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Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

October 13th, 2021

Advancements in dental treatment, and in dental training, have made it possible for specialized dentists, called endodontists, to treat inflammation and infection deep within the core of a tooth. Endodontists, like Dr. Ron Shiver, receive two additional years of specialized training beyond dental school, where they learn the sophisticated techniques needed to treat problems related to the inside of the tooth. Historically, the only solution for problems within the tooth was to extract the tooth. Today, people who eat a healthier diet have better oral health. They also take better care of their teeth and have regular dental checkups and twice yearly cleanings, all of which contribute to better oral health. Sometimes, however, unforeseen problems arise, and a tooth gets injured, or somehow becomes infected or inflamed. This leads to the need for endodontic treatment.

Understanding Tooth Anatomy

Understanding basic tooth anatomy will put things in proper perspective. The tooth is composed of several parts. The outer layer consists of the enamel and the hard layer called dentin. These layers protect the inside of the tooth, which has a canal that extends from the very top (crown) of the tooth all the way down to the roots. Surrounding that canal is soft tissue known as the pulp. The pulp contains the "guts" of the tooth — or the living parts. Those living parts include blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves.

Importance of Tooth Pulp

The pulp is most important when your teeth are developing. It connects the area from the top of the tooth to the roots, and then to the supporting tissues around the roots (or gums). Once teeth are fully mature, they can still survive without the pulp because as long as the surrounding tissue is healthy, it continues to nourish the tooth.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

Most infections benefit from endodontic treatment. The only reason that a tooth can't be treated endodontically is when the tooth itself isn't salvageable. That might include the inability to access the root canal, a severe fracture of the tooth root, inadequate bone support, or a damaged tooth that can't be restored. Endodontic surgery might be a viable alternative treatment.

Although endodontic treatment is sometimes inevitable and unavoidable, good oral hygiene keeps the teeth, mouth and entire oral cavity in good health. If you experience pain, prolonged sensitivity, swelling, gum sensitivity, swollen lymph nodes, or fever, give our Valdosta office a call or consult your general dentist. You may then be referred to Dr. Ron Shiver for specialized treatment at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month: A simple oral health routine for your busy lifestyle

October 6th, 2021

Adults are no strangers to feeling like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Your alarm clock rings and within minutes you ping pong around trying to spread peanut butter on sandwiches, answer your cell phone, remove the dog hair from your clothes, and make sure your child has completed his or her science fair project. Brushing your teeth can easily fall to the wayside. That is why our office promotes a simple, daily oral health regimen that you can easily incorporate into your busy lifestyle.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), in partnership with the Wrigley Jr. Company, is celebrating National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) during October. The ADHA encourages people to "Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew...Keep it Clean, Keep it Healthy!" and offers some great tips for a quick and effective home oral health routine, below:

Oral Health Routine at Home

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily is the most important thing you can do to diminish the accumulation of plaque and the potential for other oral problems such as cavities and gingivitis.
  • Flossing once daily removes plaque and food from beneath the gums and between teeth that brushing alone cannot remove. Tooth decay and gum disease often begin in these areas.
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial, non-alcohol based mouthwash kills plaque and gingivitis germs that brushing and flossing do not catch. We recommend using a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum helps produce saliva, which battles cavities. The gum also neutralizes plaque, strengthens enamel, and removes remaining food. It is especially important to chew gum after eating or drinking.

It's easy to put the toothbrush down in order to take care of matters you feel are more urgent, but remember, a good oral health routine at home is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. "Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. An estimated 75 percent of Americans reportedly have some form of periodontal disease," said the ADHA. Periodontal disease also is linked to more serious illnesses such as diabetes and stroke.

Also, remember to keep regular visits with our office. Dr. Ron Shiver can help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums.

Endodontic Surgery: Is There a Dress Code?

September 29th, 2021

If you’re scheduled for endodontic surgery at our Valdosta office in the near future, you probably have a lot of very important questions:

  • Will it help? An endodontist has the skill and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting your inner tooth, the pulp of the tooth, and the tissues surrounding the root. Endodontists are the experts in this specialty, so you are in good hands!
  • Will it hurt? Your endodontist will offer you options for anesthesia, so you can choose the sedation experience which will make you most comfortable.
  • What should I do after surgery? Don’t worry! Dr. Ron Shiver will give you clear instructions on caring for the surgical site, selecting soothing diet options, cleaning your mouth, and all of the other practices that will enable a speedy and smooth recovery.
  • What should I wear? Wait—fashion questions?

Yes! Part of being prepared for your surgery is being as comfortable as you can be during and after the procedure. Happily, there is no strict dress code for endodontic surgery. It’s more a basic list of recommendations for what not to wear.

  • Don’t wear something you’re not comfortable in. Generally, loose fitting clothing is best.
  • Don’t wear clothing that might be difficult to clean. While you and your clothing will be well protected, blood, irrigation, and other staining hazards are all occasionally part of the surgical process.
  • Don’t wear something that will be difficult to remove after surgery. No one wants to struggle out of a tight turtleneck even at the best of times!
  • Don’t wear jewelry. And, by the way, this includes tongue and facial piercings.
  • Don’t be afraid to layer. While the office staff will try to make sure you are as warm or as cool as you would like to be, it’s a good idea to bring a jacket or sweater for extra warmth.
  • Don’t wear tight sleeves. Short sleeves or sleeves that can be rolled up easily allow access to your arm if you are having IV sedation or blood pressure monitoring.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses, especially if you are planning on IV sedation or a general anesthetic, because your eyes might be closed throughout the procedure.

If you have any questions in advance of your endodontic surgery, give our Valdosta office a call. Planning ahead is always in fashion!

Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

September 22nd, 2021

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Ron Shiver at our Valdosta office.

Fractured Tooth? When You Should Call Your Endodontist

September 15th, 2021

No one looks forward to dealing with a cracked or fractured tooth, but, fortunately, there are treatments available. Fractures take a variety of forms, from cosmetic annoyance to tooth-threatening, so if you suspect your tooth is injured, it’s important to see Dr. Ron Shiver right away.

If you have suffered any kind of serious fracture, we are uniquely equipped to help save your tooth. Endodontists have two or more years of advanced training after dental school, and we specialize in treating the inner tooth, which contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue found in the pulp chamber and root canals. Endodontists save teeth that would otherwise be automatic candidates for extraction.

When should you call Dr. Ron Shiver? We identify five types of cracks and fractures, and your options will be different depending on which type of injury your tooth has suffered.

  • Crazing fractures

These are the small, shallow cracks that appear over time in the exterior enamel. They are often a cosmetic concern more than a medical one, and usually require no treatment. If the cracks are very bothersome, whitening treatments or even veneers can take care of the problem. If there is any pain in the tooth, it is caused by something other than a surface crack in the outer enamel.

  • Cusp fractures

When the cusp of a tooth has broken off, treatment will depend on the degree of damage. The chewing surface of the tooth can be treated by your dentist with a crown or even a filling, depending on the extent of the cusp loss. Cusp fractures rarely extend to the tooth’s pulp, but, if they do, a root canal will probably be necessary. This is a good time for an endodontic evaluation, because endodontists specialize in root canal procedures.

  • Cracked Tooth

A crack which begins in the tooth crown and travels toward the root should be treated as soon as possible. If the damage has extended to the pulp, a root canal will be necessary, and a crown will protect the tooth from further damage and help prevent the crack from growing. If the crack is not caught in time and extends below the gumline and into the root, the prognosis for the tooth is much less favorable.

  • Vertical Root Fracture

In this type of fracture, a crack begins in the root of the tooth and can gradually spread toward the crown. This is one of the more serious types of tooth fractures, because it can be difficult to detect and often has no immediate symptoms. By the time you feel pain, it might be because the bone and gum tissue surrounding the root have become infected. If the fracture is limited, endodontic surgery can sometimes save the tooth by removing the damaged root, but extraction is often necessary with more serious fractures.

  • Split Tooth

This type of fracture goes all the way through the tooth, splitting it into two distinct segments. These sections cannot be put back together, but, depending on the type and location of the break, Dr. Ron Shiver may be able to save a portion of the tooth with endodontic surgery.

When you are treated for a broken bone, over time the bone will knit together. A crack in a tooth, however, does not heal. If you have suffered any kind of traumatic dental injury, it’s important to visit our Valdosta office as soon as possible. With proper treatment and restoration, even a tooth that has suffered a serious fracture might be saved.

How Can Calcified Roots Affect Your Root Canal Procedure?

September 8th, 2021

Endodontists are specialists in treating the inner tooth, and perform root canal procedures every day. They have completed years of additional advanced studies after dental school to diagnose and treat both common root canal issues and more complicated endodontic problems. Calcified root canals are one such complication that make a visit to Dr. Ron Shiver the right choice for your professional care.

What’s involved in a typical root canal procedure?

After the area around the tooth is numbed, Dr. Ron Shiver will make an opening in the crown to allow access to the pulp inside. Very small instruments will be used to clean the inner tooth and remove dead or dying pulp tissue. The area inside of the tooth will be shaped, filled, and sealed, a process which can take one or more appointments. A temporary filling might be placed in the tooth to prevent bacteria and food from entering the site before a permanent seal is created. Dr. Ron Shiver can consult with you as to whether a crown or other restoration is best to protect your tooth after root canal treatment.

How do calcified roots develop?

Calcium is an essential mineral because it keeps our enamel strong, protecting the delicate pulp tissue inside the tooth. Sometimes, though, calcium deposits will partially or completely block a root canal. This build-up might occur in a canal as a response to injury or infection. It’s also a process that occurs naturally over time, and because of today’s advances in dental care, people are keeping their natural teeth much longer. This calcification can become a problem when you need a root canal procedure.

Why are calcified roots a problem?

It’s very important that we have access to every root, and to the entire length of every root, for the root canal procedure to succeed. If calcium deposits block all or part of a canal, even delicate instruments will have difficulty reaching all of the pulp tissue inside the canal. To make matters even more complicated, calcified roots can be hard to locate. Dealing with calcified canals requires experience and skill.

How can an endodontist help?

  • Endodontists have sophisticated imaging technology and microscopes, which, together with their experience in the anatomy of the inner tooth, help them locate even difficult-to-detect roots and their branches.
  • Endodontists have the skill and training to precisely and patiently clear the blocked roots.
  • Specifically engineered endodontic instruments have been designed to clean and shape narrow, calcified canals.
  • Finally, if the root canals are not treatable through the crown of the tooth, endodontic surgery can allow access to the canals that regular non-surgical methods cannot.

If you have calcified roots, making a root canal more difficult, schedule an appointment at our Valdosta office. We are experts in root canal procedures, whether common or complex, and experts in saving teeth.

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

September 1st, 2021

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Valdosta area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

Breaking Bad Oral Habits

August 25th, 2021

The effects of bad oral habits are something our team sees all too often. You might have bad oral habits that stem from childhood, possibly because your parents did not know about proper oral care or force you to follow it. Or, your bad habits could develop gradually, like slacking on your frequency of brushing.

Bad oral habits can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and consequences such as losing teeth and experiencing bad pain. They may be deeply ingrained and easy to continue, but you can break them with a little effort. Focus on developing good habits to replace your current ones, and eating a diet that is healthy for your teeth.

Replace Bad Habits with Good

Breaking your bad oral habits may not be as difficult as you expect when you focus instead on developing good habits. These new good habits can naturally replace your bad habits.

  • Brush your teeth after each meal or at least twice a day.
  • Visit a dentist every six months for an exam and a professional cleaning.
  • Floss your teeth every day.

These good habits may not seem natural, so you can take steps to make sure you follow these behaviors. For example, make a daily checklist with your scheduled sessions of brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. You can also set a timer to be sure you brush your teeth for the full recommended two minutes.

Eat Properly

Poor eating habits can be detrimental to your teeth. A common mistake is to let food, especially carbohydrates such as starch and sugar, stay on your teeth for a long time. You can stop doing this by rinsing your mouth with water after each meal or snack. Also, avoid candy and soft drinks between meals, since the sugar sits on your teeth.

A healthy diet provides the nutrients you need to maintain strong teeth. The mineral calcium is key for healthy teeth, so try to get your three daily servings of high-calcium foods, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, canned fish, or fortified soy or almond milk. Also include vegetables and fruits, which have a high water content.

If you need more tips about breaking your bad oral health habits, contact our Valdosta office and speak with Dr. Ron Shiver or a member of our team.

