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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults


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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Once my children were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to care of me. One of the first things I did was make an appointment with the dentist. I quickly discovered that years of not keeping up with my own dental care had taken a heavy toll on my teeth. Whereas I thought my teeth were just fine, the dentist pointed out several problems that were going to require a lot of work. When talking to friends, I found out that many of them were in the same boat. This blog is for people like me who just did not have time to keep up with their own dental care.

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Discolored Gum Tissue: Do You Need Root Canal Surgery Soon?

If the gum tissue around one of your teeth suddenly looks dark and infected, you could need root canal surgery soon. Root canal surgery repairs the soft tissues inside teeth. If completed early on, root canal surgery can prevent the loss of your tooth. Learn how the infection inside your tooth can cause discoloration in your gums and how root canal surgery can help you below.

Why Are Your Gums Discolored?

When the soft tissues (or pulp) inside your teeth become infected with bacteria, dentists call it pulpitis. Pulpitis can be mild enough to treat with antibiotics and pain medications, or the infection can be severe enough to cause permanent tooth and pulp damage. Mild and severe pulpitis can cause discoloration to form in the gum tissue surrounding your tooth.

Your gums should protect the pulp tissues inside your tooth from bacteria and other mouth germs. If your tooth suffers from trauma, decay, or something else that weakens it, germs can spread throughout the tooth as well as into the gum tissue surrounding it. The infection can eventually darken or discolor your gums. 

Root canal surgery can remove the infection from inside your tooth as well as the discoloration from your gums.

What Happens During Your Tooth Surgery?

In order for a dentist to determine the state of your pulpitis, they'll need to take internal pictures (or X-rays) of your tooth. If the infection appears mild, a dentist will clean and fill your tooth. If the infection destroyed the pulp tissues in your tooth, root canal surgery is the best solution for you.

Root canal surgery generally occurs in steps. During the first step of the surgery, a dentist will apply a numbing agent to the gum tissue surrounding your tooth. Most dental providers use a local anesthetic or a topical medication to numb the gums. The type of anesthetic you need for your surgery may depend on several factors, such as the severity of your pulpitis and the location of your tooth. For example, if your pulpitis is close to large nerves, you may need a combination of numbing medications to complete your surgery.

After a dentist numbs your gums, they'll place a protective mask called a dental dam around your tooth. The dam keeps the bacteria inside your infected tooth from invading the healthier teeth inside your mouth. 

A dentist will need to place a tiny hole inside the infected tooth to reach the pulp tissues inside it. A dentist can use the small hole to clean, fill, and cap your tooth. If needed, a provider will treat your discolored gums. However, your gums should be fine after surgery.

If you think you need root canal surgery to save your tooth, contact a dentist today.