Posts for category: Dental Procedures
One of the most widely used forms of dental imaging is the bitewing x-ray. So called because of the shape of the device that holds the exposable film a patient clenches between their back teeth, the bitewing x-ray is an effective means for detecting the earliest stages of tooth decay.
These early signs are small lesions on a tooth surface caused by mineral loss in the enamel. While we can identify them on front teeth through visual examination or bright lighting, they’re nearly impossible to see on the biting surfaces of back teeth. The bitewing x-ray solves this problem.
During the procedure, a narrow beam of x-rays is directed at the back teeth area. Since X-rays can transmit through solid matter, they pass through the teeth and gums to expose the film attached to the bitewing assembly.
X-rays pass through matter at different rates depending on the density of the tissue — a slower rate for harder tissues like teeth and bone and a faster rate for soft tissues like the gums. As a result, x-rays through teeth expose less of the film and appear as a lighter image than the gums. This difference is so precise even a tooth’s softer dentin appears slighter darker than its harder outer enamel.
This precision helps us identify decay lesions. Because the lesions on the enamel are less dense than the normal enamel, they’ll appear as dark spots. By detecting them at this stage we have a better chance for reversing the effects of decay or at least minimizing damage that’s already occurred.
Because x-rays emit radiation, there’s a natural concern about over-exposure and we go to great lengths to reduce it. Children may undergo a bitewing x-ray twice a year for developing teeth, while adults with healthy teeth are typically x-rayed just once a year. Advances in digital film and other technology have also helped lower the exposure rate.
Today’s standard 4-film bitewing x-ray produces about four days worth of what we receive on average from normal background radiation, so the health risk is quite negligible. The benefit, on the other hand, is much greater — the early detection of tooth decay could ultimately save a tooth.
The pain and pressure build. You have an awful toothache. For emergency dental treatment, call Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA, and serving Helendale. Dr. Samuel Kim and his team offer accurate, quick and compassionate care for pressing oral health concerns such as your toothache. Learn here what constitutes a dental emergency and how to provide first aid for some of the most common.
What is a dental emergency?
It's any oral health condition which comes on suddenly and causes intense pain or loss of structure and function in the mouth. Examples include:
- A knocked out, cracked or displaced tooth
- An abscessed tooth
- Bleeding of the lips, tongue, gums or other soft oral tissues
- A lost restoration such as a crown or filling
- Cracked denture or other tooth replacement
- Intense swelling of the jaw or gums
- Jaw dislocation or fracture (this requires an immediate trip to a hospital emergency room)
- A foreign object stuck between teeth
Fortunately, your dentist and his team are available for phone consultation and same-day emergency dental treatment as needed. So, if you experience one of the above situations, call Apple Valley Dental right away for first aid advice.
What to do in the meantime
Save a tooth, stop bleeding or quell pain with the following interventions:
- Grasp an avulsed tooth by the crown, rinse it in clear water and place it back in the socket--roots downward. Hold it in place until you see Dr. Kim. If you cannot replant it, place it in a sealed container with milk, water or even your own saliva. Knocked out teeth may survive if replanted by your dentist within an hour of injury.
- Try to dislodge foreign material between teeth with dental floss.
- Save the pieces of a broken tooth or restoration in a sealed bag, and bring them to the office for possible bonding.
- Ice a swollen jaw (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off) to reduce the pain and swelling associated with a dental abscess.
- Take over the counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain (no aspirin).
- Place direct pressure on a laceration with sterile gauze or a clean washcloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes, call the dental office.
Preparation and prevention
Consumer Guide to Dentistry recommends keeping an emergency dental kit handy particularly if you go on a family vacation or are involved in team sports. The kit should contain:
- Vinyl exam gloves
- Gauze 4x4s
- Clean washcloth or handkerchief
- A bottle of water
- Dental floss
- Orthodontic wax to cover jagged tooth edges
- A sealable container or plastic bag
Additionally, prevention is always the best medicine or intervention. Take care of your teeth and gums with routine at-home hygiene and six-months check-ups and cleanings at Apple Valley Dental. If you notice any problems developing, call the office right away. Finally, if you or a family member play sports, use a mouth guard.
Your best emergency dentist
It's Dr. Samuel Kim at Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA, and serving Helendale. Don't hesitate to call when a problem arises. Phone (760) 247-6007.
Your neighbor says she just had a root canal. You expect nasty details regarding a painful dental procedure. Instead, she tells you that Dr. Samuel Kim, her dentist in Apple Valley and serving Helendale, CA, performed a comfortable restorative treatment which relieved pain and other symptoms. She says her tooth feels and looks great. What is root canal therapy, and what signs tell your dentist at Apple Valley Dental that you may need it?
What is root canal therapy?
Some people call it torture, but in reality, root canal therapy is practically painless and salvages teeth destined for extraction. Also termed endodontic therapy, a root canal performed by your highly skilled Apple Valley and Helendale dentist removes the causes of tooth infection, inflammation, and breakdown.
Also, it preserves remaining viable tooth structure and covers it with a porcelain crown. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that most teeth treated with endodontic therapy last for many years--even the rest of the patient's life.
How does it work? Dr. Kim carefully examines the tooth in question, looking at its roots and surrounding bone with digital X-rays. If he confirms the need for a root canal, he'll prepare the patient with a local anesthetic. He'll place a protective dam around the tooth to keep infectious material from invading the mouth and throat.
