Second Opinion for Dental Work: Why, How, and When it is Necessary

When your dentist has diagnosed that you have a “mouthful” of oral health problems that need to be fixed, there are times when you have doubts if all of the prescribed dental work are absolutely necessary.

Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal.

Each dentist has a unique background and have encountered various dental health problems in their practice.

If you think you need a second opinion just to be sure, then by all means, get one.

There is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion – even the American Dental Association says so.

The benefit of getting a second opinion

Seeking a second – or even third or fourth opinion – can help you make a more informed decision about your treatment because you are given multiple perspectives.

Especially if your dentist is a general dentist, it would be more advantageous to seek the opinion of a specialist.

This is not to say that your general dentist lacks knowledge; rather, it’s because a specialist has more experience in the diagnosis and management of specific oral health problems.

When to get a second opinion

To reiterate, one instance where it might be necessary to get a second opinion is when your case requires to be seen by specialist.

While there is no rule on when to get a second opinion, it still depends on what the problem is and the corresponding treatment for it.

For example, minor oral health problems like a little cavity on your molar or changing a filling don’t really warrant a look by multiple dentists.

But if it is something like a gum surgery, then it is worth consulting with a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of gum problems).

Other instances where you should consider a second opinion include:

1) A major health problem was diagnosed (i.e. oral cancer),
2) The treatment instituted did not improve your condition in any way, and
3) The recommended treatment or treatment plan is not within your budget and you want an alternative.

How to get a second opinion

There are a number of ways for you to find another dentist to seek second opinion from. For one, you can ask you current dentist for referral to one of her colleagues.

If you’re not comfortable talking to your dentist, you can ask your family or friends instead and see if they can recommend their dentist.

You can also call a dental society (local or national) and they can surely refer you for a second opinion consultation.

If you have dental insurance, be sure to call your insurance company first to confirm if second opinions are covered.

Most companies cover further consultations but only under certain conditions or circumstances.

Once your find you second dentist, here are some important points to discuss:

  • The diagnosis of your current dentist.
  • The treatment options available, both recommended and alternative.
  • The cost and risks of each treatment option.
  • The consequences of refusing treatment.
  • The longevity of the results and need for additional treatments in the future.

Upon getting your second opinion and comparing it with your current dentist’s recommendations, be sure to weigh your options thoroughly before proceeding.

If the two opinions are conflicting and you can’t make up your mind, you can always ask for another opinion.

After all, when making decisions about your health – oral or general – you have to be 100% comfortable and satisfied with the information you receive.

How to Teach Your Kids Better Oral Hygiene

Children must be taught of the importance of oral health care as soon as possible.

Learning proper oral hygiene at an early age is crucial for long-term oral health.

Help your child develop a lifetime of healthy smiles by teaching them good dental care habits.

Here are some strategies that could help you.

Lead by example

The best way to teach your kids is by showing them how something is done. They learn faster that way.

Your kid should see you brushing your teeth when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed at night.

If you do this before they wake up or after they go to bed, change your routine so they can watch you. You can even let you help them you brush your teeth like how you help them with theirs.

Make it a fun time

Seeing you actually do it is a great start, but it would be a whole lot better if you’d make toothbrushing a fun time.

Be creative and make up a story, sing, or have them listen to a cute song about toothbrushing.

If you make it a fun and exciting activity, you kid will surely look forward to it.

Use an electric toothbrush

Another effective way to motivate your child to brush their teeth is by using an electric toothbrush.

Aside from looking like a toy which they’d be more excited to use, it also makes brushing fast, easy, and more efficient.

A water flosser instead of the usual thread floss will also be more interesting for them. For mouth rinses, use one with yummy color and flavor.

Gross them out

You kid will also be encouraged to improve their oral hygiene if they know what will happen if they don’t brush their teeth.

One way to do so is by using plaque disclosing tablets or solutions that would help show areas of plaque buildup.

Tell them that these areas are the ones they often miss, but don’t forget to also show those areas that they were able to brush thoroughly.

If the plaque deposits have already turned into tartar, let them know that they need to visit the dentist to have them removed because simple toothbrushing won’t do.

Let them take over

Children aged six years old and above may be able to brush on their own so let them take over.

Kids’ dexterity at this age is enough for them to be allowed to take charge of their own dental care.

Just be sure to supervise them while doing it and inspect their teeth after to make sure that they have done it properly.

