Do You Need Help With Sensitive Teeth?

There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a cold glass of ice water on a hot day – unless that first sip brings a jolt of discomfort to the mouth. The culprit? Tooth sensitivity.

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

Your teeth are coated with a protective layer of enamel. If the enamel wears away or decays and exposes the tooth (or teeth), you can experience sensations including pain.

Tooth exposure can be caused by brushing too hard, as well as having a chipped tooth, or grinding and clenching your teeth. A medical condition, like acid reflux, can also be a cause. Even diet may play a role. Acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons and beverages like sports and energy drinks can dissolve enamel.

Preventing Enamel Loss

Damage to enamel is irreversible. Once it is worn away, there is no way to ‘grow’ it back. The trick is preventing or stopping the damage, and there are several methods you can implement to achieve this goal:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid brushing the teeth too hard. Employ a proper technique, including holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and moving it in a circular motion. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush, most of which use a circular cleaning pattern.
  • Reduce or eliminate acidic foods and beverages from your diet. When that’s not possible, rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking these items and then wait at least a half-hour before brushing your teeth.
  • Be on the alert for clenching and grinding your teeth, both of which can cause tooth sensitivity. These bad habits are best treated by wearing a mouth guard while sleeping and avoiding chewy foods during the day

Protecting Your Remaining Enamel

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, one or more teeth will become sensitive. The first step is to see a dentist who can develop an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on your situation, options include:

  • Using special toothpaste.  After being applied several times, certain kinds of toothpaste can help block the sensation of sensitivity from the nerve.
  • Applying fluoride gel.  Used in the dental office, fluoride gel can help make tooth enamel stronger and lessen the feeling of sensitivity.
  • Looking into serious dental treatments.  When sensitivity is the result of decay or another tooth problem, a crown may help. If gum tissue receding from the tooth’s root is the cause, a surgical gum graft may correct the problem. In severe cases, a root canal may be the best option to help treat teeth sensitivity.

5 Tips for a Better Smile

  1. Make Sure to Use Dental Floss

Sure, there are tons of products on the market that claim to clean your teeth, but nothing can replace good, old-fashioned dental floss.  What makes floss irreplaceable is its ability to get in between the teeth, where surfaces are tight against one another, and attack the places where some of the worst germs hide. You should know that brushing your teeth only removes about 50% of the nasty stuff off of your teeth. Floss is the absolute best household product to take care of the other half.  It does not matter how fancy or expensive a toothbrush you use or how intensely you go over each tooth, you still need to floss.

  1. Limit Your Coffee Tea and Red Wine

Beverages like tea, red wine, and coffee are well known for staining your teeth. These drinks can create a superficial stain that a hygienist or dentist can polish off. But, in some cases, they can also cause internal damage to the tooth enamel. If you want to take some precautions, you can try drinking through a straw. This way, the liquids don’t make contact with your teeth when you are enjoying your drinks. You should also rinse your mouth out with water, the more frequently the better. The water will wash the dark liquids off your teeth, so they won’t sit there creating stains.

  1. Purchase a High Quality Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes have been proven to remove plaque more efficiently and provide more cleaning to the gums than standard toothbrushes. If you are willing to spend the money, some electric toothbrushes even include settings for whitening or sensitive teeth. While you will have to replace the electric toothbrushes’ heads, the bodies are made to last years at a time. If an electric toothbrush isn’t your thing or you aren’t looking to spend too much, make sure you buy a soft-bristled manual brush. You can always find hard and medium brushes on the market, but dentists around the country agree that they are not healthy for your teeth.

  1. Manage Your Sugar Intake

While candies and cakes always seem tempting, they wreak havoc on your teeth, leading to plaque buildup and weakened enamel. Instead of indulging in sugary snacks, its better to reach for nutritious foods like fruit, cheese, Greek yogurt or raw vegetables. Many veggies, including celery and cauliflower, even help remove crumbs from between your teeth and also help fight plaque.

  1. See Your Dentist More Often

The importance of dental check-ups cannot be downplayed. Many people see their dentist twice a year, but even that is not enough. It’s recommended that you check in with your dentist every 3 months, which is 4 times a year. While that may sound like too much to some people, it really is necessary. Your mouth can build up quite a lot of germs in 90 days, and then you are just back where you started! There’s nothing better you can do for your mouth than to have a professional dental cleaning.

