Gingivitis: New Insights Into Inflammation And Periodontal Diseases

At the forefront of dentistry today is an increasing knowledge of the role of chronic inflammation and the changes it can cause in both the oral cavity and systemically.

Now you can gain a new level of understanding with these informative articles to help you more effectively treat your patients with gingival inflammation. Originally appearing in the July 2004 Supplement to the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry entitled, “Gingivitis: An Inflammatory Periodontal Disease” these articles are available to you online at www.ColgateProfessional.com.

Inflammation is the localized, protective response of the body to injury or infection. The classic clinical signs that characterize inflammation are heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function.

During inflammation, cells and their secreted chemicals attempt to destroy, dilute, or wall off the injurious agent. A series of biochemical events cause the blood vessels to dilate and become more permeable, resulting in the activation of the complement, clotting and kinin systems. The end result of inflammation is the return of function by the regeneration or repair of the affected tissue.

In some instances, inflammation may continue for a prolonged period of time, producing untoward consequences for localized tissue as well as the entire body.The purpose of this article is to provide a basic and simplified understanding of how the inflammatory process functions in the human body.

CE2 — Periodontal Inflammation: From Gingivitis to Systemic Disease?

Frank A. Scannapieco, DMD, PhD

There has been a resurgence of interest in recent years in the systemic effects of oral infections such as periodontal diseases. The study of the various means by which periodontal infections and inflammation may influence a variety of systemic conditions is collectively referred to as periodontal medicine.

The periodontium responds to toothborne biofilm (dental plaque) by the process of inflammation. Dental biofilms release a variety of biologically active products, such as bacterial lipopolysaccharides (endotoxins), chemotactic peptides, protein toxins, and organic acids. These molecules stimulate the host to produce a variety of responses, among them the production and release of potent agents known as cytokines.

These include interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-8, prostaglandins, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. There is a spectrum of periodontal response to these molecules, from mild gingivitis to severe destructive periodontitis. These and other host products and responses may influence a variety of important disease pathways, including atherosclerosis, mucosal inflammation, and premature parturition. The purpose of this article is to review the possible biological pathways by which periodontal diseases may influence these disease processes.

For more information on Periodontal Disease, please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Am I a Candidate for Tooth Whitening?

Am I a Candidate for Tooth Whitening?

Almost anyone whose permanent teeth have come in can qualify for tooth whitening. Your dentist will be able to assess your oral health and recommend the whitening method that’s best for you. Depending on the type and severity of the staining, he or she may suggest one or more of the following treatments:

  • A professional cleaning to remove external staining caused by food and tobacco
  • Use of a whitening toothpaste to help remove surface stains between dental visits
  • For extra results, use of a convenient, affordable whitening gel or whitening strips
  • Bleaching (in-office or at-home) for more stubborn stains or yellowing
  • Veneers or bonding to fix irregular or damaged teeth or to achieve specific results

Ask your dentist which whitening technique is best for you.

  • Teeth that are yellow respond best to bleaching. Brown or gray teeth, or teeth striped or mottled from tetracycline or too much fluoride, may not whiten evenly when bleached.
  • People with periodontal disease or particularly sensitive teeth may want to avoid chemical whitening techniques that can irritate tender gums.
  • Bleaching is not recommended if you have tooth-colored fillings, crowns, caps or bonding in your front teeth — the bleach will not change the color of these materials, making them stand out in your newly whitened smile. You may want to investigate other options, like veneers or bonding with your dentist.
  • In some cases involving serious tooth or jaw problems, a crown or cap recommended to correct orthodontic problems may also result in a whiter and more appealing smile.

If you are interested in finding out if you are a candidate for tooth whitening, call  Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA 770.587.4202 for a free consultation!

Keys to Controlling Bad Breath

Keys to Controlling Bad Breath

If you’re serious about learning what’s causing your bad breath, consider scheduling an appointment with your dental professional. Given your full medical and dental history along with an oral examination, your dentist should be able to identify the culprit. The causes of bad breath are numerous and include certain foods, alcohol or cigarettes, poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, diabetes, dry mouth, sinus or throat infections, lung infections or abscesses, kidney/liver failure, gastrointestinal issues and severe dieting.

