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What Is Root Resection?

June 23rd, 2021

Our molars work hard to crush, grind, and chew our food. They withstand over 100 pounds of pressure per square inch when chewing—and let’s not even discuss stress clenching and grinding! Not surprising, then, that they are our largest and strongest teeth, anchored by multiple roots.

How does this biology work in our favor? Sometimes a tooth suffers decay or damage in the root, or in the bony area surrounding it. When a tooth has only one root, options can be fairly limited. But when a tooth has multiple roots, an endodontist might be able to save your molar with a surgical procedure called a “root resection.”

If the root is too damaged to be repaired by procedures such as a filling, a root canal, or an apicoectomy (removal of the root tip), Dr. Ron Shiver can remove the damaged or infected root entirely. This resection procedure can save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted.

What conditions lead your endodontist to recommend a root resection?

  • Decay: If serious decay is confined to a single root, a resection might be a good option.
  • Damage to the root: A broken root, or one that has suffered a serious fracture or other injury that doesn’t extend too far into the tooth, can be removed to save the healthy part of the tooth.
  • Recurring infection: If you have already undergone a root canal for a pulp infection, but the infection keeps reappearing in one root, root removal might be indicated.
  • Bone loss caused by gum disease: When periodontitis isn’t promptly treated, the result can be a serious loss of bone around one root. A root resection can facilitate healing in the bone around the tooth, and save the tooth from extraction or loss.

Can all teeth benefit from a root resection?

The maxillary molars, located in the upper jaw, are often the best candidates for a root resection because they generally have three roots, but other multi-rooted teeth might also be considered for root resection treatment. Your endodontist will be able to tell you if the root structure and the overall condition of your molar make root resection an option for saving your tooth.

What’s involved in a root resection?

Because this surgery will necessarily involve the dental pulp, a root canal will be performed before the procedure to remove the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue inside the tooth. During the root resection, a small incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the roots. The affected root is then sectioned off and removed. The area is carefully cleaned, and the incision closed with a few stiches. Dr. Ron Shiver will give you instructions for post-surgery care, and most likely a permanent crown will be needed to protect the remaining tooth structure.

Roots serve to anchor our teeth, but they aren’t indestructible. On the other hand, an injured or diseased root doesn’t necessarily mean an extraction is necessary or inevitable. If you have a problem in or near a molar root, an endodontic consultation at our Valdosta office just might leave you smiling.

What is a water pick and do I need one?

June 16th, 2021

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Ron Shiver and our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Valdosta office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Ron Shiver during your next visit!

Persistent Bad Breath? It Could Be Time to Talk to Your Endodontist

June 9th, 2021

Part of presenting our best faces to the world is making sure our smiles are bright and our breath is fresh. Sure, we’ve all been embarrassed by an occasional pungent reminder of that garlic bread we just couldn’t pass up, but with daily brushing and flossing, fresh breath is the norm. Until it isn’t.

If you’ve been carefully avoiding strong foods in your diet, if you’ve started brushing a lot more often, if you’re relying on mints and mouthwash to get you through the day, and you still have bad breath, it’s time to see your dentist or doctor.

Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of tooth decay, dry mouth, oral infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other medical or dental problems. It can also be a red flag for infections within or around your tooth.

How does an infected or injured tooth cause persistent bad breath? Bacteria produce compounds that have distinct and unpleasant odors. A damaged or seriously decayed tooth provides an opening for these bacteria to reach the pulp of the inner tooth and its canals, causing persistent bad breath.

And, while bad breath is an embarrassing consequence of an injured or decayed tooth, there are other consequences that are far more serious. Without prompt treatment, bacteria and infection can spread from the inner tooth and root to the bone and tissue surrounding the tooth. Infection causes inflammation, and untreated infection and inflammation lead to the breakdown of surrounding gum and bone tissue and, eventually, tooth loss.

If your dentist recommends a root canal or other root treatment, it’s time to give an endodontist like Dr. Ron Shiver a call! Because this dental specialty requires years of additional study after dental school focused on the diagnosis of tooth pain and the treatment of the interior of the tooth, endodontists have the knowledge and experience to treat your inner tooth, its roots, and the surrounding bone and tissue.

What can your endodontist do to help save your tooth?

  • Root canal procedures remove damaged or infected pulp tissue and clean, fill, and seal the inside of the tooth.
  • An apicoectomy can treat recurring infections at the root tip and any infection or inflammation in the bone tissue surrounding it.
  • Endodontic surgeries can be used to locate and treat hard-to-find canals and repair damaged roots.
  • Surgical procedures can remove sections of severely damaged or decayed teeth in order to save as much of the natural tooth as possible.

If you are experiencing persistent bad breath, talk to your dentist or doctor about the possible causes, and whether a visit to our Valdosta office is in order. Endodontic treatment can stop the progression of tooth and bone damage, and save your tooth for a lifetime of natural smiles.

And one additional bonus? The return of your fresh breath and social confidence. If you need root canal or any other endodontic treatment, your endodontist can help you breathe easy once again!

Dental Tips for Your Summer Vacation

June 2nd, 2021

Summer’s here, and it’s time to enjoy a well-deserved break! But even though school’s out, please take a few minutes to learn some tips from Dr. Ron Shiver to keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a summer of great smiles.

Hydration

When you are active in warm weather, you need to keep hydrated. So choose your drinks wisely. Sodas and sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, which encourages cavity-causing bacteria to grow. Water is always a healthy, sugar-free choice. If your tap water contains fluoride, you can even fight cavities while staying hydrated. One other benefit of hydration? It helps with saliva production, and saliva is a natural way to wash away food particles and bacteria while providing substances that help keep teeth strong.

Mouthguards

Biking, skateboarding, baseball, soccer—all great outdoor sports, but one fall or accidental contact can cause serious damage to teeth. If you have a mouthguard for school sports, don’t forget to wear it for summer activities as well. And, if you don’t have a mouthguard, now is a good time to think about getting one. You can use a ready-made guard, or we can custom-fit one especially for you. Talk to us about your favorite sports, and we’ll suggest ways to protect your teeth while you enjoy all the physical activities warm weather brings.

Vacation Plans

If you and your family are going to be traveling this summer, let us know! If you need any procedures at our Valdosta office, we can plan them around your time away. It’s best to get any necessary work done before you travel, and we will be happy to work with your family’s schedule. When you are away, be sure to carry our number with you in case a dental problem comes up, and it’s always a good idea to travel with a dental emergency kit.

Sticking To Your Dental Routine

Unfortunately, the bacteria that lead to increased plaque and cavities never take a vacation. Keep up with your regular schedule of two minutes of careful brushing at least twice a day, and make sure to floss. Come see us if it’s time for an exam or a cleaning, or if you have any dental problems or concerns.

However you spend your summer, we hope it is filled with happy—and healthy—smiles!

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