Posts for: October, 2011
Tooth sensitivity is an issue that can range from a slight twinge at times to downright excruciating pain. However, before we continue, understanding the cause of tooth sensitivity is helpful to both relieving and treating it.
Tooth enamel is inert in that it has no nerve supply and thus it protects the teeth from temperature and pressure changes — the main cause of sensitivity. Once it is compromised, worn thin, or exposed due to gum recession, it leaves the delicate nerve fibers within the dentin vulnerable to touch, acid, and temperature change. These nerve fibers most often grab your attention when they come in contact with heat, cold, or a “double whammy” combination of both cold and sweet. They also become sensitive to touch — even the bristles of a soft toothbrush can irritate exposed dentin.
As for the causes of tooth sensitivity, one common cause we see is aggressive brushing. Yes, too much brushing can be bad for you! To be more specific, excessive, improper brushing with a sawing back and forth motion can erode the gum tissues, expose, wear, and even groove the dentin. Another cause for sensitivity can be from the destructive process of tooth decay that eats through the enamel and into the dentin.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have questions about this condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Or you can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”
When a device meant to make your life easier doesn't function properly, it can be extremely frustrating. This is sometimes the case for people who wear lower dentures, which loosen over time. These removable replacement teeth can become less reliable and more uncomfortable. Why does this happen?
The answer is bone loss. When a tooth is lost, the bone surrounding it deteriorates and this will change the shape of the jawbone in your mouth. You may find that a lower denture that once had a snug fit on your lower jaw is now sliding around. This happens more often on the bottom because your muscular tongue pushes against the denture. Also, a top denture has more surface area due to an artificial palate to help create suction to the roof of the mouth and keep it in place.
Dental implants, which permanently replace the roots of teeth, do not loosen and they also prevent bone loss. But replacing a whole set of bottom teeth with dental implants and crowns is expensive. What to do?
There's a relatively new solution that combines the security of implants with the affordability of a removable denture. It's called an overdenture, and it may be something you want to consider. An overdenture is a lot like the removable lower denture you already have, only it fits over two implants strategically placed in your lower jaw. While the lower denture is still removable, its stability is greatly improved.
Studies have shown that people with two-implant overdentures have a higher quality of life, and receive better nutrition, than those wearing conventional dentures. It's not hard to figure out why: A more stable denture makes it easier to eat healthy foods such as vegetables — or, really, any foods — and prevents embarrassing slippage of false teeth.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
When it comes to chronic pain, one of the most common problems you can face is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). TMD is a condition that can be tricky to diagnose because it frequently mimics other conditions. This is why many healthcare professionals refer to it as “the great imposter.” However, regardless of what it is called, the pain it causes is real and can become quite severe — especially if left undiagnosed and untreated.
To grasp the condition fully, you must first understand the TMD pain cycle. It can start with any traumatic, psychological, metabolic, or mechanical stimulant that causes spasm in the muscles that move the jaw joints (opening, closing, chewing, and even smiling.) This is because of the constricted blood supply to the muscles resulting in less oxygen along with the accumulation of waste products. This is followed by chemical changes in the muscles and a buildup of lactic acid due to muscle fatigue. Abnormal or involuntary muscle contractions or spasms lead to pain signals to the brain that can stop muscle movement. Depending on the severity, this cycle can repeat itself resulting in acute pain that may be extremely severe at times. The pain may then seem to disappear only to resurface again later. The good news is that our office has highly trained professionals who cannot only diagnose but also treat your TMD.
If you suffer from chronic jaw pain and feel that you might have TMD, please let us know so that we can address your concerns and conduct a thorough history and examination. Or if you are in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading the article “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”
Dental implants are in much demand when it comes to replacing missing teeth. And although they have long-term success rates of well over 95% when properly placed, the dental profession's current rule-of-thumb is to not use them as a treatment option for teenagers because jaw and facial growth are not complete.
As with most things in life, timing can be everything. However, having missing teeth as a teen can contribute to significant loss of self-esteem and psychological issues. All this means is that we must review each patient's needs on a case-by-case basis so that we can determine the optimal time to place implants while maintaining your teen's self-esteem. However, the good news is that there are some temporary tooth replacements available until the timing is right for implants.
Unlike natural teeth, which move and change position along with normal growth and jaw development, implants don't. Because implants replace tooth roots by fusing with the jawbone, their position is fixed. If placed before normal jaw growth and maturity are complete, they appear to sink as the jaws grow and leave them behind!
Given the above details, you can clearly see why it is critical for jaw and facial growth to be complete prior to placing a dental implant. To determine this timeline, we will work with our dental team, which include orthodontists (specialist in the study of the growth, development and moving teeth into the right positions). Working together, we will best be able to assess when the time is right to plan and place dental implants — usually around late teens.
To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teenagers & Dental Implants.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment for your teenager or to discuss your questions about dental implants or other treatment options.
For generations, root canal treatment has received a bad rap. Thought to cause pain, it is actually just the reverse. The truth is that root canal treatment does not cause pain but actually relieves it. Not only does root canal treatment relieve pain, it literally saves the affected tooth or teeth from further damage and/or loss.
To get started, let's define this procedure. A root canal treatment is a procedure in which the diseased pulpal tissue in the root canals are removed, disinfected, cleaned, and sealed. This is usually necessary following inflammation and infection of the pulp — which is the cause of your pain — as a result of severe decay or in a very heavily filled or damaged tooth.
However, if left untreated, an infected tooth can spread into the bone and even cause an abscess — and that can be more painful and impact your overall general health. The good news is that once a tooth has had the appropriate endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) followed by a proper restoration, it can last as long as your other teeth. The key is to take proper care of your teeth, have routine cleanings, and visit our offices as soon as you feel you have a problem with a tooth.
If you are having pain from a tooth or several teeth, you may need a root canal treatment. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment before it gets worse. To learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”