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Endodontics: The Cost Effective Treatment for Tooth Infection

tooth infection

 

When it comes to dealing with a tooth infection, the only treatment options involve removal of the infected pulp through tooth extraction or root canal therapy. But canine teeth or molars are large and functionally important teeth, such that removing them would pose a challenge, in addition to creating a large wound that needs careful management.  

This would then be followed by replacement with partial dentures, bridgework, or implants to restore chewing function, aesthetic of your smile, and to keep adjacent teeth from shifting. But since all these options require either surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, they tend to be more time consuming and expensive than a restoration of the tooth with root canal therapy. As effective as tooth replacement options are, nothing is as good as a functioning natural tooth with the ability to last for many years to come. 

There are many practical reasons for choosing root canal treatment and saving a natural tooth rather than removing and replacing it. These include:

Preserve Your Natural Tooth 

Root canal therapy allows you to restore the tooth to its normal form and function. It may cost more than extraction, but it allows you to save a tooth and prevent gaps in your smile that will have to be filled later with invasive treatments. The tooth root is particularly important as it continues to stimulate the underlying bone for optimal oral health. 

Cost-Effective and Efficient 

Although tooth removal is the most affordable tooth infection option, it can be more expensive in the long-run if you include the cost of replacing the tooth with implants, bridgework, or partial dentures. 

Fast and Convenient 

Once endodontic treatment is complete and the tooth is restored with a crown, it doesn’t need any follow-up except your regular dental visits. Moreover, most dental insurance plans cover the treatment. 

Strong and Stable 

Endodontic treatment is successful in over 95% of cases and can help you continue to eat your favorite foods, maintain your natural smile, and eliminate the need for ongoing dental work, as a restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. 

Final note 

While many people assume that a root canal is scary and painful, modern techniques and effective anesthetics make the procedure just as painless and comfortable as any other dental treatment. And once it is complete, the tooth infection pulp (nerve) will be removed and the tooth restored so you can function normally with no pain or discomfort. 

Learn more about root canal therapy by contacting your dentist in Chula Vista, CA today!

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The Procedure for Root Canal Treatment | Chula Vista CA

root canal treatment

Many people are concerned that having root canal treatment will be painful, which is not true. The treatment is carried out under local anesthetic, which makes it completely painless. 

Root canal therapy aims to remove the damaged pulp tissue (tooth nerve and blood vessels), as well as any root infection from the root canal in the center of your tooth. The canal is then filled with Gutta Percha (a rubber-like material) and sealed with sealer cement to prevent bacteria infection. The restored tooth is then protected and strengthened with a crown or onlay.

Step 1: Cleaning and Disinfecting the Canal 

The dentist uses special metal instruments and disinfectant material to clean out the root canals. This process involves placing a sheet of latex or “rubber dam” over the tooth (held in position with a clip) for both comfort and safety during the root canal treatment. It prevents debris and bacteria in the mouth from going into the root canals and stops water from the drill or bits from the filling away from the back of the mouth 

Step 2: Filling and Sealing 

After cleaning the root canal and placing the root filling, the tooth is restored to seal and protect it from bacteria for the continued success of the tooth. Restored back teeth may not be strong enough to withstand normal chewing function as they are, so they should be covered with an onlay or crown. Front teeth, on the other hand, can be strengthened by adding a white filling. 

Step 3: Recovery

With the pulp removed, the restored tooth will no longer be sensitive to hot or cold, though some patients report mildly altered sensations. However, the tooth can still decay, and must be treated with the same level of care as your other teeth. 

Final Note 

Although the process is the same for treating all teeth, it takes much longer to restore a molar compared to a front tooth because back teeth have three or four canals that need to be cleaned and filled. Moreover, if the tooth is infected, your dentist in Chula Vista, CA may require you to schedule multiple visits to ensure adequate cleaning and disinfection. If your treatment requires multiple visits, a temporary filling will be placed as a seal between visits. 

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What To Do When Afraid of Root Canal Therapy | Chula Vista CA

root canal therapy

It’s not right that root canal therapy is often considered as one of the worst dental procedures to endure. What many people don’t understand is that the procedure itself is not as invasive as the tooth replacement options that would have to follow if you actually lost the tooth. Actually, there are more benefits of trying to save a damaged natural tooth than extracting and replacing it. 

Here are some clarifications about root canal therapy:

It’s a simple procedure that uses special tools.

Root canal treatment requires the endodontist to carefully clean, shape, and fill the canal space to ensure that the restored tooth remains free from infection. This process involves the use of:

  • A bleach solution to clean the root canals 
  • Metals files to widen and shape the root canals
  • Gutta Percha (natural rubber material) to fill the root canal 
  • Antibacterial cement or “sealer” to cover the rubber material and prevent bacteria from re-infecting the root canal 

The restored tooth is as good as your other natural teeth. 

