Posts for: February, 2013
It is important to brush your teeth every day to remove plaque (that sticky white film, composed of bacteria, on your teeth near your gums), but it is possible to overdo it — particularly if you find that your teeth are becoming sensitive to hot and cold or to variations in pressure.
Brushing your teeth too hard or too many times per day can aggravate tooth sensitivity, which can range from a mild twinge to a severe pain. You can accomplish the goal of tooth brushing — plaque removal — by using a soft brush with a very gentle action. Repeated aggressive brushing with a hard brush is not required and can even be harmful to your teeth and gums.
To understand how teeth become sensitive, you need to know about the internal structure of your teeth. Teeth are covered by enamel, a hard mineralized coating that protects them from changes in temperature and pressure. If the enamel is worn away, it exposes the next lower layer of the tooth, the dentin. The dentin is a living tissue containing nerve fibers that connect to the nerves in the tooth's root.
Excessive tooth brushing can irritate your gums and cause them to shrink away from your teeth, particularly if you have thin gum tissues. The thickness or thinness of your gum tissues is something you inherit from your parents, so you can't change it. Hard brushing can begin to wear away the enamel covering of your teeth. Exposure to acids or sugars in the foods you eat and drink can continue the damage.
Acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juices dissolve some of the minerals in your teeth by a process called “demineralization.” Fortunately, your saliva can interact with the enamel and bring back minerals that are leaving the tooth's surface. This process is called “remineralization.” It is important to let your healthy saliva wash your teeth's surfaces for a while before brushing so that dissolved minerals get a chance to be returned to your enamel. It takes between twelve and twenty-four hours for plaque to form on your teeth, so you don't need to brush more than twice a day.
The best way to make sure you are brushing your teeth properly is to have us evaluate your brushing technique at your next dental appointment. We will be able to tell you whether you need to change the angle of your brush or the pressure you are applying for the most effective removal of plaque with the least wear on your teeth and gums. Tooth brushing serves an important purpose, but remember that you can actually have too much of a good thing.
Tooth pain occurs when a trauma or infection triggers a reaction from the nerves inside a tooth's pulp chamber. The severity of the pain and its duration can vary depending on the underlying cause, which can include anything from a loose filling to an abscess. Ignoring symptoms not only results in unnecessary physical and emotional pain, but can also lead to more expensive dental treatment as problems become more complex. Make an appointment with our office today if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain when biting down on food — This type of pain could be indicative of a cracked tooth, loose filling, or tooth decay that is affecting one or more of your teeth. We can remove decay and replace a loose filling, but if your tooth is cracked, we will have to determine the location and depth of the crack before formulating a treatment plan. In some cases, root canal treatment or even extraction may be necessary.
- Pain that lingers after eating hot or cold foods or liquids — Mild and short-term sensitivity (lasting only seconds or a minute) to hot and cold foods resulting from gum recession can often be soothed by using a fluoride toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. However, an inflamed tooth pulp or one that is dying due to severe decay could cause sensitivity that lingers for a long time after exposure. In this case, root canal treatment may be necessary to remove dying pulp tissue in order to save the tooth.
- Constant severe pain and pressure, swelling of the gums, and sensitivity to touch — Infections and/or abscesses can spread from the tooth pulp into the surrounding periodontal tissues and bone causing this type of pain. Root canal treatment will most likely be required.
- Dull ache and pressure on one or both sides of the face in the upper teeth region — The sinuses and upper back teeth share the same nerves, so, oftentimes, referred pain from sinus congestion or infection can feel like a toothache. A thorough examination can determine whether or not the pain is dentally related.
If you are experiencing tooth pain, call our office immediately so that we can begin to provide you with some relief. To read about other symptoms of tooth pain and possible treatment options, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!”
People always wonder when it is appropriate to contact their dentist. To answer this, we have put together the following list to provide some guidelines for you and your family. However, your calls are always welcome! Our goal is simply to give you some clear scenarios that illustrate when you should give us a call or come in to our office.
For Bite Related Problems
- Early or late loss of baby teeth.
- Difficulty in chewing or biting.
- Mouth breathing.
- Finger sucking or other oral habits.
- Crowding, misplaced, crooked or even missing teeth.
- Jaws that shift, jaw joints that “pop” or “click” or are uncomfortable.
- Any change causing speech difficulty.
- Cheek or tongue biting.
- Protruding teeth — large overbite.
- Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don't meet at all.
- Facial imbalance or asymmetry.
- Grinding or clenching of teeth.
For Injuries And Immediate Care
- Knocked out permanent tooth: Call us immediately. You need to take action within 5 minutes of the injury for best results.
- Injuries to lips, cheeks, tongue or gums that appear to require stitches: Call us for instructions as soon as possible.
- Tooth injury — if a tooth has shifted from its original position: Call us to tell us you are on your way to our office and see us within 6 hours of the injury.
- Chipped or broken tooth that is still in its original position: See us within 12 hours of the injury.
- A knocked out baby tooth: Call us as soon as possible.
- Bleeding without any significant tears in tissue that could require stitches: Call us for instructions.
What To Do Now
If any of the above describe you or another member of your family, then contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about treating dental injuries by reading the Dear Doctor article, “The Field-Side Guide To Dental Injuries.”
Recent research has revealed that there is a link between cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) disease (CVD) and periodontal (gum) disease. The link is Inflammation. This is why it is important to learn more about this important relationship so that you can take proactive steps to improving your health and life.
What causes periodontal disease?
Simply put, irregular and ineffective brushing and flossing are the root causes of periodontal disease. Over time and when bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) are left unchecked, they lead to the emergence of a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms that are consistently associated with periodontitis (“peri” – gum; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation) or gum disease.
Is periodontal disease common or am I one of the few who have it?
It is a quite common disease, with mild to moderate forms of it impacting 30 to 50% of US adults. More severe cases affect 5 to 15%. One of the reasons these numbers are so high is because periodontal disease is a silent, painless disease that often occurs without any symptoms.
So how does my gum disease link to potential heart disease?
Inflammation is a characteristic of chronic disease. People with moderate to severe periodontitis have increased levels of systemic (general body) inflammation. If left untreated, the same bacterial strains that are commonly found in periodontal pockets surrounding diseased teeth have been found in blood vessel plaques of people with CVD.
This all sounds bad...is there any good news?
Yes! Research has revealed that if periodontal disease is treated, inflammation and infection can be reduced. This also reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes, both of which are common results of CVD. All it may take is a thorough exam for gum disease and thorough dental cleaning. During your exam, we can also make sure you are brushing and flossing properly so that you are effectively removing bacterial biofilm. But if you have severe periodontal disease, you may need deeper cleanings and more advanced treatment to save your teeth and your heart.
To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.” You can also contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.