What to Expect From a Dental Crown

You just received news from your dentist that you need a dental crown, but you have no idea what that entails. This is a common reaction from many dental patients. It’s natural to be nervous about a procedure you don’t know much about. To that effect, here is everything you need to know about your dental crown procedure.

Prior to receiving the crown, it is common to have a consultation visit where your dentist will go over preparation processes for the procedure and take impressions of your existing tooth in order to create the right sized and shaped crown. During this consultation, a temporary crown might be placed on the damaged tooth to safeguard it until the final placement.

During a second appointment, the new dental crown will be placed and secured in. Some patients may require a local anesthetic; however this is generally painless to the majority of patients. The dentist will make sure the crown properly fits the tooth and its neighboring teeth. Once both you and your dentist are content with the crown as a whole, the crown can be cemented in position and any extra dental cement will be scraped away by the dentist.

After the placement of a crown, your dentist will give you with details about proper care for your new crown. Typical practices of brushing twice daily and flossing will help prevent the growth of plaque and gum disease. Make sure you avoid chewing ice or other hard foods, grinding or clenching your teeth, and biting your fingernails, as these can lead to damage of the dental crown.

Dental Crown Materials

Crowns can be made of several materials according to the need of the patient:

  • Ceramic crowns are generally more esthetically pleasing given that the material makes them look very similar to natural teeth. These crowns do not require any metal and are able to use less material, which makes them a great option for a restricted space in the mouth. The durability of the all-cement crown is good, but should not be used for people who have a tendency to grind or clench their teeth.
  • Porcelain crowns are the second most natural looking option. The metal on the inside of the crown takes away some of the translucency in the porcelain, but it adds needed durability and support. It is essential to be aware that as gum recession occurs, the metal portion of the crown can become visible.
  • A gold crown is not as popular as it used to be, mainly for esthetic reasons. Having said that, a gold crown has a lot to offer in strength and durability, especially for molars and people who clench or grind their teeth. Gold is a good choice material when thinking about the wear and tear on the bordering teeth, since it tends to be less abrasive than porcelain.

 

What Do Your Teeth Say About Your Health?

When a dentist examines your teeth, they are not just looking for cavities or plaque. To a professional, your mouth can be a window to the health of the rest of your body as well. Symptoms of various bodily issues will surface in the mouth, and your dentist can detect their onsets early. Here is what your mouth can say about you:

Stress Level

If you are feeling depressed, anxious or stressed, it can poorly affect your oral health. High stress levels can lead to teeth grinding, which the dentist can easily identify. People suffering from depression are less likely to take care of their teeth, and their hygiene may suffer because of it.

Osteoporosis

A disease that causes brittle bones, osteoporosis affects all the bones of the body including the jaw. Damage to the jawbone can lead to tooth loss and severe gum infections. Early detection of these problems can lead to better medication for the patient earlier on.

Anemia

If you are suffering from anemia the first symptoms can arise in your mouth. An anemic mouth is pale and sore, and the tongue is smooth and swollen. The lack of red blood cells from the anemia causes these reactions in your mouth.

Improper Medication

A harsh side effect of being overly or improperly medicated is having an intensely dry mouth. Antidepressants, antihistamines, painkillers and decongestants are among some of the meds that can cause a dry mouth.

Acid Reflux

Dentists may catch the early signs of an acid reflux disease by assessing the acid damage to your teeth. The acid from your stomach will erode the enamel on you teeth leaving visible stains.

Cancer

Although not every white or red lesion is oral cancer, these lesions can show up in the mouth, usually on the side or the back of the tongue, as a result of cancer. A regular dentist visit could diagnose this in the early stages.

Crohn’s Disease

People suffering from the inflammatory bowl disease Crohn’s disease often develop swollen lips and ulcers in their mouth before the abdominal symptoms appear.

Why Dental Cleanings are Essential

green and white denture toy

Have you scheduled a dental cleaning yet this year? Brushing and flossing at home are great, but they are just not enough. To truly ensure you have a mouth full of healthy teeth, you should have frequent check-ups with your Dentist, and let them take care of the built up germs. Dental cleanings do more than just brighten your smile, they can also have an impact on your general health. Leaving your mouth mouth full of bacteria and germs can lead to sickness and infections. A professional cleaning includes several steps, and they all serve a great purpose to your mouth.

