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Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know
From your San Marcos Dentistry Clinic

Root canal treatment has developed a widely negative reputation causing it to be one of the more intimidating procedures commonly performed. While hearing the phrase “root canal” is enough to make many people shudder, in reality, patients often compare it to be as mild as getting a filling. Knowing the facts about a root canal procedure and knowing the signs of when you might need one should help ease any tension you might feel toward it!

What is a Root Canal?

While many people refer to a “root canal” as a procedure, this is not the case. The root canal is a part of your tooth that is made up of nerves and vessels that run from the very bottom of the tooth’s root (deep inside your gums) to the pulp of your tooth. The pulp is the area underneath the protective enamel covering of your tooth that houses all of the soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Root canal treatment is the process that is needed when an infection starts to develop within that pulp chamber, in the canal, or when an abscess forms underneath the root of the tooth. The root canal procedure is thought to be an uncomfortable one, but in reality, root canal treatment will actually relieve the patient of ongoing discomfort.

How do I Know if I Need a Root Canal Procedure?

There are a lot of different things that can cause infection on the pulp chamber or root canal of the tooth, and it can be difficult to know the original source of the problem. More importantly, knowing the signs of the problem can help you avoid increased discomfort and ongoing complications by getting yourself to the dentist when you start to notice them. A few symptoms and signs that you have an infection and might need root canal treatment include:

  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Swelling in your gums
  • Gum tenderness
  • Ongoing toothache when chewing
  • Discoloration of your tooth or gums
  • Pimples on your gums
  • A chipped tooth

What Happens During the Procedure?

During root canal treatment, the patient will typically be under local anesthesia. Then, in order to remove the infected tissue, an access hole is opened into the pulp chamber down to the root of the tooth (through the canal of the root). Next, the dentist will use a file to scrub the access hole free of any remaining tissues, removing any infection or diseased pulp, flushing away any debris with sterile liquids. After everything is removed, the dentist will then fill the canal completely and then seal the access hole like a typical filling. Then a crown may be needed to protect the remaining tooth structure and return function of the tooth.

What is the Alternative to a Root Canal?

If an infection has gone too far, it is possible that your only option will be to get the tooth extracted (remove the tooth entirely). While this might sound easier, the biggest benefit of getting root canal treatment instead of a tooth extracted is that you get to keep your real tooth. If you get a tooth removed, then you will need to have a fake tooth implanted in order to keep your teeth in place and retain your chewing abilities, but this option should only be a last resort. Getting root canal treatment is the best option if possible and will get rid of discomfort while keeping your natural teeth in place!

Experiencing discomfort when eating or noticing frequent toothaches? Contact Carothers Family Dentist Office in San Marcos TX to get more information.

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Fluoride toothpaste recommended by San Marcos dentists

Why Dentists Recommend Fluoride Toothpaste
Advice from Carothers San Marcos Dental Practice

The last several years have seen a lot of shifts in the quality of consumer products. With the rise of available information, people are paying more and more attention to the quality of the foods they consume and products they buy. While you are starting to see a rise in easily accessible organic foods, even the products in the toiletry section of the store are starting to have words like “natural” and “organic” more regularly on the shelf as well. This shift has caused some confusion about the role of fluoride in oral health. We’re here to look at why fluoride is still highly recommended today.

Fluoride is Natural

If going natural is an important part of your lifestyle, then you are actually still in luck! Fluoride is a natural ionic compound that is found mostly in phosphate rocks. When there isn’t the right amount of fluoride in our water sources to protect our teeth, fluoride is extracted from phosphate rocks, liquefied, and then added to the water for everyone to benefit from. This is why every toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance has fluoride in it. So, while the word “additive” might make you feel on edge, remember that fluoride is a natural compound that has increasingly improved oral hygiene over the last several decades, and you only have to benefit from it!

The Introduction of Fluoride

Before fluoride was added to community water supplies in the mid 1940’s, kids and adults suffered from three times the amount of cavities, resulting in greater dental problems down the road. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers the addition of fluoride into community water as one of the top 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century.

