Posts for: December, 2015
When decay spreads to the tooth’s inner pulp, a root canal treatment may be necessary to save it. It’s a common procedure: after removing all tissue from the pulp, the pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a special filling. The tooth is then sealed and a crown installed to protect the tooth from re-infection and/or fracture, possibly extending the tooth’s life for many years.
Sometimes, however, the tooth doesn’t respond and heal as expected: the number, size and shape of the patient’s root canals may have complicated the procedure; there may have been a delay before installing the final crown or restoration or the restoration didn’t seal the tooth as it should have, both occurrences giving rise to re-infection. It’s also possible for a second, separate occurrence of decay or injury to the tooth or crown to undo the effects of successful treatment.
It may be necessary in these cases to conduct a second root canal treatment, one that may be more complicated or challenging than the first one. For one thing, if the tooth has been covered by a crown or other restorative materials, these will most likely need to be removed beforehand. In cases where the root canal network and anatomy are challenging, it may require the expertise of an endodontist, a dental specialist in root canal treatments. Using advanced techniques with microscopic equipment, an endodontist can locate and fill unusually narrow or blocked root canals.
Because of these and other possible complications, a root canal retreatment may be more costly than a first-time procedure. Additionally, if you have dental insurance, your particular benefit package may or may not cover the full cost or impose limitations on repeated procedures within a certain length of time. The alternative to retreatment, though, is the removal of the tooth and replacement with a dental implant, bridge or partial denture with their own set of costs and considerations.
The complications and costs of a repeated procedure, though, may be well worth it, if it results in a longer life for the tooth. Preserving your natural tooth is in most cases the most desired outcome for maintaining a healthy mouth.
If you would like more information on root canal treatments, 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 “Root Canal Treatment.”
Want to know the exact wrong way to pry open a stubborn lid? Just ask Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC-TV’s popular “Tonight Show.” When the 40-year-old funnyman had trouble opening a tube of scar tissue repair gel with his hands, he decided to try using his teeth.
What happened next wasn’t funny: Attempting to remove the cap, Fallon chipped his front tooth, adding another medical problem to the serious finger injury he suffered a few weeks before (the same wound he was trying to take care of with the gel). If there’s a moral to this story, it might be this: Use the right tool for the job… and that tool isn’t your teeth!
Yet Fallon is hardly alone in his dilemma. According to the American Association of Endodontists, chipped teeth account for the majority of dental injuries. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a number of great ways to restore damaged teeth.
If the chip is relatively small, it’s often possible to fix it with cosmetic bonding. In this procedure, tough, natural-looking resin is used to fill in the part of the tooth that has been lost. Built up layer by layer, the composite resin is cured with a special light until it’s hard, shiny… and difficult to tell from your natural teeth. Best of all, cosmetic bonding can often be done in one office visit, with little or no discomfort. It can last for up to ten years, so it’s great for kids who may be getting more permanent repairs later.
For larger chips or cracks, veneers or crowns may be suggested. Veneers are wafer-thin porcelain coverings that go over the entire front surface of one or more teeth. They can be used to repair minor to moderate defects, such as chips, discolorations, or spacing irregularities. They can also give you the “Hollywood white” smile you’ve seen on many celebrities.
Veneers are generally custom-made in a lab, and require more than one office visit. Because a small amount of tooth structure must be removed in order to put them in place, veneers are considered an irreversible treatment. But durable and long-lasting veneers are the restorations of choice for many people.
Crowns (also called caps) are used when even more of the tooth structure is missing. They can replace the entire visible part of the tooth, as long as the tooth’s roots remain viable. Crowns, like veneers, are custom-fabricated to match your teeth in size, shape and color; they are generally made in a dental lab and require more than one office visit. However, teeth restored with crowns function well, look natural, and can last for many years.
So what happened to Jimmy Fallon? We aren’t sure which restoration he received… but we do know that he was back on TV the same night, flashing a big smile.
If you would like more information about tooth restorations, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “Artistic Repair Of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”
Orthodontics helps many children, teens and adults achieve healthy, straight, attractive smiles. Are you considering braces for your child or even for yourself? When should an orthodontic evaluation happen, and why?
Richard Ta DDS, Fremont, CA dentist, evaluates patients of all ages for orthodontic correction. As part of comprehensive dental services, braces move teeth into healthier, more aesthetically pleasing positions for patients with:
- overlapping, crowded teeth
- cross bite
- over bite
- under bite
- open bite
- smile gaps
- rotated teeth
- other bite and alignment issues
Why Get Braces
Braces deliver many important benefits such as:
- a more attractive set of teeth
- increased self-confidence when smiling and speaking in public
- less tooth decay due to crowding
- less chance of gum disease
- reduced headaches and earaches from misaligned teeth and jaws
- better speech and ability to bite and chew
The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends every child receive an orthodontic evaluation by age 7 to plan or begin intervention if needed. Additionally, the Academy of General Dentistry says that most orthodontic treatment starts between the ages of 10 and 14, but that many adults can and do pursue treatment as well.
Kinds of Braces
Modern braces are more versatile than traditional metal and wire braces. While these tried and true appliances work well for complex cases, dentists often recommend clear aligners (Invisalign) for mild to moderate orthodontic correction. Ideal for many older teens and adults, Invisalign clear aligners are:
- removable for hygiene, eating and special occasions
- practically invisible
Unlike metal and wire braces, Invisalign braces correct smiles in about a year. The patient receives 18 to 30 pairs of aligners over the course of treatment, and dentist and parents monitor teen compliance with built-in wear tabs.
Other kinds of braces include ceramic braces with tooth-colored porcelain brackets. These are a more attractive option than metal bracket and wire braces. Plus, lingual braces, mounted on the tongue side of teeth so as not to show when the individual smiles, accomplish many treatment plans. Metal, lingual and ceramic braces average treatment times of 2 years or more.
Get an Evaluation
Dr. Richard Ta, Fremont dentist, can evaluate your teeth and bone structure to determine if you need braces. He takes x-rays and other imaging to compose a treatment plan individualized for each patient's needs.
If you want a healthier, more attractive smile that lasts, why not contact Richard Ta and his professional staff today for a one-on-one consultation? Call (510) 573-3286.