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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Tooth Sensitivity: Causes and Treatments

NOTHING RUINS A COZY mug of hot cocoa faster than the jolt of pain from sensitive teeth. As many as one in eight people in the U.S. deal with tooth sensitivity, including kids! What causes it and what can we do to protect our teeth?

Understanding Dental Anatomy

In a healthy tooth, there is the protective outer layer of enamel, then the porous, bony middle layer of dentin, and finally the pulp chamber at the center, which contains nerves and blood vessels. The way the nerves in the pulp chamber get sensory input (for things like pressure and temperature) is through the thousands of microscopic tubules that run through the dentin.

Too Much Sensory Input

When the protective enamel layer wears away, the tubules in the dentin become exposed, and the nerves suddenly get much more stimulation than they like. This is what makes enamel erosion one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Without enamel, the nerves get a nasty shock whenever anything too hot or cold, or even too sweet or sour, touches the outside of the tooth.

What Else Causes Sensitivity?

Root exposure from gum recession also leads to sensitivity. The enamel only covers the crown of the tooth, not the roots, which are protected by the gums. If the gums recede due to teeth grinding, overbrushing, or gum disease, it leaves the roots exposed. Cavities and tooth injuries can cause sensitivity as well.

Are You Protecting Your Teeth?

Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to fight back, even if our teeth are already sensitive. Using a soft-bristled brush will help prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. We don’t actually need stiff bristles to clean our teeth effectively. There is also special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks (particularly soda) is also a good idea.

The Dentist Can Help!

Don’t suffer tooth sensitivity in silence; let the dentist know! In addition to being able to determine the cause of the problem, the dentist can do things to help protect your teeth, such as applying a fluoride varnish to make your enamel stronger, prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste, or in a severe case, perform a dental restoration or recommend a gum graft to cover exposed roots.

Our top priority is keeping your smile healthy and strong!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What’s Different About Women’s Oral Health?

HEALTH CONCERNS CAN BE a lot different for women than for men, and that even includes dental health! Women face a different set of challenges than men do in caring for their teeth and gums, as well as having different advantages.

Which Oral Health Conditions Are More Common for Women?

Did you know that 90% of people diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) are women? TMD is chronic pain or soreness in the joints of the jaw. It’s typically caused by bruxism (teeth grinding), but joint structure, stress, arthritis, vitamin deficiency, or hormones could also be responsible.

Another condition women are more likely to be affected by than men is Sjörgen’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the body, particularly salivary glands and tear ducts, causing both dry mouth and dry eye. In addition to making chewing and swallowing difficult and uncomfortable and interfering with the sense of taste, dry mouth is dangerous to oral health.

Hormonal Changes Can Affect Teeth

Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause all come with major hormonal changes that can impact oral health. Gingivitis and gum inflammation are more common during puberty and pregnancy, which makes good daily dental health habits like brushing and flossing even more important under these conditions.

Menopause is associated with a higher incidence of dry mouth and bone loss in the jaw. This bone loss can compromise the gum tissue and the roots of teeth, which is why it’s important to discuss it with the dentist (preferably before any symptoms have even begun).

Eating Disorders Are a Serious Oral Health Problem

Women aren’t the only ones who struggle with eating disorders, but they are certainly twice as common among teenage girls as teenage boys. Eating disorders are incredibly dangerous and damage every system in the body, including teeth and gums. It’s a two-pronged attack on oral health: malnutrition weakens the oral tissues and the immune system while acid erosion (in the case of bulimia) destroys tooth enamel.

We encourage anyone struggling with an eating disorder to seek psychiatric help so that they can begin the mental recovery process. The dental health recovery process will likely require help in the form of a rigorous dental hygiene routine and professional attention from the dentist.

The Dentist Is the Expert on Women’s Oral Health

With all these risk factors women face in keeping their teeth and gums healthy, are there really any up-sides? Yes, actually, and it’s a big one. Women tend to be better than men at taking care of their teeth! Women are more likely to maintain good oral health habits, and they’re also better at keeping up with their regular dental exams and getting the dentist’s help when they experience tooth pain (as opposed to trying to tough it out), so even if they are more susceptible to certain problems, the impact is reduced!

We love working with our female patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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