My Blog

Posts for: November, 2017

By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
November 27, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

OK, you admit it. You should be able to chew a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without pain. You think one of your teeth may be cracked root canalor lost one of its many fillings. Is it time for root canal therapy from your Gig Harbor, WA dentist, Dr. Peter Elton or Dr. Douglas Clarke at Cedarbrook Dental?

A common but important procedure

That's what root canal therapy is. Because it is so common (41,000 per day in the US alone, says the American Association of Endodontists), both patients and dentists may take it for granted. However, this reliable restoration works exceptionally well to save teeth compromised by infection, oral trauma, deep decay and fracture. Dr. Elton or Dr. Clarke actually remove the pulp from deep inside the tooth's canals, seal it and crown it, preserving it for years of service.

What tells the Gig Harbor, WA, dentist you need root canal therapy? X-rays, visual inspection and symptoms such as the following are diagnostic:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Drainage
  • Persistent bad breath not relieved with mouth rinse
  • A pimple on the gums
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Pain when chewing
  • Dental sensitivity to sugar, cold or heat

Also, some deeply damaged teeth are discolored or have a visible crack.

How it works

To begin root canal therapy, your dentist will numb the tooth and then access its interior chambers, or root canals, with a high speed drill. He'll carefully remove the pulp (which is highly vascular and innervated) with several small metal files. He'll also instill antibiotics and seal each root canal with gutta-percha, a biocompatible and inert putty. Finally, the dentist covers the tooth with a temporary crown.

After healing at home, you'll return to Cedarbrook Dental for removal of the temporary restoration and placement of a porcelain crown. Dr. Clarke and Dr. Elton are confident in root canal procedures and see their patients keep their treated teeth indefinitely, avoiding costly tooth replacement and deleterious effects gaps have on appearance, tooth alignment, jaw bone and gum tissue density and oral function.

Don't delay

Come on into Cedarbrook Dental, and get that tooth evaluated. If your Gig Harbor, WA, dentist advises root canal therapy, rest assured you'll get precise, comfortable and kindly care. Contact the office team for an appointment: (253) 851-1190.


By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
November 23, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
JimmyFallonCanrsquotCatchaBreak-ExceptinHisTooth

Want to know the exact wrong way to pry open a stubborn lid? Just ask Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC-TV’s popular “Tonight Show.” When the 40-year-old funnyman had trouble opening a tube of scar tissue repair gel with his hands, he decided to try using his teeth.

What happened next wasn’t funny: Attempting to remove the cap, Fallon chipped his front tooth, adding another medical problem to the serious finger injury he suffered a few weeks before (the same wound he was trying to take care of with the gel). If there’s a moral to this story, it might be this: Use the right tool for the job… and that tool isn’t your teeth!

Yet Fallon is hardly alone in his dilemma. According to the American Association of Endodontists, chipped teeth account for the majority of dental injuries. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a number of great ways to restore damaged teeth.

If the chip is relatively small, it’s often possible to fix it with cosmetic bonding. In this procedure, tough, natural-looking resin is used to fill in the part of the tooth that has been lost. Built up layer by layer, the composite resin is cured with a special light until it’s hard, shiny… and difficult to tell from your natural teeth. Best of all, cosmetic bonding can often be done in one office visit, with little or no discomfort. It can last for up to ten years, so it’s great for kids who may be getting more permanent repairs later.

For larger chips or cracks, veneers or crowns may be suggested. Veneers are wafer-thin porcelain coverings that go over the entire front surface of one or more teeth. They can be used to repair minor to moderate defects, such as chips, discolorations, or spacing irregularities. They can also give you the “Hollywood white” smile you’ve seen on many celebrities.

Veneers are generally custom-made in a lab, and require more than one office visit. Because a small amount of tooth structure must be removed in order to put them in place, veneers are considered an irreversible treatment. But durable and long-lasting veneers are the restorations of choice for many people.

Crowns (also called caps) are used when even more of the tooth structure is missing. They can replace the entire visible part of the tooth, as long as the tooth’s roots remain viable. Crowns, like veneers, are custom-fabricated to match your teeth in size, shape and color; they are generally made in a dental lab and require more than one office visit. However, teeth restored with crowns function well, look natural, and can last for many years.

So what happened to Jimmy Fallon? We aren’t sure which restoration he received… but we do know that he was back on TV the same night, flashing a big smile.

If you would like more information about tooth restorations, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “Artistic Repair Of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”


By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
November 08, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache  
WhattoDoAboutYourChildsToothacheBeforeSeeingtheDentist

If your child begins complaining of tooth pain without an accompanying fever or facial swelling, it’s likely not an emergency. Still, you should have us check it—and the sooner the better if the pain persists or keeps your child up at night. There are a number of possible causes, any of which if untreated could be detrimental to their dental health.

Before coming in, though, you can do a cursory check of your child’s mouth to see if you notice any abnormalities. The most common cause for a toothache is tooth decay, which you might be able to see evidence of in the form of cavities or brown spots on the tooth’s biting surfaces. If you notice swollen or reddened gums around a tooth, this could be a possible sign of a localized area of infection known as an abscess. You should also ask your child if they fell or were hit in the mouth and look for any signs of an injury.

If you don’t see anything unusual, there may be another cause—stuck food like popcorn or candy lodged and exerting painful pressure on the gum tissue or tooth. You may be able to intervene in this case: gently floss around the affected tooth to try to dislodge any food particles. The pain may ease if you’re able to remove any. Even so, if you see abnormalities in the mouth or the pain doesn’t subside, you should definitely plan to come in for an examination.

In the meantime, you can help ease discomfort with a child-appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. An ice pack against the outside jaw may also help, but be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin. And under no circumstances rub aspirin or other painkiller directly on the gums—like ice, these products can burn the skin. If these efforts don’t help you should try to see us the same day or first thing the next morning for advanced treatment.

The main thing is not to panic. Knowing what to look for and when to see us will help ensure your child’s tooth pain will be cared for promptly.

If you would like more information on handling dental issues with your child, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child’s Toothache.”