Next, the dentist creates small access openings in the tooth. Each hole allows him to enter the root canals, the pulp-filled chambers which run down each tooth root (there can be four canals in all). He cleans each canal with metal files of ascending size and disinfects the chambers with special medication. Finally, he seals the canals with gutta-percha, a natural putty which supports the tooth and keeps out bacteria.
After placement of a temporary crown, the patient goes home to heal, treating the tooth gently over the next week or so. A soft diet and analgesics help with any discomfort.
At the next visit to Apple Valley Dental, Dr. Kim retrieves the temporary restoration and puts a new crown over the tooth. This completes the root canal.
Signs you need root canal therapy
If you ever have a tooth that just does not look or feel right, please call Apple Valley Dental right away. Signs that a tooth may be in trouble and require endodontics include:
- Sensitivity to cold, heat, or the pressure of chewing
- Reddened, swollen gums
- Jaw swelling
- A noticeable crack, chip, or discoloration of the enamel
- A pimple on the gums
- Drainage that tastes bad
If you think you have a sick tooth, or if Dr. Kim definitively says a root canal treatment would help you, please schedule your appointment at Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA, and serving Helendale. You can trust the skill, experience and gentle attitude of this patient-centered team. Call (760) 247-6007.
Eliminating pain and discomfort is one of our major objectives during dental treatment. To that end, our profession has developed a number of anesthetic drugs and deliveries that ensures your experience in the dentist’s chair is as pain-free as possible.
But there’s another experience many people have with dental care that’s different from physical discomfort — emotional anxiety. These negative emotions can range from nervousness about a procedure to extreme fear. Very often the patient has no control over these emotions — they’ve become imbedded from earlier experiences or the influence of others.
Although each can influence and heighten the other, anxiety and physical discomfort are different and require a different approach. Physical pain and sensation is eliminated through anesthesia, either locally through topical application or injection or generally through intravenous medication that renders a person unconscious. Anxiety, on the other hand, requires first building a trustful relationship with an understanding dentist. But it may also call for certain drugs that sedate — promote a feeling of relaxation — rather than numb sensation.
We’ve incorporated a number of sedative medications in dentistry like Valium or Ativan that work well to reduce anxiety before and during treatment. Many are taken orally, usually just before scheduled treatment, and they dissipate from the system quickly afterward. Some medications also have “amnesic” qualities, meaning you won’t remember anything or little at all about the treatment period. This can be helpful in amassing positive treatment experiences that may diminish negative feelings you’ve developed about dental treatment.
It’s important, though, to find the right types of medication that work well for you. For that reason we’ll take a thorough medical history, including prescription or over-the-counter medications and supplements you’re taking and any medical conditions you may have. It’s also important to discuss your diet (certain foods can inhibit the action of some sedatives) as well as if you use tobacco or regularly drink alcoholic beverages.
Taken properly, oral sedation can effectively reduce your anxiety during treatment. As a result, it will be much easier and pleasant for you to receive the care you need for a healthy mouth.
If you would like more information on reducing anxiety during dental treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”
Mayim Bialik has spent a good part of her life in front of TV cameras: first as the child star of the hit comedy series Blossom, and more recently as Sheldon Cooper’s love interest — a nerdy neuroscientist — on The Big Bang Theory. (In between, she actually earned a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA…but that’s another story.) As a child, Bialik had a serious overbite — but with all her time on camera, braces were just not an option.
“I never had braces,” she recently told Dear Doctor – Dentistry & Oral Health magazine. “I was on TV at the time, and there weren’t a lot of creative solutions for kids who were on TV.” Instead, her orthodontist managed to straighten her teeth using retainers and headgear worn only at night.
Today, there are several virtually invisible options available to fix orthodontic issues — and you don’t have to be a child star to take advantage of them. In fact, both children and adults can benefit from these unobtrusive appliances.
Tooth colored braces are just like traditional metal braces, with one big difference: The brackets attached to teeth are made from a ceramic material that blends in with the natural color of teeth. All that’s visible is the thin archwire that runs horizontally across the teeth — and from a distance it’s hard to notice. Celebs like Tom Cruise and Faith Hill opted for this type of appliance.
Clear aligners are custom-made plastic trays that fit over the teeth. Each one, worn for about two weeks, moves the teeth just a bit; after several months, you’ll see a big change for the better in your smile. Best of all, clear aligners are virtually impossible to notice while you’re wearing them — which you’ll need to do for 22 hours each day. But you can remove them to eat, or for special occasions. Zac Efron and Katherine Heigl, among others, chose to wear clear aligners.
Lingual braces really are invisible. That’s because they go behind your teeth (on the tongue side), where they can’t be seen; otherwise they are similar to traditional metal braces. Lingual braces are placed on teeth differently, and wearing them often takes some getting used to at first. But those trade-offs are worth it for plenty of people. Which celebs wore lingual braces? Rumor has it that the list includes some top models, a well-known pop singer, and at least one British royal.
So what’s the best way to straighten your teeth and keep the orthodontic appliances unnoticeable? Just ask us! We’d be happy to help you choose the option that’s just right for you. You’ll get an individualized evaluation, a solution that fits your lifestyle — and a great-looking smile!
For more information about hard-to-see (or truly invisible) orthodontics, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics for the Older Adult” and “Clear Aligners for Teenagers.”