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Posts for: October, 2013

By Norton Family Dentistry
October 28, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth pain  
ConfusingToothPain

Is it a root canal problem, a gum infection, or both?

Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint the source of tooth pain; it can result from an infection of the tooth itself, or of the gum, or even spread from one to the other. Identifying the origin of a toothache is important, however, so we can choose the right treatment and do all that we can to save the tooth.

When a tooth becomes decayed, bacteria can infect the sensitive, living nerve tissue deep inside the tooth known as the root canal. This condition is called an endodontic (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) problem. The infection inside the tooth can spread to the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “dont” – tooth) that encases the tooth and attaches it to the jawbone. Occasionally, infection of endodontic (root canal) origin can spread out from the end of the tooth root all the way up the periodontal ligament, and into the gum.

The reverse can also happen: dental pain can originate from periodontal (gum) tissues that have become diseased. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacterial biofilm (plaque) along the gum line. It results in detachment of the gums along the tooth surface. In advanced cases, this bacterial infection can travel into the nerve tissues of the dental pulp through accessory canals or at the end of a tooth.

To figure out where pain is coming from when the source is not obvious, we need to take a detailed history of the symptoms, test how the tooth reacts to temperature and pressure, and evaluate radiographs (x-ray pictures).

Unfortunately, once dental disease becomes a combined periodontal-endodontic problem, the long-term survival of the tooth is jeopardized. The chances for saving the tooth are better if the infection started in the root canal and then spread to the gums, rather than if it started as gum disease that spread into the root canal of the tooth. That's because in the latter case, there is usually a lot of bone loss from the gum disease. Effectively removing plaque from your teeth on a daily basis with routine brushing and flossing is your best defense against developing gum disease in the first place.

If you would like more information about tooth pain, gum disease or root canal problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this diagnostic dilemma by reading Dear Doctor magazine's article “Confusing Tooth Pain.”


By Norton Family Dentistry
October 18, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TheSecretsBehindVannaWhitesSmile

Describing Vanna White, co-host of the hit television game show Wheel of Fortune as friendly is an understatement. Yes, a good portion of the credit goes to her bubbly personality; however, you can't look at her without noticing her world-famous smile.

During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna shared some of the secrets to her trademark smile. Secrets that she is instilling in her children.

“I floss every day and I brush my teeth at least twice a day — morning and night — and sometimes after lunch.” She added, “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot, as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.” And when asked about how often she has her teeth professionally cleaned she replied, “...every four to five months because I get a lot of plaque buildup.”

A typical dental hygiene visit is one that involves prophylaxis, a dental (and insurance) term for scaling and or polishing procedures to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from the crown or portion of the tooth that you can see. Scaling is a procedure where we use special hand-held instruments and/or ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque, bacteria and tartar that can coat your teeth causing them to feel rough or fuzzy. To polish your teeth, we use a rubber polishing cup, prophy paste and a motorized instrument that removes bacterial plaque and surface stains. This is usually the last portion of a routine cleaning because it leaves your teeth feeling smooth and shiny.

However, if you have been seeing blood when you brush your teeth or while flossing, you have the telltale signs of periodontal (gum) disease. During your cleaning appointment, we will clean below the gum line to treat and manage your periodontal disease (an infection of the gum and jaw bones). We may also discover that additional, deep-cleaning treatments (such as root planing) may be needed to treat and manage your periodontal disease.

To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Polishing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and cleaning. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Vanna White, continue reading “Vanna White.”


By Norton Family Dentistry
October 04, 2013
Category: Oral Health
WarningSignsofGumDisease

Do you frequently experience bleeding gums during your daily brushing routine? You might assume that you are brushing too hard and that this bleeding is normal. However, you should know that any bleeding of gum tissue is abnormal and should be considered a potential sign of gum disease.

Gum tissues usually bleed because of dental plaque buildup from poor oral hygiene practices. When the plaque is left around the gum line for a long period of time, 24 hours or more, the gum tissues respond by becoming inflamed — this can quickly become a chronic inflammation.

Here are some other warning signs of gum disease:

  1. Bad Breath. Bad breath is one of the most common signs of gum disease. This is especially true for those who do not floss, because plaque collects in the protected areas between the teeth making them especially prone to gum inflammation. This plaque often produces a pungent smell that causes bad breath.
  2. Red or Sensitive Gums. If you look closely in the mirror, you might see redness of the gums. It may also seem as if your gums are swollen, and in more advanced cases, this can lead to receding gums. Finally, you might notice gum sensitivity when you brush or a sensitivity to hot and cold.
  3. Tooth Loss. If this disease goes untreated, over time, bone loss will cause loose teeth, movement or migration of the teeth into a new and unstable position, and ultimately tooth loss. The rate of progression will depend upon the type of gum disease that you have.
  4. Painful Gums. Once you start to feel acute pain and extremely sore gums, this may mean you have developed a periodontal abscess. When this happens, the bacteria are walled off inside a gum “pocket,” and since your body's defenses are overwhelmed, there is a battle between the bacteria in that pocket and your body's defense mechanisms. The result is a collection of pus and extra bone loss. Your gums will be sore, swollen, red and may even discharge pus.

As you can see, the further the disease progresses, the greater the amount of pain and damage that will occur. Therefore, upon the first sign of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, you should schedule an appointment with us immediately.

If you would like more information about gum disease, please contact us. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Warning Signs of Gum Disease.”




Dentist - Norton
275 West Main Street
Route 123
Norton, MA 02766
508-226-1686

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