The American Dental Association recommends supervising your kids until age 8.

Better yet, ask them to brush along with you. You can also use a timer that will let them know when to proceed onto the next teeth.

Children live by their older people’s example, so it is up to you as a parent and role model whether or not they will stick with good dental habits.

Encourage them to brush and floss daily and watch them grow up with strong teeth and overall healthy mouths.

Oral Healthcare Tips for the Holidays

Tis the season to be jolly… true.

But while the holidays can keep you busy, you should never let it disrupt your daily oral health care routine.

In fact, this is an especially important time to look after your teeth, as the sugary treats around are more plenty than usual.

Keep your holiday smile bright by following these tips.

Don’t forget your basic oral hygiene

Due to their busy schedules planning parties and buying gifts here and there, a lot of people forget the most important oral hygiene tasks that can counteract the effects stress and diet on their teeth.

After eating, don’t forget to brush your teeth at the very least.

If you can’t do it right away, just chew a piece of sugarless gum to increase flow of saliva and wash away the bacteria.

But be sure to brush and floss as soon as you get the chance.

If you are a bruxist, visit your dentist for a custom night guard

Holidays can be stressful that it can cause some people to grind and clench their teeth.

And if you already have that habit, it could get worse. Grinding and clenching can potentially result to chipped teeth, headaches, and jaw pain.

Prevent this by visiting your dentist.

Now, we know that no matter how much you love your dentist, he or she isn’t the one that you’d want to spend time with this season.

But your dentist is the one who can recommend solutions like wearing at mouth-guard at night to help protect your teeth against each other.

Keep yourself hydrated

Understandably, it can be quite difficult to resist that sumptuous bottle of red wine siting on the table.

Before indulging on this nice treat, think first about the effects that it can have on your oral health.

Take a glass or two, and if you’re still thirsty after that, try drinking plenty of water.

Not only does it have positive effects on your overall health, but it can also help prevent bad breath by flushing out any bacteria that lingers in the mouth.

Avoid too much chewy and sugary treats

The temptation of indulging in sweets (yup, that candy platter) and chewy sticky stuff (toffee and caramel, anyone?) can be quite difficult to overcome, so we won’t stop you from enjoying them.

However, you have to watch how much you consume. And after munching on them, don’t forget to rinse you mouth and brush your teeth as soon as you can.

Better yet, prepare healthy alternatives to these sweet treats by serving fresh fruits (a fresh fruit salad, perhaps?) or crunchy vegetables.

Don’t use your teeth as tool

If you need to shell nuts, your teeth is not the right tool for it.

Find a nutcracker and never ever use your teeth as an alternative.

The hard surface of nutshells may damage your teeth or even chip or crack them. You don’t want to spend the holidays with broken teeth now, do you?

The holiday season is something that we look forward to every year because it is not just about the tasty treats, but all for spending quality time with our loved ones as well.

However, the busy schedule and preparations should not be an excuse for you to forget about your oral health.

You wouldn’t want a toothache to ruin the celebration, right? Follow the tips above so you and your teeth will all be joyful and merry.

Dental Treatment Considerations for Pregnant Women: Part I

In between trips to your ob-gyne, shopping for baby stuff, and setting your little angel’s bedroom, never forget to include your dental visits in your pregnancy checklist.

Your oral health is as important as your general health during this crucial period, and your dentist can help you with any dental-related symptoms you might be experiencing.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Dental Association, “all pregnant women should do regular dental visits because “oral health is directly related to good overall health.”

As for your dentist, here are the treatment considerations that they have to implement when handling pregnant patients.

Elective Dental Treatment

Elective dental treatment pertains to procedures that are not urgently needed.

They are recommended by dentists because they are beneficial for the patient, but doesn’t need to be done right away.

These include simple restorative procedures, professional cleaning (for maintenance), and most cosmetic dental procedures.

In pregnant women, these procedures may be postponed until after you have given birth, particularly if it involves the anesthetics and x-rays.

Emergency Dental Treatment

Emergency treatment is the opposite of elective, as it requires the procedure to be performed in the soonest time possible.

This includes symptomatic cases of extensive tooth decay which necessitates immediate restoration or extraction.

Tooth decay, in particular, must be considered an emergency because the infection can spread throughout the body and affect your unborn baby.

