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The Common Causes and Symptoms of Toothache

A toothache is a dental condition characterized by pain around or in the teeth. The pain can be of varying degrees, from mild to severe. Toothaches are one of the most common dental ailments a dentist will treat.

While the symptoms of all toothaches are the same (pain in or around the teeth, which can be throbbing or steady), there are a number of different causes for the pain.

One of the most common causes of a toothache is a dental cavity. Also known as dental caries, cavities are holes formed in the teeth caused by the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. The acid can burn holes through the enamel and dentin, the two outer layers of the teeth.

One of the most common causes of a toothache is a dental cavity.

Some cavities are small enough that the patient never notices them, but larger cavities can expose the pulp of the teeth, leading to irritation and toothache. The most common treatment for cavity is a dental filling.

Another common cause of toothaches is gum disease, which is infection or inflammation of the gums. Gum disease is caused by toxins secreted by plaque, which is a sticky film of food, bacteria, and film produced by the bacteria. Plaque forms around and under the gum line, and can lead to gum disease.

Patients may also experience toothaches if they have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is caused by worn enamel that exposes the underlying dentin, or by exposed tooth roots. Both cases leave the nerve center of the tooth exposed, which can cause pain if you consume hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods.

Toothaches can also be caused by a mechanical problem, like a cracked tooth, a jaw joint disorder, or bruxism (grinding of the teeth). It can also be a symptom of heart disease or ear or sinus infections. Since a toothache may be the single symptom a person experiences before a heart attack, it’s important to have the toothache looked at as soon as possible.

For additional causes and symptoms associated with a toothache, contact the Irving dental office of Drs. Patel and Strickland today.

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The Latest Options for an Anxiety Free Dental Experience

Going to get a dental treatment or even a simple check-up can be the source of severe anxiety for some people. Patients may be nervous about the procedure or may fear discomfort. Other patients are anxious about being embarrassed by their oral hygiene habits, especially if they haven’t been to the dentist in awhile.

Some people’s anxiety about going to the dentist is so severe that it’s actually a phobia. Phobias can develop because of negative experiences the person has had in the past, or simply because of stories the person has heard about someone elses experience. All in all, approximately 40 million people in America put off going to the dentist, or avoid it altogether, because of anxiety.

There are several options for modern anxiety-free dentistry. These methods allow patients to undergo necessary procedures and routine check-ups without fear and discomfort.

One such option is the use of Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. The gas is best for patients whose anxiety is mild or moderate. It’s an excellent option for patients who have to resume their normal routine immediately after the appointment.

Laughing gas comes in tanks that are hooked up to a small mask. When you breathe in, the mask releases the gas. The effects of the gas start within a few minutes, and will leave the patient feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Some dentists also use oral conscious sedation for patients with higher levels of anxiety. This involves taking a sedative before the appointment starts, so that you are relaxed and comfortable. Depending on the type of sedation used, you may need someone to drive you home until the effects wear off.

The final level of anxiety-free dentistry is intravenous (IV) sedation, which is appropriate for severe anxiety levels. This level involves the administration of an anxiety medication to the bloodstream. The effects are very fast.

During IV sedation, the patient remains conscious, but generally unaware of what is happening. The patient doesn’t usually remember much about the procedure. This form of sedation also requires a driver to take you home.

To learn more about the various sedation options and to schedule your next exam in Irving TX, contact Active Dental at 972-556-0600.

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Harmful Effects of Soda on Teeth

Soda is a sugary, carbonated beverage that more and more Americans are drinking every year. The demographic of children and teens has increased its soda consumption more than any other age group since the 1950’s. This is detrimental because soda is very harmful to your dental health.

Soda is one of the leading food-based causes of tooth decay. The sugar in the soda builds up on the teeth, leading to bacteria growth. The bacteria leaves acid by-products behind, which combines with the acids in the soda. This leads to plaque and tartar formation, which in turn leads to tooth decay.

When combined with poor oral hygiene habits, soda consumption can eventually lead to tooth loss. The combination of acid and sugar in the drink attacks your teeth by wearing away enamel and encouraging the growth of harmful pathogens in the mouth.

When combined with poor oral hygiene habits, soda consumption can eventually lead to tooth loss.

