Posts for: August, 2014
If you’re experiencing chronic halitosis (bad breath), it could be a sign of oral disease (as well as a systemic condition or treatment). In fact, it’s quite possible to visit our office about bad breath and find the cause is actually tooth decay, gum disease or some other oral condition.
In those cases treating the more serious condition might also result in a reduction in bad breath. Here are a few scenarios where such treatment could result in both better health and fresher breath.
Repairing decayed teeth. Repairing teeth damaged by decay — removing diseased tissue, filling cavities or repairing defective fillings — will also reduce the level of decay-causing bacteria. Such bacteria are often responsible for bad breath since they also release volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), characterized by a foul “rotten eggs” odor. After treatment, these odors can diminish significantly.
Treating gum disease. Periodontal gum disease is a progressive infection caused by bacterial plaque. The basic treatment is to remove as much offending plaque and tartar (hard deposits) as possible. This may require extensive cleaning techniques (like root planing) to remove plaque from tooth root surfaces beneath the gum line, as well as antibiotic therapy. Periodontal therapy not only restores health to gum tissues, it may also alleviate bad breath caused by bacteria.
Extracting third molars (wisdom teeth). The opercula (flaps of gum tissue) around wisdom teeth have a tendency to trap food debris, which fosters bacterial growth. If this leads to chronic infection we may recommend removing the wisdom teeth. This not only reduces the chances of infection but may also alleviate bad breath caused by the bacterial growth.
Treating candidiasis. This is a yeast infection arising as a result of antibiotic use that suppresses normal oral flora. It’s also a source of bad breath. Treating the infection and restoring normal balance in the mouth may help alleviate bad breath as well as prevent disease.
You may see a pattern here: many of these conditions that simultaneously contribute to bad breath stem from high levels of bacteria, which flourish in plaque built up on tooth surfaces due to inadequate oral hygiene. Effective daily brushing and flossing (along with semi-annual office cleanings) removes much of the offending bacterial plaque. As a result you’ll experience better oral health — and maybe fresher breath too.
If you would like more information on controlling chronic bad breath, 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 “Bad Breath.”
Now that celebrities can communicate directly with their fans through social media, we’ve started to see dispatches from some surprising locations — the dental chair, for example! Take singer Kelly Clarkson, who was the first winner of American Idol, and perhaps one of the first to seek moral support via social media before having an emergency root canal procedure.
“Emergency root canal — I’ve had better days,” Kelly posted on her Facebook page, along with a photo of herself looking… well, pretty nervous. But is a root canal procedure really something to be scared about? It’s time to clear up some misconceptions about this very common dental procedure.
First of all, root canal treatment is done to save a tooth that might otherwise be lost to an infection deep inside it. So while it’s often looked upon with apprehension, it’s a very positive step to take if you want to keep your teeth as long as possible. Secondly, tooth infections can be painful — but it’s the root canal procedure that stops the pain. What, actually, is done during this tooth-saving treatment?
First, a local anesthetic is administered to keep you from feeling any pain. Then, a small opening is made through the chewing surface of the infected tooth, giving access to the central space inside, which is called the “pulp chamber.” A set of tiny instruments is used to remove the diseased pulp (nerve) tissue in the chamber, and to clean out the root canals: branching tunnel-like spaces that run from the pulp chamber through the root (or roots) of the tooth. The cleared canals are then filled and sealed.
At a later appointment, we will give you a more permanent filling or, more likely, a crown, to restore your tooth’s full function and protect it from further injury. A tooth that has had a root canal followed by a proper restoration can last as long as any other natural tooth — a very long time indeed.
If you have any questions about root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step by Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”
Dentistry can accomplish some amazing smile transformations. But these advanced techniques and materials all come with a price. Additionally, your dental insurance plan may be of limited use: some procedures may not be fully covered because they’re deemed elective.
It’s important then to review your financial options if you’re considering a major dental procedure. Here are a few of those options with their advantages and disadvantages.
Pay Up Front. It may sound old-fashioned, but saving money first for a procedure is a plausible option — your dental provider, in fact, may offer a discount if you pay up front. If your condition worsens with time, however, you may be postponing needed care that may get worse while you save for it.
Pay As You Go. If the treatment takes months or years to complete, your provider may allow you to make a down payment and then pay monthly installments on the balance. If the treatment only takes a few visits, however, this option may not be available or affordable.
Revolving Credit. You can finance your treatment with a credit card your provider accepts, or obtain a medical expenditure card like CareCredit through GE Capital that specializes in healthcare expenses. However, your interest may be higher than other loan options and can limit the use of your available credit for other purchases. In addition, some healthcare cards may offer interest-free purchasing if you pay off the balance by a certain time; however, if you don’t pay off the balance on time, you may have to pay interest assessed from the date you made the purchase.
Installment Loans. Although not as flexible as revolving loans, installment loans are well-suited for large, one-time purchases with their defined payment schedule and fixed interest rate. Some lenders like Springstone℠ Patient Financing specialize in financing healthcare procedures, and may possibly refinance existing loans to pay for additional procedures.
Equity Loans. These loans are secured by the available value in an asset like your home. Because they're secured by equity, they tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards or non-secured installment loans. On the downside, if you fail to repay, the lender can take your property to satisfy the loan.
To determine the best financing route for a dental procedure, be sure to discuss your options with your financial advisor and your dental provider.
If you would like more information on financing dental care, 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 “Financing Dental Care.”