Since the first sign of a disease may develop in your mouth, we screen for oral cancer and are closely following emerging salivary diagnostic tools, which will enable us to identify pancreatic cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For the latest research, please visit the Dental Detective blog.
A root canal involves removing the nerve and pulp of an infected tooth before cleaning and sealing the inside of the tooth. While this process often involves several visits, the standard of care is to save a tooth whenever possible. The cost of restoring a tooth is often cheaper than extraction and replacement with a dental implant, bridge or removable partial denture.
When a tooth's nerve tissue is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. In addition, an infection in the root canal can cause swelling to spread to the face and neck, bone loss around the tip of the root and drainage into the gums or cheek. Eventually, infections in your mouth can cause infections in other areas of your body.
You should schedule a dental appointment if you notice any of these signs that you may need a root canal:
- Severe pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
For further information about root canal treatment, view this slideshow from the Mayo Clinic.
Gum disease is fairly common in adults. Left untreated, a mild form of inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, can progress into periodontitis, a serious gum disease. Periodontitis affects over 90% of adults over the age of 60. Click here to determine your risk. For further information about the symptoms, treatment and consequences of gum disease, visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
A study linking treatment of gum disease to lower blood sugar in Type 2 Diabetics will be published in the Cochrane Library by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and supported by colleagues at the Peninsula Dental School, the University of Ottawa and UCL Eastman Dental Institute.
Dr. Arne Schaefer of the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at the University of Kiel, Germany and colleagues recently discovered a gene that links periodontitis and increased risk of coronary heart disease. Through early diagnosis and treatment of periodontitis, dentists can minimize the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Graber's patients have had excellent results using dental appliances to treat conditions ranging from TMJ and grinding to migraines, sleep apnea and snoring. Before considering invasive surgery, ask whether a dental appliance might provide the relief you need.
For example, many of our patients who suffer from migraine headaches have found relief through the NTI Plus, an FDA-approved nightguard that fits over your four front teeth to prevent intense grinding, which causes the nerve response that often leads to migraines.
Risk factors for oral cancer include the use of tobacco, alcohol consumption and exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus), the same one responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. However, 25% of oral cancer victims do not have any risk factors. Therefore, Dr. Graber recommends oral cancer screenings to all patients who have been exposed to HPV and/or exhibit sores, lumps, bumps or red and white patches in the mouth that have not healed after three weeks. If you are concerned that you may have an early warning sign, contact Dr. Graber immediately to schedule a screening and visit www.oralcancer.org for further information.
Regular dental visits, which include an oral cancer specific examination, are essential to ensure early detection, diagnosis and treatment. Oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, leading to a five-year survival rate of 57%.
According to Pamela Robey, Ph.D., chief, Craniofacial and Skeletal Diseases Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, "Cells from dental pulp in baby or wisdom teeth have the ability to make dentin and pulp and they might have the ability to make bone."
A new technique pioneered in the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Columbia University biomedical engineering professor Dr. Jeremy Mao attaches the body's stem cells to a three-dimensional scaffold that is infused with growth factor. This technique is being used to grow an anatomically correct tooth in as little as nine weeks after being implanted in the mouth. The hope is that replacement teeth developed from natural tissue will provide a longer-lasting, faster and more cost-effective alternative to dental implants.
Stem cell-based therapies are also being investigated for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions, liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and nerve regeneration following brain or spinal cord injury.
The Dental Center partners with an FDA-certified cryogenic laboratory to harvest and store stem cells from dental pulp. Extracted teeth are more likely to have viable stem cells than teeth that are "hanging by a thread." Teeth that become very loose due to trauma or disease often have a severed blood supply, and are not candidates for stem cell recovery. For more information, visit www.stemsave.com or contact Dr. Neal B. Graber directly.
Congratulations on deciding to quit!
Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Smoking by parents is associated with adverse effects in their children, including exacerbation of asthma, increased frequency of colds and ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.
Nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges are available over the counter. Your doctor can prescribe nicotine nasal spray or inhalers as well as non-nicotine pills such as Buproprion SR (Zyban) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix). Counseling along with medication increases the chance of quitting successfully. For more information, visit Smokefree.gov, 1-800-QUIT-NOW or download "Spit Tobacco, A Guide for Quitting."