Severe or advanced cases of gum disease must also be addressed whenever possible because it also increases the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, the most common of which is premature birth and low birth weight.

Timing of Dental Treatment

As much as possible, all dental treatment must be postponed until after giving birth and dental visits must be limited to check-ups and oral hygiene instructions.

However, since this is not possible and treatment is needed in most instances, the best time to do elective dental procedures is during the second trimester, because it is during the first and third trimesters when the unborn baby is most sensitive to chemicals and radiation.

Only emergency dental procedures must be considered during the first and third trimesters.

If x-rays are necessary for the emergency treatment, the number of shots taken is the fewest possible.

Scaling and polishing for advanced cases of gum disease may be repeated up to the first half of the third trimester only.

Dental X-rays

Although dental x-rays are deemed safe by the American Dental Association due to their low dose, they are used only when absolutely necessary.

As much as possible, you dentist will delay taking x-rays until after your first trimester. And to protect you and your baby from the radiation, he or she will ask you to wear a lead apron with thyroid collar.

If you have concerns, you can always talk to your dentist to evaluate your case and see if x-rays can be rescheduled at a later period.

There you go. Done – with the first part.

There’s a lot of things your dentist consider when handling pregnant patients and one blog post isn’t enough to discuss all of them.

That’ why this post will come with a second part where more treatment considerations will be discussed.

A Parent’s Guide To Tooth Decay in Kids

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases that affect children. According to studies, more than half of children aged 2 to 11 has at least one decayed tooth in their mouth.

In this article, we come up with a handy parent’s guide to tooth decay in kids so you’ll know what expect when your child develops a cavity and how to prevent it.

Early Childhood Caries

The American Dental Association define Early Childhood Caries, or ECC, as having at least one missing, decayed, or filled tooth surface in any of the 20 primary teeth.

The primary teeth, or baby teeth, are the first set of teeth that erupt in the mouth. ECC is an infectious disease that poses a significant public health problem and must therefore be prevented.

Causes of Early Childhood Caries

Early Childhood Caries can occur as soon as the first baby teeth appear in the mouth.

The most common risk factor to its development is prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugary fluids, such as when leaving your kid’s baby bottle in his/her mouth while he/she sleeps or when using a training cup.

The sugary fluids in the bottle or cup pool around the teeth, causing decay. This is why ECC is otherwise known as baby bottle tooth decay.

Another factor than has a huge impact on your kid’s teeth is diet. Again, sweets should be limited because they cause increased risk for decay, while nutritious foods can help make teeth healthy and strong if coupled with good oral hygiene.

What to Expect

Tooth decay, especially if extensive, can cause pain and discomfort. If left untreated, it can also lead to the damage of the developing permanent teeth underneath.

Most cases of decay require dental work, which can range to simple fillings for small cavities to a full crown for the more extensive ones. Treatment is necessary from prevent decay of other teeth.

Prevention of Early Childhood Caries

The best way to ensure that your kid’s teeth will be decay free is institute proper oral hygiene early on. In babies, it is important to wipe their gums with a clean washcloth every after feeding.

Once the primary teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with small toothbrush and water – no need to use fluoride toothpaste yet, water is just fine.

When your child is old enough, usually at age 2, you may begin using fluoride toothpastes. Use a pea-sized amount only and be sure to supervise him/her until you’re sure that he/she can brush properly enough (oftentimes at age 6).

Although very common among kids, tooth decay is easily preventable. Aside from watching your kid’s eating habits and instilling good oral hygiene at a young age, it is also advisable to visit the dentist regularly so that any dental problems can be detected and treatment – be it curative or preventive – can be rendered as early as possible. Always remember, your kid’s dental health is just as important as his/her general health.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery – What to Expect After?

One of the reasons that makes going to the dentist a dreadful thought is tooth extraction. And we’re only talking about a simple extraction procedure here.

What if what it is your wisdom tooth that has to be extracted? As you might probably know, it is a way more extensive procedure because it involves a lot of pretty complicated steps.

But you don’t have to worry about undergoing it if you know what to expect after the operation and what you can do about it.

Bleeding

Bleeding is a common complication of any type of surgery, including simple extraction and wisdom tooth surgery.

Some bleeding may occur for up to a few minutes after surgery, but it’s nothing that cannot be stopped by applying pressure on the surgical area.

