Associated Dental Specialists

What is an Endodontist?

Question MarksWhat is an Endodontist?

An Endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal treatment, a process by which teeth are preserved through the treatment of the inner soft tissue of the teeth – also known as the pulp. In addition to dental school, those who choose to specialize in endodontics attend another two to three years of schooling in the field. All dentists are trained on how to diagnose and treat pulp related issues, but when teeth are exceptionally difficult to treat, patients are referred to an Endodontist.

How many root canal treatments will I need?

Every case is different, depending on the degree of inflammation and infection, however, most cases require just one root canal treatment. Root canals, or endodontic treatments, have up to a 90% success rate. Before you undergo any form of treatment, we will discuss with you the chances of success so that you may make an informed decision. In most cases, patients will only have to undergo one treatment, but occasionally patients need a second or even a third treatment.

Follow-Up Care

Once your endodontic treatment is complete, we may have you return for periodic check-ins if you had an abscessed tooth, which can take up to two years to fully heal.

How do I know if I need to see an Endodontist?

You won’t always know when the time has come to see an Endodontist. Many people only see one because their general dentist found a problem and referred them. If you know that you have a cracked tooth or painful, infected pulp, you should give us a call – we may be able to help you skip the trip to the general dentist in the first place.

Endodontists are a critical part of the oral health maintenance team! Give us a call at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 to learn more about the importance of saving your natural teeth with root canal therapy!

Root Canal Myths VS Fact

Root Canal The best way to understand what an endodontist does is to think of them as “Tooth Saving Specialists.” You might be interested to learn that all endodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are endodontists. This is most likely due to the fact that an endodontist completes an extra 2

-3 years of schooling, honing their tooth rescuing skills and learning how to perform more complex procedures.

Our first priority is always to save your natural teeth! Dental implants can be very expensive, and often unnecessary if a cracked or infected tooth can be saved. Read on to learn about some of the myths and facts surrounding root canal treatment.

Myth: Getting a root canal can cause other illnesses.

Truth: A collection of studies conducted by a man known as Dr. Price in the 1920s attempted to correlate the root canal procedure with diseases. His results have since been found lacking control groups and introducing confusing the presence with bacteria in one’s mouth with the threat of infection and all have since been disproven by new, more advanced studies.

Myth: Getting a root canal is a painful procedure.

Truth: Root canal treatment can be a virtually pain-free procedure, and is actually directed at relieving pain caused by inflammation or what is commonly known as a toothache.

Myth: Pulling the tooth is a better option.

Truth: The truth is that life with missing teeth isn’t as glamourous as one opting into this method might be lead to believe. There is nothing better than your natural teeth for your oral health!

There are somewhere around 178 million people in the US missing at least one tooth, and about 35 million people in the US who don’t have any teeth at all! We want to help you keep all your teeth, and knowing the truth can set your worries free and help you to finally relax about scheduling an appointment with Associated Dental Specialists.

Bad Breath is Bad News

'woman with fresh breath'Bad breath is bad news. Don’t let bad breath be a part of your day! In our office, we are asked on an almost daily basis “How can I get rid of my bad breath?”

Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep your breath fresh and clean:

1. Brush and Floss Regularly:
It’s basic advice, but foolproof. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing and tongue scraping once is the best way to combat bad breath. When the bacteria in your mouth have bits of food and debris to feed on, they create the odors that cause bad breath. Keeping your mouth clean will keep your breath clean at the same time!

2. Drink Water:
You don’t always have access to a toothbrush. As it turns out though, water can be an effective way to freshen your breath until you can get home and brush. Water helps clean out your mouth and prevents dryness, another major cause of bad breath.

3. Eat Good Foods:
A good way to prevent bad breath is to stay away from foods that make your breath smell bad, and eat foods those that will help your breath smell good! Melons and citrus fruit are high in Vitamin C, and help kill bacteria in your mouth. Fibrous foods like apples and celery can help remove food stuck in your teeth, reducing smells caused by bacteria feeding on them.