After treatment, your endodontist may place a temporary onlay over the treated tooth while it is settling down and the area around the root is healing. This temporary must be replaced with a permanent restoration as soon as possible to prevent the filling material from wearing down and allowing bacteria in the area that may infect the root canal filling. The onlay or crown helps to strengthen and protect the restored tooth so it can function as well as your other teeth. 

Over 90% of root canal treatments are successful. 

There are some instances when the patient continues to experience pain and infection from the treated tooth, like when:

  • There’s some nerve tissue remaining in the canal space 
  • Long-standing or recurrent infection 
  • The Gutta Percha and sealer fail to completely fill the canal space 
  • The restored tooth had some existing root fracture that was undetected during treatment

Depending on the case, your endodontist may choose to extract the tooth or administer root canal retreatment, which involves removal of the filling material to clean and disinfect the canal space again and then repeat the treatment. 

Final Note: Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is usually a last resort to save a severely damaged tooth. The only alternative is to extract the tooth and replace it. If the nerve of the tooth is irreversibly damaged or dead, then your tooth cannot recover. Although the symptoms may resolve temporarily, the pain or infection will keep recurring until you take action by consulting with your dentist in Chula Vista, CA. 

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When Should You Visit Your Dentist? | Chula Vista CA

visit your dentist

 

Preventative care is the primary focus of dentistry. It’s why the American Dental Association recommends that you take your child to visit your dentist as soon as he/she gets the first tooth, or before the first birthday, and follow up with regular dental visits, about twice per year or as advised by your dentist, for the rest of your life. These dental visits usually involve comprehensive oral examinations, professional cleanings, and consultation for potential treatment depending on the condition of your teeth, gums, and mouth. 

Following the ADA guidelines, most dental plans cover two exams and two cleanings per year. People at high risk, however, may need more frequent cleanings and exams. Risk factors include:

  • Diabetes 
  • Smoking 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Cavity-prone 
  • Gum disease 
  • Weak immune system 

Importance of Keeping Your Dental Appointments 

Even if you brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and floss every day, this is not enough to get rid of all bacteria in your mouth. Plaque can still accumulate in the tiny pits, grooves, and crevices on your teeth, and over time, put your teeth at risk of decay in those areas that may result in tooth sensitivity, pain, or partial/total tooth loss. 

It’s important that you and your loved ones schedule professional teeth cleanings to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth, for your continued oral health. After your teeth cleaning and examination, the dentist will give you guidelines to follow to maintain optimal oral health until your next dental appointment. 

These guidelines may involve:

  • Maintaining or adjusting your dental routine 
  • Changing your flossing or brushing technique 
  • Changing bad oral habits 

In addition, if any problems were found during the exam, your dentist will recommend appropriate treatments and book your appointment at a later date to deliver the treatment. If no problem was found, then you simply need to keep up your good daily dental routine.

Final Note 

Preventive care is the most affordable dental care, compared to restorative or cosmetic work. If you visit your dentist routinely for regular brushing and flossing is a smart investment that will save you a lot more down the road.

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5 Reasons to Keep your Regular Dental Appointments | Chula Vista CA

dental visits

 

Dental care is a primarily preventive process involving regular dental cleanings and examinations to get rid of accumulated, bacteria-harboring plaque and tartar, and in the process, prevent most issues from arising in the first place, or to stop them in their earliest stages before they become severe and expensive to treat. While many people don’t see the need to keep their bi-annual dental appointments, this could put your oral and overall health at risk. 

Here are 5 reasons to visit your dentist as required:

  1. Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay 

During your teeth cleaning and exam appointment, the dentist will also look for any signs of gum disease and tooth decay. The dentist can detect your risk for gum disease or cavities, and provide a personalized plan to help prevent these problems, like during pregnancy. 

  1. Check for Root Caries 

As you grow older and use medications that reduce saliva flow in the mouth, your gums tend to recede and expose root surfaces, resulting in root caries. A radiograph is used to diagnose the early signs that include softening and a matte appearance on the root surface. If detected early, root caries can be treated by switching to a toothpaste with higher fluoride content, and perhaps a crown or restoration. 

  1. Full Oral Cancer Screening 

Reports indicate that about 42,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with oral cancer. Early detection and treatment are critical to averting the dangers of oral cancer, which is why you should always keep your scheduled visits. Oral cancer screening should be performed at least once a year, where the dentist checks your soft palate, the floor of your mouth, and sides and front of the tongue for early indicators. 

  1. Affordable Dental Care 

Of all types of dental appointments (preventive, cosmetic, restorative), preventive care is the most affordable. Dental cleanings are intended to keep your gums and teeth clean and healthy, which will, in turn, help you avoid paying for costly dental procedures in the future. 

