It’s no secret that root canal therapy (RCT) saves your natural teeth by removing infected pulp. What exactly is dental pulp, though? It’s a lot more important than you may realize — keep reading for some pulp trivia!
Pulp is the living part of the tooth. It’s made of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue that feed the tooth vital nutrients to keep it “alive,” or healthy and functioning.
Dental pulp is your tooth’s alarm system. When something goes wrong with your teeth, such as trauma or decay, the pulp experiences pressure and sensitivity changes that you perceive as pain.
The pulp is responsible for dentin formation. Dentin is the tissue layer beneath the enamel that protects the pulp. Because enamel is translucent, dentin is visible through the enamel and gives the tooth its color. Pulp contains cells called odontoblasts that initiate dentin creation.
The tooth can survive without pulp, but not with infected pulp. Pulp is a crucial part of tooth development, but once the tooth has fully matured, it can get nutrients from surrounding tissue and the pulp is no longer 100% necessary. However, infected tissue in a fully developed tooth can cause a lot of damage. This is why root canal therapy is necessary to save teeth that suffer pulp trauma.
Blood vessels and nerves in pulp are connected to gum tissue in the jaw. The apical foramen is a hole at the apex, or tip, or the tooth’s root. Blood vessels and nerves run from the jaw through the apical foramen and become part of the pulp once they enter the tooth.
Diseased gum tissue can cause pulp to become infected. Because blood vessels and nerves connect the gums to the pulp, diseased gum tissue can affect the pulp. Conversely, infected pulp can also spread and cause gum disease.
With all these functions of dental pulp in mind, it’s no wonder root canal therapy is such an important procedure! Call us to schedule a consultation if you’re having tooth pain and considering root canal therapy.
Damage to the tooth’s pulp is commonly caused by tooth decay or traumatic injury. Pulp damage in baby teeth can affect the development of your child’s permanent teeth later on. Rather than pulling the affected tooth, we opt for pulp therapy, a technique similar to a root canal in adults, that maintains the baby tooth’s vitality. Keep reading to find out more details about pediatric pulp therapy!
What is pediatric pulp therapy?
Pediatric pulp therapy is designed to save infected or damaged primary, or baby, teeth. It’s important to save the affected primary tooth until the permanent tooth grows in. There are two types of pulp therapy:
- Pulpotomy is a partial pulp removal. Damaged pulp from the tooth’s crown is removed, leaving healthy pulp in the root canals. Once the pulp is removed, the tooth is filled with a disinfecting agent to prevent further infection, and it is stabilized it with a crown.
- Pulpectomy is the total removal of damaged pulp, not just in the crown but the roots, too. Once pulp is removed, the tooth is filled with an absorbable cement for support, and then stabilized with a crown.
Although these techniques are associated with pediatric dentistry, they can also be performed as the initial steps of root canal therapy (RCT) in mature, or adult, teeth.
Why choose pulp therapy over tooth extraction?
Saving baby teeth with pulp damage is preferred to extraction because primary tooth extraction can cause a variety of consequences. If you have a baby tooth pulled, the surrounding teeth may develop at an angle, resulting in impacted premolars that leave little room for a permanent tooth to grow in its place. Keeping the baby tooth as a placeholder allows the permanent tooth to grow in trouble-free!
What are the symptoms of damaged pulp?
- Tooth pain
- Temperature sensitivity when eating
- Swelling and redness
- Unexpected loose tooth
Saving those baby teeth is the best way to ensure healthy oral development!
May 4th, 2016 8:59 am
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Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you!
What is oral pathology? This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.
What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
- Mouth sores that won’t heal
- Unexplained bleeding
- Chronic throat soreness
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Mouth numbness
How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?
- When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
- Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
- Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
- Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.
How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.
Apr 20th, 2016 8:55 am
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Being that we are entering April, now is the time to be proactive and get yourself checked for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 48,330 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and an estimated 9,570 people will die from oral cancer in 2016. In the spirit of April’s Oral Cancer Awareness, we urge you to receive regular oral cancer examinations. Remember—early detection saves lives!
Are you at risk?
The sad truth is that oral cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women, and the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. It is more important than ever for young adults, as well as older men and women, to get regular screenings whether they think they’re at risk or not.
Knowing the risks can help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risks that increase your chances of developing oral cancer:
• Smoking and using tobacco products have been a known long-term historic causes of oral cancer.