Do this by biting firmly on a piece of gauze for half an hour at least to allow for the formation of a blood clot that will plug the tooth socket.

Apply a new piece of gauze as needed. If the bleeding becomes profuse and persistent, you must contact your dentist immediately.

Aside from pressure application, you will also be given other instructions to keep bleeding to minimum. Basically, any activity that generates negative pressure like smoking, spitting, and using straws should be avoided.

Negative pressure creates a suction effect that can dislodge the clot and start bleeding again. It is also advised to refrain from doing any activity that causes blood pressure to rise.

You will also be instructed to be on a soft, cold diet for the first 24 hours. Cold promotes narrowing of the blood vessels on the extraction site, thereby preventing further bleeding.

Pain and Discomfort

You may also start to feel pain and some other discomfort a couple of hours after the operation, as anesthesia start wears off.

The degree of discomfort depends on your tolerance and the extent of the surgery. Needless to say, in a more extensive and traumatic surgery, the discomfort will be greater.

It will be mild to moderate in nature, but painkillers such as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid should be enough to get rid of them, otherwise, contact your dentist for further instructions because you might be experiencing the so-called dry socket.

With regards to your oral hygiene, you can avoid further discomfort by not brushing the area for the first 24 hours. You can clean it by rinsing it with a warm saline solution or an alcohol-free mouthwash. After a day, you should be able to go back to your normal oral hygiene routine.

Swelling

Swelling is another definite complication of surgery, and it will greatest for 48 to 72 hours after the operation.

To minimize swelling during this period, you may apply cold compress on intermittently on the area. Cold relieves swelling by causing the blood vessels to constrict.

Also, be sure to keep your head slightly above the heart level when lying down.

Infection

Infection should not be much of a problem if the operation is completed in the fastest possible time, although antibiotics may be given prior to and after the operation.

One way to determine if infection has occurred is the presence of foul odor. To combat infection, take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your dentist. Typically, you have to be on antibiotics thrice a day for seven to ten days.

Follow-up visits

After your surgery, you will be asked to come back to your dentist’s clinic for a follow-up visit, the purpose of which is to monitor healing. This follow-up visit should be done a week after the operation, or earlier if the depending on the complications you are experiencing.

Mind The Gap: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention of Diastema

Diastema, otherwise known as tooth gap, pertains to the spacing between two or more teeth. It is most often seen on the front teeth, although the back teeth may also be involved.

Children are the most commonly affected, albeit temporary and should correct itself once the primary teeth fall off and the permanent teeth comes out.

In adults, however, diastema is most likely permanent and requires orthodontic treatment for correction.

Causes of Diastema

The most common cause of diastema is the discrepancy between the size of the teeth and that of the jaw. Spacing occurs when the teeth are normal in size but the jaw is too big, or if the jaw is normal in size but the teeth are too small for it.

A special condition called a peg lateral refers to the developmental defect of the lateral incisor, resulting to gap between the lateral incisor and the teeth adjacent to it (central incisor and canine).

The spacing may also cause the central incisor to drift into the space, resulting to a small midline gap between the two central incisors.

Other causes of diastema include missing or unerupted teeth, oral habits (such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking), periodontitis, mesiodens, and oversized labial frenum.

If diastema is caused by a missing tooth, the spacing tends to get worse over time as other teeth drift into the space, leading to gaps between more teeth.

Meanwhile, oral habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking push the upper front teeth forward, creating space as they flare out.

Periodontitis, on the other hand, refers to the advanced form of gum disease characterized by bone loss in addition to the inflammation of the gums.

The aggressive form of this disease results to the fast destruction of the supporting bone, causing the affected teeth to become mobile.

Mobility results to gap formation, which tend to worsen over time if periodontitis is left untreated. The labial frenum, a small band of soft tissue located found just above the two upper central incisors, may also cause diastema if it is large enough.

If this tissue extends far below its normal position and passes between the two central teeth, it prevents these teeth from naturally closing the space between them.

Lastly, mesiodens causes diastema the same way as an oversized labial frenum – it grows at the back of the central incisors, thereby preventing them to come together and close the gap.

Treatment of Diastema

Although diastema doesn’t have any adverse effects on one’s health, most patients prefer to have it corrected for aesthetic purposes.

There are several techniques of closing a diastema, and the use of each one depends on the cause of the problem and the amount of space that has to be closed.

