Our Blog

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!

Back to Top
preserve protect reserve badge