Service Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Root Canals

North Las Vegas Root Canal

While prevention is the best medicine, sometimes a tooth that is badly decayed or infected needs a root canal. When most patients learn they’re going to need a root canal, their first question is, “Does it hurt?”

They used to, but modern root canal therapy is relatively painless and treatment is very effective.

Root canals, or endodontic therapy if you want to be fancy, is a procedure to eliminate infection. Left untreated, an infected tooth can kill you—in addition to being pretty painful, of course. Before dentistry, casualties from infection were much more common.

Fortunately, modern medicine is equipped to handily deal with infected teeth before complications can occur, and that’s where the root canal comes in.

Why Do People Need Root Canals?

Your teeth aren’t just solid bone. They’re made from dentin (a bone-like substance) and enamel on the outside, and on the inside there is the pulp. The pulp consists of connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. These enter the tooth via a small channel in the root, known as the “root canal.”

If your tooth is hurting, you’re well aware of the presence of nerves. The structures in the pulp of your tooth transmit sensations (such as “hot” or “cold”) through your nervous system.

The hard structures of dentin and enamel protect your teeth. However, tooth decay can result in cavity formation. When the hole in your tooth gets big enough and is left untreated, bacteria from your mouth can find their way into the pulp of your teeth and cause an infection.

Sometimes the infection results in an abscess, which is like a blister that forms around the roots of your tooth. Besides the discomfort and difficulty eating, the big threat from an abscessed tooth is that the infection could spread to your brain or heart, cause sepsis, or result in pneumonia.

Root canal therapy is the procedure to remove the infected pulp and replace it with a filling. After treatment, the tooth will function as it should and the infection will be cleared.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

Initial appointment

The patient likely came in because of a bad toothache. During this appointment, we make a good assessment and take X-rays to identify the exact shape of the root and the infected area. If we recommend endodontic treatment, we set that up as soon as possible with a trusted North Las Vegas endodontist.

2. Prepare the tooth for treatment. The first thing we do during treatment is numb the affected area. We then apply a rubber dam around the tooth to keep the working area dry. The dentist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth for clear access into the pulp chamber.

3. Clear the damaged material. The dentist removes the damaged and infected nerves from the crown of the tooth and the root canal. The area is then cleaned up a bit and shaped so that it can be properly filled.

4. Filling the tooth. The canal itself is filled with a special, rubbery material. The affected tooth gets a regular filling or a dental crown to restore it to full function. Sometimes, the initial crown is temporary and the patient returns in a few days to receive the permanent filling.

What Should I Expect After a Root Canal?

Your tooth and the surrounding area are probably going to be sore and sensitive for a couple of days after a root canal. Although your mouth will be sore for a little while, after the final sealing is complete, you can return to a normal oral hygiene routine immediately. Brush your teeth and floss as you normally would.

Do you have a tooth that’s bothering you? Afraid you need a root canal? Give our North Las Vegas dental practice a call and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your options together.

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Tooth Busters 101: Dental Injuries and What to Do

dental injuries

We might have helmets, mouth guards, and padded playgrounds, but our children will still find ways to hurt themselves. When do you “rub some dirt on it,” and when do injuries to the mouth mean it’s time to find a dentist in North Las Vegas?

At Dentistry for Families, we understand that accidents happen. Sometimes it’s ok to wait until Monday; other times you need to get to a dentist or medical doctor right away. Let’s take a look at a few situations so you know what to do in the event of a dental accident.

Oral Trauma

In the event of a non-emergency, do what you can to minimize your child’s discomfort until you can get in to see our team.

Losing a Permanent Tooth

I once treated a young man who was enjoying a caramel apple sucker while shooting some hoops outside. It melted in the heat, adhered to his tooth (a molar), and cleanly extracted the tooth when he removed the sucker.

Fortunately, we can usually save a tooth that managed to find its way out. You should immediately rinse the tooth with water, ensuring that you don’t touch the roots. Place the tooth in a container filled with milk, and call our North Las Vegas office to get in for urgent dental treatment.

What to Do With a Broken Tooth

Another young man was forging some new muscle in the gym when he took a weight to the mouth. Ouch. It broke his front tooth in half.

I can usually restore an original broken tooth as well. If not, we can add a crown that blends perfectly with the patient’s natural smile. Take the loose piece(s) and rinse them with water, storing them in milk as you would for a whole tooth. Apply fluoride toothpaste to the fractured part that’s still in the mouth, to protect it from bacteria, and then call our North Las Vegas dental practice to get in for treatment.

Detached Crown

Children often lose crowns due to sticky candy, but there are many other reasons a crown can come off. The underlying tooth might be decayed, people break it when grinding their teeth, or the cement can give out.

Don’t attempt to put it back in yourself—Gorilla Glue is great stuff, but now is not the time for it. The remaining tooth structure needs to be evaluated and the crown precisely placed. Clean the crown and then call our North Las Vegas dental practice to get in for treatment.

