Frequently Asked Questions
I have a deep cavity in my tooth and my dentist says just filling it will not work and I need a root canal treatment. Why is that and what exactly is a root canal treatment?
Our teeth are made of enamel and dentin, hard tissues that coat a space containing sensitive pulp tissue. When a cavity due to decay becomes so deep that it begins to encroach on the pulp and cause it to become inflamed, simply filling it will not suffice. The inflamed pulp will need to be cleaned and the space filled with an inert material, which is what a root canal treatment means. The dentist judges whether a root canal is needed, by checking the tooth and x-rays. A root canal treatment may require more than one sitting.
I recently started a root canal treatment and after one sitting my tooth is still sensitive. Is that expected?
A root canal treatment can require one to three or even four sittings before the entire pulp is cleaned and the tooth is ready to be filled. An inflamed or abscessed tooth may take time to heal during the course of treatment and this is why at times pain-killers will be needed for a few days even while the treatment is going on.
My dentist says I have gum-disease, although I don’t have any pain in my gums. What are the signs of gum disease and what can I do to manage it?
Gum disease does not usually cause pain and can in fact remain ‘silent’ for long periods of time. Dental plaque and tartar deposits on teeth cause inflammation of gums and loss of the supporting bone of the tooth roots. The common signs that you have gum disease can be bleeding from gums that may be only on brushing or chewing hard food, an itching sensation in the gums, an unpleasant taste, bad breath, receding gums, teeth that seem loose or increasing gaps between the teeth. Gum disease can be treated and early intervention is important to preserving teeth.
I have a tooth with an old filling that chipped off while biting. The dentist recommends a ‘crown’ instead of a new filling. What is a crown and why is it necessary?
A crown is basically a ‘cap’ that completely covers and restores a tooth, usually made of metal or ceramic. A filling can restore only a part of a tooth while a crown restores and reinforces the entire structure. When a tooth has lost a major part of its structure, such as because of a deep decay, fracture or has had root canal done, it is not strong enough to retain a filling. In such cases, a crown is needed to restore the tooth and preserve its function.
How long will an extraction take to heal and what are the precautions that need to be taken afterward?
An extraction will usually need about a week’s time to heal, which is, for the gum tissue to grow over and close the wound. Immediately after extraction, care is needed to take care to prevent the clot plug formed within from dislodging, that is why patients are asked to bite on a pack for half an hour, avoid rinsing and not have hot food for the first 24 hours. Warm saline rinses can be started from the second day onwards. Bone healing with the extraction socket takes longer.
Will scaling of teeth cause side effects like wearing, loosening or sensitivity of teeth or gaps between teeth?
Scaling is a process of removing tartar deposits that have formed on teeth and is generally done with an ultrasonic scaler. The ultrasonic vibrations dislodge the tartar from teeth without causing damage or wear to the tooth enamel. As tartar deposits lodged between teeth are removed, gaps that they occupied may be felt initially. It is essential to remove the tartar as it leads to gum disease. Some sensitivity can occur after scaling and is usually transient, generally lessening spontaneously within a few weeks. Your dentist can provide desensitising pastes and mouthwash that can take care of sensitivity.
Dental care for a child can start at about 1 year old, when a first dental visit can be scheduled. A child’s baby teeth begin erupting by six to seven month old and by one year the dentist can note the child’s dental development patterns and spot any problems early. The dentist will also advice regarding a child’s oral hygiene care, fluoride needs and nutrition. Regular dental check ups every six months can help build life long dental health by timely care and create dental awareness early on.
Missing teeth should be replaced, not only to maintain chewing and facial appearance, but also to preserve the health of the remaining teeth and the jaw joint. Missing teeth can be replaced by either a removable or fixed prosthesis. A removable prosthesis replacing a few teeth is called a ‘partial denture’. It needs to be removed at night, and though the most economical, can take some while getting used to. A fixed prosthesis can be a ‘bridge’ that’s anchored on to the neighbouring teeth by crowning them or an implant supported prosthesis, that’s supported by dental implants placed in the jaw-bone. The kind of replacement best suited for a patient depends on individual factors such as number of missing teeth, condition of the remaining teeth, bone etc.
Teeth that are in harmony with the face can enhance a smile and personality. Cosmetic dentistry procedures can help create a better smile by changing the appearance of teeth. Teeth that are misaligned, chipped, have gaps, look too small, disproportionate, stained, yellowish or gummy may be corrected by cosmetic procedures. These can include veneering, cosmetic fillings, cosmetic gum contouring, bleaching or a combination of such procedures. The cosmetic dentist performs a smile analysis to determine what procedures are best suited to each case.
Dental implants replace tooth roots and have been successfully performed for more than thirty years now. The success of dental implants depends on many factors such as the jawbone condition and general health. On average dental implants are about 97% percent successful. The implant dentist performs a detailed case evaluation including medical factors and restorative needs to determine if dental implants are suitable, their type and number that is needed. Dental implant surgery is very similar to any other minor dental surgery procedure, painkiller and antibiotics are usually prescribed for a few days and most patients experience little discomfort afterwards.