Do you have a feeling that your mouth isn’t healthy? Experiencing problems with your teeth, gums or tongue is common. The goal is to have a healthy mouth and fix dental issues.
Having a healthy mouth is essential to your overall health. It makes it easier to eat and enjoy food, ensures you don’t experience mouth pain, and even has positive benefits for your overall health. Despite this, many people live with warning signs that their mouth isn’t healthy, and yet, do nothing about it.
So join us as we explore 6 different warning signs that your mouth isn’t healthy. Not only that, but we’ll look at their causes and explain why it is so important to treat these warning signs and not ignore them.
One of the primary warning signs that your mouth isn’t healthy is bleeding. Imagine if every time you washed your hands, they bled. Or, what if your head started to bleed after you applied shampoo? You would immediately call the doctor, right?
And yet, many people experience bleeding gums when they brush or floss their teeth, and then never do anything about it.
Bleeding gums is a sign of inflammation, which underlies most diseases that occur in your mouth.
Gum disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis, can cause serious problems in your mouth, such as
Persistent bad breath,
Teeth can become loose and fall out, and
Overly sensitive to hot and cold.
Not only that, but gum disease can affect your overall health and has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.
When your mouth isn’t healthy, it could also be a warning sign for your overall health, and therefore it’s important to visit the dentist when your gums bleed.
At your appointment Dr. Forester will speak with you about your symptoms or dental issues. He will discuss treatment options to treat and fix bleeding gums.
Pain is an obvious way to recognize that your mouth isn’t healthy. If something hurts, your body is saying that something is wrong.
Unfortunately, mouth pain doesn’t always come until it is too late for simple fixes.
In other words, the longer you wait to address the pain, the harder it will be to fix it.
A much better approach is prevention– to visit the dentist on a regular basis (the average person is about every 6 months) for a cleaning and checkup. Some patients may need to go to the dentist more frequently than 2 times per year.
That way, if your mouth starts to show signs of being unhealthy, we can make easier and quicker corrections before the pain begins.
Broken or Uneven Teeth
Despite what you might have experienced with your parents or grandparents, teeth should last a lifetime. If you have broken or uneven teeth, you should definitely visit your dentist.
You may be tempted to think the damage is already done and nothing more can happen, or you might not care about the way uneven teeth look, but these things need to be addressed.
Broken or uneven teeth could be a sign of occlusal disease, grinding, clenching, GERD, eating disorders, or other issues.
Rather than just repair the chipped tooth, here at Lifetime Smiles we want to identify and address the root cause of the problem. By correcting this, we can help ensure a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.
When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Forester will speak with you about the dental issues you’re experiencing. He will discuss treatment options to fix broken or uneven teeth.
You’re in excellent with Dr. Forester and his friendly, compassionate team.
Do you avoid talking directly to people because you fear they will smell your chronically bad breath? It could be a sign that your mouth is not healthy.
Bad breath is typically caused by bacteria in the mouth, and could be a sign that you have periodontal (gum) disease.
There are other common causes for bad breath as well, such as your diet or even health issues in the rest of your body.
Whatever the cause, a visit to our dentist can help clear things up. Not only can you prevent gum disease from becoming too serious, but you’ll also be able to speak to people face to face again!
If it’s time to finally fix your bad breath once and for all, call Dr. Forester at Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek.
Your mouth constantly produces saliva, and while that might sound gross, it’s actually important for a healthy mouth.
Dry mouth is often caused by a disease or medications, and while it might only feel inconvenient, it also has negative affects on your oral health. A dry mouth is more acidic and prone to decay, which means you’re at greater risk of cavities or teeth loss.
If you’re experiencing a dry mouth, you might notice your lips cracking, sores forming at the corners of your mouth, your tongue becoming rough and dry, and difficulty swallowing and talking. Even food can begin to lose its taste!
Talk to our dentist about options to protect your smile, and improve the way you eat, speak, and swallow.
