Remembered fondly by fans as the wacky but loveable Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Alfonso Ribeiro is currently in his fifth year hosting America's Funniest Videos. It's the perfect gig for the 48-year-old actor, who loves to laugh and make others laugh as well. This is quite the opposite experience from one he had a few years ago that he remembers all too well: a severely decayed tooth.
After seeing his dentist for an intense toothache, Ribeiro learned he had advanced tooth decay and would need root canal treatment. Ribeiro wasn't thrilled by the news. Like many of us, he thought the procedure would be unpleasant. But he found afterward that not only was the root canal painless, his toothache had vanished.
More importantly, the root canal treatment saved his tooth, as it has for millions of others over the last century. If you're facing a situation similar to Alfonso Ribeiro's, here's a quick look at the procedure that could rescue your endangered tooth.
Getting ready. In preparation for root canal therapy, the tooth and surrounding gums are numbed, often first with a swab of local anesthesia to deaden the surface area in preparation for the injection of the main anesthesia below the surface. A dental dam is then placed to isolate the infected tooth from its neighbors to prevent cross-contamination.
Accessing the interior. To get to the infection, a small access hole is drilled. The location depends on the tooth: in larger back teeth, a hole is drilled through the biting surface, and in front teeth, a hole is drilled on the backside. This access allows us to insert special tools to accomplish the next steps in the procedure.
Cleaning, shaping and filling. Small tools are used to remove the diseased tissue from the interior tooth pulp and root canals. Then the empty spaces are disinfected. This, in effect, stops the infection. Next, the root canals inside the tooth are shaped to allow them to better accept a special filling called gutta percha. The access hole is then sealed to further protect the tooth from future infection, and a temporary crown is placed.
A new crown to boot. Within a couple weeks, we'll cap the tooth with a long-lasting lifelike crown (or a filling on certain teeth). This adds further protection for the tooth against infection, helps strengthen the tooth's structure, and restores the tooth's appearance.
Without this procedure, the chances of a tooth surviving this level of advanced decay are very slim. But undergoing a root canal, as Alfonso Ribeiro did, can give your tooth a real fighting chance.
If you would like more information about root canal treatments, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: How Long Will It Last?”
Bad news at your last dental visit: You have a decayed tooth. And not just in the enamel—the decay has invaded the tooth's inner pulp and the resulting infection is threatening the supporting bone structure.
You're thinking that tooth is toast. Then comes the good news: your dentist believes the tooth can be rescued with a root canal treatment.
But then you begin thinking about how often Uncle Sid says he'd rather undergo a colonoscopy than have a root canal. Is the procedure really as painful and uncomfortable as popular culture says it is? What is a root canal really like?
First step: Things go numb. Uncle Sid is wrong: A root canal treatment is painless because your dentist will first make sure the entire area involving the tooth is anesthetized. This does involve injecting the local anesthetic deep within the tissues, but you won't even feel the needle prick thanks to topical anesthesia applied to the surface gums.
Second step: Drilling deep. After applying a protective dam to isolate the infected tooth from its neighbors, your dentist will drill a small access hole through the enamel and dentin to reach the pulp and root canals. If it's one of the larger back teeth, the access hole is usually drilled in the tooth's biting surface; in a front tooth, the hole is usually located on the tongue side.
Third Step: Removing diseased tissue. Using special instruments, your dentist will remove the diseased tissue in the pulp and root canals, essentially stopping the infection and any tooth pain you've been experiencing. The empty pulp chamber and canals are often then disinfected with a special antibacterial solution.
Fourth Step: Protecting the tooth. After some shaping, the pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a special filling to prevent further infection. The access hole is then filled and sealed to complete the procedure. At some point in the future, the tooth typically will need a crown to add support and further protection.
You may have some minor discomfort afterward, but this can usually be managed with a mild pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. After a week or so, you'll be good as new—and so will your tooth.
If you would like more information on root canal therapy, 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 “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”
Do you plan to uphold the quality of your oral health throughout your life? If so, preventive dental care is the answer. This involves regular visits to your dentist, Dr. Alan Myers, or Dr. Eliza Myers, here at Myers Family Dental in Augusta GA, as well as proper oral hygiene habits and practices. Done right and consistently, your risk of developing potential oral health complications would be greatly reduced. Talk to your Augusta dentist to learn more.
What is Your Role in Preventive Dental Care?
Preventive dental care starts with you. Here are a few simple tips you can follow to care for your oral health:
- Brush your teeth properly. Holding your brush at a 45-degree angle, direct the bristles to the area where the teeth and gums meet and brush them in a circular back and forth movement. This should be done twice a day, using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Don’t forget to include your tongue.
- Floss daily. This is just as necessary as brushing your teeth as it cleans places between your teeth that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods. You should avoid sugary and acidic foods as they can damage the enamel of your teeth and cause tooth decay.
- Be careful when eating hard and sticky foods. Foods like certain candies and foods that have bones or seeds could crack or chip your teeth.
- Hydrate with water. Drinking water after a meal can rinse away unwanted food debris and moisten the mouth, therefore, lessening the accumulation of plaque.
