Craig S. Karriker, DMD, P.A.- 400 South Granard Street, Gaffney, SC 29341, (864) 487-0710

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Posts for: September, 2013

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
September 25, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: whitening   root canal  
Non-VitalBleachingRemovesUnsightlyToothDiscolorationFromWithin

Root canal treatments are an important method for stopping the disease process within an infected tooth and ultimately saving it. However, one of the few side effects could have an aesthetic impact on your smile. Leftover blood pigments or the filling materials themselves can cause a darkening of the tooth — the tooth could eventually stand out in an unsightly way from surrounding teeth.

There is, however, one possible solution: a whitening technique known as internal or non-vital bleaching can lighten a darkened, non-vital tooth. For this procedure, we would insert a bleaching mix (usually sodium perborate mixed with hydrogen peroxide) into the pulp chamber of the darkened tooth for a short period of time. The chemical reaction of the mix whitens the tooth from within.

Our first step is to make sure by x-rays that the root canal filling in the tooth is still intact and still has a good seal. We then create a small opening in the rear of the tooth just above the root canal filling, irrigate it with water to remove any debris, and then add a special cement at the point where the root canal filling begins to seal it from any leakage of the bleaching solution into the root canal filling.

We then insert the bleaching solution into the empty pulp chamber. This is covered with a cotton pellet, which is then sealed in with a temporary filling. We repeat this application over a number of days until we see a noticeable change in the tooth color (normally after one to four visits). At this point, we would remove any residual solution and apply a permanent filling to seal the tooth.

This procedure can be performed instead of more extensive procedures such as veneers and crowns as a cover for the discolored tooth, or as a way to lighten teeth before applying a veneer or crown to help prevent discoloration from showing through. Either way, non-vital bleaching can help remove unsightly discoloration and restore vibrancy to your smile.

If you would like more information on internal or non-vital bleaching, 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 “Whitening Traumatized Teeth.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
September 17, 2013
Category: Oral Health
10FactsYouShouldKnowAboutToothDecay

If you have ever had tooth decay, you should know:

  1. Tooth decay is one of the most common of all diseases, second only to the common cold.
  2. Tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children ages 2 to 5, half of those ages 12 to 15, and more than 90 percent of U.S. adults over age 40.
  3. Tooth decay causes pain, suffering and disability for millions of Americans each year — even more disturbing, tooth decay is preventable.
  4. If it is not treated, in extreme and rare cases tooth decay can be deadly. Infection in an upper back tooth can spread to the sinus behind the eye, from which it can enter the brain and cause death.
  5. Tooth decay is an infectious process caused by acid-producing bacteria. Your risk for decay can be assessed in our office with a simple test for specific bacterial activity.
  6. Three factors are necessary for tooth decay to occur: susceptible teeth, acid-producing bacteria and a diet rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates.
  7. Babies are not born with decay-causing bacteria in their mouths; the bacteria are transmitted through saliva from mothers, caregivers, or family members.
  8. Fluoride incorporated into the tooth structure protects teeth against decay by making the enamel more resistant to acid attack.
  9. Sealants, which close up the nooks and crannies in newly erupted teeth, stop bacterial collection where a toothbrush can't reach. Teeth with sealants have been shown to remain 99 percent cavity-free over six years.
  10. Restricting sugar intake is important in preventing tooth decay. Your total sugar intake should be less than 50 grams a day (about ten teaspoons) including sugars in other foods. A can of soda may have six teaspoons of sugar — or more!

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay – The World's Oldest & Most Widespread Disease.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
September 09, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tooth-ColoredFillingsANatural-LookingAlternative

Once upon a time, when you had a cavity, you went to the dentist and came back with a tooth filled with metal: the common silver (or, technically speaking, “dental amalgam”) filling. But today — driven by dental researchers' quest to find a better filling material, and by the desire of many people to avoid a mouth full of dull gray metal — there are other choices.

In recent years, metal-free, tooth-colored fillings have evolved into a well-established treatment method that's finding increasing use — not just in the front of the mouth, where it's most visible, but in the back too. To help understand the benefits of these new materials, let's start by looking at the structure of the tooth.

We usually think of teeth as being hard, sturdy and durable. But did you know that their crowns, or top surfaces above the gums, actually flex under the force of the bite? Understanding the composition and behavior of teeth has led researchers to develop newer and better materials for restoration. These include improved dental porcelains and composite resins which more closely mimic the natural teeth in both function and form: That is, they're strong and good-looking too.

What's more, using these materials for fillings may mean that you can get the same result with a more conservative treatment. How? It all comes down to tooth structure. To secure a traditional amalgam (silver) filling, a tooth often had to be shaped with “undercuts,” which helped hold the material in place. This meant the removal of a greater amount of tooth structure, potentially leading to chipping or cracking of the tooth down the road.

Enter composite resins. Bonding these materials to the underlying tooth doesn't require undercutting, so less of the healthy tooth is removed. That makes for a more robust tooth structure, with potentially greater longevity. Combine that advantage with the aesthetic appeal of a restoration that's hard to tell apart from natural teeth, and you've got a winning combination.

There are different options available for restorations with tooth-colored materials. These range from quick, single-visit fillings for small cavities, to the fabrication of more extensive replicas of the tooth for complicated restorations. Exactly which treatment is needed will depend on an individual's particular dental issue and the kind of results they desire. Whatever the case may be, we can listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and offer the best advice regarding your treatment options.

If you would like more information about tooth-colored fillings, 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 “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
September 06, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   tmd  
AnsweringCommonQuestionsonTMJDisorders

You have probably heard a lot of people talk about TMJ disorders, but do you know what it all means? How do you know if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder?

Below are answers to some common questions about TMJ disorders.

What is a TMJ disorder?
First, we should explain that TMJ actually refers to the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the formal name for your jaw joint(s). TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorders, which is the correct name for the muscle and/or joint symptoms that commonly arise when there is TMJ pain and dysfunction. You may have heard people refer to the actual disorder as TMJ, but this name is incorrect.

When I experience TMJ pain, what exactly is happening?
Let's first understand all of the parts that play a role in your pain. The temporomandibular joints connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull on both the left and right sides, which makes the lower jaw the only bone in the body with completely symmetrical joints at both ends. There is a ball-and-socket relationship between your jaw and your skull on both sides, but the unique part is the presence of a cushioning disk between the two surfaces in each joint. Each TMJ has a disk between the ball (condyle) and socket (fossa), and this sometimes ends up being an especially important area when trouble arises.

So, how do I know if I have TMD?
You can never be absolutely sure, but here are some symptoms you should be sure to share with us during your examination:

  • Clicking. You may experience a clicking sound in the jaw, usually due to a shift in the position of the disk inside the joint. However, if you do not have pain or limited jaw function, this symptom may be insignificant.
  • Muscle Pain. The next symptom is jaw muscle pain, usually in the cheeks or temples. If the muscle is sore or stiff in the morning, this pain is usually related to clenching or grinding in your sleep. However, there are more complex muscle pains that can spread to your head and neck.
  • TMJ Pain. This third symptom refers to pain actually inside one or both of your jaw joints, technically described as arthritis of the TMJ.

If diagnosed, what can I expect from treatment?
We will first need to assess the damage to your TMJ, and from there we will recommend a course of treatment to relieve your pain. Treatment may range from hot or cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications to physical therapy or a bite guard. We may also advise you to do jaw exercises at home. In general, we will do our best to treat your issue without orthodontic treatment or surgery.

If you would like more information about TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”