There are obvious benefits of brushing and flossing regularly, such as fewer cavities and better breath. However, good oral hygiene can also positively affect many other aspects of your health. Some of the benefits may even be a bit surprising. Here are a few of them:
1.- GOOD ORAL HYGIENE CAN PROTECT THE HEALTH OF YOUR HEART.
When you brush and floss properly, you remove plaque and oral bacteria that can cause tooth decay and inflame your gums. Microbes that live in the mouth excrete acid as a digestive byproduct when they consume carbohydrates or sugars from your meals or snacks. The acid causes tissue inflammation that may lead to gum disease.
As gum disease progresses, the gums become infected, and pockets or spaces form between the gums and the teeth. Within these pockets, oral bacteria can accumulate and begin to invade the bloodstream, spreading inflammation throughout the body. Blood vessels may develop arterial plaques to help heal inflamed areas along vessel walls. However, these plaques can build up, resulting in blocked vessels that can incite a heart attack or stroke.
People with gum disease have an elevated risk of heart disease. However, the risk could be lowered by protecting their gum health with good oral hygiene.
It is important to keep in mind that gum disease is reversible. If signs of early gum disease, such as bleeding, swollen or reddened gums, develop, more meticulous oral hygiene efforts should be observed.
2.- A PREGNANT WOMAN WITH GOOD ORAL HYGIENE MAY HAVE A HEALTHIER PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH.
Pregnant women with periodontal disease have an increased likelihood of having a low birth weight baby and delivering preterm.
During pregnancy, women are prone to a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This moderate form of gum disease occurs during pregnancy because of insufficient oral hygiene coupled with pregnancy hormones that cause an increase in blood flow to the gingival tissues. Like other forms of gum disease, pregnancy gingivitis can worsen over time, resulting in additional problems.
Babies who are born early or who weigh less than five pounds at birth are more prone to complications, such as frequent ear infections and asthma. They are even at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
3.- POOR DENTAL HYGIENE MAY EXACERBATE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES.
People with diabetes may already have a difficult time controlling their blood sugar, and poor oral hygiene can worsen the situation. Periodontal disease that results from poor oral hygiene may cause an increase in inflammation throughout the body, increasing insulin resistance and interfering with proper carbohydrate metabolism.
The link between diabetes and periodontal disease appears to be a two-way association. Diabetes increases the chance of periodontal disease, and gum disease increases the likelihood of diabetic complications.
4.- MEN WHO FAIL TO OBSERVE PROPER DENTAL HYGIENE MAY HAVE A GREATER CHANCE OF DEVELOPING ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION.
Men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic periodontal disease. The reason for the link is not completely clear, but since inflammation can be spread by oral bacteria to the blood vessels, the association may be due to the impaired blood flow that may occur when a blood vessel wall is inflamed.
Chronic periodontal disease begins because of the buildup of plaque in the mouth. Although plaque can easily be brushed away with a simple toothbrush, if it is permitted to remain in place for long periods, plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar, which requires a professional dental cleaning for removal, is porous, offering more surface area for plaque accumulation.
To lessen the chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction, men should be sure to brush and floss regularly.
5.- PEOPLE WITH POOR ORAL HYGIENE MAY BE AT INCREASED RISK OF DEVELOPING DEMENTIA.
When oral hygiene is inadequate, periodontal disease may develop. The resulting pockets in the gums can allow oral bacteria to migrate to other areas of the body– including the brain.
Oral bacteria that are related to gum disease have been found in the brains of deceased dementia patients. Some studies have compared the brains of people who passed away with dementia to those of people who died without the disease. The findings indicated that the oral bacteria were not present in the brains of the subjects who did not develop dementia.
Looking for more information about what a dental cleaning entails? Regular dental cleanings are an essential part of maintaining good oral health.
While most people tend to make their regular dental appointments every year, there are some people who can visit the dentist less often and some who will need to visit more often, as everyone has their own special dental requirements. Because today’s dentists understand how busy some people are, which can make it hard for them to make it to regular dental cleanings, many now offer convenient appointment times. All you need to do now is make an appointment and go.
What happens during a dental cleaning?