Breaking Bad Oral Habits

August 25th, 2021

The effects of bad oral habits are something our team sees all too often. You might have bad oral habits that stem from childhood, possibly because your parents did not know about proper oral care or force you to follow it. Or, your bad habits could develop gradually, like slacking on your frequency of brushing.

Bad oral habits can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and consequences such as losing teeth and experiencing bad pain. They may be deeply ingrained and easy to continue, but you can break them with a little effort. Focus on developing good habits to replace your current ones, and eating a diet that is healthy for your teeth.

Replace Bad Habits with Good

Breaking your bad oral habits may not be as difficult as you expect when you focus instead on developing good habits. These new good habits can naturally replace your bad habits.

  • Brush your teeth after each meal or at least twice a day.
  • Visit a dentist every six months for an exam and a professional cleaning.
  • Floss your teeth every day.

These good habits may not seem natural, so you can take steps to make sure you follow these behaviors. For example, make a daily checklist with your scheduled sessions of brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. You can also set a timer to be sure you brush your teeth for the full recommended two minutes.

Eat Properly

Poor eating habits can be detrimental to your teeth. A common mistake is to let food, especially carbohydrates such as starch and sugar, stay on your teeth for a long time. You can stop doing this by rinsing your mouth with water after each meal or snack. Also, avoid candy and soft drinks between meals, since the sugar sits on your teeth.

A healthy diet provides the nutrients you need to maintain strong teeth. The mineral calcium is key for healthy teeth, so try to get your three daily servings of high-calcium foods, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, canned fish, or fortified soy or almond milk. Also include vegetables and fruits, which have a high water content.

If you need more tips about breaking your bad oral health habits, contact our Valdosta office and speak with Dr. Ron Shiver or a member of our team.

Dental Emergencies while Traveling

August 18th, 2021

You’ve planned your dream vacation. Your reservations are made. You’re packed and ready. You’ve even scheduled a dental checkup at our Valdosta office to make sure you catch any potential problems, have finished any major work, and have an up-to-date chart.

But things don’t always go according to even the best of plans. So, what to do if you find you have a dental emergency while traveling? Dr. Ron Shiver and our team have some recommendations for problems that might arise.

  • Toothache—Rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food particles. Never put aspirin directly on a tooth or gum tissue. If the pain persists, call a dentist.
  • Cracked or broken tooth—Immediately rinse with warm water to clean the area and apply cold compresses to the face to minimize swelling. Get in touch with a dentist.
  • If you lose a tooth—Keep the tooth moist at all times. Put the tooth back in the socket without touching the root if possible. If that is not an option, place the tooth between the cheek and gums or in milk. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Know where to get help if you need it! If you are traveling in the United States, the American Dental Association offers Find-a-Dentist, a website that can locate a member dentist closest to you. If you are traveling to another country, there are steps you can take to prepare for an emergency.

  • If you are out of the country and need to locate a dentist, your local embassy or consulate, your hotel concierge, or friends abroad can be a useful resource.
  • Before you go, check your insurance to see if you are covered while traveling.
  • If you have travel insurance, find out if it covers dental treatment and can provide information on qualified local dentists and translation help, if necessary.
  • Good dental care is available in many areas internationally, but it is important to know what standards are present in the countries you plan to visit. The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures offers a checklist for safe treatment in their “Traveler’s Guide to Safe Dental Care.”

If you have any questions, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team are happy to do all we can to answer them. While it’s unlikely that problems will arise, we are always available if you need to contact our Valdosta office. Bon voyage, and we look forward to hearing about your trip!

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

August 11th, 2021

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing after a meal can be incredibly bad for your teeth if you do it after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each of your teeth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than your bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures your mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization. That’s what happens when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

Our mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what we eat throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your teeth to be more susceptible. If you brush your teeth when they have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to your enamel. Your toothbrush’s bristles will actually wear away some of your enamel. So it’s healthier to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after you eat include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude your meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once you’ve allowed time for your mouth to be restored to a healthy pH level, you may brush your teeth as you normally would. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on your teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Most important, don’t forget to wait to brush at least one hour after you eat!

Still have questions? Call our Valdosta office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ron Shiver.

Has Your Endodontist Recommended an Apicoectomy?

August 4th, 2021

If Dr. Ron Shiver and our team recommend an “apicoectomy” to save your tooth, you probably have a few questions about the procedure. Here are some of the basics you might discuss when you visit our Valdosta office:

  • What is an apicoectomy?

The tip of a root is also called its “apex.” An apicoectomy means the removal (“ectomy”) of the apex (“apico”) of the tooth. This is a surgical procedure performed by a specialist in the treatment of the inner tooth.

  • Who performs apicoectomies?

Your endodontist is a specialist in tooth-saving surgical procedures. Endodontists like Dr. Ron Shiver diagnose and treat problems of the inner tooth and its surrounding tissue. They have two or more additional years of study in the field of endodontics, and have the experience, knowledge, skill, and specialized equipment needed to perform delicate endodontic surgeries.

  • Why choose this procedure?

Usually, a root canal is all that you need to treat any damage or infection in your inner tooth. But when inflammation or infection returns at the tip of the root, or in the bone surrounding the tip, or a tooth can’t be treated with a conventional root canal, Dr. Ron Shiver may recommend an apicoectomy both to save your natural tooth and to prevent further infection or damage to the surrounding bone and teeth.

  • How does the procedure work?

Often local anesthesia is all that is needed. (But if you have concerns, talk to us about your anesthesia and sedation options. We will have suggestions for you.) After the area is numb, an incision is made in the gum tissue to allow access to the root and any affected bone tissue.

Dr. Ron Shiver will carefully remove a few millimeters from the tip of the tooth as well as any infected tissue from the area. Because the tip of the tooth is small, and cracks or extra canals in a root are often difficult to discover even with an X-ray, we might make use of microscopic technology to be sure there are no additional canals or large cracks or breaks in the root. Using specialized instruments, the end of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed.

Stitches or sutures will be used to close the incision, and will either dissolve on their own or might need to be removed on a follow-up visit. We will let you know just how to take care of the site after surgery.

In general, any pain or sensitivity after the procedure can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relief such as ibuprofen. Follow post-op instructions carefully to reduce any swelling, and be sure to follow any dietary suggestions and restrictions. If pain or swelling are a problem, or if you have any other concerns, call our Valdosta office.

Apicoectomies are a common procedure used by endodontists to save a compromised tooth.  If you have recurring or new pain or infection after a root canal, if you have an undetected extra canal, if there is a crown and post in place that would make it impractical to reach the root or pulp chamber area with conventional treatment, and if you want to preserve your natural tooth, an apicoectomy is an option well worth discussing.

What You Should Know About Your Endodontic Treatment Recovery

July 28th, 2021

What will my endodontic treatment include?

If you are in need of a root canal or any other type of root procedure, you have probably been referred to Dr. Ron Shiver. An endodontist is a dental professional who specializes in root canals. Because of the additional training they receive after completing dental school, endodontists are able to perform many different root therapy procedures. They are also prepared to do more precise work than your regular dentist. If you have been referred to Dr. Ron Shiver for endodontic treatment, you may likely expect the following:

  • Anesthesia: Your endodontist will ensure your comfort during the procedure by providing either local or general anesthesia.
  • Removal of the infected area: After your tooth is numbed, the endodontist will drill into it and remove the infected pulp.
  • Cleaning the tooth: Once the inflamed area has been removed, your endodontist will carefully clean the inside of the tooth and shape it for the next step.
  • Filling the tooth: After the tooth has been cleaned and prepped, the endodontist will fill it with a protective material and seal it to prevent further infection.

After a period of recovery time, you will return to your dentist to receive a crown or other protective element to restore your tooth to its original function.

What can I expect after the treatment?

While most patients come to endodontic treatment in considerable pain, many of them experience very little of that pain during or after a root canal. After the anesthesia wears off, your tooth may be a little bit sensitive for a few days, but the discomfort should be minimal compared to the pain you experienced when your tooth was infected. To relieve this pain, you may use over-the-counter pain relievers, or request a prescription in more severe cases.

Does my treated tooth need any special care?

After your endodontic treatment here at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry, your tooth will be somewhat vulnerable until you receive a crown or other restoration treatment from your dentist. To avoid any cracks or fractures in your treated tooth, try not to chew or bite on it until it has been restored to full capacity. If it hurts while you are eating, that is a strong indication that you should be more careful about where you chew your food. In addition, you should avoid chewing gum until your tooth is back to normal. Staying away from any unnecessary chewing can help prevent further damage to your treated tooth. Other than that, just remember to practice good oral hygiene and your tooth should be just fine! Recovering from your endodontic treatment can be easy and relatively painless if you follow these simple guidelines. Of course, if you have any further questions about your endodontic treatment you can always contact us at our Valdosta office!

Tooth Worms? The History of Cavities and Tooth Fillings

July 22nd, 2021

Scientists have discovered tooth decay in specimens that are more than 15,000 years old. The ancients once thought that cavities were caused by something called “tooth worms” … Eew! They didn’t exist, of course, but how else could humans explain the holes that cavities make in teeth?

The appearance of cavities on a widespread basis is often traced to the rise of farming. The new diet filled with grains and carbs made our mouths a haven for cavity-causing bacteria. As we added more sugar to our diets, our teeth got worse.

The “tooth worm” idea didn’t completely disappear until the 1700s when scientists finally began to understand the process of dental caries. Once that part of the puzzle was solved, they began focusing on filling existing cavities and preventing new ones.

Dental Fillings Come of Age

Many different materials, including beeswax, cork, aluminum, tin, and even asbestos, have been used to fill the holes caused by dental decay. Sometime in the mid-1800s, however, dentists began to use metal fillings such as gold, platinum, silver and lead amalgams.

The amalgam we use today is mixed from liquid mercury, silver, tin, copper, zinc, and other metals, but some patients still like the look of a gold filling. Newer options include composite-resin fillings, which are made from a tooth-colored mixture of plastic resin and finely ground glass-like or quartz particles that form a durable and discreet filling. Porcelain or ceramic fillings are natural in color, but more resistant to staining.

Dr. Ron Shiver can help decide which filling is best for you, based on cost as well as your dental and lifestyle needs. You may not have “tooth worms,” but if you have cavities, contact our Valdosta office so we can take the proper action to protect the health of your mouth.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

July 14th, 2021

You might remember that famous grade school dental poster teaching you all about teeth. A large white tooth with a crown, two roots with a bit of a curve, and two perfectly matched root canals inside each root. And, often, a big smiling face on the happy enamel surface—and why not? That tooth is a simple, symmetrical marvel!

But, unfortunately, those grade school posters aren’t exactly the last word in dental anatomy. Real molars might have multiple root canals in each root. The root canals might be curved in odd ways. They might have tiny branches that lead out from the main canal. They might have tiny branches that lead out from the main canal that are curved in odd ways. It can get very complicated.

This complexity is why an endodontist, like Dr. Ron Shiver, has spent two or more additional years of advanced training after dental school studying the diagnosis and treatment of the inner tooth. And when a root problem puts your tooth in danger of extraction, an endodontist is a specialist in saving at-risk teeth. What can Dr. Ron Shiver do for a troublesome root?

  • Root Canal

Endodontists are specialists in root canal treatments. We have the education, experience, and tools to find, clean, shape, and fill complex root canal formations and tiny root canal branches.

  • Surgical Root Canal Treatment

When a regular root canal isn’t possible, we can still reach the root canals by approaching them surgically through the root rather than the crown.

  • Apicoectomy

For a tooth that has recurring problems even after a root canal, an apicoectomy (the removal of the root tip) and the cleaning and sealing of the affected root might be recommended.

  • Root Resection, Hemisection, and Bicuspidization (Bisection)

For molars with serious decay, fractures, infection, or surrounding bone loss, Dr. Ron Shiver might suggest a surgical procedure which removes a single root (root resection), part of the tooth and root (hemisection) or divides the tooth and roots into two pieces (bicuspidization). These surgeries allow you to preserve as much of your natural molar as possible.

If a root problem is causing you pain, give our Valdosta office a call. Because an endodontist is a specialist in saving teeth—and you deserve a poster-perfect smile!

Tell us about your summer!

July 7th, 2021

The dog days of summer are upon us, and what better time for Dr. Ron Shiver and our team to ask our patients about their summer!

