What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Ok, you’ve been working all day in the hot sun. You finally get to grab that ice-coldlemonade or, even better a Foster’s, and ouch, you get a shockinglypainful tooth jolt! You’ve just experienced tooth sensitivity to cold. Tooth sensitivity is a perennial human complaint. Not only cold, but also hot, sweet, and just biting on a tooth can cause a painful sensitivity response.

As usual, there are always lots of reasons and causes behind dental problems and the same is true for sensitive teeth. In this article, we’ll help you sort through the whole lot so you can enjoy that lemonade or ‘other’ cold beverage.

The Nerve of SensitiveTeeth!
Every one of our teeth is hollow. Inside this hollow space is a collection of blood vessels and nervesthat connect to the main nerves of the jaw. It is called the pulp by dentists.

Each tooth has a hard enamel crown. Under this covering is a substance called dentin. It is softer, yellow, and has‘nerve’ cells that transmit information along tiny tubes to the pulp of the tooth. The roots of the tooth are also composed of dentin.

With this little dental anatomy lesson, we can now more easily visualize and understand the various causes oftooth sensitivity.

Types of Sensitivity:

Hot (sensitivity to hot is usually a sign of a more serious tooth condition)

Except for sensitivity from forces, exposure of the dentin from whatever contributing dental condition or disease is the main cause of teeth becoming sensitive.

Dental decay:Cold sensitivity is the main hallmark of cavities. If decaygoes untreated and the cavity gets larger and larger, sensitivity to cold will become increasingly pronounced. Decayed teeth also become sensitive to sweets. Decay close to or into the pulp will start to elicit sensitivity to hot and, eventually,throbbing pain.

Fractured teeth: Symptoms mimic dental decay with increasing severity depending on the size of thechip or fracture.

Defective fillings: loose,broken,or leaking fillings cause sensitivities in much the same way as decayed teeth.

Cracked tooth: Sometimes a part of the tooth crown may fracture without completely breaking off. Biting on the tooth temporarily opens the crack, exposing the dentin and resulting in various types of fleeting sensitivities. In most instances the tooth will eventually fracture completely.

Periodontal (gum) disease:The root surface is exposed by infection or shrinkage of gum tissue around the teeth, resulting in sensitivity to cold, sweet, acid and, less so, hot.Read more about that here.

Receding gums: Exposure of dentin of the roots can be caused by many factors including improper toothbrushing. Sensitivity is generally to cold.

Orthodontic treatment: Some patients with braces experience sensitivities, usually to cold.

Tooth whitening: Excessive or or improper use of whitening products can cause sensitivity problems as well as irritated gums.

Impact sensitivity: Grinding of your teeth (bruxism),as well as any other activity, habit, or malocclusion (crowded teeth) that cause abnormal wear through the enamel on a few or all of the teeth may result in sensitivity.These include tobacco chewing, pipe smoking, chronic toothpick chewing, and so on.

Other less common causes of tooth sensitivity include bulimia, where stomach acid commonly erodes the enamel on the front teeth, and acid damage to the front teeth from chronic sucking and eating lemons or other citrus fruits.

Treatment is necessarily directed at correcting the specific dental problem associated with the affected teeth.

Filling or crowning decayed, fractured, cracked, or compromised teeth.
Periodic scale and clean or definitive periodontal surgery or treatment.
Receding gums exposing root surfaces may be treated either by filling with tooth-coloured material or, in some cases, gum surgery.
Sensitivity issues from braces may be addressed by assuring proper oral hygiene procedures in most cases.
When using teeth-whitening products, be sure to follow the instructions and do not over use. Some people will have sensitivity even with proper use.
Impact causes of sensitivity are treated with orthodontics, ‘night guards’, and elimination of habits causing excessive wear on the teeth.
Less common causes of tooth sensitivity are addressed by eliminating any medical disorders or chronic habits.
The most commonly recommended over-the-counter remedies for non-specific tooth sensitivity are toothpastes containingpotassium nitrate. Dentists also can apply desensitizing chemicals as a more generalized sensitive-teeth procedure.

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Eight Things That Are Discolouring Your Teeth

We all want a gleaming white smile. That’s why everything from toothpastes to chewing gum advertise their powers of whitening, and why tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic procedure at most dentists’ offices. But whitening and bleaching is just cleaning up after the fact. What if you could stop the stains from happening in the first place? In order to do that, you need to know what’s causing them.