It is easy to combat the harmful effects of soda on the teeth. The first step is to reduce your soda consumption or cut it out entirely. One in five school age children have at least four servings of soda per day, with some teens consuming numerous sodas daily.

Replace soda in your refrigerator with drinks that have less sugar and less acid, like water or certain juices. If you do drink soda, drink it in moderation and rinse your mouth out with water afterwards (or even brush your teeth).

Maintain healthy dental hygiene habits, such as brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. Using a fluoride-based mouthwash can also help combat the effects of soda consumption.

Make regular appointments with your dentist for routine cleanings. Our dental health care team will remove plague build-up that leads to tooth decay, and can examine your teeth for any signs of damage from soda. The dental hygienist may also apply a professional fluoride treatment for a deeper clean. Contact our Grand Prairie dental office to schedule your exam.

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How Can Problems Caused By Dry Mouth Be Treated?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is an oral health issue that can have a number of causes. Dry mouth can also lead to other dental issues such as infections of the mouth and tooth decay. If you have persistent dry mouth, you should consult your dentist for an exam.

Dry mouth has a number of symptoms, the most obvious being a sticky and dry feeling. You may be thirsty more often than usual, or develop cracked lips. The tongue can develop a tingling sensation that spreads to the rest of the mouth.

The tongue may also turn red or develop a raw feeling. The dry sensation can spread to the throat and nose, leading to hoarseness and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Patients can also experience bad breath from dry mouth.

Saliva is nature’s cleanser of the mouth, and without it bacteria has a bigger chance of growing on the teeth. This can lead to tooth decay. It is very important to maintain good oral habits if you have dry mouth, which includes brushing after every meal, flossing, and regularly visiting your dentist.

The dentist may also recommend additional steps to combat the dry mouth, depending on its cause. If it is caused by medication, he may recommend that you consult your doctor to switch to another prescription. The dentist may also recommend an oral rinse.

Other steps you can take include sucking on sugar-free candy to increase saliva flow, drinking more water than usual, and setting up a humidifier to keep the air moist in your home. Try breathing through your nose to prevent drying out your mouth further. There are also over-the-counter saliva replacements that may work for you.

Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as these can further dry out your mouth. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or any other dehydrating food such as high-sodium foods. Don’t smoke.

All these solutions can help combat dry mouth, which in turn will help treat the problems caused by dry mouth. Your dental team serving Grand Prairie Texas can recommend any further steps you may need to take in regards to prescription treatments. Call Active Dental at 972-606-2999 to schedule your visit.

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Root Planing and Scaling: When is it recommended?

In its earliest stage, which is known as gingivitis, gum disease can be treated by a routine dental cleaning that removes plaque buildup from the gumline. Prophylaxis helps to reduce gum swelling and redness caused by bacteria.

When symptoms indicate that periodontal disease has advanced—the gums have begun to pull away from the teeth or tartar has collected on their roots—the recommended treatment is more intensive.

A dental treatment known as root planing and scaling can be used in cases of gum disease that have progressed beyond gingivitis. Additionally, root planing and scaling can help patients prevent periodontal disease from advancing further.

A dental treatment known as root planing and scaling can be used in cases of gum disease that have progressed beyond gingivitis.

Gum disease occurs when oral bacteria attack the gums. When performing a root planing and scaling, the dentist clears plaque, which contains those bacteria, from the area between the gums and the roots. If the roots have any rough patches, where bacteria can collect readily, the dentist will also smooth out those areas.

The dentist typically uses local anesthetic during a root planing and scaling to make the procedure more comfortable for the patient. Although the process is not very painful, some patients also choose sedation for additional peace of mind.

Patients with certain conditions, such as those with a suppressed immune system, may need to take a course of antibiotics prior to the procedure. This is a preventive measure to avoid the spread of infection throughout the body.

Taking good care of your gums and the rest of your mouth is essential if you want to avoid a recurrence of gum disease. Be sure to brush twice a day for at least two minutes each session. Daily flossing, with proper technique, is also a must for the fight against gum disease. Work with your our Irving dental team to develop a home oral hygiene regimen that will reduce your likelihood of a relapse.

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Can I Whiten My Teeth While Pregnant or Nursing?