Whether you visited our nation’s capital, went on a camping trip, or just stayed in Valdosta and relaxed, we want to know how you’re all spending your summer! Please feel free to share your summer plans and experiences with us below or on our Facebook page as summer rolls on!

Happy Fourth of July!

July 1st, 2021

Happy Independence Day from Dr. Ron Shiver and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

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!

Memorial Day

May 26th, 2021

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Valdosta area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

May 19th, 2021

Tooth decay affects everyone, with studies reporting that 92% of adults have had a cavity at one point in their lifetime. In more serious instances of tooth decay, however, the nerve of the tooth may become infected. This type of infection requires a root canal, in which the affected nerve is removed, and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and filled.

Tooth Anatomy

Although each tooth is covered by a hard outer shell, the interior of a tooth consists of dental pulp. This pulp is soft, containing blood vessels that bring nutrients to the tooth. Each tooth also has an associated nerve, which resides within a root canal passing from the tooth’s root into the dental pulp. This nerve provides information about temperature, allowing teeth to sense heat or cold.

Symptoms of Nerve Infection

Damage to the dental pulp or nerve tissue leads to a rapid multiplication of bacteria within the interior of the tooth. The result may be an abscess, a small pocket near the root of the tooth that becomes full of pus. This infected area commonly causes the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain or sensitivity when pressure is applied to the tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, even after the heat or cold has been removed
  • Darkening or discoloration of the affected tooth
  • A small, persistent pimple that forms on the gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Swelling in other areas of the face, neck, or head

Nerve infection may occur due to deep decay, although repeated dental procedures, facial trauma, chipping or cracking of a tooth, or large fillings may also contribute to an abscessed tooth.

What to Do if You Think You Need a Root Canal

Only a visit to Dr. Ron Shiver can confirm whether a tooth’s nerve has become infected. We will perform an oral examination and X-rays to confirm whether the tooth is abscessed. If a root canal procedure is needed, a small hole will be placed in the tooth. The pulp and nerve tissue are removed from the tooth, which is thoroughly cleaned and filled. Then, the hole is sealed with a special compound to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth’s interior. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthesia to numb pain.

If you think you may have tooth or nerve decay, call our Valdosta office today to schedule a diagnostic appointment.

Anatomy of a Smile Makeover

May 12th, 2021

A smile makeover is usually a combination of one or more cosmetic dental procedures. To achieve your desired result, Dr. Ron Shiver may perform or suggest a variety of options. The entire process is designed specifically for your unique cosmetic needs, and Dr. Ron Shiver will make sure all your concerns regarding your smile are addressed.

Here are some of the most common procedures in cosmetic dentistry and how they work:

  • Tooth whitening – Whiter teeth are achieved through a bleaching process typically using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Yellower teeth usually respond well to this procedure, while brown-colored teeth stained by fluorosis or taking tetracycline do not respond as well to whitening. Tooth whitening is not for everyone; if you have sensitive teeth, gum disease, or poor enamel, Dr. Ron Shiver may recommend against tooth-whitening services.
  • Orthodontics – Braces are one of the tried-and-true ways of achieving a healthier smile. Braces are typically worn between 12 and 24 months to reposition the teeth in a straighter and safer alignment. Since your bite is also corrected during this process, it helps ensure you won't have any trouble down the line. There are several different types of braces available these days including: traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners.
  • Veneers – Veneers are thin, tooth-colored material (porcelain or resin) designed to be placed on the front surface of teeth to improve their overall appearance. They can be used in cases where the color, shape, size, or length is not as desired. Veneers are usually used in cases where teeth are discolored, chipped, worn down, misaligned, irregular, or have gaps.
  • Implants/bridges – Dental implants and bridges are used to replace missing or broken teeth. Nowadays, both implants and bridges are commonly performed procedures. Implants integrate directly with the jawbone, while bridges are placed over the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth. Implant technology has advanced a great deal in recent years and highly biocompatible ceramic materials are becoming more commonplace.

Getting your perfect smile will take time and patience, but the end result will be well worth it! Please schedule an appointment at our Valdosta office about the cosmetic dental services we offer, and achieve the smile you've always wanted!

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 5th, 2021

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

I chipped a tooth. What can I do?

April 28th, 2021

You just crunched down on a piece of hard food when you suddenly realize there is something hard still in your mouth. Your nightmare is confirmed when you retrieve a piece of your tooth from your mouth. You chipped your tooth; now what?

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is call our Valdosta office. While we make every effort to see emergent cases immediately, you may have to wait a day or so before you can see Dr. Ron Shiver. Luckily, it’s easy to take care of your chipped tooth while you wait.

How to Take Care of a Chipped

The last thing you want is for the tooth to become infected or break even more. Let’s look at a few things you can do:

  • If the chipped tooth is causing you pain take an over-the-counter pain medication, like Tylenol. Always follow the directions on the label.
  • You should also rinse your mouth with lukewarm saltwater, as this will help prevent an infection from setting in.
  • If your chipped tooth has a sharp edge, cover it up with a piece of wax to prevent it from cutting you cheek, tongue, or lip.
  • If you have to eat, make sure you eat soft foods and don’t bite down on the chipped or broken tooth.

Treatment Options for a Chipped Tooth

  • Dental Filling and Bonding – If you only have a small chip in your tooth, Dr. Ron Shiver will probably fix it with a filling. If it is a front tooth, we may bond the tooth using a tooth-colored compound.
  • Dental Crown or Cap – If you broke a large piece of your tooth, we may grind the remaining part of your tooth and put a crown or cap on it.
  • Dental Veneers – If you chipped or broke your front tooth then choosing a dental veneer may be your best choice. It will make your tooth look completely normal.
  • Root Canal – If you cracked your tooth and the center (pulp) of the tooth is exposed and infected, you will need a root canal. If the center of your tooth is exposed, it becomes vulnerable to bacteria that will cause your tooth to abscess.

Chipping or breaking your tooth is never a good thing, and you should always call our Valdosta office right away. The sooner you get your tooth repaired the less likely you are to have any problems with it.

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 21st, 2021

Earth Day began in 1970 as an event to raise awareness of our environment. What began as a single day in April is now recognized around the world to bring attention and education to global environmental issues. Conserving our natural resources, reducing water and air pollution, and developing green technologies are all ways in which we can improve the environment around us.

Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse

One of the easiest ways to participate in Earth Day is by simply reducing the amount of refuse that ends up in landfills. Many communities have recycling programs for paper, plastic, and metal refuse. By keeping recyclable items out of landfills, we reduce the need for new disposal space and the amount of energy needed for burning refuse. Recycling products also helps conserve the resources that are used in making new products.

You can save money by reducing your consumption of many everyday products. Single disposable water bottles can be recycled but they are costly. By using filtered faucet water, you can conserve your financial resources. Disposable paper towels can also be wasteful. Consider reusable cleaning rags for the majority of your chores.

Reusing items saves both the environment and your finances. A large number of products can be re-purposed to create a new item. Old furniture can be remade into a new piece. Old clothing can be used for craft items. If you are not able to find ways to reuse your old items, donate them to a charity. Remember to continue your positive environmental steps on a daily basis.

Other things you can do to improve the environment

Everyone, young or old, can find ways to participate in improving the environment. Some ideas include:

  • Planting trees
  • Picking up litter
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Walking, bicycling, or carpooling to work or school
  • Disposing of hazardous waste properly
  • Using rain barrels to conserve water for plants

Earth Day is designed to appreciate and celebrate the health of the earth. Keeping the earth healthy is important, but keeping your mouth healthy is important, too. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to your overall health and well-being, so remember to call our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry to schedule an appointment. Have a happy and healthy Earth Day, from Dr. Ron Shiver!

Root Canal Procedure

April 14th, 2021

Five words no one welcomes: “You need a root canal.” But if you are delaying treatment because you are worried about pain and an uncomfortable day in the dentist’s chair, please think again! Modern root canal procedures are designed to repair your damaged tooth gently and efficiently, and leave you with a restored natural tooth that can last a lifetime.

  • Why might you need a root canal?

First, a little tooth biology. Each tooth has a crown (the part we see above the gums) and one or more roots (the part of our tooth below the gum line that is attached to bone in our jaw). The tooth has three basic layers: the hard enamel and cementum that cover the outer crown and root, the softer dentin beneath that layer, and, on the inside, the pulp. Pulp is made of living tissue, and contains the blood vessels and nerves that nourish the tooth and keep it vital.

Even with the protection the enamel and dentin provide, sometimes the pulp can be infected or damaged. If you have suffered an injury to your mouth or jaw, or an infection has developed from an opening in the tooth caused by a deep cavity or crack, you may need a root canal to prevent further infection, pain, and even tooth loss. Call our Valdosta office immediately if you feel pain with chewing or pressure, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swollen, and tender gums around a tooth, or tooth discoloration.

  • The Root Canal Procedure

If a root canal is necessary, the procedure is very straightforward. After the area around the tooth is numbed, we will make an opening in the crown to allow access to the pulp inside. Very small instruments will be used to clean the inner tooth and removed bacteria and dead or dying tissue. The area will be thoroughly disinfected, and the inside of the tooth shaped and then filled and sealed. A temporary filling or crown might be placed on the tooth to prevent bacteria and food from entering the site if a permanent crown needs to be created. The entire process usually takes from one to three visits.

If we suggest a root canal, it is because this is the best way to save your tooth. Please feel free to talk to us about your particular needs and concerns. Which tooth is affected, how many roots are involved, what type of filling or crown might be best—we will work with you to provide all the information you need and all the options you have available.

Common Concerns

  • Are you concerned about pain?

The most painful part of a root canal is often the severe discomfort your tooth causes before treatment. And infections and damaged nerves can affect not only the injured tooth, but the gums, tissue and even bone surrounding it. With our modern dental techniques, a root canal procedure is often no more uncomfortable than a regular filling. The local anesthetic we use will prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure, and, while the area around your tooth might be a bit sensitive following treatment, the pain caused by the infection or injury should be gone.

  • Are you anxious about the procedure?

If dental treatment causes you anxiety, please let us know. There are several sedation options we can pursue to make this procedure less worrisome. Our goal is to make your treatment as gentle and comfortable as possible.

No one welcomes the news that a root canal is necessary, but with today’s procedures, this treatment can be just what you need to relieve your pain and keep your natural tooth where it belongs for many years to come. And that is welcome news, indeed!

April is National Facial Protection Month

April 7th, 2021

The Importance of Facial Protection

Americans from all walks of life should mark April as National Facial Protection Month on their calendars. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have combined forces to sponsor this annual campaign, which aims to educate and remind us of the importance of protecting our face and teeth against impacts and injuries.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and prevent devastating physical damage in a variety of situations, from playing football to riding a bicycle. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, helmets reduce the risk of various head injuries by as much as 85 percent. Whether helmet laws apply in your area or not, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry want you to make sure you and your loved ones wear helmets with the appropriate safety ratings for specific activities. (A sticker on or inside the helmet will usually indicate this rating.) Helmets can also help save your teeth if they come with an attached faceguard, an essential addition for football players and others involved in contact sports.

Preventing Dental Injuries

A mouthguard can protect you against a variety of dental injuries, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. The American Dental Association states that mouthguards play an essential role in preventing up to 200,000 dental injuries each year, and many states mandate their use for sports activities such as football and hockey. The Academy for Sports Dentistry warns, however, that these mouthguards must be custom-fitted as precisely as possible to prove effective. Have a professional-quality mouthguard molded and fitted by our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry for better protection than a generic store-bought or “boil-and-bite” variety can offer. These cheaper versions tend to wear out quickly, interfere with proper breathing, and provide uneven degrees of cushion against impacts. Always have a fresh mouthguard fitted for each new sports season.

Choose the right combination of helmet, faceguard, and mouthguard to protect your teeth and face this April, and tell your friends to do the same! To learn more about mouthguards, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ron Shiver, please give us a call at our convenient Valdosta office!

How an Endodontist Can Save Your Teeth

March 31st, 2021

What exactly does an endodontist do?

If you are in need of a root canal, your regular dentist may refer you to an endodontist—a dental specialist who concentrates on performing root canals. After completing dental school, endodontists, like Dr. Ron Shiver, attend an additional two or more years of specialty training in their field. They learn all about root canal therapy and other procedures that involve care of the roots of the teeth. Because they specialize in root treatments, endodontists develop considerable experience with these procedures. If you have been directed to an endodontist to address a root canal problem, you may rest assured that your teeth are in expert hands.

