What is a Root Canal?

There can be a lot of nerves around hearing the phrase “root canal”, which is understandable given that many people feel anxious around dental procedures. The root canal is sometimes a necessary procedure and an important one to have when an infection is underway. Today, we’ll discuss what a root canal is and what to expect during the procedure to help ease any anxiety. 

 

The Root Canal Explained

A root canal is a dental procedure that eliminates bacteria from an infected root canal. The procedure deals with infection in the pulp of the tooth, which is the center part of a tooth that is made up of connective tissues, blood vessels, and cells. This is the part of the tooth that is alive and feeds your tooth vital nutrients to keep it healthy and working correctly. Another duty of the pulp is to act as a kind of alarm, meaning that when you have a toothache it’s the pulp that is sending pain or sensitivity your way. The pulp also gives teeth its color by creating dentin, which acts as a shield for the pulp.

As you can see, the pulp of a tooth is incredibly important to good oral health. This is why a root canal procedure is a great thing – it saves the tooth from being extracted and infection from spreading to the gums. 

 

The Root Canal Procedure

Before we discuss the root canal procedure itself, let’s go over some of the signs of needing the treatment:

  • Severe tooth pain when chewing or applying pressure.
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the source of the sensation is gone. For example, a cold drink of water causing tooth pain and that sensitivity lasting even after the water has been drunk.
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth.
  • Swelling and tenderness in the gum nerve.
  • Persistent and recurring pimples on the gums.

It’s important to note that your dentist may find infection even without any of these symptoms, and so a root canal will likely be recommended.

For a root canal procedure itself, here is what you can expect:

  • A root canal can require one or more office visits and can be performed by either your dentist or an endodontist.
  • First, an X-ray is taken to see the shape of the root canals and to see if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone.
  • Anesthesia is administered, though sometimes it isn’t necessary if the nerve is dead. 
  • To keep the area dry and free of saliva, your dentist will put a rubber dam around the tooth.
  • An access hole is then drilled into the tooth to remove the pulp, bacteria, and debris from inside. This is done using root canal files that increase in diameter, and each one is placed into the access hold to scrape and scrub the inside of the root canal. 
  • To flush away debris, the dentist will use water or sodium hypochlorite periodically.
  • Once everything is cleared out and the tooth cleaned the dentist will seal it. Sometimes dentists will wait a week before doing this if medication is needed to help fight infection. If this is the case, or a follow-up root canal procedure is needed, the dentist will place a temporary filling to keep contaminants out in the meantime.
  • The last step in a root canal isn’t always necessary but involves the restoration of the tooth via a crown or crown and post. Your dentist will discuss these options with you. 

Now that you know more about what is involved in a root canal, you can see that it isn’t the terrifying procedure so many think it is. In fact, we perform root canals at our office and you can find information on that service here.

We have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.

How to Whiten Teeth

Having whiter teeth is a goal many people have, and it’s no wonder why so many scour the internet looking for solutions. There are so many kinds of toothpaste, foods, drinks, types of mouthwash, and other products that offer relief from stains or yellow hues, it’s dizzying to think about which ones are right for you. 

In an attempt to help people get the color they want for their teeth, we’ve assembled some helpful ways to whiten teeth naturally, as well as methods dentists use to whiten teeth cosmetically. Let’s start with helpful tips you can use at your home.

 

How to Whiten Teeth Naturally

Brushing Your Teeth

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but it really does work. Brushing your teeth daily is the best way to whiten your teeth and prevent stains from sticking. If your teeth are already a bit yellowish for your liking, brushing a bit more often isn’t a bad idea, in fact, it can help! A helpful tip for frequent brushers, don’t brush immediately after eating acidic foods or drinks, which can cause erosion of your teeth and the enamel. So don’t feel the need to rush to your toothbrush as soon as you’ve finished your meal. 

The Ol’ Baking Soda

Ever wonder why baking soda is in so many kinds of toothpaste? That’s because it helps to remove stains from the surface of your teeth without being harsh to them. Some home tips call for hydrogen peroxide to be mixed with baking soda, in which case you get a paste to brush with. Forewarning, though: pure hydrogen peroxide can be a bit too harsh on your gums. 

