Posts for: May, 2015
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”
If you fear a visit to the dentist, you are not alone. Studies have shown that up to 75% of people surveyed have some fear of dental visits, and 10 to 15% fear the dentist so much that they avoid any dental treatment. This can have serious repercussions, leading to toothaches, infections, and loss of teeth. Poor oral health can even negatively affect your general state of health.
Here's the good news. Even people who are the most afraid of the dentist can learn to reduce their fear and feel calm and safe during a dental visit.
Dental fears develop when people have bad dental experiences. For many, the problem is a sense of loss of control. Sometimes, fears are based on stories people have heard or even movies they have seen.
The feeling of being afraid reinforces your fear. If you experience the rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, tensed muscles, and other symptoms of fear while in the dentist chair, you are likely to remember these unpleasant feelings afterward and become even more fearful. In order to reverse this process, you need to begin to associate dental visits with good experiences and a sense of control. Here's how we can help you do this:
- Know that you are not alone and we are here to help you.
- Talk to us about your fears. We are sure to listen and not be judgmental. If you don't talk about it, you can't get over it.
- We will start by doing things that cause only mild or no anxiety. We want each visit to be a good experience, so you are able to leave our office with a feeling that it was okay, and you can do it again.
- Our goal is for you to overcome your fear. We will make this a priority and that priority is as important as “fixing your teeth.” We will be happy to talk about the time and fees associated with your treatment so that you can overcome your fear and gain a sense of control of the situation.
- It took a while for your fears to develop, so you should realize that it will also take a while to get over them. We will spend as much time as you need to get over your fears and will not rush you into doing anything for which you are not ready.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”