How will an endodontist save my teeth?

One of the many benefits of seeing an endodontist is the fact that endodontic procedures can help you avoid the extraction of your tooth. When your tooth is removed, obtaining a replacement can be costly and painful. It is also a time-consuming process that may still lead to a fairly unattractive end result. To avoid losing your natural teeth, treatment by Dr. Ron Shiver can be highly preferable. When you require a root canal, it is most often because the root, or interior, of your tooth has become infected with bacteria or other diseases. During an endodontic procedure, the doctor removes the inflamed and infected pulp of the tooth, cleans and shapes the interior, fills the tooth with protective material, and seals it so no more bacteria can get inside. After that, you will receive a crown or other restoration device to protect the tooth from further damage and return it to full function. After the endodontic procedure, you essentially have a brand-new natural tooth!

Will I need additional treatment?

In some cases, patients need additional treatment following a root canal. One of the most common post-root-canal procedures is a root-end resection. If a patient continues to experience pain or inflammation in a tooth after endodontic treatment, it usually means the infection has spread to the bony area around the tooth. This is especially common when the tooth has experienced new trauma or decay since the root canal, or the crown has become cracked or broken. During a root-end resection, the doctor will open the gum tissue, remove the infected areas, and fill in the treated space to seal the root canal. After this procedure, it is rare that a patient will need further treatment. The careful and precise work of an endodontist can save you from future pain and additional dental work. If you need one or more root canals, treatment by a qualified endodontist can save your teeth.

If you have further questions about how how Dr. Ron Shiver can help you save your natural teeth, please don't hesitate to contact Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry at our Valdosta office for more information!

Root Canal FAQs

March 24th, 2021

Most people hear the word root canal and panic. With today’s state of the art equipment and improved local anesthetic devices, and some knowledge, a root canal does not have to cause panic. Root canals are a common dental procedure, done quite often at our Valdosta office.

Why do I need a root canal?

There are several reasons why Dr. Ron Shiver may suggest a root canal including:

  • An infection in your tooth that has reached the nerves
  • A deep cavity that cannot be filled because the pulp and nerves are also effected
  • Injury to the tooth
  • A deep cracked tooth
  • Broken tooth
  • Repeated fillings of the effective tooth

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is used to prevent the loss of a tooth and relieve pain. Inside your teeth is pulp which consists of soft tissue blood, connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. When the pulp becomes infected, swollen or diseased a root canal is necessary to save your tooth. During a root canal, Dr. Ron Shiver will remove the infected pulp. The tooth’s root canals and pulp chamber of your tooth will be cleaned, so all the diseased pulp is removed and then your tooth will be sealed.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

Your root canal will start out just like any other dental procedure. We will go over any questions you may have, and then numb the area surrounding the tooth. After the area is numb the root canal will begin.

The amount of time it takes to do your root canal varies depending on number of roots that need to be cleaned. Most teeth have one root canal, while others have between two and four. For a single canal, the procedure usually lasts less than an hour. The more canals your tooth has the longer amount of time it will take and in some cases, you will require more than one visit.

How much pain will I have after a root canal?

Once the local anesthesia wears off, your pain can be controlled by over the counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Acetaminophen. In some cases, Dr. Ron Shiver may prescribe a prescription dose of pain medication. Within two days you should be feeling much better and able to return to your regular lifestyle.

St. Patrick's Day

March 17th, 2021

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Ron Shiver - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

March is National Nutrition Month!

March 3rd, 2021

While you don’t have to wait to start eating right, March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies. The Academy has designated the month of March for focusing the public’s awareness on what they eat.

What Not to Eat

The academy points out that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why Dr. Ron Shiver and our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and enhance tooth decay.

It’s the hidden sugars that will cost you, though. Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.

What You Should Eat

Turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.

You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.

Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

We encourage you to give us a call at our Valdosta office to learn more!

Do You Have A Cavity?

February 24th, 2021

Sometimes cavities are hard to avoid. Our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry wants you to know you aren’t alone when it comes to getting cavities. They can appear in both children and adults, and in order to avoid the pain and hassle, you need to understand how they form and what to do to prevent them from developing in the first place.

Cavities form when bacteria, acids, or sugars build up and form plaque on your teeth, which can destroy your enamel. When you don’t brush and floss properly, the build-up can cause cavities to form. In essence, a cavity is a decayed part of your tooth that cannot be repaired by your body’s immune system. This is why a dentist will need to treat your cavity with a filling. If it grows for too long and manages to infect the root of your tooth, a root canal may be the only solution.

Cavities are often symptom-free; you might not experience any pain at first, other than the occasional irritation when you drink a hot or cold beverage. Other signs of possible cavities include persistent bad breath, pus or discharge around a tooth, black or brown discoloration, small pits or holes in a tooth, and perhaps a sticky feeling when you bite down. It’s crucial to treat cavities sooner rather than later if you wish to avoid excessive pain and the necessity of a root canal.

You can avoid cavities by keeping up with good oral hygiene, eating a well-balanced diet, and scheduling regular cleanings with Dr. Ron Shiver. They can still occur at any time, no matter what age you are, so make sure to brush, floss, and rinse every day. If you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact our Valdosta office and schedule an appointment.

Overall Health Can Be Influenced By Oral Hygiene

February 17th, 2021

Keeping on top of your oral health is key when it comes to making sure your whole body stays healthy. The bacteria that occur naturally in your mouth can produce harmful bacteria such as strep and staph, which can lead to serious infections and sickness.

When you follow good dental habits like daily brushing and flossing, and eat a healthy diet, you can discourage harmful bacteria from traveling from your mouth to other parts of your body. Protect yourself and learn more about the link between oral hygiene and a healthy body.

Until recently, tooth decay was more common because of the lack of regular dental care and research behind fluoride. Tooth decay is much less problematic today, due to fluoridated water and toothpastes that contain fluoride.

Nowadays, gum disease has replaced tooth decay as the most frequent dental problem. Periodontal disease is on the rise among adults because people don’t floss regularly and then ignore gum tenderness and bleeding. If left unchecked, periodontitis can cause inflammation that may cause harm to other parts of the body.

Oral Health and Chronic Disease

Many scientists believe inflammation-related infections can trigger systemic disease or intensify existing conditions. Remember, bacteria overgrowth in inflamed gum tissue is able to enter the bloodstream through your eating processes, which is why it’s so vital to visit our Valdosta office if you notice sustained gum irritation and inflammation in your mouth.

Caring for your teeth and gums every day can prevent the onset of disease and save you trouble in the future with regard to your body’s health. If you think you may be showing signs of periodontal disease, or notice anything else out of the norm, please contact Dr. Ron Shiver and schedule an appointment.

We want you to be proactive about your health!

Team Dark Chocolate

February 10th, 2021

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate all the treasured relationships in your life. It’s a time to honor love in all shapes and forms with cards, social gatherings, and sometimes even binge eating of sweets.

It's hard to look the other way when grocery stores and pharmacies are invaded with goodies connected to the Valentine’s Day theme, and especially if you’re on the receiving end of some of these sweets. We get it. In fact, we’re all for it!

However, we also support a cavity-free smile. So in the interest of your dental and general health, and because we think it’s genuinely tasty, Dr. Ron Shiver recommends an alternative to the Valentine treats you may be accustomed to: dark chocolate. 

Yes, Healthy Chocolate Exists

Studies have shown that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, an ingredient found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Flavonoids can help protect the body against toxins, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.

By opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, you get to reap these benefits! Pretty sweet, right? Just make sure to stick to high-quality dark chocolates that have undergone minimal processing.

Dark Chocolate, AKA Protector of Teeth

Not only does dark chocolate provide some nice benefits for your overall health, it also helps protect your teeth against cavities! According to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, dark chocolate contains high amounts of tannins, another ingredient present in cocoa beans.

Tannins can actually help prevent cavities by interfering with the bacteria that causes them. Think of them as scarecrows for bacteria. They don’t always prevail, but isn’t it nice to have them there?

Smooth Never Sticky

Unlike many popular candies, dark chocolate is less likely to stick in the crevices of your teeth. Chewy, gooey sweets are more likely to hang around in your mouth for longer periods of time, which means they raise the odds of your harboring cavity-creating bacteria.

While some dark chocolates have additives like caramel or marshmallow, it’s best to opt for the plain varieties, which are just as delicious. If you’re feeling festive, though, a dark chocolate with caramel is still better than a milk chocolate with caramel, so that’s the way to go!

While dark chocolate has some pretty sweet benefits, the most important thing to remember (whether you go the dark chocolate route or not), is that moderation is key. That being said, we hope you have fun satisfying your sweet tooth and shopping for treats for your friends and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry!

Planning Your Vegetarian Diet with Your Oral Health in Mind

February 3rd, 2021

If you’ve been following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you know that there’s much more to living a healthy life than simply avoiding meat products. Making sure your diet includes enough protein, as well as any nutrients that are primarily available in animal products, takes planning, and there’s no one-menu-fits-all solution.

Why? Because there’s no one menu that will suit all vegetarians. Specific vegetarian diets can allow for many different options:

  • Vegan—a plant-based diet which excludes meat, fish, dairy, and egg products
  • Ovo-vegetarian—includes eggs as a dietary option, but no dairy
  • Lacto-vegetarian— includes dairy as a dietary option, but no eggs
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian—a meat-free diet which allows both dairy products and eggs

If you are a pescatarian, who eats fish on occasion, or a flexitarian, who sometimes includes meat in a meal, your menu options are even broader.

So let’s look at the big picture—a healthy vegetarian diet is really more concerned with the foods you do eat for nutrition rather than the foods you don’t. You can create a meal plan rich in all your essential nutrients with a little research, no matter which type of vegetarian diet is your go-to choice.

And while you’re constructing your ideal menu guidelines, don’t forget about your dental nutrition!

In terms of keeping your teeth and gums their healthiest, what important vitamins and minerals are often missing from vegetarian and vegan diets? Let’s look at three of them.

  • Calcium

Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and tooth enamel. Without enough calcium, a weakened jawbone leads to loose, and even lost, teeth. The acids in our food and the acids created by oral bacteria also weaken the minerals in enamel, including calcium. These weak spots can eventually become cavities. A diet rich in calcium not only supports the bones holding our teeth, but can even help repair, or remineralize, enamel which has been weakened by acidic erosion.

For vegetarians who include dairy in their diets, dairy products are a great way to include calcium. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are traditional and rich sources of this mineral.

For vegans, it’s a bit more challenging, but still doable! Non-dairy foods providing calcium include dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), certain types of tofu, and fortified cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks.

  • Vitamin D

Now you’re ready to put that calcium to work by making sure you have enough vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D not only helps keep our bones healthy, it also enables our bodies to absorb calcium. Bonus—it’s been linked to better gum health in several studies.

So how to get more vitamin D? If you eat dairy, most dairy products have been fortified with vitamin D. If eggs are a part of your diet, egg yolks are a great source. Pescatarians can enjoy the benefits of vitamin D from fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.

Because we get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure or foods derived from animals, plant-based foods are not a practical way to obtain the vitamin D you need. But, just as non-vegetarians can get plentiful vitamin D from fortified dairy products, vegans also have options. Try adding cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks fortified with this essential nutrient to your diet, or take a vegan vitamin D supplement.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy red blood cells, nerve cell development, brain function, and DNA production. (This is why it’s especially important for pregnant and nursing women.) Vitamin B12 can also impact your oral health. A B12 deficiency can cause a swollen, sore, or inflamed tongue, loss of taste, and gum, tongue, and mouth ulcers.

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is reliably found only in animal foods and nutritional yeasts. If you would prefer an egg-free and dairy-free diet, look to B12 supplements or B12-fortified cereals, plant-based milks, energy bars, and other vegan options. This is a good subject to discuss with your physician, because even supplements and fortified foods might not provide enough B12.

In fact, Dr. Ron Shiver can be vital resources when you’re planning your healthiest vegetarian diet. The next time you visit our Valdosta office, ask for recommendations for supplements if you’re concerned that diet alone can’t provide for all of your nutrition essentials. Finally, care should be taken to ensure that, even with supplements, you get the proper amount of the vitamins and minerals you need.

As a vegetarian, you are used to the concept of care. Whether it was concern for nutrition, the planet, the animal world, or another reason that drew you to a vegetarian diet, be sure to care for your body as well as your dietary choices. Careful planning can ensure a diet which supports not only your general health, but your oral health, for a lifetime of nourishing—and well-nourished—smiles.

