to popular belief, you can indulge in a few holiday treats without doing damage to your teeth – as long as you know a few helpful tips, of course. According to the American Dental Association, one of the key factors in tooth decay is the amount of time food stays in your mouth. For example, a sticky candy cane is far more likely to cause plaque and decay than a piece of holiday chocolate because the hard candy tends to stay around your teeth for much longer. As that candy sits in the crevices of your teeth and gums, its sugars and acids begin to attack your teeth until it is either washed or brushed away.

For this reason, the American Dental Association suggests that people eat any sugary foods with meals. Eating increases the production of saliva and helps rinse sugary particles away more quickly. If you must consume sugary candies or foods between meals, consider chewing sugarless gum afterward. Like eating, chewing gum also increases the flow of saliva. Along the same lines, drinking fluoridated water can also help eliminate sugary residue, so it’s a good idea to increase your water intake over the holidays, as well. Finally, it may be common sense, but many people forget to brush their teeth at least twice a day.

This habit is especially important during the holiday season when sweet treats are abundant and busy schedules make people forgetful. For more information and advice specific to your individual life, talk to your True Dental Discounts  membership plan dentist. It is possible to enjoy the holidays – and the desserts – that you are accustomed to without sacrificing your oral health.

What are taste disorders and their causes?

If you’ve talked to a dentist on your True Dental Discounts dental plan and suspect you may have a taste disorder, he may recommend you visit an otolaryngologist (also known as an ear/nose/throat doctor) for further testing and diagnosis. An otolaryngologist can measure the lowest concentration of taste you are able to experience. He or she will also conduct a comprehensive examination of the ears, nose, and throat and review your dental records.

If you do have a taste disorder, there are many possible ways of restoring your senses. For instance, your doctor may recognize that the disorder is caused by a medication you have been taking and prescribe a new one. Or, the disorder may be a result of severe allergies or a respiratory condition that can be cleared up. Until then, however, the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders gives a few suggestions to improve your eating experience with a reduced tasting capacity:

  • Eat foods that vary in color and texture. This reduces the bland quality of some meals.
  • Add herbs and spices to boost the flavor of your food. Garlic or spicy peppers can make a big difference. Do not try to increase the flavor by adding extra sugar or salt, however, as this can have negative consequences on your health.
  • Add cheese, bacon bits, butter, olive oil or toasted nuts to mild-tasting foods like vegetables if your diet permits it.
  • Avoid eating dishes that combine a bunch of flavors or foods, like casseroles. These make it difficult to distinguish individual tastes and can become bland.

No matter your strategy, it is important to work with a trusted health professional to regain your sense of taste. Although helpful in increasing the enjoyment of foods, the sense of taste also plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy. A person relies on taste to avoid eating spoiled or poisonous foods, and loss of taste can lead to many other serious health issues. People who lose their sense of taste often change their eating habits, adding too much salt or sugar in an attempt to regain flavor, and develop heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. In rare cases, loss of taste can also indicate the presence of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Talk to a doctor if you have concerns and make sure you stay alert for any changes in your health.

Is there too much sugar in your diet?

We all know that eating a lot of sugar can have negative effects on our physical health. It can cause weight gain, energy swings and a weakened immune system. But what effects does sugar have on your oral health? According to the American Dental Association, when bacteria/plaque comes into contact with sugar in a person’s mouth, the acid that gets produced can damage teeth for 20 minutes or longer. Over time, this damage results in tooth decay. In addition, foods that are high in sugar are often filled with empty calories and lack other nutrients that are good for your health.

These sugary foods can lead to poor nutrition, which the ADA suggests can lead to faster progression of gum disease. Dietary habits are often developed in childhood, so it’s especially important for adults to teach their kids to eat healthily and get plenty of fruits, vegetables and calcium from a young age. Other precautionary steps include drinking a lot of water, limiting snacks in between meals, brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly. It may also help to keep track of all the food you eat so you can chart your progress and notice patterns of sugary food consumption. Talk to your dentist about your eating habits and develop a plan to cut back on sugar-filled foods. It’s a commitment that will benefit your body and your teeth!

The advantages of X-rays at the dentist

If you’ve ever seen an X-ray photo of your mouth, you’ve probably noticed that your teeth appear much lighter than the rest of the surfaces. This is because X-rays cannot penetrate hard surfaces like teeth as easily as they can gums and tissue. But why is it so important to get these high-tech photos of your mouth? The main reason is because many oral health problems cannot easily be detected during a normal examination. It’s possible for a patient to have spots of decay that are not visible to the dentist. By looking at an X-ray, dentists can look for signs of decay between teeth, gum disease, bone infections, and many other serious conditions, including hidden tumors.

