Ever wonder what causes your teeth to hurt when you eat or drink something cold, hot, sweet or sour? Not sure what difference there is in getting gold fillings over composite resin? What’s involved in getting a root canal? These and other questions are discussed below.

Do You Have Sensitive Teeth?

Do you have sensitive teeth?

About 1 in 4 adults suffer from tooth sensitivity. It’s not a disease, but a condition that usually develops over time, reaching its peak between the ages of 30 and 40. Most sufferers are between 20 and 50 years old, but that span is growing. Today’s dietary habits are causing an increasing number of younger people to report pain, and tooth sensitivity is also affecting an increasingly older age group, as they tend to keep their original teeth longer.

Your dentist and dental hygienist are sensitive to your pain

If your teeth hurt when you eat or drink something cold, hot, sweet or sour, or when you brush or floss, you could have dentin hypersensitivity, commonly known as tooth sensitivity. The pain of sensitive teeth can feel like a short, sharp twinge or stab. It can happen suddenly and often passes quickly. It’s the kind of pain that can make you want to change what you eat or drink, or how you brush or floss your teeth. That’s why it’s important to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about properly treating your tooth sensitivity.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Enamel and gums protect your teeth, but there are a number of different ways that this natural protection can weaken. Certain foods or drinks, and even brushing too hard, can be damaging.

  • Dietary Acids – “Acidic” foods or drinks like pop, certain alcoholic beverages, citrus fruits and drinks, or pickled products, can “soften” the hard enamel that covers the tooth surface. Once the acid “softens” the enamel, it takes a couple of hours for the enamel to harden again.
  • Tooth Wear – Brushing too hard or grinding your teeth can gradually remove the enamel, especially when its “soft”. Over time, the protective enamel can wear down so much that the part of the tooth called dentin becomes exposed. Dentin is porous and contains nerve endings. When dentin is exposed, the nerve can be irritated by cold or hot temperatures, sweet or sour foods, as well as brushing or flossing. That’s why this type of pain is called dentin hypersensitivity.
  • Gum Recession – Many people experience gum recession with aging, but brushing too hard can also affect your gums by pushing them back until they no longer cover the tooth at the natural gum line. This gum recession can be an important factor leading to dentin exposure and tooth sensitivity.

Temporary Sensitivity

In addition to the sensitivity caused by tooth wear and gum recession, there are some situations that can cause temporary sensitivity:

  • Bleaching or whitening
  • Gum surgery
  • Scaling or polishing

Bleaching is the most common cause of temporary sensitivity. It is reported that up to 75% of people who whiten their teeth experience discomfort!

 What can I do about tooth sensitivity?

It’s important to begin by removing the cause! Try to eliminate or at least reduce the things that led to dentin exposure in the first place. Doing so will help ensure treatment success.

 What can you do about tooth sensitivity?

It’s important to begin by removing the cause! Try to eliminate or at least reduce the things that led to dentin exposure in the first place. Doing so will help ensure treatment success.

What is Bruxism (teeth grinding)?

About Bruxism

About 15 percent of people have a habit of grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws, a condition called bruxism. Most people do it in their sleep, so it often goes undetected until a family member hears the grinding sound or a dentist notices symptoms. If diagnosed early enough, bruxism can be treated before it causes damage to the teeth.

 Causes of Teeth Grinding

In some cases, grinding occurs because the top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly. It may be a response to pain, such as an earache, or the result of a sleep disorder. Most often, bruxism is related to stress. Alcohol and caffeine intake can aggravate the condition, causing more severe grinding or clenching.

 Effects of Teeth Grinding

In many cases, bruxism doesn’t cause any damage. But if the grinding is severe enough it can:

  • Wear down tooth enamel
  • Chip teeth
  • Increase temperature sensitivity
  • Erode gums and supporting bones
  • Break fillings or other dental work
  • Worsen temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
  • Result in cosmetic damage

Symptoms to Look For

  • Teeth grinding, often very loud, during sleep
  • Jaw pain, headache or earache
  • Frequent contraction of muscles on the side of the face
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Teeth that look flat at the tips
  • Abnormal alignment of teeth
  • Result in cosmetic damage.

