When acid producing bacteria build up on your teeth, trouble is sure to ensue. Cavities are the bane of a dentist’s existence. Without them, we would most likely be out of the job, living on the streets, injecting ourselves with the left over novocaine.
However, even the miracle chemical Fluoride has far from eliminated cavities. So, what happens when the acid erodes your teeth and forms a hole, or cavity?
Well, the bacteria must be removed, and that is accomplished by the dreaded drills that strike fear into the eyes of most dentist-goers. We drill out the cavities in different ways, depending on where they are. Most cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of back molars. Other usual suspects though are between the back and front teeth.
Once all of the tooth decay is drilled and scooped out of the tooth, a filling material is put in the hole in order to keep the tooth from getting recurrent (new) decay in the area.
“Silver fillings contain mercury which can cause serious birth defects and life-threatening illnesses,” some people say. That is completely 100% false and there has been zero evidence to show it it be true. The amount of mercury in amalgam (silver) fillings is minuscule, and it is in a form that is harmless to humans. Amalgam fillings last a long time, and have a great success rate, however in today’s image conscious society, who wants metal in their mouth?
Composite fillings are the way of the future. Tooth-colored composites can be matched exactly to a person’s natural tooth color, making them invisible to the untrained eye. Although they tend not to last as long as silver fillings, and can leak if not inserted properly, advances in composite technology show that one day they will make amalgam obsolete.
So, composite or amalgam is packed into the drilled out hole in your tooth, and then shaved down to resemble the original tooth.
All said and done, and expert like Dr. Linhart can perform an average filling anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on its size. For a newcomer like myself, a 2 hour filling gives me pride.
Have any questions about fillings? Let me know in the comments.
S. mutans attach to the surface of the tooth. When fermentable carbohydrates, like soda, candy, etc., are introduced into the mouth, S. mutans processes them and make acid.
This acid is what eats away at the surface of the teeth, causing dental decay.
Fluoride, regular cleanings, and sealants are some ways to keep your teeth safe from S. mutans and other cavity forming bacteria.
However once the area is cavitated (there is a hole) you need to have it drilled out and filled by a professional like Dr. Linhart, or myself.
What you fill the cavity preparation with, tooth-colored composite or silver amalgam, is a story for another day…
Unless your dentist has a numbing personality, dentistry is best performed under controlled local anesthesia.
Cocaine was one of the first effective local anesthetics used in dentistry, then came the all too popular novocaine, and today, lidocaine is the most commonly used dental anesthetic (although it is usually still referred to as novocaine by the layman).
These local anesthetics can be administered with epinephrine, to produce a longer effect, or without epinephrine, in patients with significant heart conditions or other medical issues.
Painless dentistry should be synonymous with dentistry in general, however many dentists do not provide the proper dose or location of local anesthetic. In Dr. Linhart’s office, they use a device called The Wand, which controls the rate of injection, thereby reducing the pain of injection. I have seen Dr. Linhart perform hundreds of procedures and never have I seen a patient in pain. By giving injections in the proper location, with the correct technique, and getting patient feedback on their pain state, Dr. Linhart is able to eliminate pain from dentistry.
In my studies in dental school, I have learned how to inject and where to inject local anesthesia, but not until I have done in hundreds of times do I expect to become skilled enough to call myself a completely painful dentist, like my dad, Dr. Linhart, truly is.
My father, Dr. Jan Linhart, has now been practicing dentistry for 30 years. I myself, though, have only been practicing for about a month at NYU dental school!
The other day I saw a pretty young woman at the school for the first time. She had not been to the dentist in well over a year, and had some serious issues. One of her molars, which had previously been crowned (capped), had just fallen out a week prior to her visit. Why didn’t she come in earlier? Why did an otherwise health conscious woman neglect her mouth?
This brings me to the real question, why do people NOT go to the dentist? This usually stems down to three reasons:
Money is a factor that influences most of our lives. The dentist costs a lot of money. Why? Because becoming a dentist, the supplies needed to practice dentistry , and the time needed to perform dental procedures, are very expensive. So many people do not go to the dentist because they would rather spend their money on other things. At NYU dental, we charge less than half of what most practitioners in New York cost. This low cost is compensated for by the amount of time it takes for the dental work to be done. Time is another reason why people don’t go to the dentist.
Time is Valuable
Time is money, and in NYC, time is precious. My dad is a master at performing the most intricate dental procedures in the shortest amount of time. At NYU, it takes us at least twice as long as it takes Dr. Linhart.
Fear is another key reason people avoid the dentist. According to my dad, “most patients’ fear is derived from a bad childhood experience with the dentist.” Today, advances in anesthetics, lasers, and other developments allow us dentist to be as painless as possible, while still ensuring quality care.
So money, time, and fear are three reasons why people do not go to the dentist. But back to the original question, Why go to the dentist?
Regular visits to the dentist will keep your mouth healthy and clean. At Dr. Linhart’s office, 4 month recall for cleaning is the usual. This will ensure that your mouth stays cavity free. This healthy state of your mouth will keep it pain free, keep visits (time consumption) to a minimum, and keep costs low. So visit your dentist often!
On this blog, I am going to talk about all sorts of interesting things that I have learned in dental school, from my dad, and more.
I am also here to answer any questions you may have about dental work , the profession, or my dad’s practice!
I should have my first article up in the next couple of days, stay tuned…