As the leading provider of general dentistry services in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte Progressive Dentistry is passionate about providing comprehensive dental care to adults and children of all ages.
General dentistry involves an array of dental procedures, and its main goal is to help you preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible. Your general dentist serves as your first line of defense against future oral health issues, so it’s important to visit your local dentist at least twice a year (according to The American Dental Association).
Root Canal Treatments
General dentistry encompasses a wide range of dental procedures, including root canal treatments. If your dentist or endodontist has recommended that you get a root canal, there’s nothing to worry about. Millions of root canal procedures are performed each year to help treat damaged teeth or diseased teeth. There are many benefits to getting a root canal, especially if you’re experiencing any kind of pain in your tooth or gum.
Root canals are a necessary dental procedure when the pulp (the soft tissue inside the root canal) becomes inflamed or infected. This may be due to a few things, such as tooth decay, a faulty crown, or the result of a chipped tooth.
When you undergo a root canal procedure, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth. Your dentist will then clean and disinfect the area before filling and sealing it with a dental material called gutta-percha. The tooth will then be restored with a crown or filling, so you don’t have to worry about future discomfort. The root canal procedure usually takes about 90 minutes to complete.
After Treatment Care
Once a root canal procedure is complete, you should avoid chewing on the tooth that was worked on. Your unrestored tooth will be very susceptible to cracking or fracturing. Try to consume soft foods that require very little chewing. Things like yogurt and applesauce should be incorporated into your diet for the first few days after the dental procedure. It’s normal to experience some tooth sensitivity during this time.
Signs You May Need A Root Canal
- Your gums are swollen or they feel tender
- You’ve noticed pimple-like bumps on your gums
- You are suffering from a chipped or cracked tooth
- You experience extreme tooth sensitivity from hot and cold foods and drinks
- Your gums have started to darken in color
- You are suffering from tooth decay
Why Is It Important To Save Your Natural Teeth?
At Charlotte Progressive Dentistry, we get this question a lot from our dental clients. It’s important to save your natural teeth for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being that nothing will ever look, feel, or function as well as your natural teeth. Some people believe that it’s easier and more affordable to get an infected tooth pulled, rather than to repair it; however, this is not a good idea. Tooth extractions can be painful, and if you decide to replace an infected tooth with an artificial one, it will require multiple trips to the dentist (which will add up!).
We’ve compiled a few tips below to help you save your natural teeth.
- If you experience any kind of tooth discomfort, whether it be inflammation or pain, contact your local dentist to schedule an appointment right away.
- If you are presented with a choice between getting a tooth extracted and getting a root canal, always choose a root canal.
- Always ask your dentist if a root canal is an option for damaged or diseased teeth.
General dentists also perform tooth extractions for patients who suffer from broken, damaged, or decaying teeth. If the tooth is too damaged to be repaired with a crown, filling, or root canal, tooth extraction may be the next best option. During a tooth extraction, the infected or damaged tooth is removed from its socket (also known as alveolus).
Types Of Tooth Extractions
Most general dentists will tell you that there are two main types of tooth extractions: a simple extraction and a surgical extraction. A simple tooth extraction is a procedure that involves removing a tooth that is visible from the gum line. During this treatment, your dentist will use a unique tool called an elevator, to pull your tooth from its socket. Tooth decay, crowding, and tooth trauma are often the reason people get a simple tooth extraction.
A surgical tooth extraction, on the other hand, occurs when the patient’s teeth are impacted. This means that the tooth is not visible (or is barely visible) from the gum line. This type of tooth extraction is recommended for wisdom tooth removal.
Are Tooth Extractions Painful?
After a tooth extraction, it’s very normal to experience some discomfort for a week or so. Many people experience jaw pain, stiffness, and soreness after the dental procedure; however, side effects will vary from patient to patient. Proper oral care is necessary to reduce potential complications, and many dentists will recommend that the patient stops smoking while they heal from the dental procedure.
