The Misunderstood Root Canal

the misunderstood root canal

What Exactly is a Root Canal?

At the center of each tooth is a hollow area that houses soft tissue, known as pulp. This pulp chamber is connected to the tip of the root via thin, hollow, pipe-like canals, your root canals. Teeth normally have one to four root canals “feeding” each tooth, with the teeth toward the back of the mouth having the most. Root canals run through the centre of the roots like a pencil lead runs through the length of a pencil.

Root canals are filled with pulp, a highly vascularized, loose connective tissue. This tissue sometimes becomes infected and inflamed, generally due to damage from decay or fractures that allow bacteria from the mouth to access the pulp chamber and eventually the root canals. In order to save the tooth, this infected tissue must be removed by a surgical intervention known as endodontic therapy, or root canal therapy.

Root Canal Therapy

Endodontic therapy is a multi-step treatment to preserve an infected tooth by first removing infected material and subsequently protecting the tooth from future infection. Although this set of procedures is commonly referred to as a root canal, this term is often misused; root canals are the anatomical hollows within a tooth which are naturally inhabited by pulp. Root Canal Therapy is the precise terminology for the treatment of infection in the root canals.

Do I Need Root Canal Therapy?

If you have a tooth that your dentist considers to be threatened by infection (because of decay, cracking, etc.), or is considered likely to become infected in the future, a pulpectomy (removal of the pulp tissue) is advisable to prevent complete loss of the tooth. To prevent, or cure an infection and save the tooth, your dentist will access the pulp chamber through the top of the tooth and remove the affected pulp by scraping it out of the root canals. Your dentist will then fill the chamber and canals with a sterile material and seal up the tooth. This procedure is known as root canal therapy. If a significant amount of the tooth has been damaged or removed as a result of the treatment, a crown may be required to stabilize the tooth.

What’s So Bad About Root Canal Therapy?

Historically, root canal therapy was one of the most feared procedures in all of dentistry. Ask people in the know, and they’ll tell you that’s no longer the case. The modern root canal therapy procedure is relatively painless itself, thanks to advances in pain control with local anesthetic. It is the infection and swelling leading up to the procedure that is reported to be the most uncomfortable. Once the issue has been diagnosed, your dentist can take measures to reduce pain and swelling, and control the infection with antibiotics, prior to the procedure.

Timing Is Everything

If you notice a tooth has become sensitive or painful, if you have suffered an oral trauma, or broken a tooth, see us as soon as possible.  The sooner you are seen by the dentist, the greater chance your tooth can be saved with the least amount of intervention. Give the friendly staff at Edson’s Yellowhead Dental Centre a call today, we can help you get timely treatment for all your dental needs.

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Night Guard For Your Teeth While You Sleep?

the effects of a night guard

Can A Night Guard Improve Your Health?

Are you one of the many people grinding or clenching their teeth while they sleep? “Bruxism” is a sleep-related disorder identified as involuntary and repetitive activity of the muscles of the jaw. Most Canadians are not even aware that they do it. This grinding and clenching can lead to health problems if left untreated. Not only can chronic grinding damage teeth and structures in the mouth, it can also lead to headaches, lost sleep, increased daytime fatigue, and more. We often see patients with worn down or broken teeth, fractured crowns, chronic headaches, and TMJ problems. Many of these issues are the direct result of bruxism.

Save Money By Investing In A Night Guard

What you may not realize is, by investing in an appliance designed to protect teeth from grinding, a night guard, you could also avoid thousands of dollars in future dental treatments. If you or your dentist has discovered signs of bruxism, you could consider getting a nighttime appliance. The initial cost of a guard is far less than the potential cost of treatment that may be needed if you continue to go unprotected. A very common issue caused by bruxism is fractured teeth. Restoration of a fractured tooth often requires a crown to be placed over the compromised tooth to protect it and restore it to normal function. Consider that, on average, a crown can cost 2 to 3 times as much as a night guard! Now, also consider that more than one tooth can be damaged by night-time grinding and it becomes apparent, from a cost-benefit stand point, that the decision to wear a protective appliance could be an easy one.