Does smoking affect oral health?

January 27th, 2021

By now, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. But the truth is its broad-reaching health effects are not all known by everyone. This is especially true of oral health. Smoking can have serious repercussions in this regard. To give you a better idea of how smoking can affect your oral health, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team have listed some issues that can arise.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can have steep ramifications for anyone that gets it. Surgery can be required to eliminate the cancer before it spreads to more vital parts of your body. Any type of cancer is about the worst health effect you can get, and this especially holds true to the affects that smoking has on your mouth. The type of mouth surgery required with oral cancer can leave your face deconstructed in certain areas, and it is all due to smoking or use of other tobacco products.

Tooth Discoloration and Bad Breath

At the very least, it is fair to say that as a smoker you will often have bad breath, and while you may try to cover it up with gum or mints, tooth discoloration is a whole other story. The chemicals and substances in cigarettes stick to your teeth staining them brown and yellow colors that are increasingly difficult to disguise.

Gum Disease and Loss of Bone

Another effect of smoking is the increased risk of gum disease. Your gums may start to recede, which can eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Smoking can also increase bone loss and density in your jaw which is vital to the health of your mouth. Gum disease and bone loss are two signs that smoking is definitely bad for your mouth.

When it comes to the health of your mouth, the question is not whether smoking affects your health, it's how does it affect your health and to what degree. If for no other reason than because smoking involves your mouth as its entry point, it is safe to say that it can have long-lasting and detrimental consequences on your oral health.

To learn more about smoking and your oral health, contact our Valdosta office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ron Shiver.

How does whitening toothpaste work and how effective it is at whitening teeth?

January 13th, 2021

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association seal of approval can help prevent tooth decay and relieve other conditions, such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, and gingivitis.

Beyond these health effects, another motivation for frequently brushing your teeth with high-quality toothpaste is to keep your teeth white. If you want whiter teeth but do not want to undergo in-office or at-home bleaching treatments, you might consider choosing whitening toothpaste for your daily brushing.

Why Consider Whitening Toothpaste

Whiter teeth are more attractive, which can help you feel more confident in your smile. Your smile is also one of the main components of the first impression you make on people in your professional and personal life. Having a whiter smile and greater self-assurance can send the message that you take care of yourself and are confident in your abilities.

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

The American Dental Association explains that all toothpaste has whitening properties because they help remove food particles from your teeth. To carry the American Dental Association seal for whitening, however, toothpaste must contain certain chemicals that help remove stains.

Unlike bleaching products, which contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, whitening toothpaste only cleans the enamel rather than changing the color of your teeth. To obtain the benefits of whitening toothpaste, you need to use it regularly.

The Effectiveness of Whitening Toothpaste Varies

Due to individual variations in the color of your teeth, some people are more likely than others to achieve the desired results with whitening. Teeth that are tinted grayish are unlikely to respond well to bleaching, while brown teeth can sometimes respond, and yellowish teeth are most likely to become pearly white with bleaching.

If Dr. Ron Shiver and our staff believe that bleaching is not a viable option for you, proper oral hygiene and the use of a whitening toothpaste are your best bets for keeping your teeth as white as possible. In addition, avoid using tobacco products, and rinse your mouth after drinking coffee.

Tooth Protection and Winter Sports

January 6th, 2021

Just because it’s cold out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up keeping fit and active! Winter is the season for some of our favorite team sporting activities, and when you’re donning your protective gear, don’t forget to protect your teeth as well.

  • Basketball

This sport actually tallies one of the highest counts of dental injuries. Running, jumping, and diving for the ball on an unforgiving court can lead to tooth and jaw injuries.  And for every ten men on the floor, it seems like there at least 50 flailing elbows in the paint.

  • Hockey

Notorious for the toll it takes on teeth, hockey is a game of sticks, ice, and whizzing pucks. And when your sport’s penalties include the terms hooking, slashing, and tripping, the more protection, the better.

  • Skiing

When you are flying down the slopes, combining powdery snow and speed, mouth protection is a good idea. This also applies to snowboarding and other snow sports.

  • Wrestling

Grappling and pinning in close quarters can lead to unintended injuries after accidental contact with the mat or your opponent.

Different uniforms, different equipment, and different playing fields, but all these sports have one thing in common—the easiest way to protect your teeth while playing them is with a mouth guard.

Mouthguards generally come in three forms:

  • Over the counter, ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but might not be a comfortable fit as they are pre-formed sizes.
  • The “boil-and-bite” option is a mouthguard form placed in hot water. You then bite down to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards can be fabricated just for you through our Valdosta office. These appliances are designed to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, you definitely need a custom mouthguard to prevent an injury to your mouth or braces caused by an ill-fitting appliance.

Whether you play on a team or pursue individual athletic activities, keeping safe as you keep fit is your first priority. We would be happy to discuss your mouthguard options for any sport, any time of year.

New Year's Day Around the World

December 30th, 2020

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year in most parts of the world. The holiday is celebrated on January 1st of each year. Customs and celebrations vary by country, religion, and even individual desires. Whether celebrated quietly or with gusto, the day brings the start of new opportunities for those that observe it.

United States and Canada

In both the US and Canada, celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve. At midnight on January 1st the New Year is welcomed with bells, horns, whistles, and other noisemakers. Fireworks are often part of the celebrations. In New York City, Times Square comes alive with revelers. In Toronto, there are large celebrations which may feature concerts, late-night partying, sporting events, and fireworks, with free public transit service during peak party times. Many individuals in North America greet the year by making resolutions for improvements in their lives.

China

In China, many people celebrate two forms of a new year. They may observe January 1st, but the traditional Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar. Parades with paper lanterns and dragons made from silk are a significant part of the festivities. Legends say that the dragon spends most of its time in hibernation so fireworks are used to keep the dragon awake.

Jewish Celebration

Jewish New Year’s observances begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the New Year, and end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This ten-day celebration is held in September or October, based on the Hebrew calendar. The New Year is not marked as much with loud celebrations as with personal insight to mend wrongs and resolve to better oneself.

Other countries and cultures also have different dates for New Year’s Day observances:

  • Vietnam observes the New Year in February
  • In Iran, the day is celebrated on March 21st
  • Islamic cultures often observe the tenth day of the month of Muharram
  • Russian Orthodox observers use the Julian calendar and celebrate on January 14th
  • Buddhist celebrations are held from April 13th through 15th

If you observe New Year’s Day by making healthy resolutions, include dental care in your plans with Dr. Ron Shiver. The health of your teeth and gums contributes to your overall health. Caring for your mouth now can prevent many dental problems later in life. Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry wishes you a healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year!

Good Dental Hygiene Gives You Better Overall Health

December 23rd, 2020

What do you think of when you hear the term dental or oral hygiene? Brushing and flossing tend to come to mind, since that is what the terms imply.

What you might not know, however, is that good dental hygiene involves much more than just your mouth. That’s the tip of the iceberg … just a piece of the complex puzzle that is the human body.

Simply put, you cannot be fully healthy if you don’t have good oral health. Studies have shown that oral health and body health are closely linked and in fact almost impossible to define as separate phenomena.

Take gum disease, for example. It’s one of the most common dental infections, but it doesn’t just affect your gums. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, gum disease can be directly linked to more serious complications such as strokes and heart disease. Doesn’t that make you want to floss a little more often?

This goes the other way, too. Many oral events like sores, swollen gums, and dry mouth syndrome, which might seem fairly trivial and even harmless, may be signals of a much bigger problem: possibly leukemia, kidney disease, diabetes, or pancreatic cancer.

Now that you’ve been made aware of just how vital dental health is for your overall health (and vice versa), the best thing to do is what you’re probably already doing: making sure you brush and floss, as well as maintain a well-balanced diet. It’s also smart to keep away from cigarettes and tobacco, because both are known to contribute to periodontal disease.

In addition, be sure to keep getting your teeth cleaned every six months! If you’re due for a cleaning, give our Valdosta office a call to schedule an appointment at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry.

Considerations When Picking the Right Mouthwash

December 16th, 2020

A solid oral health routine begins with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Without a consistent oral health regimen, you may begin to experience tooth decay and bacterial infections. Few patients ask Dr. Ron Shiver about different mouthwash options, so we’ve put together a list of the conditions that mouthwashes can treat. This should help you decide which oral rinse would be best for you.

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes reduce large amounts of bacteria on and near the gum line and generally help to decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. The key ingredients of antiseptic mouthwashes are antibacterial and antimicrobial items. Antiseptic mouthwash is a preferable option if you are concerned about the general gum health of your mouth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a great tool for preventive tooth decay treatment. It prevents tooth decay and is great for oral health in general because it kills germs that can live in your mouth. Fluoride also builds stronger teeth. If you’re a bottled water drinker, Dr. Ron Shiver may recommend that you purchase a simple fluoride rinse to use after brushing.

Bad Breath

Fluoride mouthwash can be used to fight any bad breath issues you may be facing. It’s designed to combat any bacteria that might be building up in your mouth. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate bad breath, but some are specifically designed to address this difficult problem. If you feel as though this might be turning into a chronic problem, please contact Dr. Ron Shiver to discuss other options that would be effective for treating your symptoms.

American Dental Association (ADA Approval)

The ADA reviews all mouth rinses for safety measures and to prove effectiveness. Any mouthwash approved by the ADA has met strict guidelines according to whether the manufacturer’s claims are supported with scientific evidence. If you’re looking for a quality mouthwash, look for one that has the ADA seal of approval to ensure you have a great rinse for your mouth.

Considerations

When you’re trying to decide which mouthwash to pick, contact our Valdosta or ask Dr. Ron Shiver during your next appointment. If you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth, be sure to discontinue use immediately. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and be sure to keep all mouthwashes out of the reach of children, because they contain alcohol and other substances that could be harmful.

Just What Is Plaque?

December 9th, 2020

From the time you were small, you’ve been warned about the dangers of plaque. Why? Because:

  • It’s an unappealing film that sticks to your teeth
  • It causes cavities
  • It causes gum disease

And really, do we need to know much more than this to motivate us to brush? But if you’re in a curious mood, you might be wondering just how this soft, fuzzy film accomplishes all that damage. Let’s take a closer look at the sticky problem of plaque.

How does plaque form?

We live with hundreds of species of oral bacteria, most of which are harmless, and some of which are actually beneficial. But when our oral ecosystem gets out of balance, problems can occur. For example, without regular and thorough brushing and flossing, we start to build up plaque.

Plaque starts forming within hours of your last brushing. And even though plaque fits the very definition of “seems to appear overnight,” this biofilm is actually a complex microbial community with several different stages of development.

  • It starts with saliva.

Saliva is vital to our oral health, because it keeps us hydrated, washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and provides minerals which keep our enamel strong. Saliva also contains proteins, which help form a healthy, protective film on the tooth surface. This film is called a pellicle.

  • Bacteria attach to the pellicle.

There are species of oral bacteria that are able to attach themselves to the pellicle film within hours of its formation. As they become more firmly attached, they begin to grow and divide to form colonies, and are known as the early colonizers of the plaque biofilm.

  • A complex biofilm forms.

If you’ve skipped brushing for a few days (please don’t!), you’ll notice a fuzzy, sometimes discolored film on your enamel—that’s a thriving plaque community, and it only takes a matter of days to go from invisible to unpleasant.

If you’re not removing plaque regularly, it can harden further and become tartar. And once you have tartar buildup, you’ll need the care of a dental professional to remove it.

  • What happens if we ignore plaque and tartar?

We get cavities and gum disease.

How does plaque cause cavities?

  • The bacteria in plaque, like all organisms, need nutrients.

Our normal oral environment and the food in our everyday diets provide the nutrients plaque needs. Foods such as carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are most easily converted into acids, which is why we recommend that you enjoy them in moderation.

  • The biofilm promotes acid production.

Within the plaque film, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that don’t use oxygen) convert sugars and starches into acids. As the plaque film becomes denser, it blocks acid-neutralizing saliva and oxygen from reaching these bacteria close to the tooth’s surface, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to produce their acid waste products.

  • Acids attack enamel.

The sticky nature of plaque keeps these acids in contact with tooth enamel, where, over time, acids dissolve minerals in enamel, weakening the mineral structure of the tooth.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

  • Bacteria cause inflammation and gingivitis.