- Gargle with mouthwash. Rinsing with mouthwash can effectively eliminate bacteria, strengthen your teeth, and reduce acidity in the mouth, and wash leftover food debris away.
- Don’t use tobacco-containing products. Besides staining your teeth, it could lead to other serious health complications such as many different types of cancers and heart disease.
Preventive Dental Care Treatments from Your Augusta Dentist
Common preventive dentistry services include professional teeth cleaning and routine oral checkups. Your dentist in Augusta GA might recommend more preventive care procedures depending on the exact state of your oral health.
How Can Preventive Dental Care Help You?
Visiting your Augusta dentist for routine check-ups and maintaining the right oral health care routine can provide you with various benefits like the following:
- Reduces your risk of getting tooth decay, periodontal disease, and other oral health complications.
- Saves you time and money. Your dentist can easily detect any oral issues that you may overlook and offer a solution in advance, thus avoiding any further expenses or future treatments.
- Helps decrease dental issues linked to certain chronic medical conditions, like osteoporosis, diabetes, some cancers, and eating disorders—all of which can affect your oral health greatly.
For More Information and Tips on Preventive Dental Care, Contact Us
Dial (706) 738-7742 to schedule an evaluation with your dentist here at Myers Family Dental in Augusta GA, Dr. Alan Myers, and Dr. Eliza Myers.
The amount of sugar your child consumes has a huge bearing on their tooth decay risk: The more they take in, the higher it is for this destructive disease. That's why you should moderate their intake of the usual suspects: sodas, candies and other sugar-laden foods. But you should also put the brakes on something considered wholesome and nutritious: fruit juices. And that includes all natural juice with no sugar added.
Sugar in any form is a prime food source for decay-causing bacteria. As bacteria consume leftover sugar in the mouth, they produce acid as a byproduct. With an ample source of sugar, they also multiply—and this in turn increases their acid production. Acid at these high levels can soften and erode tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay and cavities.
Limiting or even excluding sugar-added foods and snacks can help minimize your children's risk for tooth decay. For designated snack times, substitute items like carrot sticks or even popcorn with a dash of spice rather than sweet snacks and candies. If you do allow occasional sweet foods, limit those to mealtimes when saliva, which neutralizes acid, is most active in the mouth.
As you manage sugary items your children may eat or drink, the American Academy of Pediatrics also advises you to moderate their consumption of fruit juices, including all-natural brands with no added sugar. Their recommended limits on daily juice drinking depend on a child's age and overall health:
- Infants (less than one year) or any children with abnormal weight gain: no juice at all;
- Toddlers (ages 1-3): 4 ounces or less per day;
- Younger children (4-6): 6 ounces or less per day; and
- Older children (7-18): 8 ounces (1 cup) or less per day.
As for the rest of your children's daily hydration needs, the most dental-friendly liquid for any of us is plain water. For older school-age children, low- or non-fat milk is also a sound choice.
Preventing tooth decay in your children is a continuous task that requires all of us, parents and dental providers, to do our part. Besides daily hygiene (brushing and flossing) and regular dental visits, keeping sugar at bay—including with juices—is an important part of that effort.
Your oral hygiene habits play an important role in your oral health and help you avoid cavities, gum disease, and other issues. Your Augusta and Martinez GA dentists, Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers of Myers Family Dental, provide the dental care you need for a healthy smile. Talk to your Augusta Dentist today to learn more.
Why good oral hygiene is so important
Brushing and flossing reduce plaque in your mouth. The sticky substance coats your teeth with a bacterial film that can't be seen but can be felt. If you run your tongue over your teeth first thing in the morning, you'll probably notice that your teeth feel a little rough or furry due to the presence of plaque.
Plaque is particularly dangerous when you eat sugary foods or foods that contain carbohydrates that are converted to sugars, like pretzels, bread, pasta, and potato chips. The combination of plaque and sugar produces acids. These acids are strong enough to attack your tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Cavities aren't the only negative consequence of plaque. If you don't remove plaque, it soon turns into tartar, a hard, brown deposit that tends to form at the bottoms of teeth. Both plaque and tartar are factors in gum disease.
Fortunately, a good oral hygiene routine can lower your risk of cavities and gum disease. Protect your smile by following these recommendations by your Augusta Dentist:
- Brush Twice a Day: Brushing in the morning and evening is the best way to keep plaque under control.
- Brush for Two Minutes: The American Dental Association advises brushing for at least two minutes. If you don't brush long enough, plaque may remain on your teeth.
- Add Flossing to Your Oral Care Routine: Flossing is often overlooked, yet serves an important role in oral hygiene. Flossing, whether it's done with string floss, flossing picks, or waterpiks gets rid of plaque and food debris between teeth.
- Use Mouthwash: Ending your oral hygiene session with mouthwash offers extra protection for your teeth and gums. Anti-bacterial mouthwash kills bacteria while freshening your breath.
- Make Checkups a Priority: Your visits to the Augusta Dentist office include dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar. Your dentist will also examine your teeth, gums, and mouth and recommend treatment if he or she notices any problems.
Keep your smile healthy with regular dental care. Call your dentists in Augusta and Martinez GA, Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers of Myers Family Dental, at (706) 738-7742 to schedule an appointment.
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