Treatment of Bad Breath

It is important to conduct thorough oral hygiene at home twice daily utilizing tooth brushing with a fluoride antibacterial toothpaste and flossing to remove food debris and plaque on teeth, bridgework and implants, and brushing the tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria. A published study reported that tongue and tooth brushing in combination with dental flossing significantly decreased bleeding of the gum tissue over a two week period of time as well as reduced bad breath (1). Another clinical study conducted by the University of Buffalo dental researchers confirmed that brushing twice a day with an antibacterial toothpaste and using a tooth brush with a tongue cleaner can eliminate bad breath (2).

Tongue Cleaning is the Key to Fresher, Cleaner Breath

Cleaning your tongue is very important. You can purchase a Colgate 360 toothbrush with the tongue cleaner on the back of the toothbrush for cleaning both your teeth and tongue. After tooth brushing your upper and lower teeth with an antibacterial toothpaste, flip the toothbrush over to the tongue cleaner and place the tongue cleaner in the posterior region of the tongue and move it forward to the anterior section of the tongue. After you have scraped that portion of the tongue, rinse the tongue brush off with warm water to remove any odor causing bacteria. Then replace the tongue brush in the next posterior section again and repeat as described above again.

Consult your dentist or dental hygienist when choosing oral hygiene aids to help you eliminate plaque and odor causing bacteria and review the techniques that should be utilized at home. Also, ask your dental professional what oral hygiene care products they would consider you use to help eliminate bad breath (antibacterial toothpaste, antiseptic mouth rinse, tongue brushes or scrapers and interproximal cleaning devices). The key to a clean, fresh mouth is optimal oral hygiene conducted at home on a regular basis and professional recommendations discussed with you by your dental professional.

If you are concerned about bad breath, call  Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA 770.587.4202 for a free consultation!

What Is the Right Way to Brush?

What Is the Right Way to Brush?

Proper brushing takes at least two minutes — that’s right, 120 seconds! Most adults do not come close to brushing that long. To get a feel for the time involved, try using a stopwatch. To properly brush your teeth, use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gumline, hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration. Concentrate on thoroughly cleaning each section as follows:

  • Clean the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
  • Clean the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
  • Clean the chewing surfaces
  • For fresher breath, be sure to brush your tongue, too
Oral Hygiene - Brushing Teeth (top) Oral Hygiene - Brushing Teeth (bottom) Oral Hygiene - Brushing Tongue
Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline. Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes. Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.

What Type of Toothbrush Should I Use?

Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Small-headed brushes are also preferable, since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth. For many, a powered toothbrush is a good alternative. It can do a better job of cleaning teeth, particularly for those who have difficulty brushing or who have limited manual dexterity.

How Important is the Toothpaste I Use?

It is important that you use a toothpaste that’s right for you. Today there is a wide variety of toothpaste designed for many conditions, including  cavities, gingivitis, tartar, stained teeth and sensitivity. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist which toothpaste is right for you.

How Often Should I Replace My Toothbrush?

You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.

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Failed Root Canal

The Second Time Around: Possible Retreatment or Surgery

A  root canal can fail for several reasons. If the bacteria were not completely removed from the canals, they can grow and cause pain. Bacteria can also get inside a tooth if a permanent filling was not placed soon enough. Temporary fillings or poorly placed permanent fillings can break down or leak. This allows bacteria back into the canal.

Sometimes the problem is not in the root canal that was filled, but in another canal that the dentist did not find. The bacteria in this unfilled canal will grow and cause pain.

A repeat root canal treatment tends to be more involved and take more time than the first one. Your dentist must remove the crown, post and core, and filling material before doing the second root canal. Some people who need another treatment may have infections that are difficult to destroy. Because they take more time and can be complicated, second root canals also usually cost more.