The bacteria in plaque irritate the delicate tissue of the gums, which causes an inflammation response which can leave your gums swollen, red, bleeding, or tender. This early form of gum disease is gingivitis. Fortunately, good dental care and careful brushing and flossing can usually prevent and even eliminate gingivitis.

  • Plaque and tartar can lead to periodontitis.

When plaque and tartar build up around and below the gum line, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect, leading to infection as well as inflammation. Infections and constant inflammation not only harm gum tissue, they can destroy the bone supporting the teeth. This serious gum condition is periodontitis, and should be treated immediately to avoid further infection and even tooth loss.

How do we fight plaque?

From the time you were small, you’ve learned how to fight plaque:

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all of your tooth surfaces and around the gum line.
  • Floss to remove plaque from between the teeth and near the gum line.
  • See your dentist as recommended for a thorough professional cleaning.

Be proactive. If you have any questions, talk to your dentist about the best way to keep plaque at bay. And if deep cavities or damage to the roots or the bone surrounding them have put you at risk for tooth loss, call Dr. Ron Shiver at our Valdosta office. Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth when the health of a tooth’s pulp or roots is compromised.

We’ve only brushed up on some plaque basics, because there is a lot more to discover about this complex biofilm. Happily, even with all there is to learn about plaque’s growth and development, it’s reassuring to know that getting rid of it is quite simple—with just a soft-bristled brush, some dental floss, and a few minutes of your time each day, you’re on the way to a healthy, happy, plaque-free smile.

‘Tis the Season—for Healthy Dental Choices!

December 2nd, 2020

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re dashing through the snow to an emergency dental appointment, you’re not feeling very jolly. And post-holiday, no one wants to start off their New Year’s Resolutions with “Get Cavities Filled.” How to survive the sweetest of seasons with enamel and fillings intact?

Candies and sweets would normally be on the naughty list, but we’re not Scrooges! Indulging in a treat or two is part of the holiday fun, and we have some advice for how to enjoy them guilt-free. But first, some treats are definitely more naughty than nice. Which are the ones that are better as decorations than desserts?

  • Candy Canes

If you’ve ever suffered a chipped or cracked tooth after an innocently biting down on a much-harder-than-expected piece of candy, you know that caution is in order. That’s why we tend to take our time with candy canes, letting them dissolve slowly in the mouth. Of course, the drawback to this strategy is that now we’re slowly bathing our teeth in sugar, encouraging the growth of plaque and cavity-causing bacteria.

Candy canes, peppermints, and other hard candies are potentially bad for your teeth when you crunch away, and definitely bad for your teeth if you let them dissolve slowly.

  • Gumdrops

Glistening, colorful gumdrops. Roofing your gingerbread house, trimming a gumdrop tree, or simply sitting in a bowl, they are one of the sweetest ways to decorate for the holidays. And when we say “sweet,” we mean that literally. Most gumdrops are basically made of corn syrup and sugar—and then rolled in more sugar.

But their sugar content isn’t the only problem. This is sugar in an extra-gummy form that sticks between our teeth and around our gums.

  • Toffees, Caramels, Taffy

They might come in lovely ribboned boxes, but these extremely sticky foods are not a gift to your teeth.

Not only do chewy candies stick to enamel, they stick to fillings, crowns (especially temporary crowns), and orthodontic wires and brackets. No one wants an unexpected trip to the dentist or orthodontist because dental work has been damaged or dislodged!

  • Gingerbread Houses

Nothing says the holidays like a gingerbread house—chewy, sticky gingerbread covered with hard sugar icing, gumdrops, and peppermints. Great for your décor; not so great for your dental health. Eat one gingerbread man if you’re in a spicy mood and leave your architectural masterpiece intact.

  • Fruitcake

If you need an excuse to turn down fruitcake, here’s a perfect one: most fruitcake is not great for your teeth. Candied fruit is, well, candied, and dried fruit is sugary, sticky, and chewy. There are delicious exceptions, of course, but even a delicious fruitcake is very high in sugar.

Well, this list wasn’t very jolly. So as a little holiday gift for you, here are some suggestions to help you enjoy your desserts in the healthiest way possible.

  • Be choosy.

Just like you search for the perfect presents for your family and friends, take the time to choose the perfect holiday treats for yourself. If you are worried about cavities, or have a temporary crown, or wear braces, or have cracked a tooth before, or are just generally concerned with your oral health, stay away from sticky, hard, and excessively sugary desserts.

What can you accept from your holiday hosts with a grateful (and relieved) smile? The occasional soft chocolate should be nothing to stress about—and if you make it dark chocolate, you’ll actually get nutritional bonuses like magnesium and antioxidants. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies—yes, they are made with lots of sugar, but it is the holidays after all. Just be sure to follow our next suggestions to make that slice of cheesecake guilt-free.

  • Eat sweets with a meal.

Saliva does more than keep our mouths from getting dry. It also helps prevent cavities by washing away food particles and neutralizing the acids from food and bacteria, which damage enamel.

Eat dessert with a meal, and you benefit from increased mealtime saliva production. When you snack throughout the day, this acid-neutralizing ability is greatly reduced.

  • Rinse after eating.

Rinsing your mouth with water after a meal or a snack, especially a sugary one, also helps wash away the sticky sugars and carbs, which oral bacteria convert into acids.

  • Brush immediately. (Maybe.)

It’s always a good idea to brush right after eating—well, almost always. If you’ve been eating acidic foods like citrus or colas, the acids in the food can weaken your enamel just enough to cause some potential enamel damage if you scour your teeth immediately after eating. We often recommend waiting about 30 minutes to brush to give your enamel a chance to recover.

But every mouth is different. If you wear braces, or tend to get food stuck in your teeth or dental work, or have any other concerns, ask Dr. Ron Shiver for the best times and methods for holiday brushing.

You don’t want to ho-ho-hope that we can fit you in at our Valdosta office to treat a cavity or a cracked tooth. Make your holiday dessert list and check it twice, and make sure you’re brushing and flossing more often if you’re indulging in seasonal treats—give yourself these two gifts, and you’ll be ringing in the New Year with a beautiful, healthy smile. Sweet!

Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2020

At Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Dr. Ron Shiver would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Valdosta area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

How Endodontic Treatments Save Teeth

November 18th, 2020

When you have a dental health concern about one or more of your teeth, the best option is always to keep your natural teeth! Often, the only alternative to endodontic treatment (also known as root canal treatment) is extraction of the tooth.

That’s followed by implant surgery or the placement of a bridge, and although these are common treatments nowadays, endodontic treatment should be your first consideration.

If you’re told by Dr. Ron Shiver that you need a root canal or endodontic treatment, you will probably have some questions. We'll try to answer some of them here.

What is endodontic treatment?

The most common type of endodontic treatment performed at our Valdosta office is called an apicoectomy. In this procedure, Dr. Ron Shiver will surgically open the gum tissue, remove infected or inflamed material from the underlying bone, and remove the tip of the root.

Who needs endodontic treatment?

Usually, endodontic treatment is recommended for patients who have persistent pain or symptoms that can’t be detected by other, non-surgical means such as X-rays or a visual examination. This means typically the tooth has a hairline fracture or a small canal that’s causing discomfort. There are also cases where a patient may have a canal that has become calcified.

Why do I need surgery?

By performing a root canal, Dr. Ron Shiver can examine the entire root of the tooth to learn what is causing the discomfort and address it. So it’s not just a treatment but a means of diagnosis too. After the problem has been addressed, you will be able to keep your natural tooth and use it as you always have.

What’s the benefit of root canal treatment as opposed to getting an implant or a bridge?

A root canal allows patients to keep their natural tooth. Nothing comes close to how a natural tooth looks and functions, no matter how advanced implant technology or bridges may become. Often, a tooth that’s undergone a root canal can last patients their entire lifetime without any need for further treatment.

What if I’ve had a root canal but still have pain?

In rare cases, it’s possible that a tooth that has undergone a root canal could become inflamed or infected again. If this is the case, other surgical options may be able to save your tooth.

What does an endodontist do?

November 11th, 2020

The most common procedure for an endodontist is a root canal, which involves treating infected roots in order to save the tooth. To become a specialist, Dr. Ron Shiver had to complete at least two additional years of schooling. Your general dentist may refer you to Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry if you experience chronic tooth pain and your X-rays show signs of infection.

Just like a cardiologist only deals with disorders of the heart, an endodontist only works with the pulp, or inside tissues, of your teeth. This specialization allows for more accurate diagnostics and better results with treatment. Your regular dentist is qualified to perform simple root canals, but an endodontist can provide you with more treatment options that can restore your teeth for life. Procedures that endodontists can perform but general dentists cannot include:

  • Cracked teeth treatment
  • Diagnosis and treatment of complex root problems
  • Tooth replacements
  • Consultations for facial trauma patients
  • Surgical removal of roots

Why visit an endodontist?

While no type of replacement is as good as your natural teeth, root canals and other endodontic procedures effectively save teeth, and specialists prefer these methods over extractions, bridges, and implants. If your dentist ever suggests tooth removal as treatment, you should request an endodontic consultation for other options. Endodontists have access to more advanced diagnostic technology, such as ultrasonic imaging and operating microscopes, and can offer you a larger selection of treatment options to prevent the loss of adult teeth.

Endodontic treatment reduces the time it takes for treatment and recovery. While you do not need to see a specialist for every dental issue, there are some symptoms that indicate problems with your teeth’s blood vessels, roots, nerves, and soft tissues. Seek an endodontist’s specialized care when you experience the following symptoms.

  • Sharp pain when biting
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods followed by lingering pain
  • Persistent and severe pain with swollen gums
  • Uncomfortable aches in the upper teeth and jaws

You value your natural teeth, and at our Valdosta office, we can help ensure the longevity and function of your pearly whites for the years to come!

Choosing the Dental Filling Option that's Best for You

November 4th, 2020

Did you know there are as many types of dental fillings as there are flavors of ice cream? Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, when you visit the dentist with a cavity, there are many filling options. Most of us just sit in the chair, open our mouths, and let the dentist work his or her magic. But have you ever stopped to consider what the dentist is filling and restoring your decayed or broken tooth with?

Five types of dental fillings

There are five basic kinds of dental filing material. The dentist decides which type to use based on the degree of the decay, the cost of the material, and the type of dental insurance you have.

  1. Dental amalgam, or silver fillings, have been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years. Dental amalgam is the most common type of dental filling. It's strong, durable, and less expensive than other types.
  2. Composite fillings, or white fillings, are popular because the color matches the rest of your teeth. Composite fillings are a combination of resin and plastic. They are more aesthetically pleasing than silver fillings, but are also less durable.
  3. Ceramic fillings are durable and visually appealing (tooth-colored), but they are expensive. They are made of porcelain and have been shown to be resistant to staining.
  4. Glass ionomers are typically used on children whose teeth are still changing. Constructed from glass and acrylic, glass ionomers are designed to last fewer than five years. The benefit of these dental fillings is that they release fluoride, which protects the changing tooth from further decay.
  5. Unless you’re a rock or movie star, gold fillings aren’t common. While a gold filling is durable, non-corrosive, and can last more than 15 years, it not only takes more than one dental visit to place, but, as you can imagine, it is expensive.

For more information about fillings, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ron Shiver, please give us a call at our convenient Valdosta office!

Do You Have an Injured Molar?

October 21st, 2020

Fortunately, most of our dental work is fairly straightforward. You have an exam and a cleaning, or a cavity gets filled, or a crown might be used to protect a fragile tooth. But sometimes, a more complex dental problem affects one of your molars. In this case, it could be the right time to call in an endodontist like Dr. Ron Shiver—a dental professional skilled in saving at-risk teeth.

Endodontists have two or more years of specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of the inner tooth and the tissue surrounding it. An endodontist has the knowledge and experience to treat complex molar issues, and modern endodontics provides a number of options to protect the health and appearance of your natural teeth even when they have suffered an injury.

The inside of each tooth contains the vital (living) pulp, which includes blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Once the pulp has suffered injury or infection, a root canal is almost always necessary to save the tooth. The bone and connective tissue surrounding the tooth can also suffer trauma or infection.

In the case of serious molar trauma or infection that goes beyond root canal treatment, Dr. Ron Shiver might be able to save part or even most of your tooth with endodontic surgery. Two of the surgical procedures which can save such a molar are hemisection and bicuspidization.

When might an endodontist consider hemisection or bicuspidization?