A woman has a certain glow about her during pregnancy, and many mothers-to-be may be interested in enhancing that glow through cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening.

Expectant mothers are advised to put off teeth whitening until they’ve given birth and have finished breastfeeding, though. There may be a small risk of swallowing some of the whitening gel, which typically contain peroxides.

At this time, it is unclear whether the gels used in teeth whitening have an effect on a developing fetus or breast milk. Better safe than sorry is a good policy to follow when it comes to pregnant or nursing women and whitening the teeth.

Regardless of whether the whitening treatments are provided by a dentist or with over-the-counter products, whitening the teeth is best avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In addition to potential risks to the baby, hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause or exacerbate gum disease, potentially making the gum tissue more sensitive to the bleaching agents in whitening gels.

If you are planning to become pregnant, put teeth whitening on your pre-conception to-do list. Getting a professional-quality teeth whitening treatment from a dentist will give your smile a longer-lasting boost to help get you through the many months of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Alternatively, waiting until after you are done breastfeeding can be an option, too. Cosmetic dentistry can help harried moms feel a bit more glamorous, and teeth whitening is an important part of smile beautification.

Although whitening is discouraged, pregnant women can keep teeth looking their best by sticking to a recommended brushing and flossing routine. Expectant mothers can also get a professional dental cleaning during the second trimester, an effort that’s important to both the smile’s appearance and its health.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should schedule a visit to our Irving dental practice in advance whether it’s for a cosmetic treatment or not. Our experienced team can give you guidance regarding dental care during your pregnancy. Call 972-556-0600 to schedule your appointment.

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Is My Headache a Migraine or TMJ Disorder?

One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is persistent headaches. However, sometimes it is difficult to determine if headaches are due to TMJ disorder or come from other causes. In order to properly treat your headaches, it’s important to properly diagnose them. If you suspect your headaches might be related to TMJ, consult with your dentist.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is improperly aligned. This joint is located where the lower jaw joins the temporal bone of the skull. Misalignment can occur when the teeth are improperly aligned due to malocclusion, tooth loss, or movement of the teeth over time.

In addition to headaches, TMJ disorder can cause:

Teeth grinding and clenching
Discomfort in the jaw, neck or upper back
Clicking in the jaw joint
If your headaches are accompanied by any of these symptoms, consult with your dentist to see if TMJ might be the cause. Treatment such as an orthotic or orthodontic treatment can reduce your symptoms.

Symptoms of Migraines

Symptoms of migraine headaches are usually somewhat different from other types of headaches, including headaches caused by TMJ. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by visual symptoms such as spots, auras, or even temporary vision loss. Other additional symptoms of migraines can include:

Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to sounds
Discomfort limited to one side or one specific area of the head
If your headaches are accompanied by any of these symptoms, it’s likely they are migraines rather than the side effects of TMJ.

It is important to determine what type of headaches you have before undergoing treatment for them. If your headaches are true migraines, treatment for TMJ will probably not help reduce your symptoms. If, however, you do believe you have TMJ-related headaches, our dentist can help diagnose and recommend treatment.

If you suffer from persistent headaches or any other symptoms of TMJ disorder in the Irving area, please call Active Dental at 972-556-0600 for a consultation.

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Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings

One of the most well known treatments of cavities in both children and adults is a filling. When a dentist removes the decayed portion of the affected tooth, it is then “filled” with a substance that will harden and seal the surface of the tooth, preventing further decay. Silver fillings are common, but tooth-colored fillings have greater benefits.

Tooth-colored fillings are made from durable composite resins, while silver fillings are made from a silver-tin alloy, mercury, and copper (silver fillings are also known as amalgam fillings). Patients who are concerned about their mercury levels will appreciate the alternative of a tooth-colored filling.

Resin composite fillings have the added advantage of bonding to the material of the tooth, strengthening the tooth itself.

One of the most obvious benefits of a tooth-colored filling is in the name: the color! The composite resin closely matches both the color and the texture of the surrounding teeth, making the filling less noticeable. Tooth-colored fillings also tend to be more resistant to wear than metal amalgam fillings.

Resin composite fillings have the added advantage of bonding to the material of the tooth, strengthening the tooth itself. This bonding effect means that the filling itself can be smaller than it would be with metal fillings, since metal fillings must cover a certain area of the tooth in order to keep from breaking.