  1. Improved Self-Confidence 

If you don’t get professional cleanings, bacteria in your mouth will buildup as calculus, releasing acids that inflame the gums, erode tooth enamel, cause tooth decay, stain your teeth, cause bad breath, and even lead to tooth loss. While all these problems can be treated, their symptoms might affect your self-confidence. 

Final note 

Whatever you’re hoping to get from subsequent treatments, whether restorative or cosmetic, this is a good opportunity to discuss your expectations. From rebuilding worn enamel to replacing missing teeth to straightening crooked teeth, you will have a detailed conversation with your dentist about your goals, possible treatments, your budget, and when you can schedule your dental appointments to begin your treatment plan. 

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Dental Cleaning Vs. Dental Exam: Is One More Important Than the Other? | Chula Vista CA

dental cleaning

 

Dental cleaning and examinations are two different procedures that are typically performed in a single appointment but involve different things that are equally important for your long-term oral health.  

Dental Cleaning

Professional teeth cleaning requires the dentist to use special instruments to remove calculus (hardened plaque) from the surface of your teeth and polish them. Generally, your dentist will:

  • Remove accumulated plaque and tartar using special tools, such as a metal scaler that physically scrapes off the built-up bacteria, or an ultrasonic scaler that uses vibration. 
  • Squirt water into your mouth to rinse off the plaque. A suction tool will also be applied in your mouth to suck the water out immediately 
  • Polished the teeth using a gritty toothpaste, and then floss them. 

Dental Exam 

During a dental examination, the dentist visually inspects your mouth using a mirror and small instruments, including a probe to test the surface of each tooth. This is intended to

  • Examine teeth, checking for signs of decay, sensitivity, grinding, or excessive tooth wear 
  • Evaluate your gums for signs of swelling, bleeding, or irritation. Your gum pockets will also be measured to check for gum recession 
  • Evaluate your bite and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), checking for proper alignments and shift in your bite (underbite, overbite, or crooked bite)
  • Check the soft tissues in your mouth, including the texture and size of your tongue, tonsils, and throat for signs of infection, and salivary glands for proper saliva secretion 
  • Complete an oral cancer screening to check for signs of infection around your cheeks, tongue, palate, neck, head, and lymph nodes 
  • Take dental X-rays for diagnostic information about non-visible parts of your mouth, including the underlying bone structure 

 

After both processes, you can consult with your dentist about any existing oral health issues you’re concerned about, as well as get your questions answered about your dental health.  Lastly, you can discuss any treatment recommendations necessary for you.

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Professional Guidelines to Keep Your Teeth Clean Between Dental Visits | Chula Vista CA

dental visits

Many people wonder whether it’s necessary to keep dental visits for regular checkups and cleanings, and how beneficial they actually are. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned to get rid of disease-causing bacteria that has hardened on the surface of your teeth (as tartar) actually helps to prevent most dental issues, including gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. The exams also help to detect problems in their early stages, including oral cancer, for timely interventions. 

Dental consultations also provide a good opportunity for you to learn more about caring for your teeth and gums. You may consider asking:

  • Which toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, or other product should I use for my teeth?
  • Based on your examination and my dental/medical history, what is my ideal interval for cleanings?
  • What dental diseases am I prone to if any? Why? What can I do to reduce this risk?

What Next After Your Dentist Appointment?

In between your dental cleanings and examinations, you will be required to maintain good oral hygiene at home. Your dentist will remind you of the best way to care for your mouth, including using proper brushing technique for at least two minutes per session and developing good dental habits, like not using your teeth as a tool to bite nails, open bottles, or crush ice. 

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste 
  • Clean between your teeth every day using floss or an interdental cleaner 
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if you suffer an oral illness 
  • Maintain a balanced diet and reduce the intake of sugary items, soft drinks, and snacks between meals 
  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral exams and professional cleanings 

Final note 

Dental visits are intended to keep your gums and teeth clean and healthy, which will, in turn, help you avoid paying for costly dental procedures in the future. With a 45-minute dental appointment, the dentist can detect the early stages of problems, including chips, gum disease, cavities, and even oral cancer, so you can start interventions early to prevent them from getting worse or even reverse them. 

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Self-Conscious About your Smile? Porcelain Veneers might Help | Chula Vista Ca

porcelain veneers

If you feel self-conscious about your smile, you should consult your cosmetic dentist to explore your options for a smile makeover, including porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are thin layers of tooth-colored ceramic that are used to cover teeth in the smile zone that have defects such as chips, cracks, and stains.

Dental veneers can be used to cover up many problems, giving you the perfect smile. Some instances where veneers can be used include:

  • Repair chipped teeth or severely worn teeth due to grinding
  • Alter the shape of teeth to produce an even smile
  • Fill gaps between your teeth that make you uncomfortable
  • Replace old restorations
  • Improve tooth alignment

Veneers are also recommended to improve the appearance of stained or discolored teeth, where bleaching and other teeth whitening options are found to be ineffective. Different factors including lifestyle choice like smoking, diet options like coffee and wine, excessive fluoride intake, and childhood medications such as antibiotics can cause your teeth to stain or discolor, ruining your perfect smile.