Cuts and Other Wounds

Many children take hard spills in sports like football, cheerleading, or soccer. For this reason, we recommend mouth guards to protect teeth as much as possible. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, though, and as a parent of four I can say my stomach churns when I see my kids get hurt. Shots to the mouth can be painful and sometimes result in bleeding.

Get a look inside to see if there are large cuts (that may need sutures) or anything missing. If everything looks to be where it should and the patient can breathe, apply gauze to the bleeding area. After it stops bleeding, apply Vaseline to help seal and moisturize the wound. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling, and you have my permission to follow the instructions on the bottle to administer some ibuprofen. If pain, bleeding, and swelling persist, give us a call or seek medical attention.

When to Get Urgent Care for Dental Injuries

In the event of a more severe dental accident, the situation calls for immediate medical attention. These cases might include dental injuries or otherwise be dentistry-related, but other risk factors will mean you need to immediately seek medical attention.

Losing Consciousness

Anytime someone loses consciousness, they should be medically evaluated immediately. This is particularly true if an impact to the head was involved. If there are dental problems to take care of, we’ll get to those as soon as the patient is safe and cleared of traumatic brain injuries.

Severe Jaw Pain

If the pain occurs when opening and closing the mouth and was the result of trauma, we could be looking at a jaw fracture or dislocation, so don’t wait for the dentist. If there is any swelling, go to the emergency room—it could result in difficulty breathing or swallowing.

If you’re unsure of the cause of the pain (it just started badly hurting), it could be an infection or the result of TMD. In the case of the latter, the pain might be felt in the jaw (these cases often come to the dentist as a result), but is actually stemming from muscular or joint problems around the jaw or ear. If the pain is significant, seek urgent care to rule out other problems, and if it is a dental problem we will see you as soon as possible.

Only a Dentist Can Perform Dentistry.

If you’re not sure, call us. Better safe than sorry.

Most emergency rooms aren’t going to have a dentist on standby, and only a dentist can provide most dental treatments. However, urgent care facilities can provide immediate pain relief and rule out or treat non-dental problems. If there are any dental problems present, call our practice and get in as soon as possible.

If you’re not sure what to do about your particular dental problem, or if it qualifies as an emergency, simply call our North Las Vegas dental practice and we’ll help you determine the right solution.

If you experience an oral trauma emergency/accident, assess the situation. If it requires immediate medical attention, call 911. If it doesn’t require immediate medical attention, call Dr. Soard directly to be seen ASAP.

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Relaxing in the Dentist’s Chair

dental anxiety

Just the anticipation of the dental drill can make some people nervous enough to avoid their dentist for months, or even years!

The fear of the experience is usually worse than any actual discomfort. Fortunately, in my North Las Vegas dental practice, we utilize the best dental techniques for helping you to be calm and comfortable during your visit.

Tips for Staying Relaxed at the Dentist

There are a few things you can do to help yourself relax.

Tell us about your anxiety.

There’s no shame in being nervous—it’s a pretty common experience.

If you tell us about your fears, we can take a few extra steps to help set up a more comfortable visit for you, and we can discuss some additional options for medication and sedation.

My team and I are here to listen to your concerns and previous experiences at the dental office. Once those concerns are identified and addressed then myself and my team can make any necessary adjustments to help make you comfortable in the chair.

We promise it’s an experience like you have never had before in a dental office before!

Bring your headphones.

Whether it’s music, an audiobook, or your favorite podcast, you can distract yourself during your procedure and soothe your nerves with headphones.

I recommend choosing something that will help you relax. I love a wide variety of music, so even if you forget your headphones, there’s always music playing in the office.

Take a deep breath.

Nervous people tend to hold their breath, increasing their heart rate and blood pressure.

Before you sit down for your appointment, take a minute to meditate and practice deep breathing exercises to bring yourself down a notch or two. This is also important to remember during the appointment.

Once we get started, it’s always good to remember to take big deep breathes through your nose to help you relax. Holding your breath will only accentuate whatever you think you are feeling.

Sedation Dentistry

In addition to the local anesthetics we use to numb the area we’re working on, there are also several sedation techniques that vary from “help with just a little bit of nervousness” to “I don’t want to be conscious anymore.

As with any type of medicine, we try to aim for the most conservative method that meets your needs. At one end of the scale, there are oral medications (such as Valium) to calm the patient’s nerves. At the other, general anesthesia is used for the most complex treatments. With general anesthesia, the patient will stay in a deep sleep throughout the procedure, and it may require performing the treatment at another facility.

Talk to Your North Las Vegas Dentist to Decide What the Best Course Is for You.

Anxiety about the dentist is a common problem, but Dentistry for Families in North Las Vegas is here to help you get the best dental experience possible. My goal is to ensure all of my patients receive safe, effective, and comfortable dental care.

Want to further discuss how we can help you relax at your next dental appointment? Give us a call to learn more.

~Dr. Zachary Soard