What exactly are dental cleanings, and what happens during one? A dental professional will first perform a physical exam of the mouth in order to detect any oral problems. They will then use special dental tools in order to remove any and all tartar and or plaque existing on the teeth. The patient's teeth will then be professionally polished, which makes the teeth feel nice and smooth as they are now very clean. A fluoride treatment is then applied to the teeth, which helps protect them from getting any cavities.
Reasons to remove plaque and tartar
The following is a list of reasons why it is important to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth.
It can destroy your teeth’s enamel, leaving your teeth unprotected and vulnerable
It leads to tooth decay and cavities
It can lead to periodontitis or other forms of gum disease
It can cause more serious, general health issues, such as cardiovascular disease
According to the American Dental Association, brushing teeth twice a day will help keep plaque and tartar from forming, which keeps the mouth healthy.
Why some people avoid dental cleanings
Dentists completely understand that some people get nervous when going in for their regular dental cleanings, which is why it is important for all dental patients to inform their dental team about how they feel when having any necessary dental work performed. There are options available that can help calm patient's nerves, so those who are experiencing any type of dental anxiety should discuss how they feel with their dentist so they can understand what options are available to them.
If you do not get any plaque or tartar that is building up on your teeth removed, you will eventually get one or more cavities in one or more of your teeth. While cavity treatment is definitely available, cavities make teeth weaker, which is something you want to avoid as it can bring a host of more serious problems for your teeth. If you have a question about dental cleanings, speak to one of our dental health professionals today.
You’ve probably heard that regular dental visits are important for your health. But do you know why? It’s not just because dentists want to have regular business. It’s not just because dental insurance plans cover preventive care every 6 months. There are actually 3 very important reasons to see your dentist regularly.
1. Preserve your Oral Health.
Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy involves a variety of practices, one of which is to visit your dentist for routine cleanings and examinations. Brushing and flossing at home is important as well, but self care alone is not enough. A general dentistry visit typically includes:
Cleaning. Dental professionals use special tools to remove plaque from teeth and under the gum line where it’s hard to reach with a regular toothbrush. Also if plaque calcifies (tartar) it can only be removed by a dental professional with special tools.
Fluoride Treatment. In addition to cleaning your teeth, regular dental visits include preventive measures such as fluoride treatment that fortify and protect teeth from potential decay. Depending on your oral health risks this can be crucial in minimizing the dental work you could need. Prevention is key.
Oral Health Screening. X-Rays and other diagnostic tools are used to identify any possible oral health issues such as cavities, gum disease, or oral cancer. Early detection of any of these leads to better treatment and outcome.
2. Restore your Oral Health.
If you have any major oral health issues such as severe decay, missing teeth, cracked or broken teeth, gum disease, misaligned teeth, or other conditions that require restoration, visiting your dentist regularly is important both before and after restorative procedures are done. Some examples of restorative procedures include:
Cavity fillings. A cavity is a small hole in a tooth where it has begun to decay. Usually if a cavity is discovered early enough, it can be filled easily.
Root canals. When a cavity gets deep enough that it reaches the root of a tooth or if the root is damaged from an injury, a root canal can preserve the tooth by removing the pulp inside the tooth and properly restored with a crown after.
Crowns. A tooth that is too damaged to restore can sometimes be filed down and covered with a crown, which is basically a cap over the tooth that looks and functions like a natural tooth.
Dental Implants. When a tooth is missing or severely damaged to the point of needing extraction, a dental implant can be put in its place. An implant consists of an artificial tooth root and crown that is implanted in the jaw bone. It looks and functions like a natural tooth. It is the closest thing to replacing your natural tooth.
3. Protect your Overall Health.
It has been discovered that there are significant links between a person’s oral health and their general health and well-being. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to:
Heart Disease. Severe plaque buildup on the teeth seems to be related to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. There is also an increased risk of oral bacteria infecting the blood when there is a higher concentration in the mouth due to poor dental hygiene.
Diabetes. Poor oral health can be a predictor of diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes have a greater risk of gum disease due to high blood sugar.