Sometimes a second root canal can be hard to do. For example, it may be too risky to remove a post and core. The post that is in the tooth may be cemented or set in very tightly. If that is the case, the tooth may be injured in the process. So your dentist may decide to do endodontic surgery instead.

This surgery allows the dentist to get inside a tooth’s root from the bottom of the tooth, rather than the top. Your dentist will not touch the crown of the tooth. The retreatment of the root canal will occur through the bottom of the root.

Endodontic surgery is done in the dentist’s office. An endodontist, general dentist or oral surgeon can perform this procedure. First, you will receive a shot to numb the area. Then your dentist will make a small cut (incision) in the gum near the base of the tooth. He or she will clean out the infected tissue around the tip (apex) of the root and shave off the tip. This procedure is called an apicoectomy. The endodontist will clean the inside of the canal from the root end, and then put a filling in the end of the root. The incision is then stitched.

Endodontic surgery is successful about 85% of the time. If the surgery does not get rid of the infection, the tooth will have to be extracted.

For more information, please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Gingivitis

Signs and SymptomsEarly stage of Gingivitis

What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis — an inflammation of the gums — is the initial stage of gum disease and the easiest to treat. The direct cause of gingivitis is plaque – the soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth and gums.

If the plaque is not removed by daily brushing and flossing, it produces toxins (poisons) that can irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected. Left untreated, however, gingivitis can become periodontitisand cause permanent damage to your teeth and jaw.

Gingivitis.

How do I Know if I Have Gingivitis?
Classic signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed when you brush. Another sign of gum disease is gums that have receded or pulled away from your teeth, giving your teeth an elongated appearance. Gum disease can cause pockets to form between the teeth and gums, where plaque and food debris collect. Some people may experience recurring bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth, even if the disease is not advanced.

How can I Prevent Gingivitis?
Good oral hygiene is essential. Professional cleanings are also extremely important because once plaque has hardened and built up, or become tartar, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.

You can help stop gingivitis before it develops by:

  • Proper brushing and flossing to remove plaque and debris and control tartar buildup
  • Eating right to ensure proper nutrition for your jawbone and teeth
  • Avoiding cigarettes and other forms of tobacco
  • Scheduling regular checkups with your dentist

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges

Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges?

What are Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges?
Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.

How do Crowns Work?
A crown is used to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed on top of an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic. These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.

Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment

How do Bridges Work?
A bridge may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the color of your natural teeth.

How are Crowns and Bridges Made?
Before either a crown or a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will take an impression to provide an exact mold for the crown or bridge. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the crown or bridge to match the color of your existing teeth.

Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your crown or bridge, in the material your dentist specifies. A temporary crown or bridge will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown or bridge is being made. When the permanent crown or bridge is ready, the temporary crown or bridge is removed, and the new crown or bridge is cemented over your prepared tooth or teeth.

How Long do Crowns and Bridges Last?
While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown or bridge is to practice good oral hygiene. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. Keep your gums and teeth healthy byBrushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily. Also see your dentist and hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

To prevent damage to your new crown or bridge, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.

Crowns
Porcelain Gold
Full porcelain fused to metal. Full cast goldcrown.
Bridges
Space Bridge Cemented
Teeth around the space are prepared. The bridge is mounted and adjusted for fit and comfort. The bridge is cemented into position.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Fillings

Determining If You Need a Filling

Your dentist may use several methods to determine if you have tooth decay, including:

  • Observation — Some discolored spots on your teeth may indicate decay, but not all of them. Your dentist may use an explorer, a metal instrument with a sharp tip, to probe for possible decay. Healthy tooth enamel is hard and will resist pressure by the explorer. Decayed enamel is softer. The instrument will stick in it slightly. Explorers must be used with caution. Pressing too hard with an explorer can damage a healthy tooth.
  • Cavity-detecting dye — This can be rinsed over your tooth. It will stick to decayed areas and rinse cleanly from healthy ones.
  • X-rays — X-rays can help your dentist see decay that doesn’t show on the surface. However, X-rays are often not accurate in detecting smaller cavities on occlusal (top) surfaces. Current fillings or other restorations also may block the view of decay.
  • Laser fluorescence cavity detection aids — These small wands measure changes caused by caries (tooth decay). They are especially useful for pit and fissure areas.

