Posts for: April, 2013

By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
April 27, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  
FactsYouShouldKnowAboutRootCanalTreatment

If the words “root canal” frighten you, what you probably don't know is that “root canal treatment” doesn't cause pain, it alleviates it — by treating infection deep in the root of your tooth.

  • What is a root canal? The central chamber of a tooth contains the living vital tissues comprising the pulp including its nerves and blood vessels. The interior of the tooth's roots containing the pulp make up its root canals.
  • How do I know if a tooth has a root canal infection? Symptoms of root canal infection may include sharp, intense pain when you bite down, a dull ache or pressure, or tenderness and swelling in gums near an infected tooth. There may be lingering pain after eating cold or hot foods. However, sometimes an infected tooth may stop hurting and you no longer feel pain. This doesn't mean the infection has gone, only that the nerve may have died. Make an appointment if you suspect that you have any or some of these symptoms.
  • Why would a tooth need root canal treatment? If the tissues in the root canal/s become infected or inflamed because of deep decay or trauma to a tooth, root canal treatment is needed to treat the infection and save the tooth. If left untreated, root canal infection can spread into the bone immediately around the root.
  • What takes place in a root canal procedure? After a local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth and surrounding area, a small opening is made in the biting surface for a back tooth, or behind a front tooth. Dead and/or dying tissue is removed from the pulp chamber and the root canals are cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent future infection.
  • What can I expect afterwards? Your tooth may feel tender or sensitive for a few days. You can take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, aspirin or ibuprofen, for example, to relieve pain or discomfort. Contact us if you have pain that lasts more than a few days. A crown is usually needed to protect the tooth following root canal treatment. Further arrangements need to be made for this stage of the procedure. Don't chew on the affected tooth until symptoms subside and the tooth has been restored as necessary.
  • Who performs root canal treatment? While all general dentists have received training in endodontic treatment and can perform most endodontic procedures, in complicated situations you may be referred to an endodontist, a specialist in root canal diagnosis and treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
April 20, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   bleeding gums  
DontIgnoreBleedingGums-ASignofTroubleAhead

Ninety percent of people have noticed bleeding from their gums when they brush or floss their teeth at some time or other. You may wonder if this is a result of brushing too hard — but that's not usually the case.

If your gums don't hurt — even if they bleed easily — you may think the bleeding is normal, nothing to worry about, or you're brushing too hard.

Bleeding from your gums is not normal!

It is an early warning sign of gum disease. In fact ten percent of those who start with bleeding gums go on to develop serious periodontal disease affecting the support for the teeth leading to tooth loss.

Then why do my gums bleed?

The way you brush your teeth is indeed a factor! Bacteria that normally reside in the mouth (in fact you need them to stay healthy) collect along the gum line in a biofilm. When the biofilm is not removed effectively on a daily basis, over time the gums become inflamed and bleed when touched. Other signs of inflamed gums — gingivitis — are redness and swelling, and even recession.

SO — the problem is not that you are brushing too hard, but that you are not brushing and/or flossing effectively. Both are important.

Three ways to stop bleeding gums before they lead to serious problems

  1. It all starts with brushing your teeth correctly at the gum line. Use a soft multi-tufted toothbrush. Hold it in the gum line and wiggle it gently until the tooth surfaces feel clean to your tongue — just like when you've had a professional cleaning. It doesn't take force, be gentle.
  2. It's just as important to remove biofilm from between the teeth where the toothbrush won't reach. If you are having difficulty flossing, we've got some easy demonstrations and instructional tips.
  3. Remember, as we say, “It's not the brush, it's the hand that holds it.”

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. Bring your toothbrush and floss with you to our office and ask us to demonstrate proper oral hygiene techniques. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums: A very important warning sign of gum disease.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
April 12, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
TheMarvelousMini-ImplantASmallWonder

If you are at all uncomfortable at the thought of getting a dental implant, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn the truth about these marvelous state-of-the-art tooth-replacement systems — and the special role of a relatively new device, the mini-implant. So, first, let's go over some basic facts.

What's a dental implant? Basically, it's just a replacement for the root part of the tooth, the part that lies beneath the gum line. It attaches to a crown, which is a replacement for the visible portion of the tooth. But instead of ceramics or metals, implants are made of titanium, which becomes fused to the surrounding bone. When complete, implants are much stronger and longer-lasting than other methods of tooth replacement, like bridgework and dentures.

