Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Recently I had a swollen gland in my neck. I went to see my medical doctor, and after a number of x-rays she thought perhaps it was my teeth. I went to the dentist; he x-rayed and found an abscessed tooth. He gave me the alternative of a root canal or an extraction. He was puzzled as he said the tooth had absolutely no decay and I have no filling in the particular tooth. Is a root canal the only way of saving an abscessed tooth? Can't medication eliminate an abscess? Hope you can give me some information on this.

A. Since your tooth is the source of the infection, root canal treatment is necessary to remove the bacteria inside your tooth which is causing the infection. You may have found that certain treatments such as taking antibiotics have reduced the swelling or pain you are experiencing. Unfortunately, this only works temporarily until the source of the abscess can be removed. Also, though cavities are the most common reason for abscesses, other causes include things such as a fracture in your tooth or a history of trauma to the tooth. I hope this answers your questions and I wish you good luck with your treatment.

Q. How can I stop infection in my gums that lead to abscess? I can not afford to have all of my teeth replaced. I was told to get a root canal but I don't see how that will stop the infection.

A. Dental abscesses are commonly diagnosed as one of two types: dental abscesses (infection in the tooth) or periodontal abscesses (infection in the gums). Often, the 2 are very similar in appearance since both create swelling and pain in the gums. If you have a dental abscess, the tooth which is causing the infection is no longer alive, so you will feel no pain or swelling in the tooth, only in the gums around it. The infection is usually centered at the tip of the root of the tooth and a root canal is necessary to remove the source of the infection. Periodontal abscesses are infections which develop in the gums around teeth, often in teeth which have bone loss around them and deep pockets of gum which are difficult to clean. To remove this type of infection, routine deep cleanings and perhaps gum surgery to reduce the pocket will be necessary. If the tooth has had extensive bone loss to the point where it is very loose, sometimes it is necessary to extract the tooth, though I do not believe that is necessary in your case. Please do not hesitate to ask your dentist why he/she believes your tooth needs a root canal. If tests show that your tooth is no longer vital and an x-ray shows the source of infection is a particular tooth, then root canal therapy should eliminate your infection! If you have a periodontal abscess, it will be important for you to have a thorough dental cleaning and to follow up at home with excellent oral hygiene and perhaps a higher strength mouth rinse which your dentist can prescribe.

Q. I have a gap between my front teeth, and it makes me uncomfortable to smile openly. Can it be closed by using the bridge technique?

A. Depending on the size of the gap (or 'diastema') between your teeth, there are a number of treatment options for you. Certainly, the teeth may be crowned as you say, but such treatment is usually reserved for the more extreme circumstances. Usually, laminate veneer facings may be placed on the front of the teeth OR simple bonded fillings can be used to fill in the space... Your dentist should be well versed in all of these procedures and be able to help you to make the right choice for you. Good luck!

Q. My question is what is "scaling" or "scaling" my dentist seems to recommend this once a year. My concern is the dentist is doing this expensive procedure simply for the monetary benefits as he seems to also want to take a few x-rays to make sure I have no cavities. (The x-rays on file were only a year old.)

A. Scaling is also often known as a 'deep cleaning', and consists of cleaning roots of teeth and pockets of gums around teeth. Scaling is often completed to treat various stages of periodontal disease or gingivitis and is sometimes the only way to properly clean teeth. When these pockets of gums get too large, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to clean them at home, so additional work is necessary at the dental office, and sometimes more frequent visits. Please rest assured that scalings are a VERY common dental procedure. As a dentist, I find it necessary to provide such treatment on a daily basis! Also, it is common practice to take x-rays to look for cavities once per year. Cavities can begin to form in only one month's time, let alone a year

If you have any other questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to call us at 416-743-2273.