The first thing that will happen is the dental examination. This is where your dentist or hygienist will check in between your teeth for cavities. The professional may also use X-Rays to detect any hidden cavities they could not see. The exam will also include a check for tartar or plaque on your teeth. If you do not remove plaque, a thin layer of bacteria, from your mouth, it can harden and become tartar. Tartar cannot be removed from the usual brushing, and must be treated by a Dentist.  A build-up of these bacterial nuisances can lead to oral diseases.

Next, the exam will focus in on your gums. This will be done using a tool to measure the space between your teeth and your gums. A deeper space between the two can be an indication of gum disease. There should also be attention paid to your neck face and head. This is to look for any signs of trouble – redness, swelling, possible signs of cancer.

After the examination is completed, the cleaning stage will begin.  During the cleaning, your Dentist will utilize special tools to remove the identified areas of plaque and tartar. This is called scaling.

After your teeth have been cleaned, they will then be polished. In most cases, a gritty paste is used for this process. The paste helps remove all the surface stains of your teeth, and leaves your teeth feeling smoother than ever. The final step will usually include flossing your teeth to remove any left over bits. After that, the dentist will clean you up, you’ll rinse and spit, and you’ll be on your way.

Professional dental cleanings give your dental expert the opportunity to address all of these possible issues. The more frequently you visit your dentist, the more information they can collect on your teeth, and the quicker they can intervene if trouble arises. If you have not had your normal visit yet, or have been putting off a visit for a while, make sure you make an appointment for a cleaning soon!

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

Best Ways to Keep Your Gums Healthy

woman with pink lipstick
http://www.Smylen.com

While the importance of cleaning your teeth is obvious, it is only half the battle when it comes to oral hygiene. Maintaining healthy gums is an essential, and often overlooked, part of dental care.

When you don’t treat your gums well, plaque builds up under and along the gum line and it creates an ideal environment for gum disease to fester. Periodontal disease often starts as gingivitis, a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the gum tissues. If left untreated, this condition can progress to periodontitis, which results in loss of the bone that surrounds the teeth. When bone tissue is lost, the teeth and gums begin to separate, forming pockets that provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Ultimately, the disease may cause tooth loss, painful abscesses, and even systemic inflammation.

Fortunately, gum disease is preventable. Good dental habits like brushing and flossing at least two times a day can prevent infections. Having your teeth cleaned and checked by a dentist every three to four months is also important. No matter how hard you brush, nothing can attack plaque and tartar like a professional cleaning.

There are quite a few foods that, when introduced into the diet, help maintain ideal gum health:

  • Chewing on an apple can take a while, but that is a good thing for your teeth. The munching action shakes the plaque loose that clings to your gums. Just be sure to wash your mouth out after enjoying the apple, as the natural sugars could harm your enamel.
  • Ginger root is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. The herb can be used to help swelling of the gums and promote healthy tissue in your gums.
  • Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt or cheese, are not only loaded with bone-strengthening calcium, but also with a protein call casein, which lowers the acidity in your mouth. Dairy products can neutralize the acids produced from plaque as well.
  • Leafy greens are well known to be a healthy food for your body, but they are also successful at keeping your gums clean. Their benefit comes from all the fiber packed into the greens. They require some serious chewing and some extra saliva to break down, neutralizing acids in the process.
  • Yes it will give you bad breath, but raw onion is a strong bacteria-killing superfood. Onions have an active ingredient that attacks bacteria, specifically four bacteria strains that cause gum disease. Make sure to pop in a breath mint after following this tip.

How To Avoid Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

Let me guess, you need a few cups of coffee to get through your day but you’re worried about unattractive brown spots left on your teeth. You aren’t alone. Stained teeth are a real concern for coffee drinker everywhere. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to avoid the dreaded coffee stains.

Adding Creamer Doesn’t Help

Many people believe that adding creamer or milk to coffee will reduce the coloring of the stains. Their thinking is that by lightening the color of the coffee, it will also lighten the color of the stain, making them less visible. This prevalent thought is a myth. Coffee stains occur when the tannins (a type of acid) in the coffee bind to the enamel on your tooth and discolor it. Adding any dairy product will do nothing to reduce that effect.

In fact, adding a creamer to your drink is even worse for your teeth. The sugar in the cream can cause plaque to form on your teeth, creating another oral hygiene problem.