• Heavy alcohol usage also makes you more susceptible to develop oral cancer.
• The HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The mouth is one of the body’s most crucial early warning signs in the fight against oral cancer. In between regular dental visits, it’s important to be aware of the mouth’s signs and symptoms. Remember, if you see any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment at the office if you don’t see improvement within two-three weeks:
• Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
• The development of white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth.
• Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas.
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
• A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when you close your mouth.
• Dramatic weight loss.
• Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
• Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
Don’t wait any longer. In the spirit of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, be proactive about your oral health, and get checked today!
Apr 6th, 2016 9:53 am
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The American Association of Endodontists is excited to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Root Canal Awareness Week, March 27 – April 2, 2016! Root Canal Awareness Week is a national effort that is aiming to raise awareness of the dental specialty of endodontics. We want patients, and general dentists alike, to know when to contact a specialist when a root canal treatment is needed. Root Canal Awareness Week is an excellent time to explain how important the role of endodontics truly has in dental health and within the dental community. Root Canal Awareness Week wishes to educate the public as to what a root canal is, and why root canals shouldn’t be feared!
Root Canal Awareness Week, March 27th-April 2nd, we are aiming to:
1. Support endodontists as root canal specialists.
2. Educate patients about the benefits of root canal treatment.
3. Dispel myths and rumors about root canal treatment.
4. Build relationships with other dental professionals.
If you’re a patient and want to learn more about root canals, visit our treatment page and learn about the number of root canal therapy options Samaritan Endodontics offers!
Mar 29th, 2016 7:43 am
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If you thought that the only benefit of mouthwash was minty smelling breath, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that there are far more benefits that come along with the use of mouthwash. When mouthwash is used as part of your oral hygiene routine you are able to reap the benefits all day long!
It might be obvious but, mouthwash reduces your risk of periodontal disease by cutting down on the quality and quantity of dental plaque.
Mouthwash can also lessen your risk of developing cavities if it has fluoride as an active ingredient. When fluoride is present in your mouthwash, be sure to use it as the final step in your oral care routine. Fluoride needs time to absorb without getting washed away by a drink or water with brushing. Let approximately 30 minutes pass before enjoying food or beverage.
Perhaps the most surprising benefit of mouthwash is that it can aid in preventing pregnant women from going into early labor! Pregnant women who have periodontal disease run the risk of going into early labor because bacteria at the gum line is able to get into her bloodstream. This increases the body’s inflammatory markers which in turn can stimulate contractions.
Mouthwash can soothe canker sores by detoxing the area. The reduced amount of bacteria at the site results in a soothed feeling.
If you haven’t already adopted mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine, we suggest you do! Not only will your mouth feel and smell fresher, the added benefits are worth the small amount of effort. Ask us what kind we recommend for you at your next visit.
Mar 23rd, 2016 7:49 am
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What are nanodiamonds? A byproduct of diamond refining and mining, nanodiamonds are tiny particles that are thousands of times smaller than the width of one of your hairs. They have been the subject of research for a variety of health applications relating to cancer, regenerative medicine, imaging and dentistry over the years.
Recently, at the UCLA School of Dentistry, researchers have been experimenting with these fascinating little particles to see if they can improve even further on what is already a successful procedure: root canal therapy.
One possible use they have found for nanodiamonds in the field of endodontics is as an additive to the polymer filling material, known as “gutta percha.” While gutta percha is the optimal filling material after a root canal (due to the fact that it does not react inside the body), it has room for improvement in the area of infection prevention and rigidity.
Nanodiamonds may be just the thing to enhance this tried-and-true material and bring the already high success rate of root canal therapy (97% some studies show) to even higher levels. We are excited to see what the future brings!
Mar 9th, 2016 7:44 am
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You’re awake, congratulations! Now, you are standing in front of the bathroom mirror, you’ve been wanting to upgrade your oral hygiene routine but you’ve heard a lot of conflicting information. There are so many tools and what order should you do them in? We’re here to help! If you’ve ever wondered, “What comes first brushing or flossing?” Read on!
- You’ve probably heard us stress the importance of flossing at your appointments. Flossing is an incredibly important part of your mouth’s health. Flossing your teeth should take place one time per day. We recommend at night so that food does not rest in between your teeth while you sleep. Flossing before brushing is a lot like dusting before you vacuum. The particles will loosen with flossing and the brushing will sweep them away.
