A toothache can vary in frequency from infrequent to constant and range in severity from mild to severe symptoms. If the tooth is sensitive to cold or sweets, it can be a warning that decay is present, a filling has failed, or the tooth is broken. There may be other factors, such as sinus infection, referred pain, or sensitive root surfaces.
Pain relievers or toothache preparations, available without prescription, may afford temporary relief from pain. It is important that the tooth not be subjected to hot or cold or to the pressure of chewing. Also, do not place aspirin directly on the gum or tooth. If a tooth is sensitive to heat or tender to the touch, or there is swelling present, serious nerve involvement may be suspect and root canal treatment may be required. One should seek a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Orthodontics is the Dental Specialty concerned with the prevention and correction of facial irregularities and malocclusion, or teeth that fit together improperly. Crooked teeth, usually associated with malocclusion, not only affect cosmetics, but also increase ones susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease. Improperly aligned teeth can affect speech, impair chewing efficiency and nutrition, and may be the cause of jaw joint problems. Your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist for an examination when necessary. After your case is evaluated you will be scheduled for a consultation regarding the proposed plan, length of treatment, and the cost involved in your laser dental treatment.
Today, the term cosmetic dentistry has a different meaning than just the straightening or crowning of teeth. With the development of new materials and techniques, the dentist is able to close spaces, change a tooth's shape, lighten or darken discolored teeth, and repair chipped or misaligned teeth, without having to sacrifice tooth enamel and sometimes without an anesthetic. The first step is to visit your dentist for an evaluation of your cosmetic needs. He will decide which form of treatment is best suited, whether it be the new bonding and bleaching techniques or the more traditional cosmetic dental treatments.
Darkened or discolored teeth can be lightened by the application of chemicals. For many years this has been accomplished in the dentist office with hydrogen peroxide. Recent advances now allow the teeth bleaching process to be done by the patient at home. The chemical is placed in an appliance that fits over the teeth. The amount of whitening one obtains during bleaching depends upon the length of time the tray is worn and the susceptibility of the teeth to the bleaching agent.
Periodontal disease is responsible for about seventy percent of all tooth loss and it is estimated that ninety percent of adults have some form of this disease. Symptoms can range from mildly inflamed, spongy or bleeding gums to a more serious condition called Periodontitus, involving destruction of the bony support of the teeth. This advanced stage can cause tooth mobility or tooth loss.
Although generally it does not occur until middle age, the initial symptoms can occur much earlier in life. The process is initiated by the presence of plaque, a sticky film that adheres to the teeth. Plaque can harbor bacteria whose toxins are responsible for the infection. If the plaque is not removed, the gums can become inflamed and bleed easily. While there are other causes for bleeding gums, this condition often is one of the early signs of periodontal problems. Controlling plaque by frequent flossing, brushing and visits to the dentist may be adequate for many, but others are more susceptible to the disease and require more intense care. Dentists offer methods of treatment that not only can prevent this disease, but also can save teeth from being lost to the advanced stages.
Regular visits to your dentist for cleaning and scaling is the first step in maintaining tissue health. The severity of your gum problems will be evaluated and you will be advised how frequent your recall visits should be. More advanced cases may require referral to a specialist.
Infected teeth or gums may result in pain and swelling, called a dental abscess. This infection can spread rapidly and should be treated by your dentist as soon as possible. Temporary relief can often be obtained with cold compresses to control the swelling and sometimes antibiotics are prescribed. If the infection is due to a diseased tooth, it can usually be saved by root canal treatment. Nerves, blood and lymph vessels that are in the center of each tooth make up the soft tissue material called the dental pulp. If the pulp becomes diseased, due to injury from a deep cavity, a blow to the tooth, periodontal disease or other cause, it may result in an infection which can spread through the end of the root into the supporting bone and cause an abscess. A root canal is a process in which the necrotic nerve is removed and replaced by a material that seals the root, thus allowing the tooth to be retained. Root canal treatment is preferable to extraction, and is often less costly, considering that the loss of a tooth requires replacement, in order to maintain space and function.
A certain amount of swelling and pain is to be expected following any extraction procedure. To minimize swelling and discomfort, an ice pack may be applied to the face and a pain reliever can be taken. Bleeding can often be controlled by placing a gauze pad over the extraction site and applying firm biting pressure for one or two hours, replacing the pad frequently. This procedure may have to be repeated. Excessive swelling, bleeding or pain should be attended by your dentist.