One in four Americans between the ages of 6 and 50 will sustain an injury to their incisors, according to a recent study by the National Institute of Dental Research, so it is important to know how to respond in a dental emergency. The University or Washington’s Health Beat reports that the prognosis for patients following a dental injury often depends on the type of injury and the amount of time it takes for a patient to receive treatment following a dental injury.
One of the easiest injuries to treat is a chipped tooth. If the tooth is only slightly chipped, the patient should see a dentist as soon as possible. It is no longer always necessary to use a crown to repair the damage because new filling materials can restore the tooth, “like putting an adhesive bandage on a wound.” More severe damage to a tooth may require a root canal and a crown.
If a tooth is knocked out, the patient should immediately replace the tooth in the socket, if possible. The tooth may very well last a lifetime if replaced immediately. If it is not possible to replace the tooth, the patient should place the tooth in milk, saline solution, saliva or tap water to keep it moist, then see a dentist.
Whatever the injury, the patient should have the dentist examine the injury to determine whether the inside of the tooth has been damaged and may require treatment. Moreover, patients should not hesitate to contact a dentist after hours in a dental emergency, because with dental injuries, time often is crucial to effective treatment.
Tooth decay is a process that occurs gradually over time. It ordinarily begins at the outer layer of enamel where plaque has formed. Because enamel is almost entirely made up of minerals and has no live cells or nerves, this stage is usually painless and often goes unnoticed.
The decay then penetrates the dentin . The dentin is made up of both minerals and living cells. These cells are connected to the nerve cells in the pulp. A person may begin to notice increased sensitivity or even some pain, although this stage can also go unnoticed.
Since decay spreads faster in the dentin, the softer tissue becomes affected and cannot support the enamel. At this stage, the tooth may break and cavities can form.
Pulp Decay and Pulp Death
Next the pulp (the center tissue of the tooth) becomes inflamed. Left untreated, the decay will reach into the pulp, which contains pain sensitive nerve endings. The tooth will most likely ache. This requires dental assistance or the tooth may die.
Formation of an Abscess
Infection causing bacteria forms an abscess, which can spread bacteria to adjoining teeth or other parts of the body. Caught early enough, the tooth can usually be saved by a root canal procedure, usually followed by a crown. If the tooth cannot be saved, it will have to be extracted.
Because the early stages of tooth decay are relatively painless and often go unnoticed, it is extremely important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
WHAT IS TOOTH DECAY, AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Tooth decay is the disease known as caries or cavities. Unlike other diseases, however, caries is not life threatening and is highly preventable, though it affects most people to some degree during their lifetime.
Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars) like soda pop, candy, ice cream, milk, cakes, and even fruits, vegetables and juices. Natural bacteria live in your mouth and forms plaque. The plaque interacts with deposits left on your teeth from sugary and starchy foods to produce acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving, or de-mineralizing, the mineral structure of teeth, producing tooth decay and weakening the teeth.
HOW ARE CAVITIES PREVENTED?
The acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by simple saliva in your mouth, which acts as a buffer and re-mineralizing agent. Dentists often recommend chewing sugarless gum to stimulate your flow of saliva. However, though it is the body’s natural defense against cavities, saliva alone is not sufficient to combat tooth decay.
The best way to prevent caries is to brush and floss regularly. To rebuild the early damage caused by plaque bacteria, we use fluoride, a natural substance which helps to re-mineralize the tooth structure. Fluoride is added to toothpaste to fight cavities and clean teeth. The most common source of fluoride is in the water we drink. Fluoride is added to most community water supplies and to many bottled and canned beverages. Also the dentist will often give a prescription of fluoride to those who need an extra boost of protection due to lack of saliva from medications and other medical treatments.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR CAVITIES?
Because we all carry bacteria in our mouths, everyone is at risk for cavities. Those with a diet high in carbohydrates and sugary foods and those who live in communities without fluoridated water are likely candidates for cavities. And because the area around a restored portion of a tooth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, those with a lot of fillings have a higher chance of developing tooth decay.
Children and senior citizens are the two groups at highest risk for cavities.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PROTECT MY TEETH?
The best way to combat cavities is to follow three simple steps:
- Cut down on sodas, sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it’s these sugary, acidic and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk.
- Proper brushing and flossing techniques at least 2 times a day.
- See your dentist at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because caries can be difficult to detect and a thorough dental examination is very important.
WHY DO I NEED SO MANY CLEANINGS:
A number of factors determine this; your natural bacteria, your home care habits, any pre-existing health conditions, such as changes in medications, cancer therapies and hormonal these are all considerations. Therefore, the cleaning intervals can vary greatly from person to person. Typically, patients are placed on a 2,3,4,5 or 6 month cycle. At each visit the dentist will evaluate your changing conditions and recommend what is best for you.
I BRUSH MY TEETH, WHY DO I NEED TO FLOSS?
The best toothbrush, even the new electric ones (we recommend Sonicare and Braun Oral-B) cannot reach effectively between teeth. You must do both!
