Dear Dr. Hall,
I am 27 years old in the middle of two root canals. The first one was a tooth whose white filling had begun to fail. The second was a crown placed a year and half ago that started to become sensitive to temperature and could not be used to chew with. I have become very worried about the health of my teeth. I have quite a few old (ten years or more) silver filings in the back of my mouth. These two root canals had fillings that were very close to the root of the tooth. I am also a stress grinder which has led to the cracking of at least two teeth. It seems like all my teeth hurt at this moment. Especially the canine on the side of my first root canal treatment. What can I do about the future of my teeth? I don’t want a bridge or implant so young. I brush and floss everyday, sometimes three times a day.
– Janie from New Hampshire
I can relate to your experiences. In my late forties, I got my first toothache. It surprised me, because as a dentist, I have taken very good care of my teeth and have sought out the best care I could get from the best dentists. While I had a fair amount of decay in my young adult years, I hadn’t had dental problems for quite some time. The toothache came because I got little cracks in my teeth from the old fillings. Over the next ten years I ended up needing root canal treatments in most of my molars, and all of my molars now have crowns on them.
Still, I don’t have any serious worries about losing my teeth or needing bridgework or implants. Root canal treatments, once they are successful, last for a lifetime. And if crowns are done well and are well cared for, they will last 20, 30, maybe 40 years.
Your problems are not the usual but are not uncommon either. After a tooth has been worked on several times, it is easy for it to develop sensitivity. And grinding your teeth puts a lot of stress on them.
My advice is to be sure you get good dental care. Don’t look for cheap care. Cheap care ends up being very expensive in the long run. Look for a quality dentist who is trustworthy and stays abreast of the latest techniques. Then, if you trust this dentist, stay regular with your checkups and do what the dentist recommends. Follow through with your home care. And to keep tooth decay down, avoid frequent snacking. Most people, and even some dentists, don’t realize how much damage frequent snacking during the day does to your teeth.
For your grinding (dentists call it bruxism), a nightguard can do wonders to provide considerable protection to your teeth.
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