Posts for: March, 2018
Dental cleanings are an important part of regular dental office visits. Performed by a dental hygienist or dentist, cleanings serve two purposes: to remove bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened deposits of plaque) from tooth surfaces missed during daily brushing and flossing; and to remove stains that can dull your smile.
There are different degrees of cleaning, including root planing that removes plaque and calculus deep below the gum line, usually for patients affected by periodontal (gum) disease. For patients in good oral health, the basic cleaning approach is known as prophylaxis, a term derived from the Greek for guarding or preventing beforehand. The techniques used in a prophylaxis remove both “coronal” (tooth surfaces visible above the gum line) plaque and staining, providing both therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.
A typical prophylaxis includes a procedure known as scaling. Hygienists use special instruments known as scalers to remove plaque and calculus by hand, or an ultrasonic device that vibrates plaque loose and is flushed away with water. The procedure removes that rough coating you often feel as you rub your tongue against your teeth, leaving the tooth surfaces feeling smooth.
Tooth polishing is a subsequent procedure to scaling that also removes plaque and surface stains. Polishing is carried out with a motorized instrument with a rubber cup in which a polishing (or “prophy”) paste is contained. The hygienist moves the rapidly rotating cup filled with the paste over the tooth surface to remove plaque and stains. The end result is a highly smooth surface and a much shinier appearance.
People with dental insurance plans are often concerned tooth polishing may be viewed strictly as a cosmetic procedure, and thus not fully qualify for benefits. This should not be the case if coded properly: tooth polishing is part of the overall prophylaxis to remove plaque and staining. The primary purpose is therapeutic and preventive; the cosmetic effect is a by-product. Most dental plans will cover one or two prophylaxes (scaling and tooth polishing) a year, but there are variations so individuals should check their plans.
If you would like more information on dental cleaning, 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 “Tooth Polishing.”
If you're considering dental implants, they'll need to be surgically placed in the jaw bone. But don't be alarmed — it's a relatively minor procedure that usually requires nothing more than local anesthesia.
But that being said, it's still an invasive procedure that involves making incisions in gum and bone tissues. That could introduce bacteria into the bloodstream and pose, for certain individuals, a slightly greater risk of infection.
But infection risk is quite low for most healthy patients. As a result, implants enjoy a greater than 95-percent success rate ten years after installation. But some patients have health issues that increase their risk of infection. These include older adults with a weakened immune system, smokers, diabetics or those well under or over their ideal weight.
If you have these or similar health situations, we may recommend undergoing an antibiotic treatment before you undergo surgery. This can help prevent bacteria from spreading and reduce the likelihood of an infection.
Preventive antibiotic therapy is commonplace with many other dental procedures. Both the American Dental Association and the American Heart Association recommend antibiotics before any invasive oral procedure for patients with prosthetic (false) heart valves, past endocarditis, a heart transplant or other heart conditions. To lower the risk of implant failure due to infection, we often advise antibiotics for patients who fall in these categories, as well as those with similar conditions mentioned earlier.
Of course, whether pre-surgical antibiotics is a wise choice for you will depend on your medical history and current health status. We'll consider all these factors thoroughly before advising you. But if you are more susceptible to infection, antibiotics before surgery could potentially lower your risk for an implant failure.
Are you concerned about a tooth but don't know if a root canal is the right treatment for you? Our El Paso, TX, dentist, Dr. Steve Yi of El Paso Viva Dental, explains how you can benefit from a root canal.
Why are root canals performed?
Root canal therapy is used to treat pain caused by an inflammation or infection in the center of your tooth by removing the pulp. Pulp is located under the harder enamel and dentin layers of your tooth and is composed of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Although tooth pulp plays an important role during the formation of your teeth, it isn't vital to a tooth's functioning. In fact, after a root canal, your tooth will look and feel the same. You can continue to eat normally, and no one will ever be able to tell that you had a root canal.
What happens during a root canal?
Many of the steps in the root canal process are very similar to those used to treat cavities. After you receive a local anesthetic to numb your mouth, the tooth is opened, and the pulp is removed. Following removal of the pulp, the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. Tiny files are then used to clean and shape the root canals that travel from the tip of your tooth to the roots. In most cases, you'll receive a temporary filling at the end of your first appointment, a step that ensures that any traces of infection will have time to drain.
In a week or two, you'll return to our El Paso office for a permanent filling. In most cases, you'll also need a crown to strengthen your treated tooth.
How do root canals treat pain?
Removing the pulp eliminates the source of your pain. Although some patients are worried that root canal therapy will be painful, keeping you comfortable throughout the procedure is a priority. Treated teeth can be a little sensitive for a week or two after treatment, but mild pain or sensitivity will soon go away.
Protect and preserve an inflamed or infected tooth with root canal therapy. Call our El Paso, TX, dentist, Dr. Yi of El Paso Viva Dental, at (915) 751-1007 to schedule an appointment.