(Please feel free to click on the questions below for full answers)
Do you have a cracked tooth?
When you bite down you feel a sharp pain. It quickly disappears and you ignore it. You even avoid certain foods or chew on the other side of your mouth. Does this sound familiar? You may have a cracked tooth.
A cracked tooth can result from many causes–an accident such as a blow to the mouth, grinding and clenching your teeth, uneven chewing pressure or stress on a single tooth.
Teeth that have lost a significant portion of the biting surface due to wear or large fillings become more brittle and susceptible to cracking. Tooth enamel that is exposed to extreme changes in temperature or chewing nuts or crusty bread can contribute to cracking.
A crack may appear as a hairline fracture and is often invisible to the eye, even with extreme magnification. X-rays usually don’t show cracks. This makes diagnosis difficult. Referred pain is common and sometimes makes it hard to pinpoint the tooth causing the problem. We have a device called a “Tooth Sleuth” that along with special dyes can make a crack more obvious.
If you have ignored the discomfort of a crack for a significant amount of time, the nerve inside of the tooth will become damaged, making root canal or even extraction necessary.
I often tell patients to “listen to their body”. When something is talking to you do something about it before it becomes more serious. It’s common sense, but as Will Rogers said, “Common sense isn’t very common.”
The Magic Of Dental Implants
Nothing in the history of dental science has made such a significant impact on patient confidence and comfort.
Today, the use of dental implants allows us to replace a single tooth or a whole mouth of teeth. It is no longer necessary to take dentures and partial dentures in and out of your mouth. Fixed bridges that anchor onto adjacent teeth for stability are no longer necessary.
Many of our patients have undergone joint replacement. Hips, knees, shoulders. This amazing evolution in orthopedics has come about for one reason-the body’s response to TITANIUM. Titanium is the only metal which is so “bio-compatible” that bone grows directly to the prosthesis. Connective tissue does not grow between the titanium and bone .. It is a solid attachment, be it a hip or a dental implant.
In dentistry, innovation of how implants are restored and used in the mouth has gone through the biggest evolution. Manufacturers, competing for market share have used input from dental schools, study clubs and private practitioners to create varied and marvelous ways to successfully put teeth on implants.
With the vast improvement in digital x-rays, we are able to precisely plan the placement of one to multiple implants. The final result is teeth that are natural, beautiful and functional. Planning software developed for PC’s and Macs allows us to take the information from the X-rays and make templates which guide the surgeon. This minimizes operator error and increases the predictability of the restorative result.
If you think dental implants might be a solution for your missing teeth, we would be happy to set up a consultation appointment to review the possibilities.
My dentist told me I have gingivitis. My gums don’t hurt. I just get some bleeding when I brush and floss my teeth. Do I really need treatment?
We all know that early detection and treatment of any medical or dental problem is just common sense. Untreated gingivitis will likely progress to periodontitis. Though gingivitis is generally reversible with conservative treatment by the dental hygienist, once bone loss has occurred, the challenges are much greater.
We determine the severity of your periodontal status by a thorough periodontal examination, which includes measuring the crevice between the gum and tooth. We term any measurement over 3 millimeters a pocket. It is the depth and number of pockets, plus bleeding points, gum recession, and tooth mobility that indicate the severity of disease. In addition, x-ray and visual examination go together to enable us to make a diagnosis and customize a treatment plan to get the disease process under control.
There are numerous Risk Factors that contribute to periodontal disease: poor oral hygiene, sugary and acidic foods and drinks, smoking and chewing tobacco, type I or II diabetes, and some medications.
If you have any questions about the health of your gums or any other dental problem, contact our office for a complementary consultation.
I know I need a lot of dental work, but I’ve had some really bad experiences in the past. What can be done to make the experience more comfortable?
o many patients share your anxiety. There are a number of things that can be done to help:
Pick a dentist who will listen. Share your anxiety with him/her.
Have a plan. Make sure the most needed treatment is addressed first.
Take a test drive. Before you do treatment try the anxiety relief offered by the office.
Here are some “anxiety reliefs” we use in our office:
Bring your favorite music and earphones.
Discuss painless local anesthetic administration with your dentist. For those of you who “hate shots”, this is possible with the right mix of anesthetics.
Try nitrous oxide analgesia. When administered correctly, it works!
Discuss short term oral anxiety relief medications and medications that can be used the night before to lessen worry. These drugs can also induce post-op amnesia.
Some patients want to be “totally out” for dentistry. I.V. Sedation may be your best option.
Anxiety relief is not a “one-size-fits-all”. Each patient is uniquely different. A customized plan is essential.
I’ve been putting off getting the dental treatment I know I need. I just don’t think I can afford it, and I don’t have dental insurance. What can I do?
The first thing to do is talk to your dentist about your concerns. No one wants to lose their teeth. In most cases dentistry can be phased in such a way to spread out the expense. Here’s what you can do:
Start with a complete exam and consultation. Necessary x-rays, a thorough oral exam, and sometimes study models are needed for the dentist to help you formulate a plan. We call this “Co-Diagnosis”, you being an integral part of the decision making.
Prioritize your plan. Put the fires out first. This is a conversation you will need to have with your dentist.
Understand all of your options and the cost of each phase of treatment.
Once you have chosen your individualized plan, take a close look at the payment options offered by the office. There are many ways to finance your care. Make sure you understand all of your options. Most offices will work with you financially.
I’m missing a couple of teeth in the back of my mouth. They don’t show and I still seem to chew okay. I have been told that I should seriously consider replacing them. What do you think, oh wise one?
Did you know that the average American adult between the ages of 20 and 64 has three or more decayed or missing teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth, there are some very good reasons to correct the problem. For one thing, a large space between your teeth may affect how you speak or eat. Even if it is not noticeable, the teeth slowly shift, making chewing more difficult. This can happen so slowly you hardly notice it, but bone loss, gum recession, sensitivity and TMJ many times are the result.
With today’s advances, you don’t have to suffer from missing teeth. You have options:
Bridges. Anchored to adjacent teeth, these can be removable or fixed, depending on your mouth, your dentist’s recommendations and finances.
Dentures. An option if you have lost all or most of your teeth, or in the case of severe gum (periodontal) disease.
Implants. Most similar to a natural tooth. I will be writing about how implants can help you replace one missing tooth to a mouthful of teeth in next weeks “Ask Dr. C.”
What types of insurances do you accept?
We proudly accept most insurances. Call our friendly staff if you have any questions about financial policies.
In need of immediate care?
Dr. Cunningham provides emergency services after working hours and on weekends. Call (208) 726-3457