Thursday, December 5, 2013

I was fine until...

"Oh" you say as you put your hand to your mouth.  You just drank some ice water and now your tooth hurts.  "Where did that come from?", you ask. 
One of the biggest complaints dentists receive is sensitive teeth and there are several reasons for its occurrence.  While there are many ways to prevent sensitivity, sometimes it just happens.  So where does sensitivity come from and what can be done about it?

Reason #1: Decay

Decay eats away at the tooth creating a hole.  As the hole gets bigger, the cavity gets closer to the nerve.  The closer to the nerve, the more sensitive the tooth becomes.  The nerve receives direct communication to the outside world and is not protected by enamel.  Small cavities generally are not sensitive, but when left untreated reactions to sweets and cold occur. 
Treatment:  Remove and restore decay

Reason #2:  Fillings

When a tooth has a cavity, it must be treated.  Untreated decay leads to root canals, crowns, or extractions.  However, after treatment, a tooth can remain sensitive for several days. Why?  Well, if a cavity is big and close to the nerve, then any work done on the tooth may agitate the nerve even more.  If the cavity is small, then sometimes the tooth is over-dried in the restorative procedure.  A moist tooth has an added protective barrier of the water, but when a filling is placed, the tooth needs to be dried for filling material to be placed successfully.  It takes several hours to a couple of days, depending on the dryness of the tooth, for rehydration of the tooth.  In that time, the tooth will be sensitive to cold and possibly hot. 
Treatment:  At home fluoride and Ibuprofen

Reason #3:  Bleaching

A white smile looks great and Hollywood is filled with celebrities sporting them.  But did you know that most celebrity smiles are not their natural teeth.  To obtain their pearly, toilet bowl white smile, celebrities and others have had veneers, crowns, or bridges placed over their natural teeth costing tens of thousands of dollars.  So what's the common person supposed to do? Bleach, bleach, bleach. 
Unfortunately, as mentioned above with over-dried teeth, bleached teeth have lost moisture.  Bleaching dries teeth.  Bleached teeth will be sensitive to air, cold, and hot, and they will have a chalky appearance.  The stronger the concentration of bleach, the more likely for sensitivity.  And over-doing the bleaching will make matters worse.  A natural tooth will only whiten so much, and composite bonding, crowns, and veneers will not whiten no matter what.
Treatment:  Custom bleaching trays do minimize sensitivity by keeping the material on the tooth, and dentist prescribed bleach is regulated.  Dentist-prescribed fluoride gels/toothpaste, over-the-counter fluoride.  Follow instructions on bleaching material and cut back if sensitivity occurs.

Reason #4: Recession

No, not financially.  It's the gums.  The gingiva covers a portion of the tooth root that is not planted in the bone.  Over time, minor irritations-plaque, calculus (tartar), fierce brushing, lip rings, tongue rings, partial dentures, and age-will cause the gum tissue to move away from the source of irritation, exposing the roots.  Tooth roots are not protected by enamel.  Therefore, roots communicate temperature variations more readily, leading to sensitivity.
Treatment:  Most of the time, a toothpaste for sensitive teeth works well.  If not, a de-sensitizing material can be placed on the exposed root by a dentist.  Or a gingiva transplant can be done to cover the roots.

The bottom line, most of the time sensitivity is an unfortunate normal.  Dentists would like it to not happen, but it does.  In most cases, the sensitivity will abate, but there options for when it doesn't.  Tell your dentist about your sensitive teeth and together you can solve this problem. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Procrastination Costs


The number of people going to the Emergency Department for dental-related issues is on the rise.  This rise is contributing to a larger wait time and straining the resources of Emergency Departments.  Also, most physicians are not knowledgeable in oral infections and problems, and they need to make room for patients with true medical emergencies.  Most hospitals do not have the diagnostic equipment or knowledgeable staff to provide any definitive treatment.  At best, a patient may receive an antibiotic, pain medications, and a referral to see a dentist.  So the patient leaves the Emergency Room with the original cause of the dental problem left untreated, until it blows up again (and it will).
It is sad to see this trend and know that if the patient had followed through the care prescribed, then a tooth could have had a simple and less expensive treatment.  The time wasted sitting in the Emergency Room and the pain experienced is unnecessary.  Ultimately, the patient still needs to see the dentist.
Lack of adequate dental insurance should not be a deterrent to taking care of dental needs.  Maintenance is the name of the game.  By being proactive and on top of dental needs, patients can save money and pain.  Oral health is one of the most overlooked necessities that can stop a person in their tracks.  The severe and excruciating pain from a major dental problem started out very small, simple to fix, and easy to pay for.  Delaying treatment or neglecting to see the dentist on a regular basis leads to more expensive and complex treatment. 
The moral of the story is see the dentist regularly and follow through with the treatment plan and talk to the dentist.  Explain your situation and/or concerns, the dentist is there to help. Always remember that a small problem is easier and simple to handle than a larger one down the road.
“Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.”
Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Party Animal Clean Up

It has been said that it is better to clean while you cook verses waiting till you are finished to clean up. Making the mess is the easy part, cleaning-not so much. But when your kitchen, bedroom, or house is clean, you feel better. 
The same can be said for your mouth. Think of all the things that go in your mouth.  If all that food, drink, and other stuff laid all over your kitchen counter, it would look like a disaster stuck.  A bottle of mouthwash may give a minty smell to your breath, but it's like shoving the mess in the closet. It's still there, waiting for you to open the closet door and spill out everywhere.  
Every day and every night, sugar bugs (bacteria) have a party. They are the best party animals the world has ever seen and your mouth is party central. They leave trash (plaque) everywhere and would prefer you to leave the mess alone.  The bigger the mess, the better for them.  So make it better for you, pick up the broom, I mean a toothbrush, and give your teeth the cleaning they deserve. The more you clean, the less work you'll need when you visit the dentist.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New beginning

So the Sawyers have officially moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, and we are so happy to be here.  Philadelphia had good moments, unfortunately, they came as we were getting close to moving. Our children have transitioned well and like having space to run and play without having to worry about becoming "splat".  It has also been a transition for us into private practice and be our own boss.  The practice is beautiful and our staff is great. We really felt a divine pull to this area. So this is the first of many postings, just starting out. We've never done anything like this.  We come with a lot of energy and we are ready for it all, toothbrush in hand.