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Lone Oak Dental

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Toothaches

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Our patients ask us lots of questions, and we think it's great! Questions show that you care about your dental needs and are looking to improve your health. The staff at Lone Oak Dental is very knowledgeable about insurance, preventing dental problems, and numerous other issues. We want to put you at ease by answering the questions that you may have. Remember, there are no dumb questions, so ask away!


Cavities are the most common reason for sensitivity.  If you are sure that you are cavity free because you have had a recent dental check-up and still have sensitivity, there is hope!  The second most common reason for sensitive teeth is exposed dentin.  Dentin is the middle layer of teeth and also covers the root surface of teeth.  A simple solution that works for many people is switching to a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitivity such as Sensodyne or Crest Sensitivity.  These toothpastes should be used twice per day and not rinsed off after use.  

Preventing further exposure of dentin is crucial to controlling the pain.  Have Dr. Jordan and his staff review brushing technique to ensure that you are not brushing too hard or incorrectly.  Avoid acidic foods and drinks (lemons, limes, pineapple, sports drinks, etc) which further erode tooth structure.  We also carry prescription strength toothpaste which is very helpful in treating sensitivity.

Gum disease which is also referred to as periodontal disease is found in about half of American adults.  Common symptoms and signs of gum disease are bleeding after brushing and flossing, swollen gums, teeth that move slightly when touched and bad breath.  When gum disease is left untreated, the teeth are mobile, painful to chew with and look longer.


At the forefront of gum disease prevention is good oral hygiene.  Thorough brushing and flossing removes the bacteria that can lead to gum disease.  Smoking has also been shown to increase the risk of periodontal disease. Routine dental cleanings by a dental hygienist removes tartar and plaque in difficult to reach areas.  Tartar is the yellow, rock-like substance found near the gum line.


Once a patient has gum disease, one of the first treatment recommendations is scaling and root planing.  In our office, we often refer to this as gum disease therapy. This treatment is a very thorough dental cleaning that removes the tartar and plaque above and below the gum line.  


Since gum disease is a lifelong disease like heart disease, frequent monitoring is crucial.  Persons with heart disease or high blood pressure often see their physician every 3-6 months to ensure that the disease is controlled and not progressing. Similarly, most patients with gum disease require appointments every 3-4 months to remove the tartar and plaque that has formed.  


We have very gentle and thorough dental hygienists at Lone Oak Dental and know that their expertise has helped countless patients!


If you have pain in your mouth, you should schedule an emergency exam with us. If you are not having pain, we would recommend a full exam and x-rays to determine what needs to be done.

When the nerve in a tooth dies, there are two treatment options, (1) a root canal to save the tooth or (2) remove the tooth.  Root canal treatment allows us to save teeth!


Most teeth that have had root canals have had a deep cavity, large filling or a crack.  Big fillings and cracks in teeth weaken the tooth and increase the chance of the tooth breaking.  Dental crowns hold a weakened tooth together preventing both the filling and tooth from breaking.


A research article from 2016 in the American Association of Endodontists found that teeth that did not get a crown within 4 months after the root canal was done were 3 times more likely to be extracted than those that got a crown within 4 months.  


We believe that if you are going to invest the time, effort and money into root canal treatment, you also need to plan on getting a crown shortly after the root canal is done.  


Sensitivity to biting can be caused by several things.  If you just had a filling placed or cap done, your bite may be high on that new restoration which will make the tooth sore and cold sensitive.  This can be remedied by adjusting your bite and relieving the pressure on that tooth.  


Another cause of soreness on chewing is a cracked tooth.  The most commonly cracked teeth are lower molars and upper premolars.  Cracked teeth may or may not have fillings in them.  The pain associated with these teeth is due to the separation of the two pieces of tooth when biting forces are applied.  Cracked teeth usually need to be be crowned but occasionally require root canal treatment.  Prompt treatment of a crack can potentially save you from a root canal, so do not delay scheduling an appointment at our dental office.   


Deep decay or cracks can eventually lead to the nerve in a tooth dying.  As the nerve in the tooth dies, bacteria begin to move out of the tooth into the bone and gum tissues.  These teeth are often very sensitive to biting and tapping but have no feeling to hot or cold.  If left untreated, these teeth will often abscess which can lead to a weekend of pain or swelling.  

Pain with chewing or biting is a warning sign that our bodies give when something is not right.  Do not delay dental treatment at our Brookings dental office as prompt treatment may save you time, money and from intense pain.  

As you can imagine, teeth take a lot of force.  That is due to our jaw muscles being some of the strongest muscles in the body.  As we age, it is not uncommon to develop small cracks in the grooves of our back teeth from a normal diet.  Sometimes these cracks get deeper and the strength of the tooth diminishes.  When this happens, a portion of a tooth may break off or the tooth becomes sore to bite on.  


Cracked teeth should be examined early and treated quickly before more damage occurs.  Left untreated, the crack can enter the nerve space of the tooth and cause terrible pain.  Occasionally, the crack goes below the gum line and breaks the root which requires that the entire tooth be removed.  


Preventing cracked teeth can be done by avoiding foods that require a lot of force such as almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds and ice chewing.  People that grind their teeth at night or during the day should wear a bite guard to prevent breaking and weakening teeth.  


As previously mentioned, cracked teeth should be brought to the attention of the dentist ASAP.  If you have a tooth that is tender to bite on occasionally, let Dr. Jordan know soon!


