North Penn Endodontics

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you!

What is oral pathology?
This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.

Ask North Penn Endodontics about performing an oral cancer screening when you visit – we’re here to ease your mind and give you the tools you need to maintain your health!

“Baby Root Canal” – Pediatric Pulp Therapy

Damage to the tooth’s pulp is commonly caused by tooth decay or traumatic injury. Pulp damage in baby teeth can affect the development of your child’s permanent teeth later on. Rather than pulling the affected tooth, we opt for pulp therapy, a technique similar to a root canal in adults, that maintains the baby tooth’s vitality. Keep reading to find out more details about pediatric pulp therapy!

Baby Root Canal  Pediatric Pulp Therapy

What is pediatric pulp therapy?

Pediatric pulp therapy is designed to save infected or damaged primary, or baby, teeth. It’s important to save the affected primary tooth until the permanent tooth grows in. There are two types of pulp therapy:
Pulpotomy is a partial pulp removal. Damaged pulp from the tooth’s crown is removed, leaving healthy pulp in the root canals. Once the pulp is removed, the tooth is filled with a disinfecting agent to prevent further infection, and it is stabilized it with a crown.
Pulpectomy is the total removal of damaged pulp, not just in the crown but the roots, too. Once pulp is removed, the tooth is filled with an absorbable cement for support, and then stabilized with a crown.
Although these techniques are associated with pediatric dentistry, they can also be performed as the initial steps of root canal therapy (RCT) in mature, or adult, teeth.

Why choose pulp therapy over tooth extraction?

Saving baby teeth with pulp damage is preferred to extraction because primary tooth extraction can cause a variety of consequences. If you have a baby tooth pulled, the surrounding teeth may develop at an angle, resulting in impacted premolars that leave little room for a permanent tooth to grow in its place. Keeping the baby tooth as a placeholder allows the permanent tooth to grow in trouble-free!

What are the symptoms of damaged pulp?

  • Tooth pain
  • Temperature sensitivity when eating
  • Swelling and redness
  • Unexpected loose tooth

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, give North Penn Endodontics a call to see if pulp therapy is an option. Saving those baby teeth is the best way to ensure healthy oral development!

Oral Bacteria: Get the Facts

We all have bacteria in our mouth, good and bad. But what exactly do these bacteria do? We’ve got all kinds of information on the role bacteria play in your oral health. Learn more about those pesky bacteria in your mouth!

Fact #1
There are anywhere between 500 and 1,000 different kinds of bacteria in our mouths.

Fact #2
Babies’ mouths are free of bacteria at birth. However, bacteria is transferred into their mouths from their mothers within hours of birth, mainly through kissing and food sharing.

Oral Bacteria

Fact #3
Saliva flushes harmful bacteria out of the mouth by making it hard for bacteria to stick to the surfaces of our teeth.

Fact #4
Some foods can also flush bacteria from the teeth. Crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery stimulate the gums, while acidic fruits like apples increase saliva production to wash the teeth clean.

Fact #5
The tongue holds a significant portion of the mouth’s bacteria. It’s just as important to clean the tongue as it is to brush and floss, because bacteria on the tongue contributes to gum disease and bad breath. Try using a plastic or metal tongue scraper to clear out bacteria!

Fact #6
Hormonal changes during pregnancy put soon-to-be mothers at a higher risk of tooth erosion. Morning sickness and general hormonal changes cause acidity in the mouth to increase, which in turn erodes enamel.

Fact #7
Smoking increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Not all bacteria are bad; in fact, some are even necessary to maintain hygienic balance. However, smoking tobacco destroys helpful bacteria in the mouth, which promotes the growth of harmful oral bacteria.
Fact #8

Oral bacteria multiply in number every 4-5 hours. No wonder it’s so important to brush teeth twice a day!

Who knew something so small could have such a big impact on your oral health! Make sure to schedule regular dental exams with us to keep oral bacteria under control for a clean, healthy smile!

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

We know we don’t have to tell you this—but flossing at least once a day is key to healthy gums and teeth! And while studies have shown it doesn’t really matter what kind of floss you use (as long as you do it!), people are more likely to use floss that’s easy for them to use. We’ve broken down the different types of floss, so you can decide which is best for you!

What Type of Floss Should I Use

Waxed and Unwaxed

Waxed floss will glide easier, but there isn’t really any other difference between waxed and unwaxed floss. If your teeth are close together, try one of these.

Ultra Floss

Ultra floss is a thicker floss that can be stretched to fit between tight spaces between your teeth; this is a good option if the closeness of your teeth varies.

Tape

Dental tape is a relatively new addition to the floss family. This fatter floss option is made from plastic and has a bit more stretch. If you have wide spaces between your teeth or have sensitive gums, try this ribbon-like floss.

Flossing picks

If you find yourself on the go—or if you hate the feeling of floss wrapped around your fingers—try disposable picks that have handles to make flossing a little easier!

