Dental Matters

Q I was advised by a dentist to do a cap over my root canal treated tooth. This was about a year ago. I have not done so till now. How does a cap help?

A A root canal treatment (RCT) is performed when the decay in a tooth reaches the pulp of the tooth and the tooth is infected. This is the only way to save the tooth at this stage. The other option is extraction of the tooth. When a RCT is performed, the dead and infected tissues are removed from inside the canals of the tooth; the canals are disinfected, shaped, and then filled with an inert material. This is a mummifying process and the tooth is completely dead with no blood or nerve supply. Due to this treatment, the tooth becomes brittle and also loses its ability to “feel”—which makes it easy to break if something hard is chewed on. A cap (crown) is made over this tooth to protect it from this breakage. You invest a lot of time and money to save the tooth by getting a RCT. If you don’t get a cap (crown) the tooth can easily break and all your investment would be lost. ?

Q I am 25 years old. Recently I noticed that I have some black spots on my lower back molars on both sided. I have no pain. Do I have to see a dentist?

A Black spots are indicative of dental decay (dental caries) in most cases. They can be painful, sensitive to hot, cold, sour or sweets or, symptomless. Some black/dark spots can also be “arrested caries” in which case the decay did start but stopped from becoming bigger at some stage. Therefore, it is a very good idea to see a dentist and get his/her opinion. And, in any case, it is a good idea to visit a dentist every 6 to 12 months. This way, the dentist will spot things before they become problematic which will help you maintain your oral hygiene.

Q I have a son who is 12 and a daughter who is 10. They both have badly aligned teeth. I had consulted a dentist a couple of years ago and was told that I needed to see a specialist who deals with braces. Then we moved to Kathmandu and I forgot all about it. Now, my children tell me that all their friends at school have braces and they too want it. Is their age right to get braces? And, how long will the treatment be? What will I have to do? And, will it be painful?

A Let me start with the age—ideally, we want the parents to seek help around the time when the child is eight years old. At this age, many different types of dental problems occur and some are easy to correct early. The ages of your children are okay for the treatment required. The only thing is, some corrections might take longer. Another thing is, you can get orthodontic treatment (braces) at any age.

The length of the treatment depends on the severity of the case. Orthodontic treatments usually take about 18 months to 24 months. Now, all you have to do is take your children to the dentist. They’ll ask you to get a few X-rays and make a model of your children’s teeth. They’ll take some photographs and then will come up with a customized treatment plan which will be discussed with you after which, the treatment will be started. Orthodontic treatment is a little painful in the beginning, but the children get used to it pretty soon.


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