Posts for category: Oral Health
Is your mouth trying to tell you that you may need to get a root canal?
No one wants to hear from their Rio Grande, NJ dentist Dr. William Panico that they need a root canal. In fact, we hate having to tell our patients this. If you are dealing with certain changes to your oral health that concern you, find out if any of these symptoms could be trying to tell you that a root canal is in your near future.
Trying to figure out if you need root canal therapy can be a difficult task to do on your own, which is why you should see our Rio Grande, NJ general dentist every six months or if you start to notice symptoms of a problem.
In fact, there are many warning signs that a tooth isn’t healthy and may require a root canal. Even though we are the only ones who can properly determine whether you will need this treatment or not, if you start to notice any of these symptoms then you need to call us right away:
- Tooth sensitivity (particularly to hot or cold foods/drinks)
- Dental pain (it may be a persistent or intermittent ache)
- Tooth pain that occurs while chewing
- Swelling or inflammation of the gums
- Discolorations or darkening of a tooth
When you come in for treatment we will talk to you about the symptoms you are experiencing and how long they’ve been going on. Then we will examine your smile to check for any signs that you may have an infection.
What is the purpose of a root canal?
A root canal is designed to treat an infection that has reached the inside structure of the tooth, known as the pulp. A root canal is also required if the dental pulp has become inflamed due to trauma or injury. During a root canal, we will remove the diseased or damaged tissue to prevent the problem from progressing so severely that the tooth has to be removed. The goal of root canal treatment is to actually preserve as much of the tooth as possible so it doesn’t need to be extracted.
Do you have questions about getting a root canal in Rio Grande, NJ? If so, then don’t hesitate to turn to Whitecaps Dental today for all of your restorative, general and preventive dental care.
Mouthguards are just as essential as pads and helmets if you or your children play sports. William H. Panico, DMD, your dentist in Rio Grande, NJ, is here to answer a few commonly asked questions about mouthguards.
Why are mouthguards important?
One blow to your mouth from a ball, stick or elbow can knock out a tooth or damage your mouth. Mouthguards help absorb the force of a blow and help prevent dental injuries to your teeth, jaw, lips and face. They can also prevent damage to braces. Wearing a mouthguard is just as important whether you play on an official team or play in pickup games on the weekend.
Where can I get a mouthguard?
You can buy a mouthguard at any sporting goods store. Stores generally offer ready-to-wear guards that can be put in your mouth immediately after opening the package or boil and bite versions that are boiled first to provide a more custom fit. Unfortunately, many people find store-bought mouthguards uncomfortable and never wear them more than once.
Your Rio Grande dentist offers custom-made versions that may change your mind about mouthguard comfort. Custom mouthguards are made from an impression of your teeth, so they fit your mouth perfectly. Cheap mouthguards are often bulky, but custom versions are made of lightweight material that makes them less noticeable while you're playing your favorite sport.
How should I take care of my mouthguard?
Mouthguard care is fairly simple. Rinse it after you use it and keep it fresh by brushing it with a little toothpaste. At least once a week, wash it in soapy water and rinse it well. When you're not wearing your mouthguard, place it in the case provided to prevent damage. Never leave it in the sun, as exposure to hot temperatures can affect the fit. If you notice wear or the mouthguard doesn't fit as well as it once does, replace it as soon as possible.
Interested in a custom mouthguard? Call your Rio Grande, NJ, dentist, William H. Panico, DMD, at (609) 886-2277 and schedule an appointment.
Semi-annual office cleanings are important for keeping teeth healthy and disease-free. If you’ve replaced some of your teeth with dental implants, though, you may be thinking they don’t need as much attention from your hygienist.
It’s quite the opposite — cleaning around implants is important, and actually requires additional attention. The reason for this relates to both how dental implants attach to the jaw and their constructive materials.
Natural teeth are held in place by the periodontal ligament with tiny fibers that attach to the teeth on one side of it and to the jawbone on the other. The ligaments and the gingival (gum) fibers (which are also attached to the tooth) provide some disease resistance to the teeth through its rich blood vessel and collagen network. Dental implants, on the other hand, anchor directly into the jawbone. The titanium integrates with the bone, which naturally attracts to the metal and grows around it, which provides the implant’s eventual attachment strength. The implant doesn’t attach to the gum tissue and won’t develop the same relationship with the periodontal ligament as natural teeth.
