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Posts for: November, 2015

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
November 20, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
TomHanksAbscessedToothGetsCastAway

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”


By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
November 17, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer  

Find out why you shouldn’t put off an oral cancer screening with your Shelby dentist.

While we wish that oral cancer just didn't exist, unfortunately it does and it affects millions of people each year. oral cancerLuckily, oral cancer can be treated if caught early enough by your Shelby, NC dentist Dr. Joseph Hendrick, Jr. In fact, the CDC believes that dental professionals could potentially detect about 84 percent of oral cancer cases if patients came in for regular screenings.

So, when should you come in for your oral cancer screening?

If you maintain six-month visits with your general dentist in Shelby, then you are already doing what you need to for your oral health. It’s usually during these visits that we examine your gums and other soft tissue to make sure that there aren’t any suspicious growths or lesions. If you are at an increased risk for oral cancer you may want to talk to us about whether or not you should come in more frequently for screenings.

What puts people at risk for oral cancer?

Here are some of the major risk factors to help you determine if you could be at risk:

  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Age (those over the age of 40 are at a higher risk)
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Your gender (Men are more at risk then women)
  • A poor diet
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

Even though many people diagnosed with oral cancer have had at least one risk factor, there is an increasing rate of those who don’t. This is why it’s still important to see your Shelby, NC dentist even if you don’t have any of these issues that predispose you to oral cancer.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

When you come in to our office we will look for these symptoms:

  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Bleeding or chronic spots or lesions
  • A hard lump in your mouth
  • Numbness or pain when biting down

These oral cancer screenings could just save your life. If you need to schedule your next visit with us let us know that you are interested in being screened as well. Call Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr, DDS, PA today.


By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
November 05, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
YouMayNeedYourGumsCheckedMoreFrequentlyAfterGumDisease

After a dental examination revealed you had periodontal (gum) disease, you began undergoing treatment. Now after several cleaning sessions, the infection has subsided and your gums have returned to a healthy shade of pink.

But your gum care isn’t over — depending on the infection’s severity you may need to visit us more often than the normal six months between regular checkups.

Gum disease arises from dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food remnants built up on tooth surfaces due to poor oral hygiene. The bacteria cause an infection in the gums, which initiates a response from the body’s immune system that triggers inflammation.

Without proper treatment, periodontitis can come back in which the infection spreads deeper below the gum line. Pockets of infection can reoccur as gum tissues weaken and lose their attachment to teeth. This continuing damage can ultimately lead to both tooth and bone loss.

To stop the disease it’s necessary to remove all the infection-causing plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) from tooth surfaces, including around the roots. This is performed manually and could require surgery once again to access areas below the gum line.

To guard against this it’s necessary for you to undergo regular periodontal maintenance (PM). Besides cleaning, PM gives us an opportunity to check for signs of returning gum disease and, if found, plan for another round of treatment.

Although not written in stone, the interval between PM appointments that seems the most effective for preventing recurrence is every three months. In cases of advanced, aggressive gum disease, appointments may need to occur at even shorter intervals, for example every two months.

PM for susceptible patients with decreased resistance to disease require extra time and effort for the hygienist, along with a renewed daily hygiene habit of effective brushing and flossing by you to keep the disease at bay. But preventing another occurrence of gum disease and its consequences is well worth this extra attention for the health of your teeth and gums.

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




Dentist in Shelby, NC
Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
511 N. Morgan Street
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 484-0077
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