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

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Posts for: February, 2014

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
February 24, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: chipped tooth   bonding  
BondingAGoodChoiceforRepairingDamagedorChippedTeethinYoungsters

Imagine this: your active, adventurous child — or adolescent — loves high-risk contact sports like hockey or football, and while playing breaks a front tooth. After an emergency trip to our office, we recommend bonding as a good choice for this repair.

“What is bonding?” you ask. Here's what you need to know. In a bonding procedure, a composite resin restoration material is attached (bonded) to the broken tooth, and it looks as good as new.

Composite resin restorations are tooth-colored filling materials composed of a special plastic-based matrix for strength, with glass filler for aesthetics and translucence. The combination looks just like a natural tooth. The composite resin material is physically bonded to the remaining healthy tooth structure. First the natural tooth enamel or dentin must be etched so that the composite resin can attach and actually join to the tooth. In the end it will function as one and look exactly like a tooth.

Composites can be placed directly on the teeth in our office, quite easily, and they are relatively inexpensive. They look natural and can be matched to your child's natural tooth. They require little to no tooth reduction. Bonded composite resin restorations are the best choice for children and teenagers because their teeth and jaws are still growing and developing. What's more, they are still active in their sports and could need further restorations.

Composite resin restorations may need to be replaced with more permanent restorations after your child is fully grown. The bonded resin restorations may wear over time, and may stain and dull somewhat with age. When your child has completed growth, more permanent restorations such as porcelain veneers or crowns may be necessary.

By the way, a custom-made mouthguard might have prevented injury in the first place and certainly should be considered in the future.

If your child has chipped or damaged a tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bonding and a protective mouthguard. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Repairing Chipped Teeth.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
February 21, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
OvercomingDentalCareObstaclesinChildrenWithChronicDiseases

All children encounter sickness as they grow; thankfully most of these conditions are relatively mild and fade away in short order. But some children endure more serious, longer lasting conditions. The health of children with chronic diseases can be impacted in numerous ways, including the health of their teeth and gums.

Unfortunately, dental care is often pushed to the side as caregivers understandably focus on the primary disease. In addition, many chronic conditions involving behavior, such as autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or intellectual disabilities, may inhibit the child’s ability to cooperate with or even perform daily oral hygiene. Many special needs children have an acute gag reflex that makes toleration of toothpaste, spitting matter from the mouth, or keeping their mouths open more difficult. However difficult it may be, though, it’s still important to establish daily hygiene habits to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

There are techniques for building a daily routine for children with physical and behavioral limitations. For example, using “modeling and shaping” behavior, you (or perhaps a sibling) brush your teeth with your child to demonstrate how it should be done. If there’s a problem with cooperation, you can also position the child “knee to knee” with you as you brush their teeth. In this way you’ll be able to meet their eyes at a level position and lessen the chance of a confrontation.

We encourage all children to have their first dental visit before their first birthday. This is especially true for children with chronic conditions. The Age One visit helps establish a benchmark for long-term care; it then becomes more likely with regular visits to discover and promptly treat dental disease. This is especially important for special needs children who may have congenital and developmental dental problems, like enamel hypoplasia, a condition where the teeth have not developed sufficient amounts of enamel.

Teeth are just as much at risk, if not more so, in children with chronic diseases. Establishing daily hygiene and regular checkups can reduce that risk and alleviate concern for their long-term oral health.

If you would like more information on oral healthcare for children with chronic diseases, 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 “Managing Tooth Decay in Children With Chronic Diseases.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
February 13, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth decay   root canal  
UnderstandingtheSignsandSymptomsofToothDecayandaDiseasedRootCanal

Tooth decay can be relentless: left untreated it can work its way into a tooth’s inner core — the pulp chamber or better known as the root canal. Once this occurs, the best course of action to save the tooth may be a root canal treatment to clean out the diseased pulp (nerve) and seal the canal from further decay.

So, what signs and symptoms might you encounter if decay has invaded a tooth’s root canal? When the pulp is first infected you may experience acute pain; over time, however, the pain may suddenly dissipate. This doesn’t mean the tooth has healed itself — quite the contrary, it may mean the infected pulp tissue, including the nerves, has died. Once the nerves die, they no longer transmit pain signals to the brain.

While the pain may cease, the infection hasn’t and will continue to travel from the end of the tooth root into the bone. At this point, you may encounter pain whenever you bite on the tooth. This time the pain is originating in nerves located in the periodontal ligament that surrounds the tooth root and joins the tooth with the jawbone. This can lead to an acute abscess (with accompanying pain) or a chronic abscess that may have no pain symptoms at all. As the decay progresses you may eventually suffer bone and tooth loss.

The important point here is that you may or may not notice all the signs and symptoms that indicate deep decay within a tooth. That’s why it’s important to undergo a thorough dental examination if you have any symptoms at all, especially acute pain that “mysteriously” disappears.

A root canal treatment and removal of the decayed tooth structure will stop the progress of tooth decay and preserve the tooth. The longer you delay, though, the greater the risk your tooth will eventually lose the battle with tooth decay and infection will continue to spread.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, 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 “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
February 05, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
SavingaDiseasedPrimaryToothCouldBenefitFutureOralHealth

Dentists go to great lengths to save an adult permanent tooth. Even though restoration technology is incredibly advanced, none can completely replace the biological function of natural teeth. Treating a diseased tooth to preserve it is a high priority in dentistry.

It would seem, though, that a child’s primary (baby) tooth might not warrant the same treatment. Since the tooth eventually detaches from the jaw to make way for a permanent tooth, why save it?

It is worth the effort, because primary teeth provide more than a chewing function: they also serve as guides for their permanent successors. When they’re lost prematurely, the permanent teeth may not come in correctly, leading to a malocclusion (poor bite). Other areas of development, like speech and dental bone growth, may suffer as well from the longer time gap between the premature loss and the permanent tooth eruption.

Saving an infected primary tooth should be considered, especially if significant time remains in its lifespan. Due to differences between primary and permanent teeth, though, the treatment approach isn’t the same. For example, the body gradually absorbs the roots of a primary tooth (a process called resorption) as the permanent tooth beneath erupts applying pressure to the primary roots (this is what enables its eventual detachment). Dentists must factor this process into their diagnosis and treatment plan for a primary tooth.

The level of treatment may vary depending on how deep the infection has advanced. If the decay is limited to the tooth’s outer layers and only partially affects the pulp, the innermost layer of the tooth, a dentist may remove as much soft decay as possible, apply an antibacterial agent for any remaining hardened infection, and then restore the tooth with filling materials.

For deeper infection, the dentist may remove some or all of the pulp, disinfect and clean the area, and then fill and seal the empty space with a filling. A filling material like zinc oxide/eugenol paste should be used that’s capable of resorption by the body to coincide with the natural root resorption. After treatment, the tooth should continue to be monitored for changes in appearance or gum swelling, just in case the infection returns or advances.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, treating a primary tooth as you would its successor is worth the effort. Your child will reap the health benefits, both now and long after the primary tooth is gone.

If you would like more information on endodontic treatment for children, 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 “Root Canal Treatment for Children’s Teeth.”