Decay is not the only reason you may need a filling. Other reasons include:

  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Teeth that are worn from unusual use, such as:
    • Nail-biting
    • Tooth grinding (bruxism)
    • Using your teeth to open things

Steps to a Filling

When you visit your dentist to get a filling, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area if necessary. Next, your dentist will remove decay from the tooth, using hand instruments or a drill. Air abrasion and lasers also can be used to remove decay.

A drill, which dentists call a handpiece, uses metal cones called burs to cut through the enamel and remove the decay. Burs come in many shapes and sizes. Your dentist will choose the ones that are right for the size and location of your decay.

At first, your dentist will use a high speed drill (the one with the familiar whining sound) to remove the decay and unsupported enamel of the tooth. Once the drill reaches thedentin, or second layer of the tooth, the dentist may use a lower speed drill. That’s because dentin is softer than enamel.

Once all the decay is removed, your dentist will shape the space to prepare it for the filling. Different types of fillings require different shaping procedures to make sure they will stay in place. Your dentist may put in a base or a liner to protect the tooth’s pulp(where the nerves are). The base or liner can be made of composite resin, glass ionomer, zinc oxide and eugenol, or another material.

Some of these materials release fluoride to protect the tooth from further decay.

If your dentist is placing a bonded filling, he or she will etch (prepare) the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling. Etching makes tiny holes in the tooth’s enamel surface. This allows the filling to bond tightly to the tooth. Bonded fillings can reduce the risk of leakage or decay under the filling. That’s because the etched surface of the tooth and the filling material form a mechanical bond. Bonding is generally done with composite fillings.

Certain types of fillings get hardened by a special light. With these fillings, your dentist will stop several times to shine a bright light on the resin. This cures (hardens) the material and makes it strong.

Finally, after the filling is placed, your dentist will use burs to finish and polish the tooth.

After a Filling

Some people feel sensitivity after they receive a filling. The tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods or cold. Composite fillings often cause sensitivity, but other types of filling materials can, too.

In most cases, the sensitivity will subside over one to two weeks. Until then, try to avoid anything that causes it. If your tooth is extremely sensitive or your sensitivity does not decrease after two weeks, contact your dentist’s office.

It’s important to let your dentist know about any sensitivity you are feeling. The next time you need a filling, he or she may be able to use a different material and make changes to reduce sensitivity. People vary in their response to different materials. Your dentist has no way of predicting if your tooth will react to a particular material.

When you talk to your dentist about the sensitivity, try to describe it as precisely as possible. This information will help decide what should be done next. Your dentist may take out the filling and put in a new one. He or she may add a base, liner or desensitizing agent on the tooth as well. If the filling was very deep, you could need aroot canal treatment to solve the problem.

Besides sensitivity, some people feel discomfort when they bite down. There are two types of pain, each with a different cause.

  • The first type occurs when you bite, and worsens over time. This is caused by a filling that is too high and interferes with your bite. Once your anesthetic wears off, you would notice this right away. Contact your dentist. You will need to return to the office to have the filling reshaped.
  • The second type of discomfort is a very sharp shock that appears only when your teeth touch. This is called galvanic shock. It is caused by two metals (one in the newly filled tooth and one in the tooth it’s touching) producing an electric current in your mouth. This would happen, for example, if you had a new amalgam filling in a bottom tooth and had a gold crown in the tooth above it.

Your dentist polishes the filling after it is placed, but occasionally sharp edges may remain. You can’t detect this at first because of the anesthesia. If you find one, contact your dentist and arrange to have it smoothed as soon as possible to avoid injury to your tongue or mouth.

Temporary Fillings

You may receive a temporary filling (usually white, off-white or gray) if:

  • Your treatment requires more than one appointment.
  • Your dentist wants to wait a short period of time for the tooth to heal.
  • You have a deep cavity and the pulp (containing the nerve and blood vessels) becomes exposed during treatment.
  • You need emergency dental treatment.