Cosmetic Dentistry to Whiten Teeth

Home tips are great and all, but they can take quite some time before you see any difference. The other option is to see your oral health professional for some cosmetic dentistry. Going to your dentist is a speedier process with the added benefit of being under supervision while your teeth reclaim their bright white. Here is what to expect if choosing to lighten your smile at the dental office:

  • Be prepared for a 60 to 90 meeting appointment
  • Before beginning the teeth whitening process, your dentist will record the current shade of your teeth
  • Your teeth will be polished with pumice, which is a grainy material that removes any plaque on the surface of your teeth.
  • Be prepared for a dry mouth, your dentist will use gauze and retractors to help keep your teeth dry and to keep the rest of the mouth away from the whitening solution.
  • Your teeth will be coated in a whitening solution, usually either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Both are good bleaching agents.
  • Depending on the product your dentist uses to whiten your teeth, they may use a curing light or laser to activate the peroxide. Once that is done, you’ll be sitting around for half an hour to an hour to let the solutions work their magic.
  • Once the best shade for your teeth is reached or the maximum time is met, your teeth will be rinsed. 
  • To help with any teeth sensitivity, your dentist may apply fluoride. Don’t worry, tooth sensitivity is common after having your teeth whitened.
  • If the optimum shade isn’t reached in one visit, your dentist will want to schedule a follow-up appointment to help further whiten your teeth. 

Depending on your dentist, they may have a do-it-yourself teeth whitening kit. If you’re not wanting or are unable to hang around the dental office for 90 minutes, be sure to ask your dentist if this is an option for you. 

 

Whitened Teeth is a Brighter Smile

The best way to help prevent a yellowed smile is to brush regularly and see your dentist at least once a year. There is no better treatment than ongoing oral care. If you are in need of a dental check-up or looking for how to whiten your teeth, Dr. Li is available to restore your smile. We have numerous payment options available, and if you have dental benefits, we submit your claims on your behalf. We also accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make your visit as quick and pain-free as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.

What are Dental Implants?

The idea of implants, especially in the mouth, can be off-putting for a lot of people. It’s understandable, but they are a great tool to restore oral well-being and confidence in your smile. For those who aren’t sure as to what dental implants are, why or when they are needed, and the procedure behind implantation, let’s fill in the gap and hopefully remove any anxiety you may have about getting a dental implant.

Firstly, what are dental implants? They are artificial tooth roots that provide a permanent base for fixed or replacement teeth. Simply put, they replace your natural roots that keep the tooth in place. Some people think of dental implants as something like dentures or bridges or crowns, but they are more popular as a long-term solution. The reason for that is because dental implants feel, fit, and function like natural teeth. In fact, they are becoming the new standard over dentures, bridges, and crowns. More specifically, dental implants wouldn’t be the prosthetic tooth itself but hold it in place like a natural root would.

Next, let’s cover the procedure behind dental implants.

 

How Are They Implanted?

Many people have anxiety over going to the dentist, in part because they’re unsure what to expect in procedures like dental implantation. To help alleviate that, we’re going to cover the steps to getting a dental implant.

The first thing a dentist would do is evaluate the condition of your jawbone by doing an x-ray, taking impressions, and noting the color of your teeth so that the implant looks natural. You’ll also discuss any medical conditions and medications to ensure a safe and successful implant.

Next, your dentist will discuss anesthesia options; for example, using novocaine to feel numb or to sleep during the procedure. This is in preparation for extracting the tooth or remaining tooth fragments to make way for the implant. If you decide to go for local anesthesia to numb your mouth, you’ll feel no more than pressure and some tugging during the extraction.

The third step depends on the kind of dental implant you’re getting. One type consists of inserting the implant into the jawbone directly beneath your gum line. The second type is where a metal frame is installed just underneath the gum tissue so that it is fitted onto the jawbone. Neither option is better than the other and mostly depends on your jawbone itself. 

This next step happens after you heal from the third stage in the implant procedure and the implant is confirmed stable. The dentist will place an abutment on top of your dental implant, which is the piece that connects to your crown. This stage requires no more than some local anesthesia since it’s far less invasive than the previous step. And now the hard part is over!

The final step of the dental implant procedure is adding a permanent crown that matches the rest of your teeth. You don’t have to have a permanent crown if it’s not desired; you can choose a removable crown for cleaning or replacement. An important thing to remember is while you can choose a removable crown, the dental implant itself is permanent. 

After you’re all done with the dental implant it’s important to take proper care of yourself. You should stock up on soft foods and avoid tobacco as it can increase the risk of infections.

How do Dental Implants Improve Oral Health?

