A rubber dam is a barrier made of stretchy rubber that is positioned in your mouth to isolate the treatment site and cover the rest of the mouth. Rubber dams are very useful for certain treatments, particularly when the dentist needs to focus on a specific area of the mouth. Also because the dam covers the throat, tongue, and all the remaining soft tissue of the mouth, you won’t experience any accidental grazing of an instrument or effects from material remnants that may come loose during a treatment.
One particular treatment that greatly benefits from the use of a rubber dam is fillings or composites. Since composites bond to the surface of the tooth, any moisture, such as saliva or even the humidity present in your breath, could affect how effectively the bond adheres to the tooth. Ineffective bonding can cause sensitivity, recurrent decay or in the most extreme case, loss of the filling. To avoid this situation, and keep the area of the filling or composite dry, the dentist uses a rubber dam to separate the tooth from the rest of the oral environment, which prevents any saliva or moisture from contaminating the site. The dam is also commonly used during root canal procedures.
Avoiding accidental injury to the patient is also our utmost concern; by using the rubber dam to expose only the treatment site, the rest of the mouth, tongue, and back of the throat are protected from the unlikely event of any materials or rinse leaving the treatment area, or an instrument grazing the tissue of the mouth.
Imagine going to the dentist and due to poor interoffice communication, the dentist implants the wrong material into your tooth. A competent dental assistant ensures that such a mistake will never happen. Upon arrival to the dentist’s office, the dental assistant is there to welcome you, ease any anxieties you may be experiencing, and explain the details of the procedure you’re to undergo with both you and the dental team. Dental assistants receive the requisite training to work smoothly with both patients and dentists, which ensures your visit to the office and any procedure you have is easy and exact.
If ever you were to experience an injury to the mouth, gum disease, significant tooth decay or other trauma or disease causing the loss of some or all of your teeth, you would most likely wish to replace the natural teeth with artificial teeth. One way to replace the missing teeth is with dentures. Modern technology has made dentures look like real teeth that not only give you a great smile, but also help you to eat, speak naturally and prevent facial droop, which often happens when a person loses his teeth and the muscles around the mouth lack proper support.
Several types of dentures have been created to meet people’s varying needs. The two most common are full dentures that are inserted into a mouth already healed from the removal of teeth, and partial dentures that are placed between existing teeth, or implants, to maintain the correct alignment of the teeth and help the patient chew and function normally. In this case, the saved teeth, or the implants, serve as supports for the dentures.
The chief side effect of denture wearing is some minor irritation or discomfort until your mouth adjusts to the dentures. Your dentist will adjust the dentures in a follow-up visit to ensure a best fit.
It is important to practice good dental hygiene when wearing dentures. Their cleaning is easy and effective. Your dentist will explain how to keep the dentures clean and your smile its brightest.
Taking an antibiotic before a dental procedure can seem a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Yet for some, this preventative measure, also called “antibiotic prophylaxis,” can speed the healing process as well as prevent any infection from developing as a result of the procedure.
Bacteria live inside everyone’s mouth. For most, the bacteria don’t cause any problems, but for some, if the bacteria get into an opening created during a procedure and enter the bloodstream, they can more readily cause infection. Pre-emptively giving the body a chance to fight off infection means the patient won’t have to worry about any illness or additional issues developing as a result of the procedure.
Not everyone requires prophylactic antibiotics, and your dentist will study your medical history to determine whether to prescribe them. By and large, those with artificial heart valves, certain heart conditions or those who have had a heart transplant certainly benefit from antibiotics prior to undergoing any dental procedure.
Gum recession happens to many people, particularly as we age. If you suddenly notice your gums receding or withdrawing from the teeth, it’s very important to be assessed by a dentist. Recession isn’t just an issue of aesthetics; when gums recede, the root becomes exposed. This makes teeth very sensitive to cold and hot and causes discomfort while eating and drinking.
Recession can happen to anyone, even to those who take good care of their teeth (or perhaps too good—overbrushing is one of the causes of recession!) A sports injury, ill-fitting dentures, smoking, periodontal disease, chronic inflammation, and genetic factors can also cause recession. Numerous types of treatments are available to combat recession. It’s best to speak to your dentist if you see any signs.
Perhaps you’ve heard some controversy over using fluoride- should it be in our toothpaste or is it hazardous? Should children steer clear or can it benefit their growing teeth? A quick search on the Internet will yield hundreds of results that tout the benefits of the naturally occurring chemical ion, and just as many that demonize it. It’s hard to know what or who is right.
In fact, both sides are right: there are benefits and drawbacks both to using fluoride.
Fluoride functions by stopping, and in some cases even reversing, the process of tooth decay. The Canadian Dental Association strongly recommends that everyone use fluoridated toothpaste.