The American Dental Association suggests that children are especially good candidates for X-rays, as their teeth are still developing and are more prone to tooth decay. Another benefit of X-rays is that patients can save time and money by catching any hidden problems early. X-rays may even help someone avoid having to undergo the complicated procedures that advanced-stage conditions often require. Talk to your dentist about your X-ray schedule and ask if you (or your children) are due for another screening. A little extra time in the chair at your next visit could pay off dramatically down the road.

Caring for your mouth after dentures

Even though dentures are different from a person’s original teeth, it is still very important to take care of your oral health once you switch to dentures. To do this, you must first continue to brush every morning. Using a brush with soft bristles, you should brush your gums, tongue and palate to get rid of any plaque that may have settled in your mouth. Brushing also helps a person’s circulation, so it should not be skipped once dentures are worn. Second, pay attention to what you eat. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is a good way to ensure oral health, regardless of whether a person has dentures or not. Finally, denture-wearers must still visit the dentist regularly.

Many people make the mistake of thinking they no longer need to go to the dentist once their teeth have been removed. This is not true. The American Dental Association explains that a dentist must still check patients’ mouths for the presence of oral diseases or cancer. A dentist can also monitor the fit of dentures to make sure the patient is comfortable and has no problems eating or talking. To determine how often you need to visit the dentist, just ask him. It differs for everyone, and your dentist will be able to advise you of a proper schedule. By following these tips, you can continue to enjoy a healthy smile long into your denture years.

Protecting your teeth from sports injuries

Sports are a great way to stay active, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s teeth in case of an injury. This is especially true for contact sports such as football, hockey and basketball. One of the best ways to protect your teeth is by using a mouth guard. These plastic protectors can prevent broken teeth or tissue damage in the case of a stray ball, tough tackle, or other impact to the face. The three main types of mouth guards are stock, “boil and bite,” and custom – each offering differing levels of protection for a range of prices. Stock mouth guards can be found in any sporting goods store and are already pre-formed. Depending on the size of the athlete’s mouth, these may not fit well and can be uncomfortable. They do, however, still provide a minimal amount of protection.

Boil and bite” guards can also be purchased at sporting good stores, but these are able to be fitted to a person’s mouth by allowing the plastic to become flexible in hot water and then molding them around the teeth. This is usually a better option than stock mouth guards, but they can be a bit pricier, running up to $40 or so. The final option of custom mouth guards are the most expensive, but they also provide the highest level of protection. These guards are typically made by a dentist and are designed to custom-fit an athlete’s mouth. A dentist takes an impression of the person’s mouth and then fills it with plaster to create a model of that individual’s teeth and gums. Custom mouth guards are generally the most comfortable and are priced anywhere from $100 to a few hundred dollars.

The American Dental Association highly recommends wearing a mouth guard during all sporting activities, particularly for people who have braces. Braces can easily cut into gums and other soft tissue, creating an extra hazard for their wearers. It’s important to make an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist to discuss your options for wearing a mouth guard. With the addition of this small safety precaution, you can help ensure that you have a beautiful smile all year round.

Protect your child’s teeth by monitoring their diet

It is common knowledge that too many sweets can lead to tooth decay, but research points to another food group that parents should watch out for: starches. Starch can be found in a wide variety of foods – even so-called “healthy” ones like crackers, bread, pasta and pretzels. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests checking food labels for the presence of sugars and starches and then limiting those foods to mealtimes instead of as a snack. When consumed with other foods and drinks, sugars and starches are more easily washed away and removed from around a child’s teeth. For the same reason, sticky-sweet foods like dried fruit are more likely to damage your child’s teeth because they often get stuck in the crevices.

One common trap that many parents fall into is giving their child access to sugar-laden condiments, like many kinds of ketchup and salad dressings. These types of foods are not always associated with being sweet, but they often have lots of added sugar and can cause problems for kids who like to dip everything from chicken nuggets to apples. Finally, for very young children, experts recommend never putting them to bed with any liquid other than water. Juices and even milk are full of sugars that can sit on your child’s teeth while they’re sleeping and produce cavity-causing bacteria. To be safe, ask your True Dental Discounts pediatric dentist for her input on your children’s diet. She can recommend healthy foods that are good for their bodies and their teeth.

Should you get your wisdom teeth removed?

Many people wait until they feel pain in their mouth to get their wisdom teeth – also known as third molars – removed. However, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, waiting is not always the wisest choice. Even if your mouth doesn’t hurt, extensive damage can be occurring under the surface. People who wait longer often have more complicated procedures because the roots of the teeth grow longer and make removal more difficult.

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that 85 percent of people will eventually need their wisdom teeth removed and suggests that this is best done in young adulthood. Removing the teeth by the time a patient is a young adult helps ensure optimal healing and reduces the chance for periodontal infections in the surrounding tissues. Wisdom teeth are removed while a patient is under anesthesia, so it is important to talk to an oral surgeon on your True Dental Discounts, dental plan about your options. He or she will describe the procedure and give you tips to make your recovery as smooth as possible.