Advanced Endodontic Associates, PA

Heart Disease and the Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Heart Disease Good HygieneDid you know that poor oral hygiene could increase your chances of developing heart disease? Practicing good oral health habits isn’t just an important part of preventing tooth decay; it’s crucial in maintaining your overall health. But how are heart disease and oral health connected? What we’ve come to understand is that bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels, which can increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart and in turn cause an elevation in blood pressure thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

We can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Brushing and flossing combined with annual check-ups will help to fight the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease. Check out these oral hygiene facts and make sure to establish a routine to ensure a great smile and a healthy life.

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Eating healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or apples help clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
  • The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
  • Nearly 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases and oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
  • Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in teens than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
  • Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.

Issues that go untreated can end up costing a lot more than routine visits to your dentist. Prevention through daily cleaning and regular office visits is the best for both your health and your budget. Remember, regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to start taking serious care of your teeth and mouth.

Retreatment of Lower Molar with the aid of Cone Beam Tomography

This retreatment of a failing lower right second molar shows the inadequacy of a two-dimensional radiograph. As shown, you can see that the true anatomy of this tooth is a “C shaped” canal. Once the entire root canal system was adequately sealed, complete healing followed.

1 pre-op82 Screen Shot 3.37.333 Screen Shot 3.37.154 master cone 75 post op 326 post op 24

Are Root Canals Safe?

Are Root Canals SafeSometimes, while doing research on procedures on the internet, a patient may come across some concerning information. And since the internet is an unregulated source of information, you may have guessed that sometimes that “information” is actually MIS-information. Unfortunately, thanks to old rumors that have resurfaced over the last few years, the root canal has unfairly been condemned on the internet as an unsafe procedure, even though this idea has been scientifically disproven, time and time again.

If you have been questioning the safety of any upcoming procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can do a thorough review with you and hopefully alleviate your fears. In the meantime, however, we will zero in and set the record straight about root canals.

You may be surprised to learn that these rumors about root canal procedures go back almost 100 years (long before the internet). It all started in the 1920s with research by a Dr. Weston Price that suggested that the bacteria that sits in the root of the tooth could be disturbed and leaked during a root canal procedure, then spreading and causing diseases around the body. Needless to say this fear led to many unnecessary tooth extractions as dentists and patients panicked, refusing to have or perform the root canal procedure. Within a few years of Dr. Price’s focal infection theory being born, modern research techniques were able to discredit the findings. Additional studies were performed in the fifties and right on through to 2012, each debunking this old tale. But we know how rumors can persist on the internet.

In fact a root canal procedure is safer and offers a better overall health outcome for patients than tooth extractions as it preserves the original tooth.

If you still have concerns before an upcoming root canal procedure, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We understand these concerns and would like to help you make the right decision for your health and peace of mind.

Getting to the Root of It: The History of Endodontics

History of Root Canal EndodonticsYou may be surprised to hear that the word “endodontics” comes from two Greek words put together: “inside” and “tooth”. And you may even be more surprised to hear that the first endodontic treatment may go back as far as 200 BCE! That’s right, a skull from this era was found with a bronze wire in one of its teeth, our very first sign of endodontic treatment! Not long after that, we have evidence that people were draining the root canal area to relieve pain and pressure, and even moved into removing and covering the pulp, not too different from what we do today!

Then, in the early 1900s, X-rays and anesthesia methods were introduced to the medical and dental worlds, allowing for a more comfortable procedure for patients, and more accurate work by the dentist. And then in 1943, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) was created.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, rapid advances in endodontics occurred. Instruments, materials and treatment methods were standardized, while new instruments were made and refined to streamline the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of endodontic treatment.

So if you are in need of root canal therapy now, you might want to give thanks to those who bravely started the trend with nothing more than a wire thousands of years ago!

Save Yourself the Backache!

After a long day of work, you are probably no stranger to coming home to shoulder, neck, or back soreness. Many dentists tolerate the discomfort, not realizing that it may take up to 10 years for full chronic back and neck pain to materialize. The Institute of Dental Economics found that 75% of dentists and hygienists suffer from musculoskeletal disorders that affect their personal life and work performance, sometimes to the point that they must stop practicing dentistry altogether. About 29% of dentists are forced to retire early as a result of debilitating pain.

man backache back pain

Muscle Strain and Back Pain

 

In an occupation where using advanced technology is part of a daily routine, you may wonder how it is that development in pain prevention for dental professionals has remained stagnant. In fact, due to increased workloads and stress, incidents of dentists suffering from chronic pain have actually become more prominent in the last 20 to 30 years.