Cancer. Although the cause is still uncertain, there is a definite correlation between poor oral health and different types of cancer throughout the body.
Regular dentist visits include an oral exam that will identify any of these risks so that steps can be taken as soon as possible to correct the issue and reduce the risk.
Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia, and this happens when the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva in the mouth. In some cases, dry mouth is temporary, and can be caused by dehydration. In other cases, dry mouth is a chronic problem, and many struggle with this issue. Dry mouth can be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, or can be caused by an infected salivary gland.
When we do not have enough saliva production this can cause oral health issues. Saliva plays an important role in our oral health, and helps to protect our teeth and gums from acids or erosion. The saliva washes away bacteria or food, and keeps our teeth and mouth healthy.
What Issues Can Dry Mouth Cause?
Dry mouth can cause many issues including gum disease, tooth decay, staining, and erosion of enamel. When bacteria are not washed away, and plaque and tartar collect, this can cause gum disease, and in turn this increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities. If not treated gum disease can cause tooth deterioration, or even tooth loss.
When your saliva production is low the bacteria and acids stay on your teeth longer, and this can lead to tooth decay or enamel erosion. If the acid and plaque levels are high, your teeth can become discolored or stained. It is always important to attend your regular dental exams and cleaning appointments to ensure your teeth and mouth are healthy, and do not have any decay.
How Can I Treat Dry Mouth?
The good news is there are ways to treat dry mouth and restore the health of your teeth and gums. Depending on the level of damage will determine what treatment is required. Restoration options include fillings, crowns, or gum treatments.
Tips To Prevent Dry Mouth
Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
Use an over-the-counter saliva treatment or substitute
Use a humidifier while sleeping to increase moisture in the air
Chew sugar-free gum to help saliva production
Stay on top of your oral health routine, and brush and floss daily to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup
It doesn’t matter how or why your tooth was damaged. If you have a tooth that’s cracked, chipped, or may have a serious cavity, you shouldn’t wait to get help. The sooner you restore your damaged tooth, the better.
Here are just a few reasons to see our team in Plymouth Meeting as soon as you can:
1. YOU CAN GET RELIEF FROM PAIN AND DISCOMFORT
First and foremost, restoring your damaged tooth will eliminate pain and discomfort. A cracked tooth or a tooth with a serious cavity can become infected, causing a painful toothache. And, even minor chips and damage to your enamel can cause sharp, harsh edges on your teeth, which may cut your lips, gums, and tongue. Restoring your tooth will help you avoid pain and discomfort, and keep your smile healthy.
2. WAITING TO TREAT A DAMAGED TOOTH WILL CAUSE MORE ORAL HEALTH ISSUES
If you don’t treat a damaged tooth right away, you may not be able to save it, even with a dental crown or root canal therapy. This means that you may end up needing a tooth extraction in addition to restorative care. In the most severe cases, your damaged tooth may end up falling out. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to be able to save your tooth.
3. EARLY DETECTION AND PREVENTION SAVES YOU TIME AND MONEY
Fixing a damaged tooth with a dental crown is much more affordable than replacing a missing tooth. Not only that, but extracting and replacing a tooth is usually much more time-consuming and invasive compared to treatment with a root canal and crown. By getting treatment early, you can save quite a bit of time and money.
4. PAYMENT PLANS AND FINANCING MAKE IT EASY TO AFFORD RESTORATIVE TREATMENTS
Most treatments for damaged teeth are covered by dental insurance, so it’s easy to afford the cost of the procedure. And, even if you don’t have dental insurance, or you don’t have enough coverage for the entire procedure, most dentists can set up low-interest financing and payment plans to keep the procedure within your budget.
Aging brings new experiences — and new responsibilities. Metabolism slows, gray hairs sprout and health problems arise more often. While it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself, those over the age of 30 must pay special attention to maintaining healthy habits. Oral health and hygiene is no exception.
Teeth not only serve an important function in daily life; they reflect your overall health.
If you’re concerned about protecting and keeping your teeth, here are seven ways to make oral health a priority.