Prevents Cavities and Decay

Because the food you eat causes bacteria to develop in your mouth that breaks down the protective layer on your teeth (the enamel), cavities begin to form on and in between your teeth. When you brush with fluoride toothpaste, you are reinforcing the natural protective layer on your teeth. As fluoride bonds together with your enamel, your teeth become much more resilient to the bacteria and acids that form in your mouth that destroy them. In fact, brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that does not have any fluoride does almost nothing in the prevention of cavities and tooth decay. It is possible that fluoride free toothpaste might assist in fresher breath, but it does very little in the prevention of tooth decay.

Helps Prevent Other Illnesses

Poor oral hygiene is now being linked to a wide range of other illnesses, so brushing with fluoride toothpaste might be saving you from more than just a couple of cavities! Infections of the bones supporting the teeth, along with dental abscesses, can be caused by bacteria in your teeth and gums. Some studies are also linking poor oral health to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Bleeding gums from untreated gingivitis can cause an infection in your bloodstream as well. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is a simple and cost efficient solution that can help you stay healthy in more ways than one!

Speak with a San Marcos TX Dentist

Not sure if you’re using the right type of toothpaste for your teeth? Contact Carothers Family Dental to make an appointment and start improving your oral health.

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What Happens During A Teeth Cleaning:
What to Expect at Your San Marcos Family Dentistry

Regular visits to your dentist are one of the best ways to prevent major dental health issues. However, only making time for an annual visit to your dentist may not be enough. While brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing is a huge part of healthy oral care, you cannot replace the quality of a professional teeth cleaning and examination. If you have ever wondered what the difference is between brushing your teeth at home and having your teeth cleaned by a trained dental hygienist, consider the following.

Examination

Unless you have a trained eye with experience in catching early signs of gum disease, you really can’t replace the first step of a teeth cleaning on your own. Using various tools and mirrors, your dentist will be able to examine the state of your teeth and gums and catch any problem areas that you might have. Periodic exams may include x-rays of your mouth and jaw region, which can also help view potential issues that you wouldn’t be able to see yourself. Catching the early signs of gingivitis or other problems could end up saving you a lot of pain and money for treatment down the road.

Removing Calculus

When you brush your teeth at home, the main goal is to clean off any plaque that has gathered on your teeth. The same goes for flossing. However, plaque that gets left behind begins to harden and creates dental calculus. Calculus can’t be removed by brushing at home, so a hygienist will use special tools to remove any evidence of it off of your teeth, even in those hard to reach places like below the gumline! This not only helps your teeth appear whiter, but it also allows brushing at home to more effectively clean your teeth.

Thorough Cleaning

After removing any calculus, your dental hygienist will then use a high powered electric brush to thoroughly clean each individual tooth and remove any leftover calculus residue. The toothpaste that is often used has a slightly gritty consistency, which allows for a gentle scrub and polish of your teeth.

Professional Flossing

While daily flossing is an important step in your at-home oral care and plaque buildup prevention, many Americans don’t do so consistently, making it even more important to have a dental hygienist clean your teeth. Even if you do floss regularly, having it done by a professional takes your oral health to the next level.

Fluoride Treatment

The use of fluoride in toothpaste and community water has reduced cavities and gum disease drastically over the last 60 years. Working like a set of armor, fluoride bonds to your enamel, protecting your teeth from bacteria. Fluoride treatment by a dental hygienist helps give your oral health that extra defense and plays a big part in preventing decay.

Professional Teeth Cleaning in San Marcos

While doing your part to take care of your teeth and gums is important, you can’t replace a quality, professional cleaning. If you haven’t had your teeth cleaned lately, make an appointment! You can sit back, relax, and let a professional dental hygienist do the heavy lifting in making sure your teeth and gums get the best care possible. Call Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos family dentistry, at 512-396-4288 to learn more today.