Musculoskeletal problems of the arms, lower back, shoulders, neck, and even hands, wrists, and eyes are very common in dentists because of the nature of the work. Gripping small instruments for extended periods of time, using vibrating hand tools, remaining in static, often hunched positions to perform procedures, and prolonged muscle exertion of the craned head all contribute to the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain in dentists.

 

Prevention

 

Many dentists consider their pain an unavoidable “part of the job,” but is doesn’t have to be this way. No matter how many years you have been practicing, or to what degree you already suffer the effects, taking steps now may save you from a serious pain in the back!

  • Alternating Positions

When muscles are extended in the same position for too long, it can lead to static muscle fatigue, which will eventually result in chronic pain. Adjusting posture may help reduce this risk. You may also consider alternating between standing and sitting when performing dental procedures. Many dentists are wary when they first hear the suggestion to, for example, stand during a scaling appointment, and then sit during the next bridgework procedure. It does take some getting used to, but if you are able to vary positions and alternate between standing and sitting, your muscles will thank you!

  • Comfortable Equipment

Whether standing or sitting, there is a natural tendency to lean over the patient to gain better access and angles. Using dental loupes will help bring the patient’s mouth into clear focus, minimizing leaning and straining for you. Properly fitted dental loupes allow you to sit (or stand!) up straight while working on your patient.

Investing in lighter, ergonomically designed equipment may also make a big difference in comfort and eliminating musculoskeletal problems. Tools that can be used without requiring awkward body posture are best, and what is comfortable differs among individuals. You will not regret taking the time to determine which equipment works best for you. It is also imperative to keep instruments close to your reach during treatment to minimize stretching and grabbing unnaturally for them. Make sure all tools are within 20 inches of your grasp, using assistants to move them into place if necessary.

  • Time Management

You are probably not spending more time than necessary performing work on patients, but rushing from one patient to the next without allowing yourself time to rest, stretch and move around can be damaging to your body. Allowing yourself even a few minutes in-between patients can make a big difference to your health.

Also, the more efficient you can be in completing procedures, the less time your body will need to strain to aid you. For longer appointments, try to intersperse a quick rest period to briefly relieve your upper extremities.

  • Exercising and Stretching

Exercise and stretching are important measures to take in preventing chronic pain. It may be helpful to consult a physical therapist or trainer to help you determine what works best for you. For example, yoga and Pilates are often beneficial to dentists in that they help elongate your spine. Other exercises, such as abdominal crunches and bench press, may actually further damage your body after a day of work, as they serve to reinforce the same positions you have been working in all day.

Taking steps to prevent chronic pain is much easier than relieving or treating existing problems- the sooner you begin to enact new tactics, the better!

As a dentist your most valuable tool is your body. When experiencing pain or discomfort, you are not able to perform your best, and the entire practice suffers. Do not chalk up your aches to a “consequence of the profession”- begin to change your habits now.

Root Canals: Saving Your Smile, One Tooth at a Time

“A root canal, why me?”, we hear you saying. And you’re not alone. Most people want to avoid having a root canal at any time in their life, yet many of us will have to have one at some point.

Root Canals Saving your smileWhen the dentist makes the announcement that it may be time for a root canal, many patients find themselves asking questions like: “Why do I need a root canal? I am living with the pain just fine right now.” Or “I’ve heard that root canals don’t work, why would I want to put myself through that procedure for nothing?” Or “Why can’t I put it off for a year and see if it gets better?”

We understand your hesitations, so we want be sure that we thoroughly answer this all-important question once and for all: “Why a root canal?”

Simply put, a root canal allows us to save a tooth that is otherwise headed for extinction. Once decay and infection enter the interior of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are, it is only a matter of time before the infection takes over those nerves and the tooth dies. When a tooth dies, we have no alternative but to extract and replace it, either with a dental implant, spacer or denture.

We want you to keep your natural teeth as long as you can during your lifetime. Natural teeth look, feel and function better than artificial teeth and protect the jaw from bone loss. So in order to save a tooth that has reached this inner level of decay, we always recommend root canal therapy, during which we go in and clean the infected area out and seal it off to allow it to heal and prevent further infection.

This will save you pain and money down the road.

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