4. Choose gum and mints with Xylitol:
Sugary gum and breath mints are often used to tackle bad breath. However, the stinky bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and giving them more tends to produce acid that can make your breath smell worse AND lead to tooth decay. Xylitol is a sugar alternative that bacteria cannot break down, which makes it a perfect method for keeping your breath fresh and clean.

If you are troubled by your bad breath, ask us for more tips on staying fresh and clean!

Root Canals BC, AD, and Now

'ancient toothbrush'Root Canals: BC

There is no way of knowing just exactly how long root canal therapy has been around. The first traces of root canal therapy can be dated back to second or third century B.C. A human skull was discovered in a desert in Israel. In one of the teeth, they found a bronze wire that scientists believe was used to treat an infected canal. The wire was located at the site of the infection, which is the exact spot that would be targeted during modern day root canal therapy. The archaeologists who discovered the remains believe that the procedure was performed by the Romans, who are said to have invented dentures and crowns.

More Advancements: AD

Evidence shows that from the first century A.D. until the 1600s, the treatment for root canals included the draining of the pulp chambers to relieve pain, and then covering them with a protective coating made from either gold foil or asbestos. Around 1838, the first official root canal instrument was constructed. It was made to allow easier access to the pulp that is located within the root of the tooth. A few years later, around 1847, a safer material known as “gutta percha” was created to use as a filling once the root canal was cleaned out. Both of these materials are still used today by Endodontists.

20th Century Technology

When we entered the 20th century, dental technology advanced. Anesthetics and x-rays were instituted into dental practices, which made treating an infected root canal much easier and safer. These technological advancements also allowed for alternative treatments to pulling teeth. Root canal therapy has advanced so much that it is now a nearly painless procedure!

An infected tooth root is a pain, and can compromise your teeth! We save teeth every day in our office with endodontic therapy – call us at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 for more information.

What is root resorption?

What is root resorption?'x-ray of mouth'

Root resorption happens every day in children – it is the body’s natural process of (re)absorbing tissue. In the case of a child’s mouth, it is what helps them to lose their baby teeth and, in fact, what allows them to have effective orthodontic treatment. The body resorbs tissues that connect the baby teeth to the mouth, and the tooth is then able to fall out. But when we see resorption in adults, it is cause for concern.

Why does resorption happen?

We don’t always know why resorption occurs. Sometimes it is due to trauma to a tooth or severe grinding, sometimes due to overly aggressive orthodontic treatment (too much force was applied to the teeth with braces), but, often, we simply don’t know the cause, and must instead focus on the treatment.

External Cervical Resorption (ECR)

When resorption starts on the outside of the tooth and works its way in, usually up where the tooth meets the gum line, this is known as external resorption. It is the most common type. Patients may see pink spots at first where the enamel is being destroyed, or they may be asymptomatic. If left untreated, this often results in cavities and, eventually, the decay will start to affect the tooth pulp as well. Treatment for ECR typically includes root canal therapy. However, if the damage is too extensive, the tooth may need extraction and replacement with a dental implant.

Internal Resorption

Less common than ECR is internal resorption, which involves the resorption of tissue starting in the root of the tooth. It is often thought to be due to chronic pulp inflammation, and may be asymptomatic. Early treatment is important in order to the save the tooth.

As endodontists, our main goal is always to save your natural teeth, and do so safely and with great care to ensure the best oral health for you in the future. Regular x-rays with your dentist and a call to our office at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 at the first sign of root decay or resorption will help us meet that goal!

Walking For Those Who Crawl

March of Dimes
Premature babies are those that are born before the normal 37-week gestational period. These babies have various health issues, which can affect them over their lifetime. Sadly, some premature babies won’t make it – which is what March of Dimes aims to prevent.

What is March for Babies?
March for Babies supports the prevention and research of pre-term births through charitable walks in the month of march. The goal is to raise funds to help mothers give birth to healthy, full term babies while researching the possible causes and preventions of premature birth.