One thing to watch out for after a tooth extraction is dry sockets. A dry socket occurs when a blood clot forms in the socket where the original tooth was removed. When the blood clot becomes dislodged, it can expose nerves and even raw bone, which can lead to serious pain and complications. The good news is only about two to five percent of patients who have teeth extracted experience dry sockets.
What Qualifies For A Tooth Extraction?
A tooth extraction may be necessary for a variety of reasons, including:
- A crowded mouth. If your teeth are falling over each other, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction to prepare your mouth for orthodontia. This will help to properly align your teeth for a beautiful, natural style.
- Serious tooth decay. If decay or damage finds its way to your teeth’s pulp, it can lead to infection.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
After a simple or surgical tooth extraction, your dentist will probably sew a few stitches at the extraction site. From there, your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions to help ensure your recovery is speedy and uncomplicated.
- For the first two hours after your tooth extraction, do your best to avoid unnecessary talking, eating, and drinking.
- Avoid brushing or flossing your teeth for the first 12 hours after the procedure.
- Do not use straws to drink beverages, as these can cause dry sockets to form.
- Drink lukewarm or cold liquids once the bleeding has stopped.
- If the bleeding continues, bite down on a gauze pad until it stops.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions with any prescribed pain medications.
- If you experience excessive bleeding, contact your dentist right away.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages or using mouthwash for the first 24 hours.
- Consider limiting your physical activity for a few days after the procedure.
Another procedure that most general dentists specialize in is periodontal treatment. Periodontitis, also known as advanced gum disease, translates to mean “around teeth.” As you may have been able to guess, periodontal disease involves infections of the structures around teeth. This can include things like your gums, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. When left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. The early stage of periodontitis is called gingivitis, which we’ll cover below.
Gingivitis can be characterized as a mild form of gum disease that can lead to things like irritation, redness, and inflammation of your gingiva (this is the part of your gum that sits near the base of your teeth). Gingivitis is a result of poor oral hygiene, because when a person doesn’t brush or floss their teeth on a regular basis, plaque is likely to form on the teeth, leading to a slew of other problems.
The Progression Of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is known to be a sneaky disease because it has a way of subtly getting worse. First, plaque forms on your teeth. Plaque is tricky, because it is invisible and very hard to detect. This sticky film is made of bacteria that rubs off starches and sugars in the food you eat. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, it’s easy for plaque to build and turn into tartar. Tartar is created when plaque sits on your gumline for an extended period of time. Tartar is more difficult to remove than plaque because it can irritate your gumline.
Risk Factors Of Gingivitis
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Poor nutrition
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Immunity diseases like leukemia or cancer
- Poorly installed dental restorations
- A variety of drugs and calcium channel blockers
- Medical conditions like fungal and viral infections
Common Signs Of Gingivitis:
- Receding gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Dark red gums or gums that are changing color
- Swollen gums
The good news? According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), gingivitis is reversible with proper oral health habits and regular teeth cleanings from your local dentist.
- To avoid the progression of gingivitis, it’s important to keep up with good oral hygiene habits. You should brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before you go to bed at night. You’ll also want to floss on a regular basis (before you brush your teeth is best).
- It’s also important that you schedule regular dental visits for cleanings. This should be done at least every six months.
- Making a point to manage blood sugar levels if you have diabetes can also help prevent gingivitis.
When left untreated, gingivitis can progress into a condition called periodontitis, which can be very serious. When you let harmful bacteria sit in your teeth and gums, toxins from the plaque will start to build up, which can take a toll on your gum tissue, as well as the bone and ligaments that support your teeth and jaw. As the infection spreads, it can infect the bone and supporting tissue in your mouth. This can lead to tooth loss, or your dentist may recommend surgically removing the infected teeth.
While most dental professionals will tell you that periodontal disease or periodontitis is a result of plaque buildup and untreated gingivitis, other factors can come into play as well. Certain things, inside and outside of your control, can increase your risk of gum disease or make the infection worse. Let’s take a look at some risk factors below.