The most recommended method for closing a diastema is orthodontic treatment. It involves the installation of dental braces on the upper and lower teeth to pull the teeth together and close the space.

But if the cause of the problem is an oversized labial frenum or mesiodens, then surgery must be performed first prior to putting braces; otherwise, the problem may only recur once the appliance is removed. The surgical procedure for removing frenum is called a frenectomy.

Take note that in children, orthodontic treatment is not always a necessary follow-up as the space naturally closes once the cause is eliminated.

For small gaps, the patient may opt for placement of composite restorations or crowns instead of orthodontic treatment.

If the space is due to a missing tooth, then tooth replacement options like fixed bridges, removable dentures, and dental implants should be considered.

If it is brought about by periodontal disease, professional cleaning and deep scaling are the initial steps because the aim is to control the disease first. This will be followed by splinting of the involved
teeth, installation of dental braces, or restoration with a fixed bridge or denture.

Prevention of Diastema

If diastema is caused by developmental defects, then there’s no way to avoid it. Further widening of the space, however, can be prevented by using splint to stop the teeth from moving farther away from each other.

Orthodontic treatment is also preferred as early as possible. For diastema due to periodontal disease, the best method to prevent further widening of the gap is to practice proper oral hygiene.

Brushing and flossing can do so much to halt progression of periodontal disease. Then, splinting the involved teeth is also recommended to stop the teeth from moving away some more.

For cases caused by oral habits, the most logical thing to do is to break such habit. You can go to your dentist for counselling and placement of appliances that can help control the habit.

Teeth Whitening: Frequently Asked Questions

Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures today, and that is for one very simple reason: your smile is among the first things people notice about you.

If your pearly whites aren’t as “white” as they are supposed to, then that might give a little bit of a thumbs down.

If you looking to undergo teeth whitening to bring back that spark in your smile, then might as well learn more about the procedure.

Listed here are some of the most common questions patients have regarding teeth whitening.


What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure wherein your dentist restores the natural color of your teeth by removing stains on the enamel and applying a specially-formulated whitening product.

It is different from teeth bleaching, which involves whitening the teeth beyond its normal color through professional application of products that contain peroxides.

Today, “whitening” and “bleaching” are used interchangeably and practically means the same thing for patients.


How is teeth whitening done?

Your dentist will first perform a thorough dental examination to determine if you are suited to undergo teeth whitening. Take note that both teeth whitening and bleaching can only target extrinsic stains.

If the discoloration is caused by intrinsic stains (flurosis, tooth decay, etc), then neither whitening nor bleaching can solve the problem.

Once cleared, your dentist will now present you with two options – to have the whitening done in the clinic or at home with a teeth whitening kit.

In chairside whitening, which is done at the dental clinic, your dentist will first put a rubber shield or use a special gel on your gums to protect it from the whitening agent.

Once the gums are fully-protected, the whitening or bleaching agent – also in gel form – will now be applied on your teeth.

This whitening agent contains either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide and is activated by a special blue light.

For at-home whitening kits your dentist will first take an impression of your upper and lower teeth.

This will help create a replica of your teeth which, in turn, will be used to fabricate custom-made trays that fit perfectly in your mouth. This tray will serve as vehicle for the whitening agent that will be provided by your dentist as part of the kit.

You will be provided with instructions as to how much gel should be used and how often you have to apply it.


How many appointments does chair-side whitening require?

It depends on how discolored your teeth are prior to the treatment, and how much whiter you wish them to be. Typically, it takes at least three appointments to see the difference.

In each appointment, your dentist will monitor the improvements and provide you with further instructions as needed.


How long will the effect of teeth whitening last?

On the average, the whitening effect lasts for up to three years, but it can be shorter or longer depending on your behavior and habits.

Shorter effects are expected in patients who smoke, or those who love to consume heavily-colored food and beverages. Not to mention, poor oral hygiene can also cause your teeth to darken much faster.


Will teeth whitening affect my existing restorations?

Whitening agents have very little or no effect at all to restorative materials. They do, however, affect the bond strength of composite filling to the tooth enamel.

But this effect is only temporary and won’t cause the restoration to fall off. A consultation with your dentist should answer concerns like this before the actual whiting procedure.


Is teeth whitening safe?

Both teeth whitening and bleaching are absolutely safe if done by well-trained licensed dentist. There will be some sensitivity after the procedure, but it is only temporary and should go away after a day or two.

