Posts for: October, 2019
Hello again, Streamwood Smiles community! Have you ever wondered why you sometimes experience a sudden "jolt" when eating ice-cream or brushing in a certain spot on your teeth? You're not alone. Most of our patients have at least one area in their mouths that causes them some sensitivity from time-to-time. But how do you know what is considered "normal" tooth sensitivity, and what is a more serious situation that warrants dentist treatment?
There are many causes of tooth sensitivity, and therefore many different treatment options. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports: "some of the more common culprits (of tooth sensitivity) are caries (tooth decay), cracked or fractured teeth, tooth grinding or clenching, worn fillings or tooth enamel, and gingivae (gums) that have pulled away from the tooth roots as a result of gum disease or vigorous brushing".
Some of these situations warrant immediate treatment. Caries (tooth decay) generally manifests as sensitivity to sweets, so if you're eating candy and feel a twinge in a tooth, visit your dentist: You may need a filling to remove the decay. Cracked/fractured teeth, however, usually experience discomfort to biting and chewing pressure. In this situation, you would need to be evaluated by your dentist to see if you need a crown. Most patients know to visit their dentist when experiencing extreme pressure or temperature sensitivity in a tooth, but what should you do if you experience mild to moderate sensitivity on several to most of your teeth? And why do you experience this sensitvity at all?
The answer lies in the structure of healthy teeth. Enamel is the hard substance that protects the crowns of your teeth, the portion of your tooth that you can see above your gum line. The roots of your teeth, the portion below your gums, are covered with another thin protective layer called cementum. Underneath both enamel and cementum lies the dentin, a softer, more porous structure that contains microscopic tubules that connect with the tooth pulp. The pulp contains the nerve and blood supply to the tooth, and controls the tooth's pain reflex. When the tooth's inner dentin layer is exposed for any reason, irritants like food or liquids may come into contact with the dentin's tubules, and trigger a painful response from the nerve in the tooth's pulp.
Good oral hygiene is the first line of defense in preventing tooth sensitivity. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Brushing gently and using a soft-bristled toothbrush helps to reduce wear on the cementum layer, preventing dentin from becoming exposed. Fluoride is a critical component to reducing tooth sensitivity as well; the fluoride ions in toothpaste help to re-mineralize the tooth surface, helping to "plug" the outer surface of dentinal tubules and prevent irritants from initiating a pain response in the pulp..
If normal fluoride toothpaste does not seem to help your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend trying de-sensitizing toothpaste. There are several brands available over the counter, as well as prescription strength toothpastes that may be recommended. To find a de-sensitizing toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, visit http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/ada-seal-products/ . Many of these toothpastes contain additional compounds to prevent irritation of the tooth and production of sensitivity.
Finally, there are several in-office treatments for tooth sensitivity that your dentist may recommend, in office fluoride treatments work to strengthen existing tooth structure and plug tubules to prevent irritation of the root surface. In more severe cases of root erosion, fillings, or crowns or bonding may be indicated to reduce sensitivity. Finally, in cases associated with severe gum recession, gum surgery may be the best choice to help repair missing gum structure. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, talk with your dentist at Streamwood Smiles about what treatment options are best for you!
You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that someone playing hockey, racing motocross or duking it out in an ultimate fighter match had a tooth knocked out. But acting in a movie? That's exactly what happened to Howie Mandel, well-known comedian and host of TV's America's Got Talent and Deal or No Deal. And not just any tooth, but one of his upper front teeth—with the other one heavily damaged in the process.
The accident occurred during the 1987 filming of Walk Like a Man in which Mandel played a young man raised by wolves. In one scene, a co-star was supposed to yank a bone from Howie's mouth. The actor, however, pulled the bone a second too early while Howie still had it clamped between his teeth. Mandel says you can see the tooth fly out of his mouth in the movie.
But trooper that he is, Mandel immediately had two crowns placed to restore the damaged teeth and went back to filming. The restoration was a good one, and all was well with his smile for the next few decades.
Until, that is, he began to notice a peculiar discoloration pattern. Years of coffee drinking had stained his other natural teeth, but not the two prosthetic (“false”) crowns in the middle of his smile. The two crowns, bright as ever, stuck out prominently from the rest of his teeth, giving him a distinctive look: “I looked like Bugs Bunny,” Mandel told Dear Doctor—Dentistry & Oral Health magazine.