Teeth have living tissue.  What? Yes, there are living nerves, blood vessels and cells inside a tooth.  When these tissues are injured from a deep cavity or trauma, they can begin to die.  Many times, this leads to pain in the tooth with hot, cold, biting or pressure.


Fortunately, that pain can often be eliminated with root canal treatment.  The goals of root canal treatment are to 1) remove the dying or dead nerve tissue 2) to disinfect the space where the nerve tissue was and 3) prevent bacterial growth inside the tooth.  When all of these are achieved, root canal therapy is highly successful.


After the tooth is thoroughly numbed, the nerve of the tooth is accessed and cleaned out.  Once all the roots of the tooth are located and cleaned out, the internal surfaces of the tooth are disinfected to remove any bacteria that may still remain.  The inside of the tooth is filled with a rubbery material called gutta percha that prevents bacteria from growing. The tooth is then sealed on the top with a permanent filling or crown.  


Saving your tooth is important in many cases as adjacent teeth can shift and your bite collapse when a tooth is pulled.  People that are missing teeth often complain of a restricted diet, decreased self esteem and are prone to breaking other teeth.  Dr. Jordan believes that when a tooth is sound and there is enough tooth remaining, that root canal treatment is a great option.


Congratulations on taking the first step in improving your oral health!  By scheduling an appointment at our dental office, you are taking the initiative on creating whole body and oral health.  When making an appointment at our office for your first visit, there are generally two types of appointments, a comprehensive exam or a problem focused exam.  


Whenever possible, we encourage our new patients to begin with a comprehensive exam.  At this visit, we will review your health history, the medications you are currently taking and any previous surgeries that you have had.  You can expedite the initial process by  filling our the "New Patient Registration Forms" under the "Forms" tab on our website.  If you are transferring into our dental clinic, we will likely request any recent x-rays from your previous clinics.  If necessary, our dental hygienist or assistant will take new radiographs (x-rays).  Our dentist, Dr. Jordan, will thoroughly evaluate the radiographs to look for problems with your jaw joint, jaw bone, gum disease and cavities.  After examining your mouth, gums and teeth, any problems will be identified.  For those that have a few minor problems, a simple treatment plan will be developed and presented to you.  If you are having multiple problems, we will likely present several ways to treat those areas.  When working with you to treat your dental problems, our goal is to develop a plan that eliminates disease, is acceptable to you, is affordable and provides long term success.


If you are having pain or have a specific concern, we will schedule you for a problem focused exam.  Like the comprehensive exam, we will review your medical history and any prescription drugs you are taking.  If required, an x-ray will be taken of the area of concern.  Dr. Jordan will thoroughly evaluate the tooth or area.  He will discuss the findings with you and the options available.  Our goal at this visit is to address and eliminate the concern.  Please contact our office today in Brookings!

Children have 20 baby teeth, all of which will be replaced with permanent teeth as the child ages. Baby teeth hold space for the adult teeth and if they are lost too early, the child is much more likely to have crowded teeth. If space is lost in the dental arches, permanent teeth may become impacted or stay up in the gums or bone. When this happens, more costly surgery and orthodontics are often needed.

The enamel on baby teeth is thinner than that of adult teeth. Unfortunately, this can lead to the cavity getting into the nerve of the tooth faster. Untreated cavities in either adult or baby teeth can lead to pain, swelling, and abscesses. Abscessed teeth are painful to chew on, and, as a result, a child may not eat properly and get the nutrition needed for their growing body.  

There are times and situations when baby teeth do need to be removed. At Lone Oak Dental, when this happens, we often create a dental device that holds the space open until the adult tooth erupts. Please don’t delay if you suspect or know that your child has cavities; treating them now can avoid tears in your child’s eyes and years of orthodontic treatment.  

Breaking teeth can be painful, costly and frustrating.  When a patient comes to our office with multiple broken teeth, we examine several areas: tendency to clench and grind their teeth, size of previous fillings and how stable their bite is.  People that clench and grind their teeth can generate enormous amounts of force which can chip or crack teeth.  For those that clench or grind, we would recommend a splint to be worn at night or even during the day to reduce the amount of force put on your teeth.  Unfortunately, cavities and fillings weaken teeth.  When a dentist has to fix a cavity, the resulting tooth is more prone to breaking than if it had never had a cavity or filling.  Lastly, a stable and protected bite evens the chewing forces out among teeth.  If a tooth is taking more force than designed to, it is more likely to break.  Crossbites, missing teeth, excessive overbites and underbites increase your chances of broken teeth.  We believe that prevention is the best medicine and hoped you learned something from this FAQ!

As we age, our teeth often yellow.  However, teeth turning orange and brown in color are often a sign that the nerve in the tooth has died.  This often happens after a tooth has be bumped or hit and it may happen very soon after the accident or may take years.  Such coloring requires immediate attention from our dental office in Brookings.  


All teeth whether baby or adult teeth have a blood supply and a nerve that enters through the root.  If a tooth is hit hard enough, these arteries, nerves and veins are disrupted.  Broken blood vessels in the tooth will result in a brown and orange color.  While the discoloration may be gradual and not painful, a more serious process called resorption may be occurring.  Resorption often is caused by trauma and results in the root of the tooth being eaten away.  This can lead to tooth and bone loss.  

These teeth often require root canal treatment and such therapy should be completed as soon as possible to prevent resorption of the tooth root or infection.  The orange color can often be conservatively resolved with internal bleaching.  If the coloring cannot be resolved with whitening, it may require a veneer or crowning the tooth.  If you have any questions, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Jordan.  

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