Dental implants are an incredible way to improve overall oral health, and not only because it replaces a damaged or rotted tooth. The special design of a dental implant also helps prevent future tooth loss. How that occurs is because of the way a tooth root interacts with your jawbone. A natural tooth root stimulates the bone replacement cycle, helping old bone tissue become replaced by new and healthy tissue. When a tooth falls out, the root no longer instigates that process and the jawbone can become thin and weak over time, causing other teeth to fall out. Dentures and bridges don’t solve that problem because they rest on top of your gums, having no interaction with the bone replacement cycle. 

Dental implants are embedded in your jawbone, as previously mentioned, and help stimulate the process and keep fresh tissue being delivered to your jaw. This is the key reason why dental implants help promote overall oral health. Of course, removing a damaged or rotted tooth helps as well, but the dental implant instigates the bone replacement cycle, putting it above the other options for tooth replacement. 

If you are in need of a dental implant, Dr. Li is available to help you regain your oral health. We have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.

 

How to Get Rid of a Toothache

Having a toothache doesn’t only derail your good mood, it can drive migraines and keep you from functioning during your day. Besides interfering with your life, toothaches and gum throbbing is a sign something is wrong. The best thing to do when experiencing that kind of pain is to see a dentist as soon as you can, but if you’re unable to get an appointment asap there are some home remedies to help ease the discomfort while waiting to see your dentist. 

These home remedies for a toothache are safe to do at home and shouldn’t interfere with any approaches your dentist may make. Be sure to tell them the actions you’ve taken to help ease the pain so they can determine whether it’s ok to continue after they’ve addressed the issue.

 

Salt Water Rinse

Toothache pain can rear its head in a sudden onset, not always giving you the opportunity to get into the dentist’s chair as soon as you’d like. If that’s the case, sometimes a saltwater rinse can provide temporary relief. It helps by drawing out infected fluid and cleans the area, essentially reducing inflammation and clearing away bacteria.

  • Add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water, 6 to 8 ounces will do.
  • Stir up the salt to help it dissolve
  • Swish the saltwater in your mouth for 20 to 30 seconds, but DO NOT SWALLOW IT. Drinking salt water is very bad for your body.
  • Spit it out and repeat another time or two.

 

Use a Sensitive Toothpaste

Brushing your teeth while having a toothache can be painful, but it’s essential you keep brushing to help ensure the underlying problem doesn’t grow worse. This can help to ease the pain right away if the discomfort is caused by dental plaque bacteria or food debris. After brushing, consider applying special toothpaste made for sensitive teeth to the area with the toothache. Do this twice a day to help cut down on the discomfort until you see a dentist.

 

Hot and Cold Packs

Both heat and cold packs help ease the pain of a toothache, but the cold pack specifically will help with any inflammation. Whenever you need relief or if the pain is growing unbearable, you can use either to help temporarily relieve the toothache.

 

Over the Counter Pain Relievers

If you’re looking for longer pain relief, although still temporary, any over-the-counter pain reliever will help you feel less of the toothache. Be sure to read and follow the pill bottle’s directions carefully to make sure that it doesn’t interact with any other medications you are taking. Also, remember that pain relievers don’t fix your toothache, it only offers temporary relief.

 

Possible Toothache Causes

Any pain is a red flag that something is wrong. Now that we know how to address the pain from toothaches, it’s important to know some of the possible causes.

 

  • Cavity: We all get them from time to time and a toothache could mean a cavity is growing into a bigger problem.
  • Gum disease: This is an infection of the gum tissues around your teeth, likely causing inflammation and pain felt as a toothache.
  • Impacted tooth: This is a tooth that is lodged inside your gum and cannot break through. While some of the home remedies above can help with this pain relief, a dentist must still be seen as soon as possible.
  • Damaged tooth: Tooth pain can be caused by cracked, chipped or broken teeth, and is usually a good reason to see schedule an appointment right away.
  • Abscess: This is an infection in your tooth caused by decay, damage, or gum disease. As with an impacted or otherwise damaged tooth, you should see a dentist straight away.

 

When to See a Dentist ASAP

Some oral health issues we let go on for too long, whether due to a fear of the dentist or because we don’t notice them until they develop into a toothache. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s important to call your dentist straight away, as a serious problem could be brewing. 

  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • Pain that is ongoing or gets worse
  • Fever
  • Bleeding gums
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Foul taste in your mouth
  • Cluster headaches associated with toothaches

 The best thing to help prevent a toothache from growing into a serious oral health problem is to see a dentist as soon as you can. The home remedies for toothaches listed above don’t solve the problem, they only offer temporary relief. Whatever the underlying issue must still be addressed.

 If you are in need of a dental check-up or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, Dr. Li is available to help you regain your oral health. We have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.