His dentist, though, had a solution: dental veneers. These thin wafers of porcelain are bonded to the front of teeth to mask slight imperfections like chipping, gaps or discoloration. Veneers are popular way to get an updated and more attractive smile. Each veneer is custom-shaped and color-matched to the individual tooth so that it blends seamlessly with the rest of the teeth.
One caveat, though: most veneers can look bulky if placed directly on the teeth. To accommodate this, traditional veneers require that some of the enamel be removed from your tooth so that the veneer does not add bulk when it is placed over the front-facing side of your tooth. This permanently alters the tooth and requires it have a restoration from then on.
In many instances, however, a “minimal prep” or “no-prep” veneer may be possible, where, as the names suggest, very little or even none of the tooth's surface needs to be reduced before the veneer is placed. The type of veneer that is recommended for you will depend on the condition of your enamel and the particular flaw you wish to correct.
Many dental patients opt for veneers because they can be used in a variety of cosmetic situations, including upgrades to previous dental work as Howie Mandel experienced. So if slight imperfections are putting a damper on your smile, veneers could be the answer.
If you would like more information about veneers and other cosmetic dental enhancements, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Veneers” and “Porcelain Dental Crowns.”
Although adults are more prone to dental disease, children aren't immune from one particular infection, tooth decay. Some children, in fact, are at higher risk for an aggressive form called early childhood caries (ECC).
There are a number of things you can do to help your child avoid this destructive disease, especially daily brushing and flossing to remove bacterial dental plaque, the underlying cause for tooth decay. It's also important for your child to see a dentist regularly for professional dental cleanings and checkups.
But some of their teeth, particularly the back molars, may need some extra attention to fully protect them against decay. This is because larger teeth like molars have numerous pits and crevices along their biting surfaces that can accumulate dental plaque difficult to remove by brushing alone. The added plaque increases the presence of bacteria around the tooth, which increases the risk of decay.
To minimize this possibility, dentists can apply a dental sealant to "smooth out" those pits and crevices in the molars and make it more difficult for plaque to accumulate. This is a quick and painless procedure in which a dentist brushes a liquid plastic resin or similar material onto the teeth's biting surfaces. They then apply a curing light to harden it into a durable coating.
About one-third of children—mostly those considered at higher risk for tooth decay—have undergone sealant treatment. But the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend this preventive measure for all children between ages 5 and 7, and then later between 11 and 14 when additional molars come in. Although there is a moderate cost per tooth for sealant application, it's much less than the potential expense of treating an infected tooth.
Combined with daily oral hygiene and other preventive measures, sealants can reduce the chances of damaging tooth decay. Keeping your child's teeth healthy is an important part in maintaining their dental health today—and tomorrow.
“That kid is growing like a weed!” Every proud parent likes to hear something like that about their child: It means they’re growing up—and it shows!
As nature takes its course, your child will physically transform into an adult. And that also includes their mouth: By the time they enter early adulthood they will have had two sets of teeth and their jaw structure will have changed dramatically.
All of this happens without you needing to do anything. But there can be bumps along the road like tooth decay or abnormal bite development. For that, you can and should intervene by preventing or at least slowing the formation of such situations.
The best way to do this is to form a partnership with your child’s dentist. Like any partnership, each party contributes something to the relationship.
For you that means first and foremost keeping up your child’s regular oral hygiene practice. This should start even before they begin showing teeth. As an infant you should start wiping their gums after each feeding with a clean wet cloth to hold down bacterial growth. When teeth appear, you can graduate them to brushing and flossing, teaching them along the way to do it for themselves.
You can also boost their dental health by cutting back on sugar consumption, which feeds bacteria. Besides monitoring their snacks, also avoid sending them to bed with a bottle filled with a sugary liquid (including formula, breast milk, or regular milk). And be sure you provide them a nutritious diet filled with tooth-strengthening foods.
On your dentist’s part, they provide regular cleanings that help ensure decay-causing plaque doesn’t build up on the teeth. They’ll also monitor for any signs of decay, and provide treatment when necessary. To further protect them against decay, dentists can apply sealants and topical fluoride to your child’s teeth, especially if they appear to be at high risk. And they’ll also be watching for early signs of a bite problem: Early intervention could prevent or at least minimize this development.
With that kind of solid partnership, your child’s normal dental development can proceed as smoothly as possible. Avoiding the possible pitfalls will help them achieve optimal oral health now and throughout their lives.