Don't let coronavirus fears prevent dental attention

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In these uncertain times, having a tooth problem can be especially challenging. Not only does this problem demand immediate attention, but also you must remain safe - and your situation might call for economy due to stretched finances.

Most retail and medical establishments have made noticeable changes to protect their employees as well as their clients. In a relatively short period of time, we are all being conditioned to accept these changes as now being commonplace. It is left up to us to trust our gut in any situation where we can be at risk.

Assuming that overcoming this challenge has been accomplished, the tooth problem can now be addressed. In the long run, definitive and lasting treatment is always less expensive than multiple intermediate provisional fixes. However, this may be the only thing possible in certain situations.

Almost any situation that is presented in the oral cavity has a "holding pattern" solution when called for. Let us assume it is a situation where a single tooth with a toothache needs to be dealt with. Factors such as location of the tooth, age of the patient, amount and type of tooth destruction will determine whether it is advisable to treat and "save" the tooth or remove it to relieve the pain.

Toothaches are usually a result of nerve damage within the tooth. The nerve must be removed whether the tooth remains or is extracted.

If a tooth is to be saved, a root canal is often included in the treatment. A short-term therapy might be a pulpotomy. This is an emergency procedure where the nerve is medicated to relieve the pain. This will postpone for a while the need to complete the root canal therapy.

If a tooth is to be removed, generally an implant is indicated as the best replacement solution. The main concerns in postponing the replacement are cosmetics, function and teeth shifting.

There are provisional appliances that can be fabricated to temporarily address these concerns until an implant can be placed. Some have teeth and are removable, and some are fixed, such as space maintainers.

These fixed solutions have a band that is placed on a tooth adjacent to the space created with a wire that extends across the space touching the other tooth on the opposite side of the space. This is used primarily to hold space in the posterior region only.

These provisional solutions can postpone the need for definitive treatment for a few months as needed. But don't postpone seeking medical or dental health due to fears of the times.

We are at your service and ready to respond.

James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.

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