- You may have guessed it: the second part of your oral hygiene regimen should be a 2-minute brushing. Dentists look at your mouth in terms of quadrants. Therefore, your mouth consists on four separate quadrants and to ensure proper use of your two minute brushing session, we recommend spending 30 seconds in each quadrant. This brushing routine should take place two times a day!
- Brushing your teeth alone will not eliminate the majority of the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Cleaning your tongue is an easy addition to your routine and will benefit your mouth greatly. Take your toothbrush, apply a very small amount of toothpaste and brush your tongue in gentle, circular motions. You may opt for a tongue scraper instead, they can be purchased at most grocery stores.
- The finishing touch for optimum oral health is mouthwash. Sip a small amount and swish for 30-40 seconds. Spit it out and you are done!
It may seem like a lengthy routine but it actually only totals about 4 minutes. If you value your oral health and want to spend less time in a dental chair, it will be worth your time, we promise!
Feb 24th, 2016 7:38 am
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We know we don’t have to tell you this—but flossing at least once a day is key to healthy gums and teeth! And while studies have shown it doesn’t really matter what kind of floss you use (as long as you do it!), people are more likely to use floss that’s easy for them to use. We’ve broken down the different types of floss, so you can decide which is best for you!
Waxed and Unwaxed
Waxed floss will glide easier, but there isn’t really any other difference between waxed and unwaxed floss. If your teeth are close together, try one of these.
Ultra floss is a thicker floss that can be stretched to fit between tight spaces between your teeth; this is a good option if the closeness of your teeth varies.
Dental tape is a relatively new addition to the floss family. This fatter floss option is made from plastic and has a bit more stretch. If you have wide spaces between your teeth or have sensitive gums, try this ribbon-like floss.
If you find yourself on the go—or if you hate the feeling of floss wrapped around your fingers—try disposable picks that have handles to make flossing a little easier!
Recent trials are inconclusive on whether using a water flosser is as effective as traditional floss, but studies agree that using an oral irrigator is better than not flossing at all!
So which one is the best? Any one you’ll actually use! Don’t hesitate to ask us for different types of floss at your next cleaning to see what works best for you!
Feb 10th, 2016 7:34 am
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We love seeing you in our office, but we wish we didn’t have to! Root canal treatment is a wonderful tool, and often the best tooth-saving tool that is available. Advancements in treatment have increased the success rate of endodontic treatment, while modern techniques and tools have decreased recovery time and pain. However, in spite of the advancements that excite us as professionals, we understand that most people would prefer to never experience root canal treatment!
If you are one of those people, read on for our top ten tips to avoid having to have a root canal down the road:
- Brush twice daily. Sounds simple, but far too many adults and children skip this step at night. Brushing your teeth before bed should be just as automatic as turning off the light.
- Floss once daily. Skipping the floss is like only washing 70% of your body when you shower. This doesn’t just contribute to bad breath – it also gives root-damaging bacteria a place to hide and thrive!
- Avoid hard foods such as hard candies and lollipops. Both of which cause cracks that allow bacteria to enter your root system.
- Weak teeth be wary. If you already have weak teeth or restorations, you should also skip crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apples, which just so happen to be two of the biggest tooth-crackers.
- Back away from the ice! Many people are tempted by the cool, fresh taste of ice at the end of a beverage. But chewing on ice can easily fracture, crack or break a tooth or filling! Once that happens, bacteria have an easy route into the nerve center of your tooth.
- Wear a mouth guard at night. If you are a grinder or clencher, make sure that you wear a night-guard to protect teeth from fractures, which eventually can expose the tooth’s roots.
- Wear a mouth guard while playing sports. No longer just for football and hockey players, mouth guards are an important part of equipment for nearly every sport, from soccer to snowboarding.
- Avoid acidic drinks and foods like soda and citrus juices. These beverages present a double whammy to teeth: First, they break down enamel. Then, they saturate the tooth in sugar for bacteria to feast on!
- Have regular dental checkups and cleanings. A cracked tooth found early can often be spared root canal treatment.
- Get your tooth pain checked out immediately! Any pain is a sign that something is amiss in your mouth and ignoring it will only make treatments more serious down the road.
Jan 27th, 2016 8:30 am
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