WHY ARE X-RAYS NEEDED?
X-rays are the best diagnostic tools available for the dentist to see at or below the gum line. To see between teeth and be able to diagnose unseen decay. X-rays help diagnose bone loss, hidden abscesses and defects from past trauma. X-rays also give the dentist an overall view of your entire mouth as a whole. With new digital technology today dental x-rays are much safer than in previous years.
ARE BLEEDING GUMS A PROBLEM?
Yes. Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal disease (gum and bone disease). Healthy gum tissue does not bleed from normal brushing and flossing. Gum disease, if left untreated, can escalate and do irreparable damage to your teeth and bone with eventual tooth loss.
WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN ADVISED I NEED DENTURES, IS THIS MY ONLY OPTION?
Not necessarily. You may be a candidate for a fixed prosthesis with crown and bridge work or with the help of implants. May be you only need a few extractions and partials. Only an exam with x-rays by a dentist can let you know this. Do not be afraid to get a second opinion.
WHY DO I NEED A ROOT CANAL?
Usually for the following reasons:
- Infection of the nerve.
- Exposure of the nerve due to removal of deep decay.
- Massive tooth loss. So much that a crown has no support above the gum line to adhere to any restoration.
- To shorten a supra-erupted tooth or a misaligned tooth to allow room for future fixed prosthesis placement.
I’M A BIT NERVOUS ABOUT DENTISTRY, WHAT ABOUT SLEEP DENTISTRY?
Dr Vaziri is highly trained to provide this service-just ask your Dental Assistant or Dr Vaziri about this.
DO YOU OFFER FINANCING?
At Leading Edge we are pleased to offer a variety of financial options to you to help it make affordable for the dental services you need without straining your budget.
For your convenience we accept cash, checks, money orders, MasterCard, Visa and we have a program available for qualified patients with regard to extended payment options. We are excited to offer easy financing options that allow you to have 12 -18 months same as cash (no interest) or extended payment options up to 5 years. We recommend the following financial provider because of their easy application and fast approval process. You can apply online at CareCredit or when you visit our office for a appointment you can apply by phone in just 10 -15 minutes.
DO YOU ACCEPT INSURANCE?
Yes, we work with most insurances providing your plan allows you to go to the dentist of your choosing. We will gladly prepare and send your claim to the carrier for you. Due to the many changes with insurances we are providers of a select few as participating provider plans. Please call our office to discuss your insurance options with us. 352-365-6442
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DENTAL INSURANCE
MYTH #1: MY INSURANCE COMPANY REVIEWS MY DENTAL CLAIMS AND MAKES SURE THE CORRECT TREATMENT WAS DONE.
Fact: No claims are not read and reviewed by any dentist. A “claims specialist” will review the claim, apply the plan provisions, and process the claim for payment. The only time a dentist reviews a claim is if there is a dispute on the treatment performed. Otherwise your insurance company will pay for the most economical restoration that your plan allows for, and this is called a down grade, rather than the best option for you. It is important to remember that reimbursement and benefit levels are based on what plan your employer has selected. The more money your employer pays the better the plan benefit. Dental insurance plans are a business arrangement between an insurance company and your employer. We as dentists have absolutely no influence on what they will cover and how much they reimburse.
MYTH #2: IF I HAVE A GOOD MEDICAL PLAN, THEN MY DENTAL PLAN MUST BE GOOD TOO.
Fact: Dental insurance benefits differ greatly from general health insurance benefits. Medical benefits have gradually increased, while dental insurance benefits have been at a standstill for almost 40 years. In 1971, your dental insurance benefits were approximately $1,000 to $1,500 per year. Some 40 years later, you will note that your benefits are still $1,000 to $1,500 per year. Figuring a 3-5% rate of inflation per year, you should be receiving between $5,000 and $9,000 per year in dental benefits. Your premiums have increased, but your benefits have not. Therefore, dental insurance is never a pay-all; it is only a supplement.
MYTH #3: WHY IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR FEES AND THE AMOUNT THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL PAY? YOUR FEES MUST BE TOO HIGH.
Fact: You may receive notification from your insurance company stating that dental fees are “higher than usual and customary.” It is important to understand how they arrive at that figure. An insurance company surveys a geographic area for your zip code, calculates an average fee, takes 80% of that fee, and considers it customary. Included in this survey are discount dental clinics and managed care facilities that bring down the average. Any doctor in a high-quality private practice will have fees that insurance companies define as higher than “usual and customary.”
MYTH #4: MY INSURANCE PAYS 100%.
Fact: Many plans tell their participants that they will be covered “up to 80% or up to 100%” but do not clearly specify plan schedule allowance, annual maximum, or limitations. It is more realistic to expect dental insurance to cover 35% to 65% of major services up to the annual maximum. Remember, the amount a plan pays is determined by how much the employer paid for the plan. You get back only what your employer put in. The less your employer paid for the plan, the less you get back.