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Health Q&A

Posted November 21, 2012 in Advice Column, Boone

Q: Why are root canals considered so horrible?

A: All teeth have at least one canal space that runs the length of the root up toward the center of the tooth into a larger space called the pulp chamber. This canal/chamber space contains the tooth’s pulp, which consists mostly of nerve tissue and blood. Several problems can cause this pulp to become either inflamed or necrotic (which basically means dead), such as decay/bacteria reaching the chamber space or a crack/fracture that starts to reach this space. Sometimes the pulp is still alive but becomes so inflamed that we know it’s extremely unlikely that any dental treatment will calm it down to its normal condition. Other times the pulp has already died and the bacteria has started to cause an infection out the tip of the root.

During a root canal, we open up the chamber and use antibacteria chemical and files to remove the pulp and clean out the canal space to eliminate all the bacteria. We then fill the canal space back up with a termoplastic material. Root canals have developed a horrible reputation in our society.  Yet well over 90 percent of root canal procedures are completed without the patient feeling anything. The bad reputation comes from the occasional nerve being so inflamed (a “hot nerve”), that it’s difficult to achieve complete anesthesia on the first few attempts which is a small percentage. In fact, it is not surprising when we have a patient fall asleep during a root canal procedure because they are laid back and the procedure can quite often, boring.

Information provided by Dr. Rob Swanson, DDS, Swanson Dental Care, 1212 Duff Ave., Ames, 515-233-2174.

Q: How can I minimize my exposure to the flu?

A: The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. There are two types of vaccines — the flu shot is an inactivated vaccine that is given with a needle, and the nasal spray flu vaccine is made with live weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. You should consult your healthcare provider if you have questions as to which vaccine is best for you.

Wash your hands frequently using soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds (generally as long as it would take you to sing the Happy Birthday song or the ABCs). Always have hand sanitizer available so you can use it in between hand washing. Frequently clean commonly-used surfaces such as door handles, handrails, eating surfaces and phones.  With the holiday season and family gatherings upon us, keeping your hands and surfaces clean are more important than ever.

Additionally, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.  Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

Q: What should I do if I get the flu?
A: Stay home from work or school. Make sure you get plenty of rest and drink lots of water. Contact your healthcare provider, as he or she may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication for you. Antiviral drugs can make you feel better faster; they also prevent serious flu complications. These medications are only effective if started within 48 hours after symptoms start.

Information provided by Kris Baerenwald, Infection Control, Boone County Hospital, 1015 Union St., Boone,

Q: How can chiropractic help me?

A: Doctors of Chiropractic have become the second largest primary health care providers in the western world, and chiropractic is the leader in alternative medicine. Chiropractic works with the body, allowing it to heal itself and reach maximum health naturally. Millions of Americans utilize chiropractic to help with their aches and pains.  In fact:

• Eighty-five percent of Americans will suffer incapacitating low back pain at some point in their lifetime.

• Nearly 7 percent of the population suffers from back pain at any given time.

• Forty percent of Americans with back pain lasting more than two weeks will see a chiropractor.

That leaves the question: Is chiropractic care effective? Web MD, a popular resource for medical information, reported on a study of research data collected during four years comparing nearly two million patients, of which some utilized chiropractic care and some not. That study found:

• Chiropractic cut the cost of treating back pain by 28 percent.

• Back surgeries were reduced by 32 percent in those who utilized chiropractic care, which also reduced hospitalization by 41 percent.

• The patient satisfaction rate with chiropractic was reported to be 95 percent.

With a satisfaction rate of 95 percent, you can rest assured that chiropractic is both safe and effective. So is chiropractic care the right choice for you or your family? Now is a great time to find out. We are bringing back our Angel Tree for the third year this holiday season with specials for new and current patients.

Information provided by Dr. Chris Tigges of Boone Family Chiropractic, 1320 S. Marshall St., 432-9525.

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