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Blog Archive

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A dental visit can cost you, but a delay can hurt your teeth and budget even more

When I was in my 30s and a dentist told me I needed a few crowns, I decided to skip the expensive devices because of my meager paycheck. Besides, my teeth weren’t hurting. Years later, I am paying the price in pain and costlier dental work. One of the damaged teeth that needed a crown distorted my bite, making a minor jaw-joint problem even worse. Unfortunately I’m far from alone. The price of dental care is steep for many people financially, physically and even socially, according to Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association. Vujicic said that the majority of emergency room dental visits were for infections that could be handled in a dentist’s office. Overall, emergency room dental visits cost $1.9 billion yearly, 40 percent of which is public money, according to his institute’s analysis of data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “I’m comfortable calling that highly wasteful,” Vujicic said. “That’s a very inefficient way to spend dollars.” When Angela Lombardi, who lives in Bensenville, Ill., put off getting fillings because of the cost, the pain kept mounting and her teeth kept deteriorating. Eventually she had […]

When You Need To Visit An Endodontist

Most of us stop in to see our general dentist twice a year, that friendly professional who greets us with a smile and chides us about our inadequacies in oral hygiene while encouraging us to do better. These individuals focus on the exterior of the teeth and gums, doing their best to protect us from decay and gum disease. However, there’s another type of dentist that we may have occasion to visit, and knowing when to do this can save a tooth you might otherwise lose. This champion of the inner tooth is your endodontist, and his specialty is everything that lay beneath the surface of our teeth and gums. What Is An Endodontist, and Why Do I Need One? An endodontist is a dentist that specializes in the internal structures and concerns of your teeth. When decay has gotten out of control or trauma has led to damage to the innermost structure of your teeth, it’ll be an endodontist that comes in to save the day. If you have a tooth that seems like it might be beyond saving, it’s time to make an appointment with your endodontist. What Procedures Are Handled By An Endodontist? Everyone has heard of […]

Cone Beam CT Interpretation: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Cone beam computed tomography has become an important tool in the diagnostic imaging spectrum of endodontics and is one of the most discussed topics within the endodontic specialty today. Almost all endodontists graduating from residency programs in North America have direct access to CBCT imaging, with a significant number of practicing endodontic specialists either owning or having access to 3-D imaging. This is no wonder as most CBCT users state, “I can see so much more with my cone beam.” The AAE, together with the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, has provided evidence-based guidelines regarding the applications of this imaging modality in endodontics. Small field of view, high-resolution volumes of the oral and maxillofacial complex provide superior diagnostic capabilities compared with conventional 2-D imaging in several clinical situations. These include the display of key anatomic structures and their relationship to the dentition, visualization of tooth morphology without superimposition, evaluation of tooth and bony pathosis, surgical planning and endodontic therapy outcome evaluation. CBCT has undoubtedly provided us with great imaging power. With this power comes a great responsibility to interpret 3-D volumes. CBCT scan acquired to evaluate tooth no. 24 demonstrates a non-homogeneous high-density finding in the incisive canal […]

Solutions: Saving Decayed Teeth with Stem Cells

A dentist is researching alternatives to root canal treatment and extraction Can decayed young teeth be saved with stem cells? Dr. Renato Silva thinks so. When decay penetrates the nerve space in an adult’s permanent tooth—known as dental pulp—a root canal is the best solution. A dentist removes the nerve and pulp, and then cleans and seals the inside of the tooth. But when that same problem occurs in a child or young adult, a root canal becomes much trickier, because the root of the tooth may not be fully formed. Dentists might try to clean and fill the root canal, or they might pull the tooth and replace it with an implant when the patient is older. “We see a lot of kids come into our endodontic clinic and pediatric clinics with dental problems,” said Silva, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the department of endodontics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Factors that contribute to decay include not brushing and/or flossing, diet, saliva composition and genetics. Depending on the age of the child, a permanent tooth will come in, but the root may take a few years to develop, said Ariadne Letre, D.D.S., Ph.D., director of research in the department of endodontics at UTHealth’s School of Dentistry and a member of Silva’s team. Rather than choosing a root canal treatment or […]

Nanodiamonds Support Root Canal Recovery

People who undergo root canals may soon have a tiny but powerful ally that could prevent infection after treatment. Researchers at the UCLA School of Dentistry and the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science found in a clinical trial that nanodiamonds protected disinfected root canals after the nerve and pulp were removed, thereby improving the likelihood of a full recovery. The findings are a milestone for the use of nanodiamonds in humans. Nanodiamonds are tiny particles made of carbon and are so small that millions of them could fit on the head of a pin. They resemble soccer balls but have facets like actual diamonds. Those facets enable the nanodiamonds to deliver a wide range of drugs and imaging agents. In a paper published Oct. 23 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the UCLA researchers write that combining nanodiamonds with gutta percha, a material used to fill disinfected root canals, may enhance the gutta percha’s protective properties. “Harnessing the unique properties of nanodiamonds in the clinic may help scientists, doctors and dentists overcome key challenges that confront several areas of health care, including improving lesion healing in oral health,” says Dean Ho, professor of oral biology […]