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Dentist Blog

Posts for: April, 2018

By Sweet Tooth Dental
April 25, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

Signs of needing a root canal can vary greatly and may even take you by surprise. However, learning the early warning signs of teethroot canal decay can help you undergo treatment early, saving you from a toothache or worse. What are the signs that you may need a root canal? Find out more about the symptoms of teeth decay and what you can do to prevent them with Dr. Garrett Oka at Sweet Tooth Dental in Kailua Kona, HI.

Do I need a root canal? 
A root canal becomes necessary when the inner portion of the tooth which houses its soft tissues and nerves becomes infected or damaged. During a root canal, your dentist will remove the inner tissues from the tooth’s pulp chamber, clean the tooth and scrub its decay away, then fill the tooth using composite resin filling materials. You may need a root canal if you have a tooth with significant decay, such as one that produces a toothache. Your infected tooth may also be sensitive to hot and cold or feel pain when you bite down. Unexplained bad breath, a brown spot, or a hole in the tooth can indicate a cavity which may require a root canal. A damaged tooth which reveals the nerves inside can also benefit from root canal therapy.

Preventing Teeth Decay 
Preventing tooth decay is easy with a strong at-home oral care routine and help from your dentist. Brushing twice daily and flossing between each tooth once daily is enough to drastically reduce your chances of developing teeth decay and gum disease. These daily tasks coupled with routine examinations and cleanings with your dentist every six months will keep your smile clean and healthy for years to come.

What to Expect From Root Canal Therapy in Kailua Kona, HI
Though it tends to have a bad reputation, a root canal is a common procedure which normally lasts less than an hour. The procedure begins with your dentist administering a local anesthetic to ensure that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during your procedure. During the procedure itself, your dentist will use specialized tools to remove the inner contents of the tooth and scrub the inside of the tooth to ensure no infected tissues remains inside the tooth. Then, your dentist fills the tooth to restore its structure and, if necessary, places a dental crown to protect the tooth from further damage.

For more information on root canal or how it can benefit you and your smile, please contact Dr. Garrett Oka at Sweet Tooth Dental in Kailua Kona, HI. Call (808) 329-0889 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Oka today!


Your teen is about to embark on an orthodontic journey to a straighter, more attractive smile. But although you're excited about the outcome, you both may be steeling yourselves for a few years of "life with braces."

But maybe not—your teen may be able to take advantage of a different kind of corrective appliance: clear aligners. This 21st Century teeth movement method has a number of advantages over braces. For teens, though, there's one big one that could have a huge impact on their social life—clear aligners are nearly invisible to other people.

Clear aligners consist of a series of clear, removable, computer-generated trays based on photographs, models and x-rays of an individual patient's teeth and bite. Each of the trays is slightly different from the previous one in the series, and by wearing each one for about two weeks before moving on to the next, the aligners gradually move the teeth to the desired new positions.

Besides reducing embarrassment often associated with wearing metal braces, clear aligners have other benefits. Unlike braces, they can be removed for eating, easier oral hygiene or for rare special occasions (although for best effectiveness, they should be worn for 20 to 22 hours each day). Recent developments like added elements that help target certain teeth for movement or "power ridges" for more controlled and efficient force have increased the range of bite problems they can be used to correct.

While this means clear aligners can be used for many bite problems, in some severe cases braces and other orthodontic treatments might still be necessary. And because they're not fixed like braces (only the orthodontist can remove them) the patient must have the maturity and self-discipline to wear them consistently.

Your teen will need to undergo a thorough orthodontic examination to see if clear aligners are a viable option for them. If so, it could make the next few treatment years less stressful for both of you.

If you would like more information on clear aligners, 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 “Clear Aligners for Teens: User-Friendly Orthodontics.”

By Sweet Tooth Dental
April 12, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bone loss  

There’s more to teeth than meets the eye. Hidden beneath the visible crown are the tooth’s roots set within the jawbone, secured and protected by the gums from bacteria and infection. But if the gums shrink back (recede), the roots become exposed and susceptible to disease, especially at the points where multiple roots branch from each other, areas called furcations.

It all begins with periodontal (gum) disease caused by built-up bacterial plaque from insufficient brushing and flossing. The infection triggers inflammation that over time weakens gum tissues. They begin to detach from the teeth, which can eventually lead to gum recession and root exposure.

This also causes bone loss, especially at the furcations. We can detect any loss (known as a furcation invasion) and how far along it may be with x-ray imaging or by manually probing with an instrument called a periodontal probe.

There are three general classes measuring furcation invasions. In the earliest, Class I, we can feel the invasion as a slight groove; in Class II, it increases to two or more millimeters across. In Class III the bone loss extends from one side of the root all the way to the other (a “through and through”).

At this stage a patient is in danger of losing the tooth, so we’ll have to act promptly. This means first removing accumulated dental plaque and calculus (tartar) to stop the infection and allow the gums to heal. With severe damage, we may need to assist healing with bone and gum tissue grafting, in which we place donor grafts to serve as scaffolding for the appropriate tissue to grow upon.

You can help prevent this situation by practicing effective daily hygiene and visiting your dentist for thorough cleanings at least twice a year (or more if recommended). And at the first signs of a gum infection—swollen, reddened or bleeding gums—make an appointment as soon as possible to have it checked. The sooner we can detect and treat gum disease, the less likely a furcation invasion or worse will be in your future.

If you would like more information on gum disease diagnosis and treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.