 Teeth Grinding in Children

Bruxism is common in children. Three out of 10 kids grind or clench their teeth, usually before the age of 5. They may grind their teeth in response to jaw growth, losing or getting in new teeth, or the pain and discomfort of other ailments, like allergies or ear infections. As in adults, stress often contributes is usually a passing phenomena in kids, and most outgrow it by the time they reach adolescence.

Why Should I Get Gold Fillings?

About

Even though you can’t always see it, gold alloys are the foundation for many tooth-coloured crowns and bridges. Thanks to its purity and smoothness, gold maintains its esthetics. It will not darken or stain over time and always keeps its original brilliance. Gold also resists plaque accumulation, helping to keep your gums healthy.

Even more important, long-term experience has shown that dental restorations made with high gold content materials can last a lifetime – from twenty to fifty years. In contrast, restorations made with other materials are likely to require replacement two to five times over a twenty year period.

 A Natural Material

The safety of gold has been scrutinized for centuries. With many other metals, the likelihood of sensitivity or allergic reaction can be a significant factor. According to hundreds of clinical studies, gold is remarkably compatible with the inside of your mouth. Sensitivity and allergic reactions are virtually eliminated.

 Strong & Flexible

Gold is a big plus for good dental health by protecting your remaining teeth. Many other restorative materials are harder than gold and may cause damaging abrasion on opposing teeth. And, gold expands and contracts at the same rate as normal tooth structure. This protects your gold restoration from chipping, cracking or breaking which can be a problem with other, less versatile materials.

 Excellent Value

Gold is not as expensive as you may think. Remember, gold lasts up to five times longer than many other materials. When looking for superior quality and long-term value, gold is the better choice. In fact, the more gold in the dental alloy, the better it is for you.

 Ask us About Gold

Dr. Garry Lunn will be happy to discuss the wide range of gold-based options that are available to you to restore your smile to its original brilliance. With his specialized training in gold fillings, Dr. Lunn can explain all the benefits of using gold.

Who Needs Their Teeth Sealed?

Dental Caries Tooth Decay

Dental caries, or tooth decay, is the most widespread dental disease among children. However, we can help prevent or reduce the incidence of decay by applying sealants to your child’s teeth.

 What Causes Decay?

Decay is caused by dental plaque, a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. When sugar is eaten, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down, and a cavity (hole) is formed.

 What is a Sealant?

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where decay occurs most often. This sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay-prone areas of the back teeth from plaque and acid.

 Why are Sealants Necessary?

When the back teeth are developing, depressions and grooves form in the chewing surfaces of the enamel. These irregularities are called pits and fissures. They are impossible to keep clean, because the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them. Therefore, pits and fissures are snug places for plaque and bits of food to hide. By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, sealants keep out plaque and food, and thus decrease the risk of decay.

 Who Should Have Sealants Applied?

Children receive the greatest benefit from having sealants applied to their teeth, especially to newly erupted permanent teeth. Sealants are recommended for all children, even those who receive topical applications of fluoridated water. Fluoride helps fight decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth, but it is least effective in pits and fissures.

 How are Sealants Applied?

Each tooth takes only a few minutes to seal. First, the teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. The chewing surfaces are then etched (roughened) with a weak acidic solution to help the sealant adhere to the teeth. Finally, the sealant is brushed on the tooth enamel and allowed to harden. Some sealants need a special curing light to help them harden; others do not.

 Do Sealants Need to be Re-applied?

When the sealant is applied, finger-like strands penetrate the pits and fissures of the tooth enamel. Although the sealant cannot be seen with the naked eye, the protective effect of these strands continues. As a result, it may ne several years before another application of sealant is needed. Reapplication of the sealant will continue its protection against decay and may save the time and expense of having a tooth restored. Sealants will be checked during your child’s regular dental visits to determine if reapplication is necessary.

Do I Need Dental X-Rays?

We believe it is important to ask if you are unsure. We are prepared to discuss the risks and benefits associated with x-rays.

In our clinic we take x-rays based on clinical need versus a predetermined time interval. The protocol for x-rays has changed in recent years and we are current with these recommendations.

The need for radiographs is based on individual need each and every time a patient presents for examination. A number of factors are considered before x-rays are prescribed by one of our dentists.

X-rays can be an invaluable diagnostic tool that helps determine the appropriate treatment and likely outcome of the treatment. X-rays can show ill fitting fillings, decay not evident on visual examination, loss of supporting bone structure, tumor masses, and dental abscesses to name a few problems and reasons to take radiographs.