 If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.

Recognizing Tooth Infection Symptoms Before They Worsen

It might start with a bit of sensitivity in your teeth or gums… Then it becomes a bit of an annoying ache or throbbing sensation in your mouth. 

Yep, it’s a toothache! And it’s one of the most common signs that you probably have a bacterial infection somewhere in your teeth or gums.  

Now, don’t stress too much yet. Most dental infections, like cavities, are easily treatable with common dental procedures. 

However, if left untreated, infections could cause more severe problems in the future like pulpitis or dental abscesses, or potentially even spread to other parts of your body. That’s why it’s very important to seek out a dentist, like Dr. Li and her team at Ellerslie 66, as soon as you start experiencing any symptoms of a potential issue. Only then can they treat your oral health issues before they become a major problem.

To help you identify tooth infection symptoms and understand what to do if you’re experiencing them, we’ve put together this handy guide with all you need to know.

What is a tooth infection?

A dental infection is generally caused by bacteria in your mouth getting where it should not be.  While we all have bacteria throughout the surfaces of our mouth, problems begin to occur when the bacteria gets to the insides of your teeth, gums, or other mouth tissue. This is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also happen when there are chips, cracks, or other injuries to your teeth as well.

Essentially, what happens over time is an excess of bacteria in your mouth will combine with acids, sugary and starchy foods, and saliva to create plaque and tartar buildup. Too much plaque can lead to issues such as tooth decay, and gum disease which allow the bacteria inside your teeth and gums. 

Once bacteria has gotten inside your tooth or gum tissue it can cause three main types of tooth infections. These are:

  • Cavities: Small holes in your teeth created where plaque has dissolved your tooth enamel. 
  • Pulpitis: A condition where bacteria has gotten into the pulp of your tooth and can cause nerve damage or dead teeth.
  • Abscess: An infection where bacteria in your mouth forms a pocket of pus that causes moderate to severe pain, and can turn into a serious, life-threatening condition if left untreated. Depending on where the condition is located there are different types of abscess, including: periapical abscess, or tooth abscess at the root of your tooth; periodontal abscess, in the gums or tissue next to the root or bone; and gingival abscess in your gums.

While regularly brushing your teeth and flossing can help prevent plaque buildup, and ultimately dental infections, having routine dental exams twice a year is also very important. Plaque itself cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone so your dentist should regularly remove any that has built up and take other necessary steps to protect your teeth.

Tooth Infection Symptoms

Now that you know what a tooth infection is and how it is caused, it’s time to learn what signs to look out for.  The following are some of the most common symptoms that might suggest that you have a tooth infection, or another problem that may lead to one:

  • Consistent or throbbing tooth pain
  • Throbbing pain in the jaw, ear or neck
  • Increased pain when lying down
  • Sensitivity to pressure in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food & drink
  • Swelling of your cheeks, jaw, mouth, or face
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste in mouth

If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, especially a combination of any, you should seek out emergency dental services from a dental provider near you. While there’s potential that it could be nothing serious, you’ll have solace in knowing that if you do have an infection that it can be caught and treated before the infection has spread to other parts of your body.

Symptoms An Infection Has Spread

While it’s best to take care of a tooth infection before it spreads, it’s also important to know when it has. It’s easy to let tooth infection carry on, especially if nervous about a dentist appointment. If you have any of these symptoms though, it’s best to seek dental care as soon as possible:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • sweating
  • chills
  • skin flushed
  • swelling to the point of difficulty opening your mouth
  • swelling that impedes swallowing and breathing
  • darker urine
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Of course, these symptoms extend from many different kinds of ailments, but if they’re following symptoms of tooth infection and you’re experiencing several of the symptoms at once then you know it’s likely that the infection has spread.

How Are Tooth Infections Treated?

Depending on the severity of the tooth infection, there is a range of treatment options to quell the problem in your teeth or gums and restore your oral health. Some common treatments for a tooth infection include:

  • Root canal
  • draining abscess
  • Administering antibiotics
  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • removal of tooth

The path your dentist takes to restore good oral health very much depends on if the tooth infection has spread as well as the severity. Keep in mind that the longer you wait after experiencing any symptoms listed above, the more involved the treatment is likely to be. 

Preventing Tooth Infections

The best way to catch tooth infections before they spread is by regular visits to your dentist and scheduling an appointment when you notice tooth infection symptoms appearing. Teeth that see the dentist often are healthy teeth. 

If you are in need of a dental check-up or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, Dr. Li is available to help you regain your oral health. We have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.