Q I had a toothache and my dentist told me I need a root canal. He put me on antibiotics and it stopped hurting. Do I still need the root canal?
A Yes. Even though your tooth feels better since your dentist prescribed antibiotics, the underlying disease process did not change. Patients sometimes believe that antibiotics will "cure" a dental infection in the same way they can cure a medical infection such as strep throat. However, this is not the case. Once the inside (pulp) of a tooth becomes diseased, a root canal (or extraction) is necessary even if you are not experiencing pain or swelling.
Q Why do I have to have that rubber thing on my mouth when I have a root canal?
A That 'rubber thing' is called a Rubber dam, and it is an absolute requirement for root canal treatment. The dental dam is important for many reasons. First, the dam protects the patient from swallowing or aspirating instruments or materials. It also keeps the operating field aseptic and improves visualization for the dentist. During root canal treatment, one of the main objectives is to eliminate bacteria in or around the root canal system. Having rubber dam isolation greatly improves disinfection because it prevents bacteria from the oral cavity from entering the tooth during treatment.
Q I was told by my dentist that I needed a root canal. What is root canal treatment?
A Root canal treatment is a very successful procedure and permits the patient to keep a tooth that otherwise would require extraction. Treatment is necessary when the pulp tissue inside the tooth (nerve) becomes diseased and is irreversibly damaged. Frequent causes for injury include bacteria from dental caries (decay), trauma, and coronal cracks. During treatment the dentist makes an opening in the top of the tooth and cleans the diseased or necrotic (dead) nerve tissue and bacteria from inside the root. The resulting space is sealed with an inert filling material to prevent future leakage of bacteria from saliva. Following the root canal treatment, a new filling or crown is required.
The time has come. You brush and floss your kids' teeth every day, but it's finally time for their first official dentist appointment. You know how important it is to attend regular dentist appointments. You want your kids to have good oral health for life and don't want them to develop a fear of the dentist or feel anxiety about dental visits.
To ensure your kids have a good experience on their foundational visit to the dentist, prepare them properly before the big day.
Schedule the First Visit Early
Most experts advise that children see a dentist sometime before their first birthday. The earlier you can get your kids in to the dentist, the better. If they start early, they'll be familiar with the process and know what to expect as they get older.
However, if you missed that first early visit, it's not too late to establish good oral health for your kids. Get them in to see a dentist as soon, and as young, as possible.
Go to a Family-Friendly Dentist
What kind of dentist you choose matters. Even if you love your own dentist, they may not be right for your kids.
Choose a dentist who regularly deals with children and families. Many dentists' offices have long experience dealing with children and will happily accept appointments for the whole family. Your kids will likely have a better time if their dentist knows how to appeal to children.
Remember it's not just the dentist who will deal with your kids. Everyone from the front-office staff to the oral hygienist will also interact with your children and contribute to their first dental experience. Choose an office that knows how to make a positive first impression.
Explain Why You Go to the Dentist
Before their first visit, explain to your kids why it's important to go to the dentist. Talk, in a kidfriendly way, about how the dentist uses special tools to make their teeth squeaky clean again.
Use metaphors or imagery that are easy for kids to understand. Decide, based on your children's personalities, whether to tell them how little cavity bugs hide in their teeth and the dentist needs to clean them off, or whether to just say you need the dentist to keep teeth healthy and strong.
Tell your children what you personally like about going to the dentist. Maybe you like when the dentist polishes your teeth or takes an X-ray. Relay your own experience to give your kids a positive impression of what to expect.
Show Your Kids Positive Media
Familiarize your children with the environment and equipment they'll see at the dentist's office. Show them pictures and videos of kids at the dentist and images of the tools the dentist uses to clean their teeth. Find episodes of kid-friendly TV shows that address dental visits, and watch them with your children.
Expose your children to a variety of positive media about dental visits. If they know what things look like and what to expect before they get to the office, they'll be less intimidated by the dental environment.
Give Your Kids Something to Look Forward To
Offer your children a treat or special event for after their dentist visit. Maybe they'll get to spend a day at the zoo, or just go out for ice cream after their appointment. Give them a positive event to look forward to so they approach their first visit to the dentist with happy anticipation.
With the right preparation, you can help your kids establish a positive relationship to dentists and oral hygiene. Promote a good attitude before their first dental visit and build a healthy foundation for the rest of their lives.