It is the very fact that there is some risk associated with a procedure that leads to the need for its selective use. However, discussing risks can be difficult. One way to discuss risk is to make legitimate comparisons. Effective dose is reported in sieverts and simply put allows us to compare diagnostic x-ray exposure to the exposure we receive through natural sources.

Discussing Risk

Using effective dose measurements, it is fair to compare chest x-rays (0.08mSv), to the bitewing series (0.017mSv), to the panoramic (0.007mSv). Or, we can say that a complete mouth series equals about five days of background radiation. A bitewing series equals 1 day and a panoramic is equal to 10 hours of background radiation.

Another approach is to relate the estimated risk of the x-ray examination to the estimated risks associated with other common activities. For example, one can compare the risk of developing a fatal cancer from dental x-ray examination to the risk of dying from some other activity. A complete full mouth series of radiographs results in a mortality risk estimate of 2.8 cases per one million examinations. By comparison, anyone that has smoked more than one cigarette has one in a million chance of dying of heart disease or cancer as a result of that indiscretion. We accept similar mortality risks every time we go on a 300 mile road trip, ride a bicycle 10 miles, or visit New York City for a weekend.

What Do I Need To Know About Oral Piercings?

The people that perform the piercing are not a regulated group. What this means is that they have no formal education on sterilization or infection control guidelines. For the most part they are self-trained, which means there is a wide range of skills and knowledge about what they are doing. The risk is totally taken by the person by the person receiving the piercing, as the individual performing the act is not accountable to anyone.

 Risks

  • Blood borne disease may be transmitted i.e. HIV, hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex virus, tetanus, candida, Epstein-Barr, syphilis, and T.B.
  • A stroke is possible due to toxic shock
  • Swelling that may occur could result in blockage of the airway.
  • Recurrent infections
  • Aspiration of the jewellery (swallowing or airway obstruction)
  • Pain and bleeding from the procedure with a resulting infection
  • Nerve damage (numbness)
  • Foreign body incorporation into site of piercing
  • Interference with chewing and swallowing
  • Interference with speech
  • Chipping or fracture of teeth due to the wrecking ball action of the barbell
  • Allergic reaction to jewellery or hypersensitivity
  • Increased salivation
  • Tissue trauma to the gums
  • Ludwigs angina (life threatening)

There are any number of reasons to have oral piercing (tongue, lip, chin) which we are not questioning. Our concern is for the well being and oral health of the individual. We feel you need to know the possible risks involved. Please ask us should you need further information.

What Can I Do About Dry Mouth?
  • Carry a small water bottle so you can take frequent sips during the day.
  • Moisten your mouth with artificial salivas as needed
  • Apply lip lubricants, as required.
  • Avoid alcoholic, carbonated and caffeine-containing drinks.
  • If acidic juices irritate your mouth, substitute fruit-flavoured drinks or milk.
  • Avoid salty foods since they may increase your thirst.
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer, especially at night.
  • Chew sugarless or dry-mouth gum with xylitol “(Trident)” or suck sugarless hard candies
  • Avoid dry foods such as cookies, toast and crackers, or soften them with liquids before eating.
  • Puree foods or try soft foods like macaroni and cheese, stews, mashed potatoes, soup, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, canned fruits and vegetables, yogurt and ice cream.
  • If it’s too difficult to eat a full meal, try eating smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Drink liquids with meals and use gravies, sauces, yogurt and mayonnaise to make food easier to swallow.
  • Suck on ice chips (but don’t chew them) or popsicles if their cold temperature doesn’t bother you.
  • Maintain stringent oral hygiene. Cleanse teeth and/or dentures frequently. Use fluoridated products as directed. Wash hands before and after oral care.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Check inside your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, your gums and tongue daily for red, white or dark patches and ulcers. If you find any, contact our office for a check.
  • Tablets and capsules are easier to swallow if you drink a little water first, then swallow the drug, followed by at least half a glass of water. If you still have problems, talk with your pharmacist.
  • If you are repeatedly having to have fillings done a remineralization or fluoride trays may be needed.
How Do I Manage Jaw System Dysfunction?