Oral Irrigators

Recent trials are inconclusive on whether using a water flosser is as effective as traditional floss, but studies agree that using an oral irrigator is better than not flossing at all!

So which one is the best? Any one you’ll actually use! Don’t hesitate to ask us for different types of floss at your next cleaning to see what works best for you!

Avoidance Tactics: Top 10 Tips to Avoid Root Canal Treatment

We love seeing you in our office, but we wish we didn’t have to!  Root canal treatment is a wonderful tool, and often the best tooth-saving tool that is available.  Advancements in treatment have increased the success rate of endodontic treatment, while modern techniques and tools have decreased recovery time and pain.   However, in spite of the advancements that excite us as professionals, we understand that most people would prefer to never experience root canal treatment!

Avoidance-Tactics

If you are one of those people, read on for our top ten tips to avoid having to have a root canal down the road:

  • Brush twice daily. Sounds simple, but far too many adults and children skip this step at night.  Brushing your teeth before bed should be just as automatic as turning off the light.
  • Floss once daily. Skipping the floss is like only washing 70% of your body when you shower.  This doesn’t just contribute to bad breath – it also gives root-damaging bacteria a place to hide and thrive!
  • Avoid hard foods such as hard candies and lollipops, both of which cause cracks that allow bacteria to enter your root system.
  • If you already have weak teeth or restorations, you should also skip crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apples, which just so happen to be two of the biggest tooth-crackers.
  • Back away from the ice! Many people are tempted by the cool, fresh taste of ice at the end of a beverage.  But chewing on ice can easily fracture, crack or break a tooth or filling!  Once that happens, bacteria have an easy route into the nerve center of your tooth.
  • Wear a mouth guard at night. If you are a grinder or clencher, make sure that you wear a night-guard to protect teeth from fractures, which eventually can expose the tooth’s roots.
  • Wear a mouth guard while playing sports. No longer just for football and hockey players, mouth guards are an important part of equipment for nearly every sport, from soccer to snowboarding.
  • Avoid acidic drinks and foods like soda and citrus juices. These beverages present a double whammy to teeth:  First, they break down enamel.  Then, they saturate the tooth in sugar for bacteria to feast on!
  • Have regular dental checkups and cleanings. A cracked tooth found early can often be spared root canal treatment.
  • Get your tooth pain checked out immediately!  Any pain is a sign that something is amiss in your mouth and ignoring it will only make treatments more serious down the road.

Order of Your Oral Hygiene Routine

You’re awake, congratulations! Now, you are standing in front of the bathroom mirror, you’ve been wanting to upgrade your oral hygiene routine but you’ve heard a lot of conflicting information. There are so many tools and what order should you do them in? We’re here to help! If you’ve ever wondered, “What comes first brushing or flossing?” Read on!

OralHygiene

  • You’ve probably heard us stress the importance of flossing at your appointments. Flossing is an incredibly important part of your mouth’s health. Flossing your teeth should take place one time per day. We recommend at night so that food does not rest in between your teeth while you sleep. Flossing before brushing is a lot like dusting before you vacuum. The particles will loosen with flossing and the brushing will sweep them away.
  • You may have guessed it: the second part of your oral hygiene regimen should be a 2-minute brushing. Dentists look at your mouth in terms of quadrants. Therefore, your mouth consists on four separate quadrants and to ensure proper use of your two minute brushing session, we recommend spending 30 seconds in each quadrant. This brushing routine should take place two times a day!
  • Brushing your teeth alone will not eliminate the majority of the harmful bacteria in your mouth. Cleaning your tongue is an easy addition to your routine and will benefit your mouth greatly. Take your toothbrush, apply a very small amount of toothpaste and brush your tongue in gentle, circular motions. You may opt for a tongue scraper instead, they can be purchased at most grocery stores.
  • The finishing touch for optimum oral health is mouthwash. Sip a small amount and swish for 30-40 seconds. Spit it out and you are done!

It may seem like a lengthy routine but it actually only totals about 4 minutes. If you value your oral health and want to spend less time in a dental chair, it will be worth your time, we promise!

 

Mouthwash the Multitasker

If you thought that the only benefit of mouthwash was minty smelling breath, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that there are far more benefits that come along with the use of mouthwash. When mouthwash is used as part of your oral hygiene routine you are able to reap the benefits all day long!

Mouthwash

 

Periodontal Disease

  • It might be obvious but, mouthwash reduces your risk of periodontal disease by cutting down on the quality and quantity of dental plaque.

Cavities

  • Mouthwash can also lessen your risk of developing cavities if it has fluoride as an active ingredient. When fluoride is present in your mouthwash, be sure to use it as the final step in your oral care routine. Fluoride needs time to absorb without getting washed away by a drink or water with brushing. Let approximately 30 minutes pass before enjoying food or beverage.