Implants are presently regarded as the best way to replace missing teeth, with a success rate of over 95%. They also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, a major goal of modern dentistry. Having one put in is an office procedure that's generally accomplished with local anesthesia, and most patients experience only minor discomfort. Standard dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, or multiple teeth. The mini-implant, which is just a miniature version of the same technology, is now playing an increasing role in many other phases of dentistry.

Why mini-implants? Because in several situations, this smaller and less expensive alternative offers a solution that's just as good — or better — than any other dental treatment. One area where mini-implants excel is in supporting lower jaw overdentures.

Many people find that lower dentures are far more troublesome than upper dentures. The movement of the tongue muscle, and the smaller area of surface contact (compared to the upper denture, which is supported by the palate) often results in a poor, loose fit, which leads to problems when eating or speaking. These problems can be solved by affixing a lower overdenture (an implant-retained denture) with just two mini-implants.

Not only do mini-implants help prevent bone loss, they also give the denture wearer increased stability, comfort, and confidence. And they do so at a price that's more economical than you might think. In some cases, the mini-implants can be placed in a single one-hour office visit, and your own denture can be modified to fit them — so you can go home and eat a steak that night!

Another area where mini-implants are finding increasing use is in orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces) move teeth by exerting a light force on them, using a wire which is fixed to a solid anchor point. Traditionally, other teeth are used as anchors — but sometimes these teeth move as well! By using immovable mini-implants as the anchor points, the process is greatly simplified. Strategically placed mini-implants called TADS (temporary anchorage devices) can be used to correct both skeletal (jaw) position and dental (tooth) position problems.

Mini-implants may also be used in upper dentures and temporary bridgework.

If you would like more information about mini-implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw,” “The Great Mini-Implant,” and “What are TADS?”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
April 05, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
FourFactsaboutBoneGraftingforDentalImplants

Did you ever think a dentist might suggest that you have a bone graft performed as part of a standard tooth replacement procedure? Believe it or not, it's now a routine treatment — and it's not as complicated as you may think. Welcome to 21st Century dentistry!

If you're thinking about getting a tooth implant — an attractive, strong and long-lasting option for tooth replacement — here are four things you should know about bone grafting.

A bone graft may be needed prior to placing a dental implant.

One major reason why dental implants work so well as replacements for natural teeth is that they actually become fused to the underlying bone. This system offers superior durability, and a host of other advantages. Unfortunately, when a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone often begins to disappear (resorb) as well. In that case, it may be necessary to rebuild some of the bone structure before an implant can be placed effectively.

Bone regeneration for tooth implants is a routine procedure.

When it's needed, bone grafting has become a standard practice in periodontal and oral surgery. It is often performed prior to (or, occasionally, at the same time as) placing a dental implant. The grafting procedure itself can be done in the office, using local anesthesia (numbing shots, like those used for a filling) or conscious sedation (“twilight sleep”) to relieve anxiety.

The process may use a variety of high-tech materials.

The small amount of bone grafting material you need may come from a variety of sources, including human, animal or synthetic materials. Before it is used, all grafting material is processed to make it completely safe. In addition to the grafting material itself, special “guided bone regeneration” membranes and other biologically active substances may be used to promote and enhance healing.

Bone regeneration lets your body rebuild itself.

Your body uses most bone grafting materials as a scaffold or frame, over which it is able to grow its own new bone tissue. In time, the natural process of bone regeneration replaces the graft material with new bone. As we now know, maintaining sufficient bone tissue around the teeth is a crucial part of keeping up your oral health. That's why today when a tooth is going to be extracted (removed), often a bone graft will be placed at the time of extraction to preserve as much bone as possible.

Are you considering dental implants for tooth replacement, and wondering whether you may need bone grafting? Come in and talk to us! With our up-to-date training and clinical experience, we can answer your questions, and present the treatment options that are best in your individual situation.

If you would like more information about bone grafting, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Can Dentists Rebuild Bone?




Dentist - Fort Worth
2551 River Park Plaza
Fort Worth, TX 76116
817-732-4419

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