None of the whitening or bleaching agents used should cause damage to tooth structure. With regards to at-home whitening kits, there shouldn’t be any problem as long as you follow your dentist’s instructions thoroughly


How much does teeth whitening cost?

The cost of teeth whitening varies, ranging from a measly $20 to a whopping $1000. Chairside whitening costs $300-800 on the average, while at-home kits are only a bit cheaper at $200-600. And since teeth whitening is done mainly for cosmetic purposes, dental insurance plans don’t cover it.

Most Common Dental Treatments – Explained! (Part 2)

You’ve made yourself more familiar about scaling and polishing, restorations, root canal treatment, simple extraction, and odontectomy from the first part of this article.

Now, let’s discuss some more in this second part. Learn more about the different options for tooth replacement, as well orthodontic treatment.

Denture Service

Denture service refers to the replacement of missing teeth with fixed or removable prosthesis.

A fixed denture is secured in place using dental cements, while removable dentures can be taken out of the mouth whenever you want to.

Fixed dentures include your tooth- or implant-supported dental bridges. Removable dentures, on the other hand, are your partial or complete
conventional dentures.

A fixed bridge replaces one or more missing teeth. It is made up of porcelain, metal, or a combination of both, depending on your functional and esthetic needs.

Front teeth calls for the use of highly-esthetic porcelain, while back teeth mostly require metal due to heavy biting forces.

Metal-porcelain bridges, otherwise called a PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal) bridge, can be used on any teeth regardless of their location because it combines the esthetics of porcelain with the strength of metal.

Making a fixed bridge requires removal of some tooth structure on the teeth adjacent to the space left by the missing ones. These teeth will provide support for the prosthesis.

Once enough tooth structure is removed, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth and send it to a dental laboratory for the fabrication of the fixed bridge. Once done, your dentist will now install it in your mouth.

Removable dentures, meanwhile, replace two or more missing teeth. It may also be used to replace a single tooth whenever a fixed bridge or a dental implant is not indicated.

Partial dentures replace several, but not all, missing teeth while complete dentures are for patients who have absolutely no teeth left. Removable dentures also require impression-taking, and they are made mostly of a plastic-like material called acrylic.

The advantage of having a removable denture instead of a fixed one is that you can take them out of the mouth whenever you need to clean them. Fixed dentures, nonetheless, look and feel more natural and tend to restore function much better.

Dental Implant Surgery

Another option for replacing missing teeth is through the use of dental implants.

A dental implant is a small screw inserted into the jawbone to act as an artificial tooth root to which a crown, bridge, or denture will be attached.

The procedure for placing dental implants is called an implant surgery. Dental implant is the best tooth replacement option available due to its excellent restoration of both function and esthetics.

The material of choice for dental implants is titanium, a metal which is inert, biocompatible, and has the ability to integrate into the surrounding bone tissue.

A dental implant surgery is usually performed by an oral surgeon, but it can also be done by a dentist trained in implantology.

It consists of two stages, although there are some practitioners who do the first and second stages in one operation. In a two-stage surgery, the first stage involves drilling the jaw bone and burying the implant into it.

The area will then be allowed to heal for a couple of months before proceeding with the second stage of the surgery. The second stage involves the uncovering the buried implant and placing a healing abutment into it. This abutment will hold the crown, bridge, or denture.

Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malocclusion (a.k.a. bad bite).

Malocclusion results when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned. An orthodontic treatment involves the installation of various dental appliances – the most common of which are dental braces – to bring the teeth to their proper alignment and, in turn, correct the patient’s bite.

Dental braces can be used to straighten the teeth, close tooth gaps, or push the teeth backwards to make space for other teeth. They consist of metal wires and brackets, and are fixed on the teeth using dental cements.

Removable braces are also available, although they work much slower than their fixed counterpart. And if show of metal is your concern, there are more esthetic braces made of ceramic or clear plastic.

A special type of braces called Invisalign (short for invisible aligners) is an excellent alternative to metal braces as far as esthetics is concerned.

Conclusion

So that concludes our article for the most common treatments offered by your dentist. Hopefully, knowing more about these treatments will make your next dental visit as comfortable as possible. But of course, not every little is covered in these two articles, so it is still best to ask your dentist to fill you up on some details. Don’t hesitate to ask questions so you can have a full understanding of whichever treatment you are about to undergo.