What if you’re not a good fit for veneers?

It’s only through a consultation that you can determine whether you’re a good candidate for dental veneers. Generally, you must have healthy teeth that are free of decay or active gum disease for the success of any dental procedure.

Your dentist may consider other options besides veneers if you:

  • Suffer from bruxism. Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws are not good candidates for veneers, because the excessive forces may cause the thin veneers to chip, peel, or break
  • Have bad habits, such as chewing on ice and other hard objects or biting your fingernails

If the dentist determines that you don’t have enough tooth left, perhaps due to excessive tooth wear or existing large restorations, and veneers are not suitable for your case, then a ceramic crown may be placed instead. Crowns or tooth caps wrap around the weakened tooth, protecting it while restoring its shape, size, and aesthetic.

Veneers require less removal of tooth enamel compared to crowns, and you may even be a candidate for no-prep veneers that are bonded to your tooth without shaving off any enamel. Please consult your cosmetic dentist for personalized assistance.  

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5 Reasons to Choose Veneers for your Smile Makeover in Chula Vista CA

veneers

With many studies suggesting that the first thing that people notice during any encounter is the smile, more and more people are beginning to realize the importance of their smiles. Your teeth play a vital role in influencing how other people perceive you. So if you’re unhappy with your teeth, or are struggling with low confidence, then a smile makeover may bring about the change that you want.

Dental veneers are a popular cosmetic treatment for smile makeovers. They are bonded to the front surface, and sometimes the side surfaces of teeth to improve their appearance and replicate the natural look of healthy teeth.

Your dentist may recommend dental veneers:

  • To cover severely discolored, slightly crooked, or poorly shaped upper front teeth
  • To improve the color of the front teeth that have become yellow over time, or have a gray tint, and cannot be tuned white by bleaching
  • To correct worn or chipped teeth
  • To fix uneven spaces between teeth, including a diastema

Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Highly Customized Smile Design

Your smile is highly customized in terms of shade mapping, length, shape, degree of translucency, surface texture, and contours.

  1. No Special Maintenance Needed

With veneers, there is no special maintenance required beyond good daily oral hygiene. Regular dental checkups are also a must for maintaining a healthy mouth.

  1. Strong and Durable

Porcelain veneers are as strong and resilient as natural tooth enamel. Once the veneers are bonded to your tooth, they are highly resistant to flexion, which makes them durable and long lasting.

  1. Require Minimal Tooth Trimming

Veneers require less removal of tooth enamel compared to crowns. But if the dentist determines that you don’t have enough tooth left for shaving, they may recommend no-prep veneers.

  1. Natural Look

Porcelain veneers can be made to mimic the reflective properties of natural teeth, giving you an amazing, natural-looking smile transformation.

Consult your dentist today to determine if you’re a good fit.

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Composite Dental Veneers vs. Porcelain: What to Expect in Chula Vista CA

composite dental veneers

The two types of dental veneers are custom-made into thin layers that are bonded to the front surface of your teeth to improve their form and appearance. That said, the placement of composite dental veneers is different from that of porcelain veneers, which makes them ideal for different kinds of people and situations, where one option may not necessarily be ideal.

During your consultation, your dentist will examine your teeth to determine whether you’re a good candidate for veneers. Ideally, your teeth should have enough tooth enamel to prevent sensitivity during preparation. Porcelain veneers are the most common option because they are stain resistant, hard, and durable, but require more tooth preparation than composite veneers.

Composite Veneers

Composite dental veneers are usually placed in a single appointment. They don’t require any kind of tooth preparation, but in some cases, a minimal amount of enamel can be shaved off from the front and side surfaces.

The dentist gradually adds the tooth-colored adhesive materials in thin layers, while shaping it and hardening it at each stage using a special light, to determine whether the defect has been adequately concealed. When the result is satisfactory, the material is polished to give it a smooth appearance.

This option is particularly ideal for people with small teeth because the bonded composite veneers won’t make them appear bulky.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, are fabricated in a dental laboratory. They are translucent and stain resistant. They can also be made to closely resemble the appearance of natural teeth. Once they’re ready, they are placed in two appointments as follows:

  • In the first appointment, the teeth being treated are prepared under local anesthetic.
  • The second appointment is scheduled about two weeks later. The dentist isolated the prepared teeth from any moisture so the porcelain veneers can be fitted.

A few days after your dental veneer treatment, you should schedule a follow-up visit for the dentist to ensure that all is well after you’ve had time to adjust to them in your normal routine.

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