Where Can I Get A Night Guard?

The first question is, “What type of product should you get?” An important point to remember is that night guards work best when they have been custom fit to the individual patient and should be made from a model of your teeth. This should be done by your dentist. We discourage our patients from using a “one size fits all,” or pre-made guard bought off the shelf in a retail store. For best results, a night guard should be custom made of either hard acrylic or laminate material, and be about 1-2 mm thick.

The Benefits of Wearing A Night Guard

We recommend consulting with your dentist prior to making the decision to purchase and wear a night guard.  A custom fit night guard ensures a proper fit and maintains alignment of the jaw, while protecting the biting surfaces of your teeth. Patients often report a significant reduction in neck and facial muscle tightness, as well as reduced incidence of TMJ and related headaches with consistent use. Come see us in Edson at Yellowhead Dental Centre and we’ll talk about getting a night guard working for you.

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Tooth Sensitivity Exposed

Tooth Sensitivity Exposed

Why Does My Tooth Hurt?

Discomfort in one or more teeth that is triggered by hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks, and even cold air, is referred to as tooth sensitivity. The pain can range from dull and barely noticeable, to sharp or sudden and shoot deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

When the underlying layer of your teeth – the dentin – becomes exposed as a result of gum damage from disease or trauma, sensitivity can result. The roots of your teeth, which are not protected by hard enamel, contain thousands of tiny tubules leading to each tooth’s never center (the pulp). When stimuli, such as hot or cold foods and beverages, are able to reach these tubules, a nerve reaction is triggered resulting in the pain you feel.

The many factors that may lead to the development of tooth sensitivity, include:

Brushing too hard – Over time, brushing too vigorously or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and cause recession of gum tissue, exposing the dentin.

Recession of the gums – periodontal (gum) disease and/or trauma can cause gum tissue to move away from a tooth, causing gaps or pockets which can expose the root surface.

Gum disease (gingivitis) – chronic inflammation and irritated gum tissue may lead to sensitivity due to the roots being exposed as a result of weakened supporting ligaments.

Cracked teeth – A chip or crack can leave a tooth vulnerable to bacteria entering the sensitive pulp, causing Inflammation and pain.

Teeth grinding – Clenching or grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism) can wear the enamel and expose underlying dentin.

Teeth whitening products – Some bleaching agents and whitening toothpastes are abrasive and can cause tooth sensitivity if not used correctly.

Plaque build-up – If allowed to collect on the tooth’s surface, plaque becomes acidic and eventually hardens into tartar, eroding the tooth’s protective enamel.

Acidic foods – A diet high in acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles and tea, can cause enamel erosion over time.

Some routine dental procedures – Mild tooth sensitivity can temporarily follow some dental procedures, such as teeth cleaning, crown placement, and restoration, usually resolving in 4 to 6 weeks.


You Can Reduce Tooth Sensitivity By:

  • Maintaining daily oral hygiene, continue to follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth.
  • Using a soft bristled toothbrush will reduce the risk of toothbrush abrasion to the tooth surface and result in less irritation to your gums. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line to prevent damaging your gum tissue.
  • Brushing with a toothpaste designed to reduce sensitivity. There are several brands of toothpaste on the market for sensitive teeth. With continued, regular use of a desensitizing toothpaste, you should notice a decrease in sensitivity. Try several different brands to find the product that works best for you.
  • Being mindful of what you eat, and when. Frequent consumption of highly acidic foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. Avoid eating acidic foods before bed. Rinse with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages to remove as much residue as possible between brushings.
  • Using fluoridated dental products, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse, can help decrease sensitivity. Ask your dentist about available products for home use.
  • Addressing teeth grinding; consider using a night-time mouth guard if you grind or clench your teeth at night.
  • Seeing your dentist at regular intervals for check ups and professional teeth cleaning is the best way to ensure optimum oral health over the long term.

If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, come visit us at Yellowhead Dental Centre in Edson, we can offer you solutions for your sensitive teeth, many of which can be implemented in the comfort of your own home.

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