Drink Water Along With Coffee

Pouring a glass of water to drink along side your coffee is an easy way to protect your teeth. The water will wash the coffee off of your enamel, so stains do not have time to form. It will also flush out any coffee remnants left in your mouth. If you enjoy a sugary creamer in your morning beverage, the water will boost your saliva’s capability to break down the sugar, avoiding the plaque build up that could occur otherwise.

Drink Through a Straw

Using a straw with your coffee reduces the amount of contact the drink has with your teeth. Since the stains occur when the coffee builds up on a tooth’s enamel, sipping through a straw will avoid this problem. The method is not perfect, as your molars will still be stained, but your front teeth should be spared any brown marks.

Using a straw is already pretty common while drinking iced coffee, but this tip can also apply to drinking hot coffee as well. If you are worried about drinking a hot beverage through plastic, there are dozens of metal straws made specifically for coffee on the market. Just be sure that your drink is not too hot, as it is easier to burn your tongue using this method.

Drink a Bit Quicker

To be clear, you should never chug a hot beverage of any kind. But, you also should not sip on coffee throughout the whole day. The small but constant contact of coffee on your teeth will cause more damage than drinking it all at once. Always be conscious of how long it takes you to finish that cup of joe, and try to slowly shorten that time frame.

 

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee® for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

5 Surprisingly Bad Foods for Your Teeth

We all know certain foods (especially sugary ones) lead to cavities, but some dental culprits can go overlooked. Here are five shockingly bad foods for your teeth:

sliced bread on white surface

1. Bread

It may seem innocent to your mouth at first, but bread can wreak havoc on your teeth. When you chew bread, it’s broken down from starch into sugar. The bread then sticks to the crevices in between your teeth, causing cavities and enamel damage. If you do have a craving for bread, try reaching for whole wheat instead, which has less added sugars.

close up photo of clear drinking glass filled with ice

2. Ice

How can ice be bad? It’s just water, right? Not exactly. Ice is a particularly hard substance, and chewing on something that requires a lot of pressure can harm your teeth. Crunching on ice can lead to enamel damage or more serious dental conditions like chipped or cracked teeth. There is nothing wrong with using ice to chill down your drinks, so keep the ice in your cups where it belongs.

dried fruits

3. Dried Fruit

Many people use dried fruit as a healthier alternative to candies and artificial sweets. While they may be better to digest, they do not do your mouth any favors. As they are usually pretty sticky treats, dried fruits get stuck and cling to the teeth and the space between them. Fruits’ naturally high sugar content can cause plaque or tartar to build around the teeth, so make sure to wash away the remnants with water after you enjoy them.

assorted color nips

4. Sour Candies

As obviously bad as candy can be to your mouth, sour candies are even worse! The sour components in the sweets are actually added acids that are rough on your gums and teeth. On top of the acid and sugar, add the usual stickiness of candy, and you have a recipe for a dental nightmare. Instead of sour candies, you should try eating some chocolate instead. Chocolate is lower in sugar and easier for your saliva to break down. Dark chocolate in particular has a relatively low sugar level.

chips crisp crispy crunchy

5. Potato Chips

Chips are not known to be the healthiest snack, but many people overlook the hurt they can cause to your mouth. Potatoes are packed with starches, and those starches will eventually break down into sugar. Potato chips have a tendency to get stuck in your gums, causing prolonged contact with your teeth. Make sure to floss after you indulge in potato chips to make sure every crumb is removed.

 

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee® for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

TEETH WHITENING PART 2: THE SAGA CONTINUES

A bit more on teeth whitening…

A bit more on teeth whitening…

WHY ARE TEETH SENSITIVE AFTER TOOTH WHITENING?

Well basically, the acidic gel has seeped into your enamel and exposed the nerves in your dentin.  What am I talking about? Read my lesson on the different parts of a tooth.  

What do we mean by sensitivity?  You typically will feel something like an electric “ping” in your teeth. This usually occurs in 24-48 hours after whitening.  This can be prompted by hot or cold drinks. This can also be unprompted. (Funny story: I was about to go in for the first kiss with my now wife when I felt one of these shocks and I screamed in her face.)

Some people are more sensitive than others.  The lead singer of the Counting Crows is super sensitive.  Stone Cold Steve Austin is not very sensitive. If you are experiencing a lot of sensitivity, here’s a few things you can do:

  • cut down the amount of time you are bleaching your teeth:

if you are wearing bleaching trays, wear them less often.  Also, wear them for a shorter period of time. You can achieve excellent whitening results only wearing trays for 1 hour.