Stop using tobacco in all forms
Smoking or chewing tobacco can have detrimental effects on health and appearance. Smoking is definitively linked to lung cancer and increases the chances of periodontal or gum disease. Puffing away also stains teeth, causes bad breath and can dull the senses of smell and taste. Smokeless tobacco isn’t any better: It’s linked to cancers of the mouth, tongue, cheek, gums, throat and pancreas.
Professional cleanings make a huge difference
It’s good to brush and floss twice a day, and many people do so. But brushing and flossing do not replace a complete cleaning and examination by a dental professional.
Dentists and dental hygienists can spot early signs of disease and have access to tools and training that are not available to the layperson. Professional cleanings also remove tartar and plaque that cannot be removed with a toothbrush.
Wait 30 minutes before brushing
Enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth and protects against decay. Acid found in citrus and other foods weakens enamel. Brushing teeth during this weakened state can cause further damage and leave teeth vulnerable.
Instead of brushing right after a meal, dentists recommend you drink water and allow time for acids to neutralize. However, don’t skip brushing. Prolonged exposure to some foods and drinks, such as those high in carbohydrates and sugar, can be damaging, so brush at least twice a day.
Overcome fear of the dental chair
Anxiety surrounding a visit to the dentist can be overwhelming and cause people to avoid getting the care they need. Patients with anxiety can start taking steps to overcome this fear by finding a dentist that fits their needs and personality. They can make an appointment to meet the dentist and the staff to get a feel for the surroundings before starting treatment.
The right dentist will understand and help anxious patients put their health first and leave the dentist chair smiling with confidence.
Use oral hygiene products with fluoride
Tooth enamel is made up of minerals that can be stripped throughout the day by contact with food and drink. In addition, enamel demineralizes as we age. Make sure your toothpaste and mouthrinse includes fluoride as an ingredient.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help strengthen and protect the enamel layer and sometimes reverse signs of early decay.
Eat a healthy diet
Diet affects every aspect of health. It’s important to avoid excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks that attract bacteria, cause plaque and invite disease. Too many acidic food items can also weaken the enamel and leave teeth more open to attack.
An ideal diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in important vitamins and minerals that help the human body function at its best.
Make your next appointment today
Appointments are tempting to put off, but tooth decay and gum disease never sleep. Regular visits lower the chances of developing gum disease and give your dentist or hygienist the opportunity to look for cavities and check for signs of cancer of the mouth, tongue, throat, face and neck.
Though the common dental visit frequency is every six months, the American Dental Association recommends that your doctor tailor your frequency based on your current oral health status and health history.
As people age, tooth enamel wears, gum tissue recedes and the likelihood of disease increases. Developing good habits and establishing a relationship with a dental professional can go a long way toward preventing tooth loss and maintaining a healthy mouth.
Tooth decay is a common dental issue. But it’s easily preventable and fixable if you take the right care!
Nobody wants rotten teeth! Whether called tooth decay, cavities, or dental caries, rotten teeth cause pain and difficulty eating or drinking. Cavities grow when bacteria breeds in your mouth from sugary or starchy foods. As the bacteria multiplies, it creates a layer of sticky plaque that erodes the tooth enamel. The bacteria and sugar also form acids that bore into the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. If the decay reaches into the softer dentin inside the tooth, the decay can progress to an infection within the tooth pulp.
In the early stages, you may not see or feel any effects from tooth decay. But as it advances, toothaches, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and pain when you bite hard into food will indicate you have a rotten tooth. You may also see holes or discolorations on the tooth surface. Fortunately, rotten teeth — even in the latter stages — can be repaired. A dentist at Espire Dental can discuss all options with you, but these are the most common methods to treat tooth decay.
Five Ways to Repair Rotten Teeth
Early detection is the best way to stop tooth decay in its tracks. If your dentist spots decay in its earliest form, they can spread a fluoride liquid, gel, foam, or varnish over the tooth. These treatments contain more fluoride than what is found in toothpaste and can prevent the decay from spreading further into the tooth enamel. If the decay is more advanced, you may need more extensive therapy, like these five methods:
Fillings. The most frequent treatment for cavities, fillings replace the decayed portion of the tooth with either silver amalgam, composite resin, or porcelain material. Silver amalgam is cheaper and durable, but it’s more visible. Composite resin or porcelain can blend in with the tooth color.