  • A root canal is a common endodontic procedure in which the damaged pulp is removed, and the tooth is cleaned, shaped, and sealed. Sometimes, though, an infection persists. In this case, part of the tooth might be removed to save the remaining natural tooth.
  • When a traumatic vertical fracture occurs, a tooth is split from top to bottom. Depending on the location of the fracture, part of the tooth may be saved with surgical intervention.
  • Serious decay or injury can damage a limited area of the tooth, while leaving another part of the tooth intact. Surgery can save the healthy part of the tooth.
  • When periodontitis (serious gum disease) attacks the bone around the roots, severe bone loss can take place between the roots or around a single root. Surgery might be necessary to repair the damage.

In each of these procedures, the goal of Dr. Ron Shiver is to preserve as much of your molar as possible. How is this done?

  • Hemisection

In a hemisection, the injured tooth is split into two parts, and the part of the crown and the root that cannot be restored are removed. The remaining healthy crown area and root will be cleaned and treated, and a temporary crown will be put in place to protect the tooth. A permanent crown will then be designed to custom-fit the tooth.

  • Bicuspidization

In this procedure, the damaged tooth is separated into two parts, each with a crown section and a root. The divided portions are cleaned and shaped, and temporary crowns will protect each section. A custom crown or crowns will be needed to cover and protect each segment of the tooth.

Why should you consider a hemisection or a bicuspidization? These procedures are alternatives to tooth extraction, and allow Dr. Ron Shiver to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible. While an implant or a bridge is certainly an option, we always prefer saving your natural teeth. If your dental problem involves the inner tooth or the tissue around it, ask us about your treatment options when you visit our Valdosta office. It’s not only worth your while—it’s worth your smile!

Bite Pain? It Might Be Time to See Your Endodontist

October 14th, 2020

Whether it’s a constant ache when you chew food or a sharp, jolting pain every time you bite down, if bite pain has you considering a permanent liquid diet, a trip to see Dr. Ron Shiver is definitely in order!

What causes bite pain? You might feel an ache because of a cavity, a loose filling, bruxism (grinding the teeth) or a malocclusion (bad bite). Dr. Ron Shiver will be able to help you get to the root of this type of tooth pain and provide treatment that will leave you smiling again.

But sometimes, pain is caused by damage or infection located in the inner chamber of the tooth. In this case, pain caused by biting or pressure on the tooth might indicate:

  • Pulp Infection

The pulp of a tooth contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Because it is composed of living tissue, pulp can be subject to injury, inflammation, and infection. If bacterial infection sets in, the pulp will need to be removed and the site cleaned, shaped, and filled. This is something that should not be postponed, because without treatment infection can spread to the surrounding bone and tissue.

  • An Abscess

An abscess forms when pus collects into a pocket at the site of an infection. When tooth pulp suffers bacterial infection, the infection spreads through the interior of the tooth. An abscess can form at the tip of the root, or appear in the surrounding tissue. If the abscess finds a path to drain, you might feel some temporary relief, but treatment is essential. Unless the infected pulp is removed and the inner tooth cleaned, shaped, and filled, pain can not only recur, but the infection can spread to other parts of the body—sometimes with serious results. Endodontists are trained to treat infection in the tissues surrounding a compromised tooth.

  • A Cracked or Injured Tooth

When a tooth suffers a significant crack or fracture, the pulp can become infected or damaged. An endodontist is trained to discover and diagnose cracks and fractures that might not appear on an X-ray. If the crack is treatable, there are a variety of procedures, including oral surgery, which can preserve a tooth even if some of the root area needs to be removed.

Of course, bite pain is not the only symptom of a damaged or infected inner tooth. Any redness, swelling, fever, or prolonged sensitivity to heat and cold are signs that your tooth should be examined as soon as possible.  If you are suffering from discomfort because the pulp of the tooth has been injured, endodontists like Dr. Ron Shiver are experts in treating your pain.

Whether the answer is a root canal or more complex oral surgery, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team have the training and experience to relieve pain, protect you from further infection, and save injured teeth.

If you are avoiding biting or chewing because of tooth pain, call our Valdosta endodontic office. We can let you know how we can help give you back your happy—and healthy—smile.

Should I fix my chipped tooth?

September 30th, 2020

It was a small fall! A miniscule piece of popcorn! A minor foul on the basketball court! But now there’s a chip in your otherwise perfect smile. Is a chipped tooth worth calling Dr. Ron Shiver?

Any time your tooth is injured is time to call our Valdosta office. Even a small chip can affect your tooth structure and should be evaluated. We will also want to check your tooth and gums to make sure there is no underlying injury that could be more serious, and to treat your tooth as soon as possible so that no further damage occurs.

A very small chip might need nothing more than smoothing and polishing to remove sharp edges. A small chip in your enamel can be repaired with dental bonding, where a composite like those used to fill cavities will be shaped to cover and fill the chip. This composite will be matched to your tooth color for a seamless repair. A porcelain veneer is also an option for you. These procedures will restore the look of your tooth and protect it as well, because even a small chip can lead to tooth sensitivity or further damage in the future.

A larger chip, such as a fractured cusp, might require a crown. But a large chip might also mean that the inside of the tooth has been compromised. If the dentin or pulp are affected, pain, infection, and even tooth loss could result. A root canal might be necessary to preserve the tooth, so prompt treatment is necessary.

Regardless of the size of the chip, call our Valdosta office as soon as possible. We can give you tips for pain management, if needed, until you see us. If you can save the chip, bring it with you when you visit in case there is the possibility of bonding it to the injured tooth.  But even without that missing piece, there are ways to restore the look of your original tooth. Remember, repairing a chipped tooth is not just cosmetic. We want to keep your smile healthy, as well as beautiful!

Five Reasons to See Your Endodontist

September 23rd, 2020

For most of our dental concerns, seeing the family dentist is the first and only appointment we need. But when you need specialized treatment for an injured tooth, an appointment with Dr. Ron Shiver can not only save you pain and discomfort—it can even save your tooth.

Every tooth is protected by its hard enamel covering—in fact, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body—but it’s not perfect protection. Beneath that enamel lies less dense tissue called dentin, filled with tubules leading to the inner chamber of the tooth. This small inner chamber and the even more delicate canals inside each root of the tooth contain the sensitive dental pulp, which holds nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.

If the pulp has been compromised through decay, injury, or infection, treatment needs to take place to prevent pain, further infection, and even bone and tooth loss. The diagnosis and treatment of the inner tooth are the special focus of endodontists like Dr. Ron Shiver.

Which symptoms could be a clue that your inner tooth needs treatment?

  1. Sharp, severe pain when you bite down or put pressure on a tooth: This could be a sign that the pulp tissue inside is irritated, damaged, or infected.
  2. Continuous facial pain, toothache, redness or swelling around the tooth: These symptoms could be signs of pulp inflammation, infection, or abscess.
  3. Persistent sensitivity to heat and cold: Any sensitivity to temperature is a good reason to see Dr. Ron Shiver. Cavities and even heavy-handed brushing can cause sensitivity for a few seconds after exposure to heat or cold. Any pain or sensitivity that lasts longer, though, could indicate pulp damage.
  4. Unexplained soreness or pressure in the jaws and teeth: Grinding your teeth and certain sinus conditions can cause these symptoms, but if you have ruled out obvious causes, Dr. Ron Shiver should be consulted.
  5. A cracked or injured tooth: A crack or other injury can leave the pulp vulnerable to irritation, bacteria, and infection. Endodontists are trained to diagnose and treat the different varieties of tooth fractures, including crown, cusp, and root fractures.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t put off endodontic treatment at our Valdosta office. Once the inner tooth has suffered injury or infection, treatment should take place as soon as possible to prevent further damage to tooth, tissue, and bone. Endodontists work to save injured teeth with a variety of procedures, including root canals, endodontic surgeries on tooth and root structures, and placement of posts and cores to strengthen and stabilize teeth.

If you suspect that you have a tooth that needs endodontic treatment, call your endodontist, or, if you haven’t worked with an endodontist before, ask your regular dentist for a recommendation. Seeing a specialist trained in the latest and most effective endodontic techniques is the best option to save an injured tooth.

Should You Get Dental Veneers?

September 16th, 2020

Dental veneers are a popular treatment to improve the appearance of your smile. Dr. Ron Shiver and our team want to help you understand whether this dental option is right for you.

Veneers, also known as laminates, are custom-made shells that cover the front of your teeth. They can change the color, size, or length of each individual tooth. The process can require between one and three trips to our Valdosta office to complete.

This treatment is usually done for people who want to change the appearance of their smile: they can get rid of stains, gaps, or chips. Here at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry, we know how getting veneers can dramatically change your smile and help improve your confidence.

Your initial appointment entails preparing the teeth and creating an impression. The impression will help us design each veneer to the exact shape and color you desire. You’ll come back in a week or two to have the veneers placed. Your veneers should last about ten years, as long as you practice proper care and hygiene.

There are plenty of benefits to getting veneers, but you should be aware of the potential downsides of this procedure. This process is irreversible and the veneers cannot usually be fixed. If they chip or crack, they’ll need to be replaced.

It is also possible for veneers to fall off due to excessive pressure from nail biting or chewing on ice. If you grind your teeth a lot, you’re more likely to expose your veneers to damage, which can be costly to repair.

In order to know whether veneers are right for you, schedule an appointment at our Valdosta office for a consultation. We can decide what you’re looking to do with your smile and if this is the best option for you.

Symptoms That Could Mean You Need a Root Canal

September 9th, 2020

Every tooth packs a lot of layers in a very small area. The outer, visible part of our tooth, the crown, is covered in protective enamel, and the lower root area is protected by a similar substance called cementum. Inside these very hard layers is dentin, a hard but more porous tissue which surrounds the pulp. In this central pulp chamber, we have the blood vessels which nourish the tooth and the nerves which send our bodies signals from the tooth. And if one of those signals is persistent tooth pain, you may need a procedure called a root canal.

There are a number of reasons that a tooth may cause you pain, including:

  • Fracture—a cracked or broken tooth can allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber and cause inflammation and infection
  • Cavity—an untreated cavity can leave an opening where bacteria can reach the pulp of the tooth, and again lead to infection
  • Gum Disease—bacteria can attack from the root area of the tooth if gum disease has become serious
  • Injury—an accident or injury to a tooth can damage the nerve or the blood supply which nourishes the pulp
  • Abscess—if infection is left untreated, an abscess may form under the root

While a damaged tooth may sometimes be symptom-free, usually there are signs that the pulp has been injured or infected. What symptoms should lead you to give Dr. Ron Shiver a call?

  • Persistent pain in the tooth
  • Long-lasting sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Gum tissue adjacent to the tooth that is sore, red or swollen
  • A cracked, broke, darkened or discolored tooth
  • A bump on your gums that persists or keeps recurring—this might indicate an abscess

A root canal is performed by a trained dentist or endodontist. After an anesthetic is used to numb the area, the damaged tissue, including pulp, blood vessels and nerves, is removed from the pulp chamber and each root. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and shaped, and filled and sealed with a temporary filling. The tooth is filled again permanently, usually on a second visit, and might require a crown in order to protect it from further damage.

The most painful part of a root canal is far more often the time spent suffering before the procedure than the procedure itself. Delaying action when a root canal is necessary can lead to infection, abscess, and even tooth loss. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, please give our Valdosta office a call!

 

Top Five Best Foods for Oral Health

August 19th, 2020

Some foods are just terrible for your teeth — think cookies and candy bars — but there are certain foods that are beneficial to your oral health. Below, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team have covered five of the top foods to keep your teeth and gums healthy!

1. Crispy, low-acid fruits and vegetables: Fruits like apples and vegetables such as carrots and celery act like “natural toothbrushes,” helping to clear plaque from your teeth and freshen your breath.

2. Kiwis: These little green superstars are packed with vitamin C which is essential for gum health. The collagen in your gums is strengthened when you consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like kiwis, thus helping to prevent periodontal problems.

3. Raw onions: Onions have long been studied for their antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Proliferation of bacteria is what leads to tooth decay and cavities. By including raw onions in your diet, you'll be doing your part to wipe out those little microbes before they can multiply!

4. Shiitake Mushrooms: A specific compound in shiitake mushrooms, lentinan, has been shown to have antibacterial properties that target the microbes that cause cavities while leaving other beneficial bacteria alone. It may also help prevent gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums.