Risk Factors Of Periodontal Disease
Smoking & Tobacco
If you’re a smoker or regular tobacco user, you may be more susceptible to periodontal disease. The longer someone smokes, the more likely they will develop periodontitis. This is because smokers tend to collect more tartar on their teeth.
There are several different medications out there that can increase your risk of periodontal disease. These can include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and even diuretics. Medications like these can lead to dry mouth, which means that plaque is more likely to form on your teeth.
Teeth Grinding Or Clenching
While teeth grinding and clenching will not cause periodontal disease itself, it can lead to more severe issues if inflammation is present. When excessive force is exerted on your teeth, it can speed up the breakdown of your periodontal ligament and bone. Luckily, there are custom mouthguards that can be created to help reduce teeth grinding and clenching at night. If this is something you’re interested in learning more about, contact your local dentist.
Misaligned Teeth Or Crowded Teeth
If you have misaligned teeth or crowded teeth, you may find it difficult to brush or floss your teeth thoroughly. This means that there’s a better chance of tartar and plaque forming on your teeth, as well as above and below your gumline.
Many people wonder how periodontitis is diagnosed. This oral health disease should always be diagnosed by a professional, so if you’re concerned you may be showing signs of it, schedule an appointment with your local dentist right away. When you visit your dental professional for a periodontitis diagnosis, your dentist may:
- Review and inquire about your medical history. This is a great way for your dentist to observe any conditions you currently have that may contribute to periodontitis.
- Thoroughly examine your mouth to look for any signs of plaque or tartar buildup.
- Use a tool to measure the space between your gums and teeth. This is also known as pocket depth.
- Ask you to take dental x-rays. This is a way for your dentist to observe any bone loss.
There are a few nonsurgical treatments that your dentist may recommend for periodontitis. Some recommended treatments may include:
- Antibiotics. These can come in a topical or oral form, and they are commonly used to help fight and control bacterial infections.
- Scaling. This is a dental technique used to remove plaque and tartar from teeth.
- Root planing. This is a procedure that involves smoothing out root surfaces. Dentists like to do this because it can help to eliminate bacteria that may contribute to inflammation and gum issues.
In the cases of advanced periodontitis, your dentist may recommend dental surgery. There are a few different surgical treatments that can help with periodontal disease. Let’s take a look at them below.
- Bone grafting. If periodontitis has damaged the bone that surrounds your tooth root, your dentist may recommend a bone grafting procedure. The graft is usually made of small fragments of your own bone; however, there are options to use synthetic bones as well. A bone graft may be used to hold a damaged tooth in place.
- Assisted tissue regeneration. If the bone that surrounds your teeth has been destroyed by bacteria, you may need assisted tissue regeneration. During this procedure, your dental professional will place a piece of biocompatible fabric between your tooth and the existing bone. This will allow the bone to grow back without having to worry about infection.
Composite Fillings & Resins
In addition to periodontal treatment, general dentists also specialize in composite fillings and resins. These tooth-colored fillings are incredibly durable and resistant to fractures. They are often used for small to medium-sized fillings that need to withstand a moderate amount of pressure.
Fillings are a relatively short procedure that can often be accomplished in one dental visit. When you visit your dentist for a filling, he or she will place composite layers on the affected tooth, using a special light to harden each layer. Once this step is complete, your dentist will shape the composite to look like a natural tooth.
Composite fillings have many benefits, the biggest one being that they look and function just like your natural teeth. No matter what shade or color your teeth are, your dentist will be able to create a near-perfect color that is identical to your other teeth. Another big benefit is that composite fillings bond to your original tooth. If you suffer from a chipped or cracked tooth, your dentist may recommend composite resin filling to repair the issue. At Charlotte Progressive Dentistry, we specialize in composite fillings, so if you need a filling in Charlotte, contact our dental practice today.