Associated Dental Specialists

Beyond Root Canal Therapy: Other Treatments in Endodontics

Tooth Surely you know what a root canal is. But have you ever heard of an “apicoectomy”? As endodontists, we are always trying to get to the root of the problem, but the methods vary sometimes from case to case. So move over for just a few minutes, root canal, while we give these other endodontic treatments a moment in the spotlight:

Apicoectomy:

A type of endodontic surgery, apicoectomy (pronounced “ape-icko-ectomy”) focuses on the “apex” (the tip), of the tooth root. The procedure is used when root canal treatment alone isn’t sufficient to adequately fix a diseased tooth. By accessing the tip of the root area through the gums, we are able to detect any hidden fractures or canals that are still causing tooth pain. We then remove the root apex and seal it to complete the procedure.

Endodontic Retreatment:

Endodontic retreatment refers to a second root canal treatment, when the first wasn’t adequate in fully removing the infection. It is not common to have to undergo retreatment, but it does happen. If pain persists in a tooth months or years after root canal treatment, it often means that there were hidden canals that need further treatment to fully resolve the infection and save the tooth.

Cracked Teeth:

Because a cracked tooth often means infection in the roots, endodontists are often the first to treat and assess a broken or cracked tooth. There are many different types of fractures in a tooth, from a full split down the middle to a cracked crown. Each requires quick professional action in order to save the tooth, which must be sealed (and in some cases the root pulp must be removed).

Pulpotomy:

Often referred to as a “baby root canal” because it is often the treatment of choice in children with severe decay, a pulpotomy typically removes just the diseased pulp (as opposed all of it) in hopes of leaving the healthy pulp sterilized and in tact for further use within the natural tooth.

Internal Bleaching:

Infected or dead teeth can often appear darker than healthy teeth. Because this type of discoloration is internal, it requires a different type of teeth whitening than what most patients are used to. With internal bleaching, we perform a root canal to remove infected pulp and then place a whitening material inside the tooth to dissolve the stained material.

Have you always wondered what endodontists do? Please browse our website or call us at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 for more information.

4 Foods That Can Cause Dental Emergencies

Dental Emergency Every day, we have patients visit our office for help with a dental emergency. A lot of these emergencies are caused by biting into foods that are too hard, resulting in a cracked tooth, loss of a filling or a broken dental crown.

To avoid a painful and inconvenient dental emergency, here are some foods you should avoid (or be extra cautions while eating):

Popcorn
As delicious as this buttery snack may be, it’s not as innocent as it seems. The husks can get wedged between your teeth or underneath your gums causing a popcorn abscess. Be sure to floss after you eat popcorn to avoid that from happening. However, the true culprits here are the kernels. If you grab a large handful of popcorn and don’t know that a kernel is hiding in the middle, all it takes is one chomp down and oops! there goes your tooth! The next time you eat popcorn, chew slowly to avoid those kernels and enjoy the fluffy buttery goodness that is on top.

Almonds
You might be surprised by this fact: As nutritious as almonds can be, they also cause a lot of chips, fractures and cracks in teeth. Instead of eating the almond whole, try slivered or sliced versions, which make them softer and easier to chew.

Carmel Candies
Yes, this delicious and chewy candy seems harmless with its soft exterior, but it can cause issues with your teeth. When you chew down, the candies wedge between your teeth and pull out any loose dental work/restorations that you have had. Other candies that have the same sticky qualities are starburst and taffy. They might be hard to resist, but doing so is key to avoiding dental emergencies.

Ice Cubes
You might find this strange but many people love to chew on an ice cube on a hot day. But before you put an ice cube in your month, imagine chewing on a rock, which would basically have the same effect as ice. Ice is hard on enamel, and can easily crack and break teeth.

These are just a few kitchen items that you should avoid if you want to save your teeth. Some foods may be more tempting than others, but at the end of the day, one little snack isn’t worth a busted tooth!

If you experience a dental emergency, call our office at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 to schedule an appointment.

Better Breakfast for a Better Smile

Breakfast Options Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your body and provides you with enough energy to make it through your hectic morning as well as keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Eating a balanced breakfast is not only good for you body, but also good for your teeth. Being mindful of the acidity and sugar levels in your food is key to keeping your teeth in tip-top shape!

When it comes to breakfast foods, there are a few foods we recommend eating in moderation! These include, but are not limited to, orange juice and sugary cereals. Orange juice has a very high acidity and by drinking too much, the acid can wear down your tooth enamel. Cereals that are high in sugar have a similar effect on your teeth, but the sugar can also cause cavities.

Eating a balanced breakfast that is low in sugar and acid, but high in protein will make your body and teeth feel great! Protein rich foods will help to build up your enamel and keep your teeth stronger than ever.

Here are a few recipe ideas for a healthy and balanced breakfast:

Overnight Oats:

o 1/3 cup of oats
o 1/3 cup of milk (or substitute almond, soy, coconut, etc.)
o 1/3 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
o 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds OR ¼ cup chopped nuts
o Fresh fruit/ berries of your choice!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a sealed container, or mason jar, and place in fridge the night before. Open and enjoy the next morning for a healthy and balanced breakfast!

Avocado Toast:

o 1-2 slices of whole grain toast
o 1 ripe avocado
o 1 egg (cooked to your preference)
o 1 ripe tomato
o Seasonings of your choice (salt & pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, etc.)

Manual, Electric and Sonic Toothbrushes

Tooth BrushWith the many options of toothbrushes available today, we understand that choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. If you are considering changing your brush style, read more information below about manual, electric and sonic toothbrushes.

Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes are the most common type of toothbrushes, available at your local convenience store. Many people choose to opt for the manual toothbrush because it is a much cheaper option compared to the electric and sonic toothbrushes. Studies have shown that there is not a huge difference in using a manual toothbrush vs. an electric/sonic toothbrush, as manually brushing still cleans the surface of your teeth of food debris and plaque. However, manual toothbrushes clean your teeth at a rate of around 300 brush strokes per minute, while electric and sonic toothbrushes operate much faster (see below).

Electric Toothbrushes

Electric brushes operate at a much higher brush stroke rate than manual toothbrushes, with around 3,000 – 6,000 brush strokes per minute. A brush stroke from an electric toothbrush differs from that of a manual toothbrush because it moves much faster in a smaller surface area, using either oscillating or vibrating motions.

Sonic Toothbrushes

Sonic brushes differ from electric brushes slightly in that they vibrate at a much higher frequency, about 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute. Sonic toothbrushes have been found to have a slighter higher cleaning rate because they clean harder to reach areas, such as under the gums and in between the teeth. However, while this may be true – nothing compares to flossing in between the teeth. The ADA recommends for adults with arthritis or who have a hard time manually brushing to change to electric or sonic toothbrushes, which increases stability for your hand while brushing.

Whatever option you chose, as long as you are brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once, you will be able to effectively keep your teeth clean and healthy! If you have any further questions about the toothbrush for you, give us a call at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800!

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?