5. Green Tea: Often lauded for its high antioxidant content and many health benefits, it turns out green tea also benefits your oral health! A Japanese study found men who drank green tea on a regular basis had a lower occurrence of periodontal disease compared to men who drank green tea infrequently. It's believed this is due to the catechins in green tea, a type of flavonoid that may help protect you from free radical damage, but more research needs to be done. Either way, drink up for your overall health, as well as your teeth!

If you have any questions about your oral health, or are looking for even more oral health tips, contact our Valdosta office!

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

August 12th, 2020

We’re all friends here, so if you feel a bit nervous before your endodontic appointment, no judging! Ask us about any worries you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and sedation options so you know just how safe and comfortable your experience can be. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes patients feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, WiFi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is called radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are several different types of dental X-rays used in endodontics, including:

  • Bitewing X-rays, which are used to examine the roots and surrounding bone in the back teeth.
  • Periapical X-rays, which allow us to look at one or two specific teeth from crown to root.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.
  • Cone Beam Computed Tomography, an external device which uses digital images to create a three-dimensional picture of the teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

If all of our dental conditions were visible on the surface, there would be no need for X-rays. But there are many conditions that can only be discovered with the use of imaging—infection, decay, a decrease in bone density, or injuries, for example, can show up as darker areas in the teeth or jaws.

Endodontists specialize in treating the pulp chamber and root canals within each tooth that hold tissue, nerves, and blood vessels and the supporting tissues around them. “Endodontic” literally means “inside the tooth,” so it’s clear why X-rays can be essential for both diagnosis and treatment!

Some of the procedures which might require X-rays include:

  • Root canal treatment or retreatment
  • Apicoectomies (removing the tip of a root to treat recurring infection)
  • Treating abscesses and infections in the tooth and surrounding bone
  • Repairing fractures or other injuries to a tooth
  • Treating an avulsed, or knocked out, tooth

How Do Endodontists Make Sure Your X-rays Are As Safe As They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation you are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a set of bitewing X-rays exposes us to slightly less than the amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team are committed to making sure patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • When treating children, we set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

And now that we’ve talked about some things you might like to know,

Please Let Us Know If . . .

  • You are being treated after previous endodontic work. We’ll let you know if your earlier X-rays might be useful, and how to transfer them. (With digital X-ray technology, this transfer can be accomplished electronically!)
  • You’re pregnant, or think you might be pregnant. Even though radiation exposure is very low with dental radiographs, unless there is a dental emergency, dentists and doctors recommend against X-rays for pregnant patients.

X-rays play a vital part in helping us diagnose and treat endodontic issues. If you have any concerns, contact our Valdosta office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

Some General Rules for General Anesthesia

August 5th, 2020

If you have endodontic surgery scheduled at our Valdosta office, you have many options for your choice of anesthesia. After all, Dr. Ron Shiver and our team are trained in all forms of anesthesia and sedation therapy, so you will be able to choose the anesthesia experience that best suits your needs—and your comfort!

One such option is general anesthesia. If you choose this type of anesthesia, you will be carefully monitored at all times. While you are under our care, we want to make sure your treatment is safe, painless, and free from anxiety. And to make your experience go as smoothly as possible, there are some recommendations you can follow even before you arrive at the office.

  • Communication

Part of our job is to let you know all about your general anesthesia beforehand. If you have any questions or concerns, please voice them. And communication is a two-way street! If you have any medical conditions, or are taking any medications, or have a cold or the flu, please let us know in advance.

  • Diet Restrictions

Talk to us before your surgery to learn about any diet restrictions you should observe before general anesthesia. You will need to abstain from food and drink for a set number of hours before the procedure, so we’ll give you directions based on whether your surgery is scheduled for morning or afternoon.

  • Dress for Success

Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Make sure your sleeves are short or easily rolled up above your elbow if you’ll need an IV line or blood pressure monitoring. Leave your make-up, jewelry, and contact lenses at home.

  • Go Along for the Ride

Ask a friend or a family member for a ride home after surgery. We want you to travel safely, and, even if you think you are good to go, your thinking and decision making, your reflexes, and even your memory can be impaired for up to 48 hours after general anesthesia. If you have arranged for a cab or a ride share, don’t call for your ride until our office gives you the all clear.

  • Plan Ahead!

For the very same reasons you shouldn’t drive for several hours after general anesthesia, there are some normal everyday activities you should postpone as well. You shouldn’t operate machinery. Cooking can wait. Arrange for help with childcare if you have young children. The effects of general anesthesia will wear off over the course of a day or two—ask us for a timeline for returning to your normal activities.

We’re experts in providing you with a safe and comfortable anesthesia experience when you have endodontic surgery. And part of that expertise is letting you know the specifics about preparing for your general anesthesia. If you have any questions for how to get ready for the hours both before and after your surgery, give us a call!

Diet Soda vs. Regular Soda: Which is better for teeth?

July 29th, 2020

When most patients ask Dr. Ron Shiver this question, they're thinking strictly about sugar content — cut out the bacteria-feeding sugar that's present in regular soda by opting for a diet soda and it will be better for your teeth. That seems logical, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that. Let's take a closer look at how any kind of soda can affect your dental health.

Diet Soda – Why it can also lead to tooth decay

The main culprit in these drinks that leads to decay is the acid content. Diet sodas and other sugar-free drinks are usually highly acidic, which weakens the enamel on your teeth and makes them more susceptible to cavities and dental erosion. The level of phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid is usually high in sugar-free drinks so it's best to avoid them.

Some patients also enjoy drinking orange juice or other citrus juices. These drinks are high in citric acid and have the same effect on the enamel of your teeth.

So what about regular soda?

We know the acidity of diet sodas and sugar-free drinks contributes to tooth decay, so what about regular soda? Like we alluded to earlier, regular soda is high in sugar — a 12 ounce can contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar — and sugar feeds the decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. This also includes sports drinks and energy drinks, which are highly acidic and loaded with sugar too. So these drinks are a double-whammy of sugar and acidity your teeth and body simply don't need.

The problems caused by both diet and regular soda is exacerbated when you sip on them throughout the day. If you drink it all in one sitting, you won't be washing sugar and/or acids over your teeth all day long and your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the pH in your mouth.

The best beverages to drink and how to drink them

Drinking beverages that are lower in acid is a good step to take to keep your enamel strong. According to a study conducted by Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer at the University of Michigan, your best bets are plain water, black tea or coffee, and if you opt for a soda, root beer. These drinks dissolved the least amount of enamel when measured 14 days after consumption of the beverage.

If you still choose to drink soda, diet soda, sugar-free drinks, or juices here are some other tips to lessen tooth decay:

  • Drink your soda or acidic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  • Rinse with water immediately after consumption of the beverage
  • Avoid brushing your teeth between 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the beverage as this has been shown to spread the acids before your saliva can bring your mouth back to a neutral pH
  • Avoid drinks that have acids listed on the ingredients label

Still have questions about soda, sugar, and acid? Give our Valdosta office a call and we’d be happy to help!

Natural Ways to Soothe a Toothache

July 22nd, 2020

Toothaches can come in many different forms, but no matter which, they’re always uncomfortable. Dr. Ron Shiver and our team want you to know there are simple ways to cure this common problem.

Toothaches can be caused by infections, gum diseases, teeth grinding, trauma, or having an abnormal bite. Several symptoms may become noticeable when you start to experience a toothache. You might develop a fever, have trouble swallowing, notice an unpleasant discharge, and most often feel lasting pain when you bite down.

If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, try to manage the pain with the simple remedies below. If the pain continues, contact our Valdosta office and schedule an appointment, because a bigger issue might be involved.

  1. First, try rinsing your mouth out with warm salt water. This helps to disinfect your mouth and may soothe the region where the toothache is occurring. Hydrogen peroxide can also help if you swish it around in your mouth.
  2. Applying a cold compress or ice pack to your jaw in area that hurts can help with swelling.
  3. Make sure to floss your entire mouth thoroughly. The problem could be caused by food debris stuck between your teeth.
  4. Certain essential oils possess pain-relieving qualities, including clove, nutmeg, eucalyptus, or peppermint oil. Use a cotton swab and dilute one of these oils, then apply it to the problem tooth and/or gum area. Repeat the process as needed. This can also be done with apple cider vinegar.
  5. Similar to essential oils, peppermint tea can soothe and slightly numb the area. Swish it around in your mouth once it has cooled off for temporary relief.
  6. You may also soothe a toothache by eating Greek yogurt. You might be surprised to know that yogurt contains healthy bacteria that can help fight against pain.
  7. Crushed garlic can be rubbed on the aching area to help relieve pain. Garlic contains allicin, which slows bacterial activity. The application may burn at first but it has been known to help treat inflammation.

When it comes to preventing toothaches, you can take various measures. Always make sure you brush and floss every day, though. If you schedule regular oral examinations by Dr. Ron Shiver, you will decrease infections that may cause toothache from spreading.

If you’ve tried the methods listed above and your toothache hasn’t gone away, call our Valdosta office and we can schedule an appointment to figure out the cause of the problem and provide a solution.

Endodontists Can Save Teeth

July 8th, 2020

An endodontist is a dental specialist who concentrates on root canals, or procedures involving the soft inner tissues of the teeth, otherwise known as the pulp. This type of doctor has gone through extensive training and extra years of schooling to be able to complete these procedures effectively.

You will be referred to an endodontist such as Dr. Ron Shiver if you’re in need of a root canal, or other specific procedures necessitated by a problem tooth. Nowadays, endodontists have the ability to avoid extraction altogether and save your natural tooth by restoring it to a healthy state.

Getting a root canal may not be on the top of your list of fun things to do, but it can make it possible for your endodontist to save a problem tooth if the pulp has become infected with bacteria. During this surgery, Dr. Ron Shiver will remove the infection from the root of the tooth, clean and fill the area, then seal it so bacteria can no longer get inside. Finally, a crown is placed on top of the tooth to prevent damage from occurring down the road.

Sometimes, additional treatment is necessary after a root canal, if you continue to experience pain in the area where the root canal took place. Inflammation and pain that persists after an initial root canal may mean the infection has spread to the bony area that surrounds the tooth.

This can occur if the tooth has experienced trauma, decay, or the crown has been cracked since the surgery. A root-end resection will fix these issues by opening the irritated gum tissues, then removing the infection and filling in the space. It’s unlikely that you will experience more problems following a root-end resection.

Endodontists such as Dr. Ron Shiver have the ability to save and restore problem teeth. When it comes to your oral health, being able to avoid a tooth extraction can be extremely relieving. If you think you may need a root canal, or notice recurring pain in your mouth, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at our Valdosta office.

Happy Fourth of July

July 1st, 2020

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Dr. Ron Shiver and our team at Ron L. Shiver DMD Family & Restorative Dentistry wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

June 24th, 2020

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Ron Shiver can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Valdosta office.

When Should I See an Endodontist?

June 17th, 2020

Your teeth generally give you no reason to complain. In fact, brushing and flossing regularly for tooth and gum health, getting good check-ups, and appreciating your beautiful smile in your latest selfie are all very positive experiences. But sometimes, a tooth demands attention in a less than positive way.

When exposure to hot and cold foods causes discomfort, or your gums are swollen and tender around a tooth, or when you can’t bite down without pain, it might mean that the pulp or roots of your tooth have been injured or infected. If your regular dentist suspects there is a problem inside your tooth, he or she might recommend that you see an endodontist, like Dr. Ron Shiver.

“Endodontic” means “inside the tooth,” and refers to the pulp and roots within each tooth that hold tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. While all dentists receive some endodontic training in dental school, to specialize in this field, endodontists receive two or three years of additional advanced training. Here they concentrate on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries that affect the inner tooth and its supporting tissue.

Damage to the tooth’s pulp can be the result of an injury, such as a blow to the mouth. A chip, a crack, or a deep cavity can leave an opening for infection. Whatever the cause of injury or inflammation, once the pulp and roots have been compromised, treatment needs to take place to prevent further infection, pain, and even tooth loss. Endodontists work to save injured teeth with a variety of procedures, including root canals, treatment of injuries caused by trauma, and endodontic surgeries.

If you have a compromised tooth, or if you have oral or facial pain that is difficult to find an explanation for, talk to Dr. Ron Shiver about specialized endodontic treatment at our Valdosta office. Saving a tooth is, after all, one of the most important ways to preserve our smiles. And that’s nothing but positive!

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