Awareness of Habits or Jaw Use Patterns

The teeth are supposed to make contact during eating and swallowing, but at no other time. When the jaw is not working during eating, swallowing, yawning and talking, the teeth should be apart and the jaw should be at rest. Notice any contact your teeth make. Notice any clenching, grinding, gritting, tapping of teeth or tensing of jaw muscles.

Notice when these tooth contacts or the jaw muscle tensing most often occurs, such as during driving, studying, reading, social situations, conversation, fatigue, overwork, stress, emotional upsets, work, sports.

Positioning of the Jaw to Avoid Tooth Contacting Habits

Place the tip of the tongue just behind the top front teeth and keep the teeth slightly apart. Maintain this position whenever the jaw is not being used.

Diet Modifications

Softer foods place less stress on the jaw muscles and joints than coarser foods. Avoid eating coarse, hard foods that requires you to bite into them with the front teeth, such as apples or sandwiches. Cut these foods up into small pieces and eat them on the back teeth. Don’t chew gum or soft chewy foods that require excessive jaw movements.

Avoid Wide Opening Jaw

Excessive movements of the jaw will place stress on the joints and muscles.

Do Not Test the Jaw

You may want to periodically move your jaw around to check whether you are making progress and see if the soreness is resolving. To do this, people usually open and swing the jaw from side to side beyond the comfortable range of motion. When you move your jaw to the point where you produce pain and discomfort, you have added to the stress on your muscles and joints and this can cause continuation of the problems you are trying to eliminate.

Sleep Patterns

Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which places the jaw in a position where considerable pressure is place upon it. Propping pillows beside you may be helpful in avoiding unconsciously moving onto your stomach. This can be a difficult pattern to break. Avoid sleeping patterns where the jaw is rested upon a hand or arm, which also applies considerable pressure to the jaw.

Support the Jaw During Yawning

Place your index finger and thumb on our chin to provide some extra stability to the lower jaw during yawning.

Additional Strategies

Avoid leaning on your chin or jaw at any time. This even applies to posturing your head to press a telephone against your shoulder. There can be an infinite number of factors contributing to a jaw dysfunction. It is easily possible that this guide has overlooked a factor that is important in your problem. Please advise us of anything that you think may be contributing. Your input is important. Moist heat applied to the area of discomfort twice a day for ten-minute intervals is helpful. Keep rested and maintain good nutrition, whilst trying to avoid additional stressful commitments that may adversely affect your present condition. A mild analgesic such as ibuprofen (Advil) can be of value during recurrences of pain. These should not be used if you have previously experienced reactions to these drugs or if your physician has advised you against taking them.

Crown and Bridge Pre-Treatment Information

Crowns can be either gold or a porcelain/gold combination. If it is gold, it will be yellow gold in colour. If porcelain, it may be strengthened with white gold (platinum in colour) on the chewing surface and at the gumline. These options can be discussed with Dr. Lunn prior to your appointment.

Your initial appointment will be about two hours, during which your mouth will be frozen. Preparations will be done on the tooth and impressions will be taken. At the end of the first appointment, a provisional crown will be temporarily cemented onto the tooth until the crown is ready, about two weeks later. Don’t be too concerned about the fit of the temporary – it only roughly approximates the fit and feel of the final crown.

The final appointment to cement the new crown into place takes about 30 minutes, during which your mouth may again be frozen. You may experience some sensitivity to hot and cold for a while after the procedure. Use pain-killers if required. If the bite doesn’t feel comfortable or the pain persists, please call our office at 604-738-7710..

Financial arrangements are to be made in advance with the receptionist. We look forward to assisting you with your dental needs.

After the Tooth has been Prepared

While we are careful to minimize the amount of discomfort you might experience after your initial treatment, there are measures you can take after you leave the office:

  1. Use a warm saltwater rinse frequently for 2-3 days after the procedure. (1 tablespoon of salt in half a glass of warm water).
  2. Take a pain-killer – one you might use for a headache – before the freezing wears off completely. Take one more before bedtime. Continue every six hours as needed.
  3. Keep the area free of bacteria be carefully brushing and flossing. Pull floss out sideways to avoid dislodging the temporary crown.
  4. Avoid extremes of hot or cold temperature on the side treated.
  5. Avoid chewy or sticky food on the temporary crown.
  6. Should the temporary come off, put it back on tooth, if possible, and call our office to have it re-cemented.