  • decrease the strength of the gel you are using

Like we said, gels come in different strengths: 10%, 15%, 20%, 35%.   Are you sleeping overnight with 35% gel 6 nights a week and wondering why your teeth are sensitive?  I think it’s time to chill out.

  • use a desensitizer

If you got an in-office whitening, sometimes they will give you a “desensitizing” gel after the procedure to apply post-operatively.  this will certainly help as well.

Didn’t get the luxurious desensitizer?  Sensodyne toothpaste can help. according to Sensodyne: “Sensodyne® toothpastes with potassium nitrate works to soothe the nerves inside the tooth.”  My sister swears by the stuff. Just make sure you using it twice a day and not bouncing around to Crest or Colgate after sleeping over at your boyfriend’s apartment.  Consistency is key in order to get the benefits of Sensodyne.

WILL TOOTH WHITENING WORK FOR YOU?

Results may vary!  This is not a perfect world!  A good rule of thumb is: this helps most if your teeth are yellow.  If your teeth are gray, (as Liam Neeson’s adversary said in Taken) “good luck”.  

Everyone wants whiter teeth and luckily in this day and age, there are many different ways to accomplish this.  Decide what makes the most sense based on your teeth and your budget.

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek
Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

TEETH WHITENING PART 1: HOW DO YOU GET WHITER TEETH?

There are a number of ways to get whiter teeth.  Let’s go through them.

There are a number of ways to get whiter teeth.  Let’s go through them.

CLEANING

First off, are your teeth clean?  Is last week’s (month’s) mac n’ cheese sitting between your teeth?  Take a long, hard, honest look at yourself in the mirror. Do you need a cleaning?  If you have plaque/tartar/bacteria sitting all over your teeth, no act of G-d is going to get it whiter.  You need a cleaning dude. If you haven’t one in 6 months, or, if Obama was president, or, you can’t remember your last cleaning, the time is now!

Also, some staining is best removed via a cleaning.  Drink a lot of coffee? Tea? Red wine? Smoke a pack a day?  Do you dip? Chew betel nut?  There is a good chance you have brown stains on the front of your teeth and I can almost guarantee you on the back of your teeth.  The cavitron cleaning takes removes this type of staining best.  You will want to have a cleaning prior to moving on to any of the other options.

BLEACHING TRAYS

You can buy stock trays online or have custom ones made at the dental office.   Of course, the stock trays are cheaper and less comfortable. The custom trays are more expensive and fit very comfortably.  You apply some bleaching gel into the trays, and put the trays in your mouth. Wear for 30 minutes – a few hours (depending on the strength of the gel), and your teeth will gradually be whitened.  

The gels (typically carbamide peroxide) come in different strengths: 10%, 15%, 20%, 35%.  Depending on the strength you will vary the amount of time you wear the trays. Higher strength should be worn for less time and visa versa.

Upsides?

You are in control.

You can use it as often as you want.

Downsides?

Need to use a few times to see clear results.

Need to purchase bleaching gel.

CREST WHITE STRIPS

The active ingredient in these is equivalent to the whitening gel mentioned above.  You stick em on your teeth and let the gel soak in. Yes, I’ve heard they really work.

Upsides?

You are in control.

You can use it as often as you want.

Downsides?

The alternatives (bleaching trays and chairside whitening) will work a lot faster.  

IN OFFICE / ZOOM / “LASER” / CHAIRSIDE WHITENING

This is the easiest way to get results, fast.  Here’s what happens. You sit in the chair. Someone (probably a dental hygienist) loads your mouth up with cotton and this protective ‘dam’ to prevent your gums from getting burned.  Bleaching gel (usually carbamide peroxide) is applied to your teeth. A fancy light is set on your gel’d up teeth. Bleaching occurs. Usually for 1 hour.

Upsides?  

1 hour.  

Usually the most obvious results.

Downsides?  

Can make teeth sensitive.  Some people are more prone to sensitivity than others.  

Results may vary.

Results typically fade over time.  

 

(DETOUR PSA – Post Op Instructions For Zoom Whitening:

Avoid “staining” foods: red wine, marinara sauce, coca cola, gatorade… catch my drift?

The ideal post-whitening meal would be turkey and white American cheese on white bread with mayo and a glass of milk.)

 

That’s all for this week folks.  There is more to unpack next week in… TEETH WHITENING PART DEUX: THE SAGA CONTINUES!

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek
Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.