While many of the procedures offered by your dentist may seem concerning to those who have not needed many dental interventions, the truth is most of the procedures offered by your dental office are routinely and frequently offered therapies. Thanks to the wonders of anesthetic medications, these routine procedures do not require full sedation to make them comfortable. Here is what you can expect from some of the most common procedures that we offer.
The human mouth contains a number of different strains of bacteria. These bacteria assist us in breaking down our foods in preparation for their introduction to the digestive tract. When we eat sugar or carbohydrates, these bacteria begin to break down these sugars at a rapid rate, resulting in our teeth and gums being exposed to high levels of acidity. If we do not take steps to control the number of bacteria in the mouth throughout the day, the result can be an overgrowth of plaque which can then put us at risk of tartar and gum disease as well as decay.
Cavities form in areas of the tooth that have been exposed to bacteria and acidity for long periods of time. Slowly, the enamel of the teeth becomes compromised by the conditions surrounding it and the tooth can begin a process of demineralization. With time the enamel erodes, and the dentin of the tooth is exposed to acid and decay. The result is a crater-lake formation on the area of the tooth that has been compromised. Brushing our teeth goes a long way to assist us in combatting the risk or likelihood of developing decay in our mouths but flossing should not be overlooked. If we stop at brushing our teeth and we neglect to floss between the teeth, we remain at risk for the development of decay between the teeth.
When you arrive for your filling appointment, your dentist will begin by numbing the area of the mouth that will be affected. This numbing will keep you comfortable throughout your procedure, allowing your dentist to work efficiently and effectively to remedy the concern and save your tooth from the effects of continued decay. Numbing gel is typically applied to the area of the gums that will receive the injection of a deeper form of numbing known as lidocaine. The dentist injects the lidocaine into the soft tissue of the mouth and effectively numbs the nerve associated with the tooth.
Once you’re comfortable and your teeth and gums are numbed, your dentist will begin using an electric drill to remove portions of the tooth that have been decayed. Once all evidence of decay has been removed from the tooth, it can be washed and cleaned to be prepared for the filling compound. Sealing compound exists in a variety of forms including amalgam, porcelain and composite.
Once your teeth have been filled and the compound has hardened your dentist will clean and rinse the teeth and you will be ready to be on your way. The freezing that you have received is likely to continue its effectiveness for the next several hours. During this time, it is important to use caution when eating or drinking as it’s possible to burn or otherwise injure the soft tissues of the mouth without realizing it.
Why Fillings Are Important
While it might be tempting to delay the filling of a cavity, it is important to address these concerns even when they are not yet causing pain. A cavity leads to increased levels of bacteria within the mouth and puts the rest of the mouth at increased risk for additional dental concerns. When a cavity is left in the mouth for a long period of time, it will eventually work its way through the dentin layer of the tooth and into the pulp. The pulp of the tooth is highly sensitized as it contains a nerve. Once the pulp of the tooth is infected, the tooth is compromised to the extent that could necessitate removal. More likely, however, your dentist will explain that a regular filling will not be sufficient to stop the progression of decay in the tooth your tooth will require root canal therapy. If root canal therapy sounds like something you’d rather avoid, the truth is it is another service that is routinely offered in most dental offices. Root canals can effectively save a natural tooth.
Root Canal Therapy
In the event that you do require root canal therapy, you can expect to spend some additional time in your dental office, however, the numbing that you will receive means that you will not be in any additional discomfort.
The goal of root canal therapy is to remove the infected pulp and nerve of the inside of the tooth to prevent additional infection including dental abscess which can put the bone surrounding the root of your tooth at risk for infection. Since removing the pulp and nerve of the tooth requires steady and precise work, your dentist will work slowly and carefully to ensure that all the infected tissues of the tooth are fully removed. This step ensures that the infection does not return. Once the inside of the tooth has been effectively excavated, the tooth will not be as structurally sound. Your dentist will use a special material known as gutta-percha to fill the inside of the tooth and provide structural support.
In most cases your tooth will require the installation of a crown to seal the top of the tooth and provide additional support for biting and chewing which could otherwise put the tooth at risk of breakage.