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Periodontal Disease: What It Is & How to Prevent It
Dentistry Tips from your San Marcos TX Dentist Office

Periodontal disease affects millions of Americans, many of whom are not even aware of its presence. Becoming aware of it early is the best way to prevent as much damage as possible to your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease means “disease around the teeth,” and this is exactly what it is, plain and simple. This condition usually starts as inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. With proper care, gingivitis can be reversed. Without proper care, periodontal disease will develop, which can spread to other ligaments and areas that keep your teeth in place. If ignored, periodontal disease can lead to the permanent loss of your teeth due to loss of the supporting structures of your teeth: bone and tissue attachment.

Causes

One common cause of periodontal disease is plaque. Plaque is caused by bacteria, mainly from leftover food. You can feel this developing as a sticky substance that appears over your teeth. In an effort to rid your mouth of the germs, your body attacks the gums, causing them to become inflamed. As your mouth produces more and more substance to fight it, if left unchecked, your teeth end up with layers of plaque hardening into calculus, which works its way up to your gum line, infecting the whole structure.

Plaque is not difficult to deal with in the beginning stages of the buildup. If you cannot get everything by properly brushing and flossing your teeth, your dental hygienist will be able to remove these hardened bacteria from your teeth for you in a regular teeth cleaning. However, as more and more layers build up on your teeth, the plaque hardens into a substance called calculus, which is very hard and is much more difficult to treat. Avoid this problem by having your teeth regularly cleaned by a dental hygienist in conjunction with your semi-annual dental checkup.

Other Factors

While plaque buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease, there are other causes to this gum infection aside from poor dental care over time, such as those listed below:

  • Some people are more genetically inclined to develop periodontal disease, though consistent oral care can still prevent this from happening.
  • High stress is a huge factor in periodontal disease because stress weakens your body’s immune system, limiting its ability to fight off the infection in your gums (as well as other forms of illnesses).
  • Some medications, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medication, cause dry mouth, which can also lead to periodontal disease. Your mouth’s natural saliva production helps constantly wash away food products throughout the day, so without it, you have little defense against infection. This is one reason why it is common for those who struggle with high blood pressure and heart conditions to also have dental issues as well.
  • One of the most common external factors that causes periodontal disease is smoking and the use of other tobacco products. Smokers tend to develop heavier layers of plaque on their teeth, causing their periodontal disease to be much harder to treat. The best treatment for this is to stop using tobacco products altogether.

The best way to avoid periodontal disease, whether you are genetically predisposed or not, is to maintain a proper oral care routine, such as brushing and flossing twice a day. Ask your dentist for the best brushing and flossing techniques to ensure you are effective in your home oral care. Having consistently scheduled appointments with your dentist is your best bet to avoid the development of an issue that will be more extensive and costly to treat. If you haven’t made it in for a cleaning recently (in over 6 months) make an appointment so that you can rest assured that you are doing everything to maintain a healthy set of teeth and gums!

Do you have concerns about the health of your teeth or gums?
Contact Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos family dental office, for more information at 512-396-4288.

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Oral Cancer Screenings
From Our Dental Office in San Marcos, TX

Your oral health is about more than just your teeth. Your dental professional takes care of your teeth, the bones of your jaw, your gums, and other oral tissues. One important issue that dentists look for during your checkups is signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer screening should be completed regularly to ensure that any symptoms are noticed immediately.

What is Oral Cancer?

There are many types of oral cancers that can affect various areas of your mouth. Some develop on the tissue inside your mouth, others may develop on the lips, and some appear on salivary glands. These types of oral cancer can range from benign tumors to various carcinomas. Some types of these oral afflictions can be removed with surgery, while others will need some form of chemical or drug therapy to treat. Regardless of the type of cancer, it’s best if the symptoms are caught as early as possible so that treatment can be provided early on.

How Does My Dentist Perform an Oral Cancer Screening?

Many dentists perform a basic oral cancer screening at dental checkups, so you’ve probably had one before even if you didn’t realize it at the time. To perform an oral cancer screening, a dental professional will thoroughly examine your lips, tongue, gums, the roof of your mouth, and other tissue inside your mouth visually and sometimes by gently probing the areas.