A temporary filling may make your tooth feel better. This is because the filling seals the tooth, protecting the pulp from bacteria and reducing sensitivity.

Temporary fillings often contain eugenol, an ingredient in over-the-counter toothache remedies. Eugenol is also a component of oil of cloves, which people use for toothache pain.

Temporary fillings are not meant to last. Usually, they fall out, fracture or wear out within a month or two. If you get a temporary filling, make sure you visit your dentist to get a permanent one. If you don’t, your tooth could become infected or you could have other problems.

Why Replace a Filling?

Fillings don’t last forever. They can become discolored. Composite, tooth-colored fillings pick up stains, and yellow or darken over time. When you chew, your teeth and any fillings in them are subjected to tremendous pressures. Even if no other problems develop, some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it falls out, leaks or cracks.

Food debris and bacteria can seep down under a filling that is cracked or leaking. Since you can’t clean there, the bacteria feed on the food debris and form the acid that causes tooth decay. Decay under a filling can become extensive before you notice it or it causes you pain. This is why you should have your fillings checked regularly and get them replaced when problems are found.

Fillings That Fall Out
Fillings can fall out for several reasons:

  • You bite down too hard on a tooth that has a large filling, and break the filling or the tooth.
  • The filling material that was used cannot withstand the forces placed upon it. For example, if you have broken a large piece of your front tooth, a porcelain (tooth-colored) crown is probably a good treatment choice. In some cases, a dentist may place a composite filling instead. This may look good or acceptable. However, if the composite is too large, a strong biting motion may break the plastic material.
  • The cavity is contaminated with saliva when the filling is placed. For composite resins, this will disrupt the bonding of the material. As a result, the bond will not stick well to the tooth and it may fall out.

Cracked Fillings
Both amalgam and composite fillings can crack, either soon after they are placed or after the fillings have been in place for some time.

Cracks can occur soon after a filling is placed if the filling is higher than the rest of the tooth surface, and must bear most of the force of biting. Cracks also can occur over time, as the forces from chewing and biting affect the filling.

Small cracks also can occur at the edges of a filling. These usually are caused by wear over time. These cracks often can be repaired.

Leaking Fillings
A filling is said to be leaking when the side of the filling doesn’t fit tightly against the tooth. Debris and saliva can seep down between the filling and the tooth. This can lead to decay, discoloration or sensitivity.

Both amalgam and composite fillings can leak. An amalgam filling sometimes leaks slightly after it is placed. You would notice this as sensitivity to cold. This sensitivity decreases for the next two to three weeks. Then it disappears altogether. Over that period, the amalgam filling naturally corrodes. The corrosion seals the edges of the filling and stops any leaks.

A composite filling could be contaminated with saliva. This would weaken the bond between the filling and the tooth and allow for leaks. Other times, there may be small gaps where the tooth and filling meet. These gaps are caused by shrinkage when your dentist places the filling. Sensitivity after receiving a composite filling may disappear over time. If it doesn’t, the filling may need to be replaced.

Fillings also can leak as a result of wear over time. These fillings should be replaced.

Worn-Out Fillings
Some fillings can last for 15 years or longer. Others, however, will have to be replaced in as little as five years. Your dentist can determine if your fillings are worn enough that they need to be replaced.

Clenching and Grinding
If you clench or grind your teeth, you may have more problems with your fillings. The forces placed on your teeth can lead to tooth sensitivity and extra wear on your fillings. Clenching or grinding also can cause your teeth and fillings to crack or develop small craze lines. These are fine cracks you can see if you shine a light on your tooth.

Keeping Your Fillings
Although some fillings can last for many years, the average life of an amalgam filling is about 12 years. Composite fillings may not last this long.

