Many people only go to the dentist when something is wrong. That is truly a shame, because they are missing out on so many preventive services that can save discomfort — and expense — down the road. Regular dental visits are essential to make sure oral health problems — from tooth decay to oral cancer — are detected and treated in a timely manner. Some individuals may need to see the dentist more often than others to stay on top of problems like plaque buildup and gum disease, but everyone should go at least once per year.
Your regular dental visits will include a thorough oral exam to check the health of your teeth and gums; and oral cancer screening to spot any suspicious signs early; and a professional cleaning to remove stubborn deposits and make your teeth look and feel great. So don't miss out on the many benefits dentistry offers you and your family!
Cavities & Fillings
If you have never had a cavity, congratulations! If you have had one, you are not alone. About 78% of us have had at least one cavity by the time we reach age 17, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. Fortunately there's a time-tested treatment for cavities: the dental filling.
Fillings do just what the name implies — seal a small hole in your tooth, i.e., a cavity, caused by decay. This prevents the decay (a bacteria-induced infection) from spreading further into your tooth and, if untreated, continue on to the sensitive inner pulp (nerve) tissue located in the root canal. Should that happen, you would need root canal treatment.
Inlays & Onlays
There are times when a tooth suffers damage (from decay, for example) that is too extensive to be treated with a simple filling — but not extensive enough to need a full-coverage crown. In these cases, the best option for restoring the tooth may be an inlay or onlay.
Both inlays and onlays are considered “indirect” fillings, meaning that they are fabricated outside the mouth (generally at a dental laboratory), and then bonded to the tooth by the dentist. This is in contrast to a “direct” filling, which is applied directly to the cavity by the dentist in one office visit.
An indirect filling is considered an “inlay” when it fits within the little points or “cusps” of a back (premolar or molar) tooth. It is an “onlay” if it covers one or more of these cusps. Either way, the procedure for placing an inlay or onlay is the same.
Sometimes, teeth need to be removed due to decay, disease or trauma. Having a tooth "pulled out" is called a tooth extraction.
When you have an extraction, it's natural that changes will occur in your mouth. Your dentist may give you instructions to follow after the extraction, and it's important to talk to your dentist if you have any questions or problems. Here are some general guidelines to help promote healing, prevent complications, and make you more comfortable.
Before the extraction, you will be given an anesthetic to reduce your discomfort. Your mouth will remain numb for a few hours after the extraction. While your mouth is numb, you'll want to be careful not to bite your cheek, lip or tongue.
Endodontics, also known as root canal, is a specialized set procedures designed to treat issues with the tissue inside the tooth. Many people wrongly believe that a root canal is an unusually painful treatment, but typically the experience feels similar to getting a filling. Root canals can be a very effective way to deal with chronic tooth pain. When the pulp tissue becomes infected, a root canal procedure may be necessary to provide a permanent solution for the pain. The unique makeup of the tooth’s pulp tissue explains why infection in this tissue will likely result in intense pain. Pulp tissue consists of blood vessels, connective tissue as well as nerve cells. With antibiotics and pain medication, tooth pain can sometimes be treated temporally. But, the infection and the pain will typically come back in a short time. If not dealt with properly, the infection can turn into an abscess, and may problems in other parts of the body.
Acute or persistent tooth pain always signals a need for an urgent visit to the dental office. The most common cause of dental pain is tooth decay, a bacterial infection that can spread through many parts of the tooth, and even into the gum tissue. Sometimes, tooth pain indicates that you may need a root canal treatment — a procedure that not only relieves the pain of an infection deep inside the tooth, but also can keep the tooth from having to be removed. Other times, pain may be caused by a loose filling or sensitive tooth. The only way to know for sure what's causing your tooth pain is to make an appointment at the Aleris Salem Dental Center right away.