Dental Health Tips

Do your teeth hurt when you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee? If you answered yes, you might have sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity affects many people. It can show up suddenly or progress slowly over time. Unfortunately, some people are simply predisposed to having sensitive teeth. Fluoride treatments, tooth pastes and oral products specifically geared towards treating sensitivity can help.

Listed below are some causes for sensitive teeth and possible treatment options:

Grinding Teeth

If you are grinding your teeth, it can cause the protective enamel of the tooth to thin and chip. This decreases the barrier between the living tissue within the tooth, allowing for temperature changes to easily transmit to the nerve of the tooth. One way to treat grinding is to have a night guard made by your dentist. It will also help relieve some of the stress and strain placed on the teeth, including the small ligaments which hold the teeth in place.

Poor Mineralization of Teeth

Minerals like fluoride help strengthen the protective enamel layer of the teeth. As with grinding, poorly mineralized enamel will wear and chip creating less of a barrier with food or drink, triggering the sensitivity. 

Improper Bite or Trauma

When teeth suffer trauma it can cause hyper sensitivity to teeth. If someone has an improper bite, it can result in individual teeth taking on more force than they are designed to. These excessive forces and hyper sensitivity can present as general sensitivity with the teeth. Braces can be used to correct a bite and a splint or occlusal guard can be made to help alleviate some of the forces on a tooth/teeth that have experienced trauma.

Gum recession

Recession of the gums can expose the root surface of the tooth, which is much more sensitive than the crown of a tooth. Increased sensitivity is due to the fact that the root surface of a tooth has no protectant enamel layer. Sensitivity products can help reduce sensitivity, but one of the best treatments is gum grafting, where by the root surface is once again covered with gum tissue and therefore not exposed directly to irritants. 

It is always best to discuss your tooth sensitivity issues with your dentist so they can direct you towards the most successful course of treatment for your teeth.

Dr. Johnson reviews x-rays for cavities, signs of infection and other abnormalities that may be present in the bone surrounding the teeth. Even if nothing currently hurts for a patient, x-rays allow Dr. Johnson to catch and treat any issues BEFORE they become a problem. If we wait to take x-rays until something hurts, it is often a more expensive fix and may involve seeing a specialist at another office.

Bitewings, which show the back teeth, are updated every 12-24 months. The panoramic x-ray that goes all the way around the head lets us see a patient’s teeth, supporting structure and upper and lower jaw bones, is typically updated every 5 years. Every patient is different and x-rays may be required more or less frequently depending on dental history. A single x-ray of a tooth may even be needed if there is a problem or something looks suspicious upon a visual exam.

All of our operatories have a special camera, that looks like a wand, designed to take pictures of the inside of the mouth. We may request to take pictures for the following reasons:

– Broken or cracked fillings or teeth
– A suspicious lesion that Dr. Johnson would like to monitor or refer to a specialist
– Before and after pictures of dental treatment

The cameras are a great tool for us to show patients what we see. The photos are saved in patient charts so we can reference them later and there is no additional charge for the photos!

Hygienists use a small periodontal probe to assess the health of your gums, including any signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease, at your regular cleaning appointments.

Gingivitis is gum inflammation. Permanent damage typically hasn’t happened when are first diagnosed with gingivitis and it can be reversed with regular dental visits, brushing twice a day and daily flossing. If gingivitis progresses and goes untreated, it can permanently affect the support around the teeth and cause periodontal (gum) disease.

The probes hygienists use have markings in millimeters (mm) and measure pocket depths around the teeth. Here are what the measurements indicate:

0 – 3 mm & No Bleeding – Healthy gum tissues do not bleed, so just keep up the good work! Your gums look great!

1 – 3 mm & Bleeding – Bleeding gums are an early sign of gingivitis. Better home care, including daily flossing, should get you back on track!

3 – 5 mm – This may be a sign of periodontal disease. We will talk about recommended home care and possibly more frequent dental visits.

5 – 7 mm – This is an indication of bone loss and moderate periodontal disease. More frequent cleanings and additional treatment might be recommended, including a possible referral to a periodontist. Home care will also be discussed.