The resin materials used to make tooth-colored fillings are sealant compatible, so the dentist can fill the tooth and seal it in one step. A special light is then held on the filling to harden, or “cure” it. Once the filling sets, it does not require special care outside of basic good oral hygiene habits.

Composite fillings are also less conductive of cold, which means you are less likely to get a sudden toothache because of that bite of frozen yogurt you love to have for dessert.

If you already have metal fillings and avoid smiling too big because of it, ask about replacing them with composite fillings at your next check-up. Contact our experienced Grand Prairie dental team to schedule your next visit.

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Root Canal Therapy: Purpose and Procedure

Cracked or infected teeth aren’t just painful- they can lead to further, more serious complications. When tooth decay is threatening to spread an infection in a tooth, your dentist may suggest root canal therapy.

Root canal therapy involves the removal of the pulp from the center of the infected or damaged tooth. The tooth is then filled with an inert material and capped with a crown. The removal of the infected pulp can save the tooth and prevent the spread of infection to other teeth or the jawbone.

The root canal procedure begins with the application of a topical anesthetic and a local anesthetic. The patient may also be given addition anesthetic (such as nitrous oxide) if needed.

Depending on the particular situation of the infected tooth in the mouth, the practitioner may place a rubber sheet between it and the rest of the teeth. Once all the preparatory steps are taken, the dentist will remove the pulp and clean out the tooth with a selection of files.

Finally, the newly empty and decontaminated tooth is filled with any necessary medications and filling materials. The materials are often placed below the gum line, or sometimes into the surrounding jawbone.

A permanent filling or a crown is then placed on top of the tooth. In the case of a crown, a temporary crown may be used initially while the dental technician uses a tooth impression to make a permanent one. The cap or filling is very important- without it, the newly weakened tooth may crack or become re-infected.

After the procedure, you will likely experience some continued numbness in your face due to the anesthetic for a short time. You may experience some discomfort for a day or two in the procedure site. Your dentist may also prescribe a round of antibiotics to fight off any lingering infection.

If you are in need of root canal therapy in Grand Prairie, contact Active Dental at 972-606-2999 to schedule a consultation.

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Is Invisalign a Treatment Alternative for Malocclusions?

A malocclusion is basically when teeth are not aligned properly. When teeth are not in alignment, the top and bottom teeth do not meet where they should to provide the optimum bite action. One ideal solution is Invisalign.

Invisalign is a teeth straightening method that brings a multitude of advantages. Invisalign can correct most dental malocclusions including cross bite, under bite, overbite, and unsightly gaps between teeth.

Invisalign is a series of clear, soft plastic aligners that gently shift the teeth to their correct position by updating the aligners every few weeks with the next in the series.

Invisalign is a teeth straightening method that brings a multitude of advantages.

If you are a candidate for Invisalign, the first step is to have x-rays, photographs and impressions made that will be sent to the Invisalign laboratory. Through the use of 3-D imagery, your Invisalign aligners are designed to work specifically for you.

Invisalign offers many benefits over traditional metal bands and brackets:

Since the aligners are made from plastic, they are transparent making them virtually undetectable.
The soft plastic aligners eliminate wires that can poke creating sores in the soft tissue in your mouth and gum tissue.
Invisalign aligners are removable … this allows you to keep all your favorite foods on the menu. Nutritious fruits and vegetables that can be difficult to eat with traditional braces are back on the table.
Excellent daily oral hygiene maintenance of brushing and flossing are simplified as they can be done without braces in place. With traditional braces, flossing can be difficult and time consuming. Consequently many wearers will skip this step which can contribute to dental decay and periodontal problems.
It is important to keep the aligners in place a minimum of twenty to twenty-two hours per day to achieve the desired results in the prescribed time frame. For most adults, this is six months to two years. Younger Invisalign patients can expect the time frame to match that of wearing traditional braces.

Being able to remove the aligners also makes it easier for both the dentist and the patient to monitor the progress being made. As you move forward with each new aligner, you know you are one step closer to perfectly aligned teeth, and the beautiful smile that comes with them.

To learn more about this innovative orthodontic treatment option, call Active Dental, serving Irving TX, and schedule your consultation.
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