Posts for: October, 2016
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”
Improving your smile is easier than you may realize. Dr. Domenic Riccobono and Dr. Vicki Cohn, your Chatham, NY dentists, explain how cosmetic dentistry can transform your smile.
Fixing the little things that mar your smile
You can enjoy a perfect smile even if your teeth have a few little flaws. Innovative cosmetic dentistry treatments make it easier than ever to correct imperfections that can make you feel embarrassed about your teeth. One or more of these cosmetic dentistry services may be the right choice for you:
Professional Teeth Whitening: You could spend months faithfully using teeth whitening kits or you could whiten your smile with just one visit to your dentist. Since professional teeth whitening agents are stronger than those found in drugstore kits, it only takes a one-hour treatment to brighten your smile.
Porcelain Veneers: Veneers offer an excellent way to whiten your teeth permanently. Veneers are porcelain shells that are bonded to the front surfaces of your teeth. They're also a good choice if you want to conceal chips, cracks, gaps or oddly shaped teeth.
Dental Crowns and Bridges: Crowns slip over teeth to stabilize them and conceal cosmetic issues. They're often used to strengthen teeth weakened by dental procedures or cracks, but can also improve the appearance of your smile if you have a tooth that's discolored, oddly shaped or crooked. Bridges replace a missing tooth or several teeth. Artificial teeth are anchored to dental crowns that slide over teeth on either side of the gap in your smile.
Cosmetic Bonding: Bonding is used to hide a variety of flaws, including chips, cracks and discolorations. Your Chatham dentist uses flexible composite resin, available in a variety of tooth-colored shades, to repair teeth and improve their shape or length.
Dental Implants: Dental implants offer a long-lasting solution to lost teeth. The implants replace tooth roots and fuse to your jawbone during the osseointegration process. Once your dentist is satisfied that bonding is complete, he'll add a crown to the top of the implant.
Cosmetic dentistry can change the way you feel about your smile! Call Dr. Riccobono and Dr. Cohn, your Chatham, NY dentists, at (518) 392-5231 to schedule an appointment.
Although toothaches are common, not all tooth pain originates from the same source. But regardless of its cause, you need to take prompt action to find out and begin treatment.
Sensitive teeth, for example, usually cause a quick stab of pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold or when you bite down. If the pain lasts only a second or two, you may have a small area of decay in a tooth, a loose filling or an exposed root. The latter often occurs either because of over-aggressive brushing or periodontal (gum) disease. In both cases, the gums may have shrunk back or receded to expose the root surface.
A sharp pain when biting down may be a sign of decay or a loose filling; it could also mean you have a fractured or cracked tooth. For any of those causes, you'll need treatment to repair the problem and relieve the pain.
You may also experience a lingering tooth pain ranging from dull to sharp, or localized to one tooth or seeming to radiate from a general area, such as above the upper jaw. There are a number of possible causes, but two prominent ones are an abscess (a localized area of infection that's become inflamed) or deep decay within the pulp, the heart of a tooth.
This usually calls for a root canal treatment for the affected tooth. In this procedure we drill an access hole into the pulp and clear it of infected and dead tissue. We then fill the empty pulp chamber and root canals with a special filling and seal the access hole. Later, we bond a permanent artificial crown to the tooth to further protect it from re-infection.
Whether your pain is momentary or lingering, dull or sharp, you should see us as soon as possible to determine its cause. You should still see us even if sharp, lingering pain goes away — this could simply mean the infected nerves in the pulp have died but not the infection. The sooner you have the cause of your pain treated, the better your chances of a happy and less costly outcome.
If you would like more information on tooth pain and what to do about it, 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 “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!”