Why You Should Get Involved
Whether you’re a mother, father, kid, soon-to-be mother/father, know someone who’s been pregnant or is thinking about children – this affects you and you can make a difference. Becoming informed and learning more about premature babies is the first step.

How You Can Help
March for Babies makes it easy to help! Spread awareness about premature babies and encourage everyone around you to do the same. If you are interested in donating, rest assured that your money will go toward supporting premature babies through research into prevention and causes of premature birth.

You don’t need to donate money to help. Some other ways to contribute include:
• Getting informed by visiting the March for Babies website: https://www.marchforbabies.org/
• Raising awareness
• Walking in a local event

Donate a Homemade Hat to a Local Hospital
If you can knit or crochet and are interested in hand-making a preemie baby hat, consider donating one to a local hospital! Local hospitals are always in need of hats for babies and you can take pride in knowing that you are keeping a baby’s head warm.

Will you help us get the word out?

Yes, You Still Have to Floss.

'woman flossing teeth in mirror'

The AP recently released an article making the claim that “there’s little proof that flossing works”. Their review cited a series of studies that found flossing does little or nothing to improve oral health.

Here’s the problem: the studies were flawed.

The AP concluded that floss does little for oral health, but it’s important to note that the evidence they cited was very weak at best. In fact, they said so themselves.

As acknowledged by the AP, many of these studies were extremely short. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop” (Associated Press). They also say that “One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss” (Associated Press).

Of course the evidence is unreliable. You don’t simply develop gum disease because you forgot to floss yesterday. Cavities and gum disease do not happen overnight. You can prevent gum disease by maintaining a clean mouth over a long period of time. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology explained: “gum disease is a very slow disease”. In his interview with the AP he recommended long-term studies which he believes would clearly show the difference between people who floss and people who don’t.

Lets put it this way: If a study claims drinking milk does nothing for bone health, but draws conclusions after only three glasses of milk, is it a reliable study? What do you think?

The fact of the matter is floss removes gunk from teeth. You can see it. Gunk feeds bacteria which leads to plaque, cavities, poor gum health, and eventually gum disease. Floss has the ability to reach the food particles that your brush can’t get to.

Aldredge also pointed out that most people floss incorrectly, using a sawing motion instead of moving up and around the teeth to clean the cracks. Positive results come from correct use and it’s critical that people learn to use a tool properly before discarding it as useless.

That’s just what floss is: a tool. Just like your toothbrush, it is designed to keep your mouth clean, and therefore keep your body safe from infection. Both your toothbrush and floss are designed to do what the other can’t, and both successfully remove bacteria from your mouth. Just like proper brushing technique, it is important that you know how to use floss properly, so that you can reap the long-term health benefits of good oral hygiene.

It’s a shame that studies on an important tool such as floss have yielded poor results, but it’s a bigger shame that the studies themselves were poorly designed. Oral hygiene is a long term process, and requires long term observations to make worthwhile conclusions. In the mean time, it’s obvious that you should continue to do everything you can to protect your well being, and floss is one of many tools that can help you do that. If you would like a refresher on the best, most efficient techniques for floss use feel free to call our office today at (412) 367-4800!

The Source of Your Tooth Pain

'woman holding mouth due to tooth pain'

Most people, at some point in their life, will experience tooth pain or another discomfort in the mouth. If you are experiencing pain right now, you are probably wondering “Why does my tooth hurt?” and, more importantly, “How do I make it stop?”

As endodontists, we are specialists in stopping tooth pain in its tracks. That’s right! Root canal therapy is one of the most dependable and permanent ways to make tooth pain stop. It also happens to be the healthier choice when compared to extraction.

As experts in pain-relief, we offer you this quick guide to the top three sources of tooth pain (can you guess what number one is?) The good news is that each of these conditions is both preventable and treatable.