Crowns. In some instances, the decay has worn away most of the tooth. Your dentist will need to remove the decay, leaving behind enough of the tooth to affix a crown. The crown is usually made of gold, porcelain, resin, porcelain fused to metal, or other materials for a strong fit.
Root Canal. Once the decay has infected the root of the tooth, your only option may be a root canal. In this procedure, the decayed root is removed and replaced with a filling and medication to clear any infection. A crown is then secured over the root canal.
Extractions. If the tooth is severely damaged or decayed, it may need to be extracted to prevent the decay and infection from spreading to the gums.
Dentures/Implants. A pulled tooth can leave a noticeable gap in your mouth, but the missing tooth or teeth can be replaced with full or partial dentures, or dental implants that secure an artificial tooth to your bones. Dentures and implants have both pros and cons in regards to cost, durability, and comfort. An Espire dentist can explain both options with you.
Preventing Tooth Decay
The best way to avoid costly and uncomfortable dental procedures is to prevent decay in the first place. A good start would be to follow these oral health guidelines:
Avoid Sugars and Starches. Sugar and starches supercharge bacteria growth in your mouth. Although it’s hard to resist sweets, limit your sugar intake by avoiding sugar-laden drinks and treats. Be aware that some fruits may be high in sugar content, so manage your consumption of those fruits, as well. On the other hand, drinking water boosts saliva in the mouth, which in turn can wash away bacteria.
Practice Oral Hygiene Daily. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily cuts down on the amount of bacteria in the mouth (until you can get a professional teeth cleaning). Use a toothpaste with fluoride. Flossing once a day also cleans bacteria from the crevices between teeth. And if you are at higher risk for cavities, rinse with a fluoride-rich mouthwash.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly. A twice-yearly visit to the dentist for an exam and cleaning can ward off decay or treat it in its earliest stages. Tooth decay is always easier to treat and cure when caught early!
The fear of getting cavities motivates people to become obsessed with oral hygiene. Who likes to have holes in the teeth that grow bigger and deeper over time, anyway? But if you think proper dental hygiene only benefits the teeth—think again. Those pearly whites are not just the only structures inside the mouth; holding them are those delicate pink tissues that need appropriate care too! So whenever people brush, floss, and rinse their mouths, they are doing their gum health a favor. On the flip side, they are welcoming gum disease if they continue to follow bad habits.
Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums as well as the bone that surrounds the teeth. It becomes dangerous when it advances. Our recommendation is for people to see us at McMillan Family Dental right away once symptoms of gum disease are felt. We can provide scaling and root planing, which can cure gingivitis effectively. But since our team is a firm believer of the old cliche that says, “prevention is always better than cure,” we encourage everyone to prevent gum disease in as much as they can. Below are some of the daily bad habits that they need to cease from doing.
Not Getting Enough Nourishment
What people feed to themselves can affect their dental health much. When they choose sugary snacks over fresh vegetables and fruits, they have a higher tendency to experience gum disease the fact that bacterias feast on sweets. Those who consume lots of acidic beverages rather than plain water are at risk for the said condition as well. Observing a healthy diet can boost gum health, on the other hand. Foods like yogurt, lean meats, fruits, and other dairy products help the pink tissues stay in excellent shape.
Sharing of Foods and Toothbrushes
Gum disease is a bacterial illness, which means that it can spread from one person to another. A mere act of food sharing or borrowing of toothbrushes can place a peril to gum health. Moreover, even using straws of your friend or siblings should be avoided as this too can aggravate gum disease.
Not Flossing Every Day
Flossing is vital to the overall oral health, just like brushing. Sadly, not all people comply with this simple oral care routine. Flossing is quite a hassle for some; others find running thread flosses back and forth between their teeth uncomfortable. So to counter these issues, it is good to invest in a good floss. You can consider switching to a water flosser if you find it challenging to use string floss. Whatever type you choose, just don’t skip flossing.