Your dentist will examine your fillings at your checkup visits. You may need X-rays if your dentist thinks a filling might be cracked or leaking, or to see whether decay is occurring under the filling. Make an appointment with your dentist:

  • If a tooth is sensitive
  • If you see a crack
  • If part of a filling appears to be missing

You should visit your dentist regularly for cleanings, brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day. If you have many fillings or very large fillings, your dentist may prescribe a fluoride gel you can use at home. The fluoride will help strengthen the enamel of your teeth and help to prevent future cavities. Your dentist or hygienist also can apply a fluoride varnish around the edges of these teeth at your checkup visits.

Replacing a Filling
Before removing your old filling, your dentist will discuss treatment options with you. It is often possible to repair an old filling instead of removing it and replacing it completely. However, if the entire filling has to be replaced, the dentist may reevaluate what filling material to use. Talk with your dentist about how you would like the filling to look. Then he or she can select the material that is best for you.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Severe Pain

Any injury to the gums or teeth can be very painful. In some cases, however, the cause of severe dental pain is not obvious. For example, pain that comes on suddenly may be caused by particles of food that got lodged in a cavity and have started to irritate the nerve inside the tooth. If you lose a filling or a crown, the nerve inside the tooth may be exposed, and you may feel severe pain when air or hot or cold substances touch the uncovered part of the tooth.

Pain that becomes more severe over a period of time is commonly caused by debris lodged under the gum. Popcorn is a common offender. Because the hard cellulose fibers of the popcorn kernel don’t break down, it can remain stuck between your gum and your tooth. The longer a food particle stays trapped between the gum and tooth, the greater the chance the gum will become irritated and infected and the pain will get worse. If you develop an infection, called an abscess, it can become a serious health problem if left untreated.

Pain when you bite or chew, especially if it is accompanied by a foul odor and a bad taste, can be a sign of an abscess that needs immediate treatment.

What You Can Do

First, call your dentist and make an appointment – Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202

In the meantime, here are a few steps you can take at home to try to relieve some of the pain:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). However, be aware that you need to see your dentist. If you mask the pain with a painkiller and ignore it, the infection can spread and could become life threatening.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water every hour or as needed to ease the pain.
  • If the pain is caused by debris lodged in a cavity, washing the area may relieve the problem.
  • Floss your teeth, then run a toothpick around the gum line. This may remove debris that’s lodged under the gum.
  • If you’ve lost a filling or crown, dip a cotton swab in clove oil and apply it to the exposed part of the tooth. Clove oil, available in pharmacies and supermarkets, works well to relieve tooth pain. You also can use a topical anesthetic, such as Anbesol, also available in pharmacies and supermarkets.
  • Putting an ice pack on your face over the area that hurts also may relieve the pain. Apply the ice for 10 to 20 minutes of every hour, as necessary.
  • If you will be traveling in an airplane, the change in pressure when the plane takes off or lands may make you feel more uncomfortable. You should get dental treatment before traveling by air.

What Your Dentist Will Do

Even when dental problems cause a lot of pain, the problems — and the treatments — often are relatively simple if you seek help right away.

If you have a cavity, your dentist will clean out any debris, remove the decayed part of the tooth, and place a filling. Once the inner part of the tooth is protected, the pain will usually disappear immediately.

If your problem is related to debris under your gums, your dentist will use special instruments to remove the debris. If you have an infection, you may be given a prescription for antibiotics and pain medicine. If an antibiotic is prescribed, it is important that you take it as directed until you have finished all the medication.

An abscess in the tooth or gum may require more extensive treatment, such as drainage of the abscess, root canal treatment or tooth extraction.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Lodged Foreign Bodies

Lodged Foreign Bodies??

Small pieces of food ? especially things like popcorn hulls ? can get under your gums. If these pieces aren’t removed, the area can get irritated, and even infected.

What You Can Do

If you feel something wedged under the gum, try using dental floss to remove it. If this doesn’t help, take a toothpick and gently run it around the gum line. Be careful that you don’t hurt your gum with the toothpick or accidentally push anything deeper under your gum.

What Your Dentist Will Do

If you can’t remove a foreign body yourself, see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist has special that allow him or her to see into your mouth and find whatever is trapped under your gum. Your dentist will check for infection.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.