  1. Cavities – Yep! You guessed it! Dental caries are the number one cause of tooth pain. While a general dentist can take care of early-stage caries with a filling, more serious decay that has gone past the crown and entered the roots requires a visit to the endodontist for root canal treatment. Prevent cavities in just 6 minutes a day by brushing twice and flossing once!
  2. Broken Fillings – If you have an old silver filling in your mouth, there is a good chance it will crack at some point during your life. The important thing to do if you suspect you have a broken or cracked filling is to visit your dentist ASAP for a replacement. Otherwise, bacteria will find its way into the crack and infect the root, which will then require more aggressive treatment such as root canal therapy.
  3. Cracked Teeth – If you feel a sharp pain when biting down on food, you probably have a cracked or chipped tooth. Tooth fractures are usually the result of biting down on something hard such as ice, nuts or hard candy, so those items should be avoided when possible.

Now that you know the source of your pain, we want you to know that we are here to help you determine the best remedy. We aim to get you in and out quickly, safely and comfortably. Don’t wait any longer to resolve your pain, give us a call at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800.

Study Reveals Tooth Enamel Structure Composition

'tooth enamel composition'

Exciting news in the world of dentistry and endodontics!

A University of Sydney research team has produced detailed 3D maps of the composition of tooth enamel. While we have known for some time that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and that its strength comes from a complex hierarchical structure that includes magnesium, carbonate and fluoride ions, this is the first in-depth and detailed look at what the composition of that structure is.

Findings of this Study

Two major findings are exciting the dental community. First, there is now direct evidence that an amorphous magnesium-rich calcium phosphate phase may determine (to some degree) how teeth are formed. Second, organic material was also found in the structure, suggesting that proteins occur in patterns throughout the enamel, not just in the interfaces as we used to think.

What does this mean for endodontists?

Tooth enamel is the first line of defense when it comes to teeth and their roots. Once the enamel is compromised, decay starts to take place and, if left untreated (as you know), the infection may spread to the tooth’s roots, landing you in one of our chairs for root canal therapy. That is why we, as endodontists, want your enamel to stay healthy and strong for as long as possible!

What does this mean for patients?

The impact of this could be great down the road. This type of detailed information will allow dentists and other scientists and researchers to better determine what is going on inside the enamel of your teeth before, during and after decay.

New Treatments?

Potentially…yes! New treatments and prevention strategies for dental health are always on being made, thanks to ground-breaking research and studies such as this.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, it may be that you are in need of root canal therapy. We can help! Call McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 for more information.

The History of Endodontics

'endodontic tools'

Did you know the practice of endodontics has actually been around for quite some time?

In 1985 in Israel’s Negev Desert, archeologists discovered a 2000 year old deceased Nabataen soldier with a one-tenth of an inch bronze wire embedded in the nerve cavity of one of the skull’s teeth. This discovery of a skull with a wire in its teeth gives us our first sign of endodontic treatment. Evidence from the first century A.D. until the 1600’s reveals early signs of endodontic treatment, which entailed draining pulp chambers for relief and covering them with protective coatings made of gold foil or asbestos.

Root canal treatment is a type of treatment that indicates high technology and a high understanding of dental disease. Archaeologists believe the treatment of the 2000 year old Nabataen soldier may have been practiced by a visiting Roman doctor. The Roman’s in the past have also been cited for the invention of dental crowns and dentures.

In 1963, endodontics was recognized as the eighth dental specialty by the American Dental Association.

With the rise of the twentieth century came the institution of x-rays and anesthetics – what some might call “dentistry miracles”. Endodontic treatment today is much more safe, practical and most importantly, comfortable! Tooth extractions are no longer the only options for an infected pulp or abscess.

Thank goodness for new technology these days! If you want specialized treatment, a comfortable office and great techniques, look no further than Associated Dental Specialists for all your endodontic needs! Give us a call on (412) 367-4800 and schedule your root canal treatment today!