Bacterial plaque, the primary cause for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, can collect on an implant crown just as readily as on a natural tooth. Although the materials that make up an implant can’t be affected by a plaque-induced infection, the gum tissues and supporting bone around it can. In fact, because implants lack the disease resistance of the gingival fibers and the ligament attachment, an infection can turn rapidly into a condition known as peri-implantitis that could cause bone and tissue loss and lead to the loss of the implant.
Your hygienist understands the importance of removing plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) from around your dental implant. This often calls for different instruments made of plastics or resins that won’t scratch the implant’s highly polished surface. Scratches provide a haven for bacteria to collect and make it more difficult to dislodge them. Likewise, if the hygienist uses ultrasonic equipment that loosens plaque through vibration, the hygienist will often use nylon or plastic tips to minimize damage to the implant.
And don’t forget your own personal hygiene habits — they’re just as important with dental implants as with natural teeth. Keeping plaque under control, both at home and with your dentist, is crucial to longevity for your dental implants.
If you would like more information on maintaining and cleaning dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Maintenance.”
Growing up with a dentist stepdad, Cheryl Burke of Dancing with the Stars heard a lot over the years about the importance of good oral hygiene — in particular, the benefits of using dental floss.
“My dad would say, ‘make sure you floss,’ but I never really listened to him. I was very, very stubborn,” Cheryl told Dear Doctor magazine recently in an exclusive interview. Cheryl admits this stubbornness took its toll, in the form of tooth decay. “I definitely had my share of cavities,” Cheryl recalled.
Cavities can form when food particles, particularly sugar and carbohydrates, are not effectively cleaned from the spaces between teeth. These particles are then broken down by bacteria naturally present in the mouth, resulting in the production of acids that attack the tooth enamel.
When she reached her twenties, Cheryl decided she really needed to step up her oral hygiene and cultivate an asset so important to a professional dancer: a beautiful smile. And once she did, cavities became a distant memory.
“I think when you do floss frequently, it helps to reduce the chances of getting cavities,” Cheryl said. “It took me a while to figure it out.” Now Cheryl flosses after every meal. “I carry floss with me wherever I go. I have no shame busting out my floss in the middle of a restaurant!” She declared.
Dental decay is actually a worldwide epidemic, especially among kids. Untreated, it can lead to pain, tooth loss, and, because it is an infectious disease, it may even have more serious systemic (whole body) health consequences. The good thing is that it is entirely preventable through good oral hygiene at home and regular professional cleanings here at the office.
If it has been a while since you or your children have seen us for a cleaning and check-up, or you just want to learn more about preventing tooth decay, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Cheryl Burke, please see “Cheryl Burke.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Tooth Decay: The World's Oldest & Most Widespread Disease.”
Although normally benign, a cold sore outbreak can be irritating and embarrassing. Understanding why they occur is the first step to minimizing outbreaks.
The typical cold sore (also known as a fever blister) is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type I, medically known as “Herpes Labialis” because it occurs on or around the lips. This virus is not to be confused with HSV Type II, which causes a genital infection. Unlike most viruses, HSV Type I can cause a recurring sore outbreak in certain people. Most viruses tend to occur only once because the body produces anti-bodies to prevent further attack; it’s believed HSV Type I, however, can shield itself from these defenses by hiding in the body’s nerve roots.
These cold sore outbreaks often occur during periods of high stress, overexposure to sunlight or injuries to the lip. Initially you may have an itch or slight burning around the mouth that escalates into more severe itching, redness, swelling and blistering. The sores will break out for about a week to ten days and then scab over and eventually heal (unless they become infected, in which case the healing process may go longer). You’re contagious between the first symptoms and healing, and so can spread the virus to other people.
In recent years, anti-viral prescription medications have been developed that can effectively prevent HSV outbreaks, or at least reduce the healing time after an occurrence. The most common of these are acyclovir and valcyclovir, proven effective with only a few possible mild side effects. They can be taken routinely by people with recurring cold sores to suppress regular outbreaks.
While HSV Type I cold sores are more an aggravation than a health danger, it’s still important for you to see us initially for an examination if you encounter an outbreak. It’s possible for a more serious condition to masquerade as a cold sore or blister. A visit to us may also get you on the right track to reducing the frequency of outbreaks, as well as minimizing discomfort when they do occur.
If you would like more information on the treatment of cold sores, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cold Sores.”