Pregnancy

  • Perhaps the most surprising benefit of mouthwash is that it can aid in preventing pregnant women from going into early labor! Pregnant women who have periodontal disease run the risk of going into early labor because bacteria at the gum line is able to get into her bloodstream. This increases the body’s inflammatory markers which in turn can stimulate contractions.

Providing Comfort

  • Mouthwash can soothe canker sores by detoxing the area. The reduced amount of bacteria at the site results in a soothed feeling.

If you haven’t already adopted mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine, we suggest you do! Not only will your mouth feel and smell fresher, the added benefits are worth the small amount of effort. Ask us what kind we recommend for you at your next visit.

 

 

 

 

Nanodiamonds: Endodontics in the News!

Could diamonds be the endodontist’s best friend? Previously highlighted for their possible use in dental implant surgery, nanodiamonds are making the headlines again, this time for their potential in assisting with root canal therapy!

What are nanodiamonds? A byproduct of diamond refining and mining, nanodiamonds are tiny particles that are thousands of times smaller than the width of one of your hairs. They have been the subject of research for a variety of health applications relating to cancer, regenerative medicine, imaging and dentistry over the years.

Nanodiamonds

Recently, at the UCLA School of Dentistry, researchers have been experimenting with these fascinating little particles to see if they can improve even further on what is already a successful procedure: root canal therapy.

One possible use they have found for nanodiamonds in the field of endodontics is as an additive to the polymer filling material, known as “gutta percha”. While gutta percha is the optimal filling material after a root canal (due to the fact that it does not react inside the body), it has room for improvement in the area of infection prevention and rigidity.

Nanodiamonds may be just the thing to enhance this tried-and-true material and bring the already high success rate of root canal therapy (97% some studies show) to even higher levels. We are excited to see what the future brings!

From Chips To Craze Lines: All About Cracked Teeth

You may be wondering, “What does a cracked tooth have to do with endodontics?” Great question! In fact, it has everything to do with endodontics! You see, without fractured, chipped and broken teeth, there would be almost no need for root canal therapy ever!

Here are some of the most common types of tooth fractures, and what can be done about them:

From Chips to Craze Lines

Cracked Tooth: When we think of a cracked tooth, we are talking about a crack on the crown that extends down toward the root. If the crack has not reached the pulp yet, your dentist may be able to save the tooth with a crown. If it has reached the pulp, we may treat you with a root canal first to remove the pulp and place a crown for protection.

Chipped Tooth: As long as the pulp hasn’t been affected, your dentist can place a crown to fix your chipped tooth.

Craze Lines: These tiny cracks are common in adults and only exist in the outer enamel. They are not a problem and require no treatment.

Fractured Cusp: Many times, an old filling will give way and a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface will break off. If the pulp is exposed, we will perform a root canal prior to the crown to remove the pulp and save the tooth.

Split Tooth: Split all the way down to the roots, a tooth in this state cannot be saved 100%. However, sometimes a root canal treatment and crown can help to save part of the tooth. Often a split tooth started off as simply a cracked tooth, which is why it’s so important to get care early on if you have any tooth injury!

Vertical Root Fracture: In this scenario, the fracture starts at the bottom of the root of the tooth and extends upward toward the crown. Often they go unnoticed until the bone and gum become infected. Sometimes extraction is necessary. However, we will check first to see if we can save the tooth by removing the fractured portion with endodontic surgery.

After the Root Canal

If you have a root canal scheduled with our office, congratulations! You have taken an important first step toward saving your tooth and, thus, your smile and your oral health down the road! You may be wondering what to expect in terms of pain and what to do to relieve it after your procedure. Luckily, we have saved our best tips for you! Read on for information on home-care after a root canal.

How much pain will I have?
After the Root CanalYou will be happy to hear that after root canal treatment, most people report little or no pain. Advancements in endodontic instruments and techniques over the years have made this procedure similar to having a filling done. While it is considered normal to have soreness for a few days following the procedure, make sure you call us if you have extreme pain or pain that lasts more than a week.

Here are our recommended pain management tips following root canal treatment:

Over the Counter Pain Medicine
For the majority of patients, an over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) is all that is needed to curb soreness and pain after a root canal.

Prescription Pain Medicine
If we feel that you may need it, we will send you home with a prescription for a stronger pain medication than can be purchased over the counter. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully on the package.

Ice and Heat
For additional comfort at home, you may apply a cool or warm compress to the cheek in the area that the procedure was performed.

Salt Water Rinse
A teaspoon of salt in room temperature water can sometimes help with pain in the days following your procedure. Rinse and spit for reduced swelling and discomfort.

Be Pro-Active with Pain Medication
Have OTC pain medications ready to go at home. Take them before the numbing solution wears off completely so that you are not caught off-guard with pain. If we give you a prescription for pain medicine, fill it before going home, even if you think you won’t use it. Stay on top of timing and dosage until you feel that the soreness is gone.

And, as always, feel free to call us anytime with your questions. We are always happy to help!