There are different levels of screening for oral cancer. At a regular dental checkup your dentist will likely perform a basic exam such as that described above by visually inspected the areas of your mouth and throat. If anything seems unusual to your dentist, he or she may perform additional examinations. This might include simply rinsing your mouth with a dye that will make it easier to notice unusual cells, or in some cases your dentist may suggest a biopsy.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can be preceded by some symptoms that are noticeable to you but which you may not think to mention to your dentist. These can include jaw pain or difficulty moving your jaw, pain in your tongue or difficulty moving it, white or red patches on the tissue inside your mouth or on your tongue, difficulty or pain swallowing, a lump in your mouth, or other discomfort in or around your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms or something that doesn’t seem right, it’s important to point them out to your dentist during your checkup or to a doctor.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

While oral cancer can occur in anyone, there are some steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing it. Many of these are habits already promoted for healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding the use of tobacco products, protecting the skin on your lips from getting too much sun exposure by wearing lip products with sun protection, and limiting your alcohol intake. Additionally, if you’ve ever developed oral cancer and had it removed or treated, you should schedule regular checkups to ensure it doesn’t return.

Oral cancer can affect anyone, and the best way to avoid it is prevention and regular checkups with your local dentist. For information about oral cancer, or to schedule an appointment, contact Carothers Family Dental.

Our dentists in San Marcos TX work around the clock to help fix your dental emergencies as fast as possible.
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green graphic image dental laser

The Use of Lasers in Dental Treatments
From our Dentists in San Marcos, Texas

As technology advances, the tools and equipment used in dental procedures do as well. Many patients are familiar with examinations including x-rays and other dental tools. However, one piece of technology now used in dentistry isn’t nearly as well known: dental lasers. The use of lasers in dentistry is increasing for many reasons, including operational accuracy, protection from infection, quicker healing times, and more.

What are Dental Lasers?

“Laser” is actually an acronym meaning “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” There are many different types of lasers available, and those used in dentistry are chosen carefully to ensure they are most effective for the procedures they’ll be used in. Additionally, dentists always chose the safest lasers for dental procedures.

How Safe are Dental Lasers?

Having dental lasers used in an oral procedure may be new for some patients and may cause concern. However, the type of lasers used in dental work are not only safe when handled by a trained dental professional, but can also be safer than traditional dental tools in some ways. To name only one example, the light beam created by a laser can sterilize the affected area and reduce the presence of bacteria, minimizing the risk of infection.

What are the Benefits of Dental Laser Treatments?

Treatments that utilize dental lasers have a variety of benefits. As mentioned above, using lasers in dental procedures can reduce bacteria at the surgical site. In addition to this, dental lasers can often minimize discomfort for patients during and after the procedure as well. Lasers cause minimal tissue damage compared to some other methods. This can lead to faster healing time and even decreased need for anesthesia and sutures.

What are Some Uses of Dental Lasers?

Lasers can be used in many types of dental procedures, from whitening treatments to oral surgeries. They can also be used for in treatments like these:

In Gum Treatments

Dental lasers can be used in a variety of gum treatments, such as reshaping gum tissue during certain procedures. In the case of some oral infections, dental lasers may also be used by your dentist to remove inflamed gum tissue.

On Teeth

Lasers are used less often directly on teeth, but can still be helpful in that area. Dentists can use lasers to remove tiny amounts of enamel from teeth when necessary. Some whitening treatments can also be accelerated when using lasers.

Preparation for Other Oral Procedures

In addition to those mentioned above, there are several oral procedures for which dental lasers can help prepare teeth and tissue. For crown lengthening, lasers can be used to reshape gum tissue and even bone if necessary. They can also be used in preparation for composite bonding by preparing the tooth enamel. Dental lasers can even be used to help repair some worn down fillings.

The Importance of Prevention

While dental laser technology is an exciting advancement in oral treatments, the best way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy is prevention. Take good care of your teeth daily by brushing and flossing regularly. Remember to visit your dentist for regular dental checkups and whenever you experience pain or another dental problem.


Our Dental Office in San Marcos TX

Curious about the use of dental lasers in today’s oral treatments? Contact Carothers Family Dental, a dental office in San Marcos TX , for more information about cosmetic dentistry or to schedule an appointment.

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