7 mm + – This shows advanced periodontal disease. A periodontist will be included in your treatment plan to hopefully save any teeth in question.

The measurements are recorded in your patient chart and are reviewed annually. REMEMBER, brushing twice per day and daily flossing can help keep prevent gingivitis and gum disease!

A sealant is a thin tooth-colored material placed on the chewing surface of back permanent teeth to help prevent cavities by filling in the deep grooves of the teeth. According to the American Dental Association (“ADA”), sealants can reduce cavities on permanent molars by 80%.

Dr. Johnson typically recommends sealants on the 6 year and 12 year molars right after permanent teeth have come in. Sealants can be placed by our hygienists following this quick process:

  1. We dry the tooth/teeth
  2. The material is placed
  3. A special light is used to harden the material

 

There are no needles involved, so it is a quick and painless process. Also, there are no restrictions on eating or drinking after the appointment. Sometimes sealants can wear down over time, but Dr. Johnson will touch them up, as needed, at no additional charge.

 

 

 

 

In a previous post, we talked about ways that we can help ease the anxiety of going to the dentist. Nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) was at the top of the list:

“This safe relaxing agent is breathed in through a mask that takes you to your happy place. Nerves are calmed. Teeth are taken care of, and you’re on your way.”

So, here are more details on what you need to know about laughing gas:

Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas that helps patients relax and become indifferent to discomfort. It is inhaled through a mask that fits over your nose. It works extremely fast and its effects are reversible. It doesn’t put you to sleep or take the place of local anesthetic.

Once your teeth are taken care of and the nitrous oxide has been turned off, you are placed on 100% oxygen for 5 to 10 minutes to purge the gas from your system. This helps you become alert and awake.

Nitrous oxide is safe for children and is often the preferred method of sedation for treating children. It is recommended that people with some conditions, such as first trimester of pregnancy and COPD, avoid the use of nitrous oxide. It is also recommended that you do not use nitrous oxide on an empty stomach. Possible side effects include headache, shivering/sweating, nausea and fatigue.

Have more questions? Give our office a call!

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Have you ever worried that you have bad breath? Some people waste time worrying, when their breath is fine. Others have terrible breath, and have no clue. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing. Stocking up on gum, mints and mouthwash are only a temporary fix. The real root of the problem can be from poor dental health or health problems.

What causes bad breath? Here are a couple of the main sources:

  • Food – the breakdown of food can increase bacteria
  • Eating onions, garlic and other spices
  • Tobacco use
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Dry mouth
  • Medications
  • Other mouth, nose and throat conditions/infections

 

How do you fix it?

  • Brush your teeth and tongue after eating
  • Brush and floss every morning and night
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
  • Use mouthwash
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Go to the dentist at least twice per year
  • Stop smoking and using chewing tobacco products

 

If these suggestions don’t work, ask your dentist for help.

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Morning and bedtime routines are hard enough without having to deal with brushing and flossing, but they are important habits to start early! Here are some tips to help get your kids to brush and floss 2 times per day (morning and night) for 2 minutes each:

Brushing
• Let them pick out their toothbrush (remember to replace every 3 to 4 months)
• Brush with them – the family that brushes together, smiles together
• Reward brushing with a sticker or a bedtime story (preferably not candy 😉)
• Play one of these fun videos while they brush:

🎥Elmo Brushing Teeth
🎥Blippi Tooth Brushing Song
🎥This Is The Way We Brush Out Teeth – LittleBabyBum

Flossing
Make it fun! Practice flossing with Legos and Play-Doh. Then move on to adding it to their daily routine. See Dr. Johnson’s video example.

 

If you are expecting, don’t forget about your teeth. Many women have no dental changes through their pregnancy, however increased hormone levels and blood flow can affect your teeth and gums. Keep up with your regular oral hygiene habits to minimize problems from occurring:

  1. Brush 2x a Day
  2. Floss daily
  3. Visit the Dentist

Here are some of the common causes of dental health problems during pregnancy:

 

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