Most Common Dental Treatments – Explained! (Part 1)

The very thought of going to the dentist can be overwhelming for most patients, regardless of whether it is just for a simple dental check-up or a lengthy treatment.

But knowing what to expect per visit, especially information on the dental treatment you are about to receive, can help your next experience at the dental clinic go a lot more smoothly.

So in this article, we will try to explain the most common treatments provided by dentists, and these include the following:


Scaling and Polishing

Scaling and polishing is your dentist’s term for what you probably know as professional cleaning. It involves the use of hand instruments or an equipment called ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and calcular deposits (a.k.a. tartar) from the surface of the teeth.

Aside from removing these deposits, scaling also results to micro-scratches on the tooth surface. That is why your dentists always follow it up with polishing.

Polishing makes use of a polishing paste delivered to the teeth by a rotary instrument. It is advised that you undergo scaling and polishing at least once a year to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.


Restoration

Restoration pertains to replacing missing tooth structure caused by decay or trauma. The restoration may either be a simple filling, a veneer, or a crown.

Fillings are used to repair small holes in the tooth surfaces. They can either be silver-colored or tooth-colored depending on which tooth needs to be restored.

Silver-colored fillings are known as amalgam, and are indicated for the back teeth. Tooth-colored fillings, on the other hand, are used mainly on front teeth because they are more esthetic.

A dental veneer is commonly used for a discoloured tooth instead of a decayed or damaged one. Made from a thin shell of either porcelain or composite, it is placed on the facial surface of the front teeth. Putting a veneer requires some slight modification of the front surface of the tooth.

Meanwhile, a crown is a type of restoration that covers the entire tooth crown. It is usually indicated for teeth with extensive damage, particularly the ones that underwent a prior root canal treatment. The materials used to fabricate a crown include metal, porcelain, or a combination of both.

Like your dental veneers, modification of the tooth crown is also required, and greater amount of tooth structure reduction may be necessary. A dental laboratory will fabricate the crown, but it is your dentist who will put it on your teeth through the use of special dental cements.


Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment (RCT), otherwise called endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure done on badly-broken down teeth wherein the infection or decay has already reached the pulp.

The dental pulp is the soft tissue at the center of the tooth. This tissue houses the blood and nerve supply of the tooth.

Pulp infection is always irreversible, and the only way to save the tooth is to perform RCT. If RCT is not done and the tooth is left untreated, infection will spread into the supporting structures of the tooth and it may have to be extracted eventually.

In RCT, your dentist will remove the entire pulp tissue to get rid of all the infection. The root canal, or the space previously occupied by pulp, will then be cleaned, shaped, and obturated with a rubbery filling material.

The filling material will help seal the canal and prevent it from becoming infected again. Once RCT is complete, the tooth will then be restored with a crown to seal it from the oral environment. Multiple appointments are required for this treatment.


Extraction

Extraction basically means pulling the tooth out of its socket, and it is done whenever the tooth is so damaged that not even RCT can save it.

It is often the last resort, after your dentist has decided that other treatment won’t just work. A special, more complicated type of extraction called odontectomy is performed on impacted teeth.

Simple extraction is done under local anesthesia, while odontectomy may be performed under local or general anesthesia.


Odontectomy

Odontectomy is an extraction procedure done on impacted teeth. A tooth is said to be impacted if it fails to fully erupt in the mouth due to some sort of impediment and/or lack of space.

The third molars, also known as the wisdom teeth, are the most commonly impacted mainly because they are the last teeth to erupt and by then, there’s no enough space left for them.

Other teeth that are often impacted include the upper canines and the premolars.
Odontectomy is usually done under general anesthesia, although local anesthesia may sometimes be enough.

A general dentist or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs the procedure. The operation starts with your dentist creating an incision on the area of the impacted tooth. The gum tissue overlying the tooth will then be lifted, and bone reduction will be done as necessary.

This will be followed by sectioning the tooth to facilitate easy removal from its socket. The crown will be removed first, followed by the roots.

After the entire tooth is removed, the gum flap will now be re-positioned and closed with stitches. Your dentist will provide you with some post-operative instructions to minimize bleeding and swelling. You will also be asked to come back after a week for check-up and removal of stitches.

So that’s it for now. Think we missed something? You’re right. Learn more about the other procedures on the second part of this article.