Gum health is very important. It is not good to compromise the gums as these tissues can impact not just the teeth but the other parts of the body at the same time.
Having sensitive teeth can take the enjoyment out of your favourite hot or cold foods and drinks. It may just be one tooth that’s affected by sensitivities, several or all of them. The problem may be fleeting or chronic, and the sensitivity can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of issues.
Gum Disease and Recession
One of the symptoms of periodontal disease (gum disease) is sensitive teeth. It occurs when the gum disease damages supporting soft tissue and bone so the root surface is exposed. Receding gums also leave teeth roots exposed. The roots don’t have the same enamel protection that the crown of the tooth has and direct communication to the nerves in the pulp of the tooth may be formed.
Any tooth that is damaged including being chipped, worn or cracked is likely to be sensitive because its protective coating has been disturbed. Teeth grinding can commonly cause excessive wear on teeth which then become susceptible to being sensitive. Dental work such as a filling or crown that is worn or damaged can also leave the nerves exposed and at risk of sensitivity.
When you have braces, there’s nothing more important than regular tooth brushing with the right technique. Brushing your teeth too hard at the gum line can damage the gum and root surface, causing sensitivity. A soft toothbrush and light touch is less likely to damage the teeth and gums.
Acidic Food and Drinks
Tooth surface loss can also be caused by the food and drinks you consume. Consuming high sugar and acidic foods on a regular basis attacks the enamel, making teeth more sensitive. It’s even more important to avoid soft drinks, orange juice, and sticky sweet foods when you have braces because it not only attacks the enamel but can cause white spots on your teeth when the braces are removed.
Decay causes the dentin of the tooth to be exposed. You’re more likely to feel localised tooth sensitivity at the site of the decay rather than all of your teeth, however the pulp (nerve) of the tooth may become infected and inflamed from the bacteria in the decay and make the tooth more sensitive to cold or hot things.
Bleaching & Whitening Toothpastes
It’s common for people to experience sensitive teeth after undergoing teeth whitening or bleaching at the dentist or at home. Even whitening toothpastes can cause sensitivity. The sensitivity usually reduces after several days of finishing a treatment or using whitening toothpaste.
Using any kind of teeth whitening or bleaching while wearing braces can lead to uneven shades of whiteness when the braces are removed. If you resist whitening your teeth while you have braces and wait until just after they’re removed, they will have a consistently bright colour.
Diagnosing Teeth Sensitivities
When a patient visits their dentist complaining of teeth sensitivity, the dentist will check for obvious causes during the examination. Your dentist will look for tooth decay, chipped or worn teeth, and fillings or crowns that are failing as well as exposed roots secondary to gum recession. A dental instrument may be used to touch each tooth to check for sensitivities and an x-ray may be used to reveal any cavities or problems below the gumline.
Treating Sensitive Teeth
There are a few different treatment options for sensitive teeth.
Desensitising toothpastes are available from the chemist or supermarket to help relieve sensitive teeth. Use the toothpaste twice a day in place of your usual toothpaste with a soft bristle toothbrush.
Some people with sensitive teeth have had success using an enamel booster product. The fluoride and calcium phosphate ingredients act as an enamel boosting gel.
Salt Water Rinses
Rinsing your mouth with salt water can alleviate the pain caused by sensitive teeth. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon of salt to a small glass of lukewarm water and mix before holding the solution in your mouth for up to 30 seconds. Rinse after spitting out the salt water.
If your sensitive teeth are caused by grinding your teeth in your sleep, speak to your dentist about getting a night guard to protect the enamel on your teeth from being further worn away.
Treating Below the Gum
If you have gum problems related to bacteria and tartar(calculus) below the gum line, you will have a gum infection and loss of gum coverage/attachment to the tooth. You may need to see a dentist or periodontist to investigate if you have tartar that needs to be removed from the roots and instruction on maintaining healthy gums and teeth.