Fluoride also has an antibacterial effect. With continual exposure to fluoride, teeth actually become stronger and can ward off damage from foods that turn acidic by the presence of certain bacteria, such as carbohydrates, or from foods that are in fact truly acidic.
However, fluoride intake should be monitored in children under the age of six. A dentist will guide the child and his parents as to the right amount and method of the fluoride intake for the child’s particular needs.
It is essential that fluoride not be overused; in excess, it leeches out the calcium in teeth, which actually accelerates the demineralization process and eventually causes tooth decay. Particularly important is to watch children as they brush to make sure they don’t make a habit of swallowing their toothpaste. During the formation of adult teeth, extensive fluoride intake will cause white spots to appear on the surface of the new teeth. These spots are where the enamel has weakened and chipped away.
If you’ve ever longed for a beautiful smile that showed off the straight, white teeth of your dreams, perhaps it’s time to consider your options. Certainly having straight teeth and a pretty smile makes us look great, and in turn, elevates our self confidence and affects how others perceive us. But there is an added benefit: bringing your teeth into alignment can heal or alleviate problems maligned teeth commonly experience such as issues with the gums and joints. Fixing your smile is doubly beneficial as it ensures a healthier mouth and a happier you.
If you’re reticent to consider braces because you’re haunted by images of your teenage years when kids sported mouths full of metal (and headgear!), take heart that technology has come a long way toward helping people straighten their teeth in less obtrusive ways. Numerous options are now available that are not only effective, but also discreet and designed for the adult wearer.
A consultation with your dentist could open the door to your having a healthy, beautiful smile. Braces nowadays are the most popular option. They are small and come in several colors, even clear, and can even be positioned on the inside surface of your teeth, so the only one who knows you’re straightening your smile is you. Frequent, gentle brushing and a water pick keeps the braces free of food debris and their presence to a minimum.
In addition to braces, there are other options, such as Invisalign, MTM clear aligners, and veneers, all of which are available to help you get the smile you deserve. It might be time to have a conversation with your dentist. You could be very close to the smile you’ve always wanted.
What exactly is a root canal? First, let’s look at the anatomy of a tooth: On the outside lies the white enamel and hard layer (dentin) of the tooth. Beneath the enamel and dentin is soft pulp containing tissues, nerves and blood vessels. If this pulp becomes infected or inflamed, which could be due to deep trauma, decay or even a chipped tooth, a dentist may need to perform a root canal.
In a root canal, the dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp and fills the tooth with a rubber-like material. The tooth is then protected by a filling or with a crown that covers the tooth. All teeth are different and it requires expertise to reach and clean out the exact point at the end of root without damaging the tooth. The further back in the mouth the tooth is located, the more complicated the procedure. The equipment and materials used to perform root canals are intricate and highly specialized.
A dentist will take every measure to save a tooth, and most teeth that undergo a root canal can last a lifetime, particularly if covered and protected by a crown and cared for with good oral hygiene both at home and through regular dental visits. Patients can enjoy eating normally, having their bites remain in tact, and will maintain their natural smiles.
A tooth can start to ache for numerous reasons, but one of the most common is tooth decay and inflammation of the tissue inside a tooth. Various factors can contribute to irritating the nerve inside the tooth, but once the irritant is removed, the nerve normally recovers. If, however, the inflammation doesn’t subside or the tooth doesn’t recover properly after the irritant is removed, the tooth registers the inflammation as pain.
Another common tooth pain is typically more sensitivity than pain, though the momentary sensation of sensitivity is quite painful. A small amount of decay, some minor gum recession or a loose filling could be the cause of sensitivity. Special toothpastes for sensitive teeth do help sensitivity due to gum recession if used regularly. If the sensitivity persists, it’s best to see a dentist for further treatment or advice.
Less common but quite distressing is constant or severe pain or pressure inside the tooth or jaw. This pain could be due to a swelling of the gum or an infection of the root or gum caused by an abscessed tooth. If you do experience significant pain in a tooth, it’s important that you see your dentist as soon as possible.
When a family dentist cares for an entire family, she gets to know each member of the family individually as well as becomes aware of any genetic medical problems or dental issues. The children of these families tend to grow up going to the same dentist as their siblings, mom and dad, which lessens their anxiety, and even makes a visit to the dentist fun.
Yet there may come a time when your family dentist might suggest you take your little one to a paediatric dentist rather than have the child remain under her care. This is often the case when the family dentist spots a more serious condition or one that requires the specific expertise of a paediatric dentist. It could also be that your child is too young to sit in a dental chair designed for adults or that she is particularly nervous and requires sedation tailored specifically for a child of her age. Any of these might be a reason your family dentist would recommend a specialist whose job it is to work only with children and whose training is entirely focused on helping children with their exact needs.