8 Reasons Why Teeth Stain

What’s Staining Your Teeth?

Chances are that it’s your eating and drinking habits that are doing the most discolouration damage to your teeth. Here are a few common culprits:

Dark fruits like blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates contain rich pigments that can stain enamel. Rule of thumb: If it can stain clothes, it can stain teeth. Beets and curry fall into the same traps.
Tomato sauce is both highly pigmented and acidic. The acid of the tomatoes weakens enamel, making it easier for the stain-causing particles to get past your teeth’s protective barriers.
Coffee and tea both contain a dangerous combination of pigment and acids. Although the acid is weak, these are a common source of discolouration, since they’re a daily habit for many people. Adding lemon to tea also increases the impact.
Red wine may be good for your heart, but it’s bad for your teeth. This highly acidic beverage is also rich in colour, and making a habit of drinking it can stain teeth. Soda has the same hangups, but without the heart benefits.
Of course, a life without all the foods and drinks on this list would be a dull one! Luckily, avoidance isn’t the only solution to tooth discolouration.

How to Protect Teeth From Stains
If you want to keep your teeth white and clean, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the damage that these foods and drinks can do to your enamel.

Step one, of course, is to keep your teeth clean. Brushing your teeth twice a day, particularly after eating foods that are sugary or highly pigmented, can prevent those stains from setting in. A fluoride toothpaste is an important part of your brushing process, since fluoride can help remineralize enamel once it’s been weakened. Just make sure not to brush within an hour of eating or drinking something very acidic. You could do more harm than good with a stiff toothbrush when your enamel is already weakened. Instead, try rinsing with water immediately to clear away the acids, and brushing a little bit later.

You can also change how you eat and drink. Drinking through a straw can send those tooth-staining liquids straight past the teeth and down your throat. Also, regular eating and drinking does a lot less damage than long, drawn out “sipping” and continuous snacking. Having a glass of wine with dinner will do a lot less damage to your teeth than nursing a glass of wine over the course of an hour-long conversation with friends.

In general, reducing tooth-staining foods and drinks is an easier and more achievable solution than eliminating them. Just keep an eye on your diet and you may see whiter teeth in your future.

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How Veneers Can Perfect Your Smile

Do you ever look at someone’s perfect smile — a movie star, maybe, or a model, or even just a friend — and think, “My smile could never look like that”? As disheartening as it may be to have a smile that can’t be transformed with a little whitening or straightening, it’s inaccurate to say that a smile with deeper flaws can never be perfect.

In fact, for those big transformations, there is one powerful tool that can resolve nearly any cosmetic defect: Porcelain veneers.

What Are Porcelain Veneers?

As the name suggests, a porcelain veneer is a thin facade for a tooth that is made from a high quality dental ceramic. Each veneer is a paper-thin covering that is applied on top of your natural tooth. Despite what the word “porcelain” may imply, the dental ceramic used for veneers is so advanced and durable, it has been used in bulletproof vests and tank armor — meaning that it’s incredibly strong! Veneers are durable and shouldn’t be damaged by any of the day-to-day wear that your teeth go through. If cared for properly, porcelain veneers can last a lifetime. Around 90-95% of veneers last for more than ten years, and 80-85% last for up to twenty years.
Veneers are extremely flexible and can resolve nearly any cosmetic problem with the teeth. A single veneer can correct the appearance of just one problem tooth, or a whole set can transform your entire smile. Porcelain veneers can effectively correct worn teeth, including chips and cracks, as well as gaps between teeth, misshapen or small teeth, crooked teeth, and discolouration.

How Do I Get Porcelain Veneers?

If you think porcelain veneers are right for you, the first step is speaking with an experienced cosmetic dentist about it. They will be able to evaluate your oral health and make sure you’re in a good position to get veneers. If you have decay or gum disease, these things will need to be corrected before you can get veneers. Also, if you have bruxism (a condition in which you repeatedly grind or clench your teeth), veneers may not be the right answer for you, since bruxism can damage veneers.
Once you’ve decided to go forward with veneers, you will usually need two visits to have them applied. This means you could have a brand new smile in just a month!
The procedure is very simple: The dentist will remove some of your natural tooth material to make way for the veneers. Anesthesia will be used to ensure that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the process. After the teeth have been prepared, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth. You may receive a temporary veneer to wear while the veneers are being fabricated to fit your teeth. At your second appointment, your dentist will check the fit and appearance of the custom veneers, and then bond them to your teeth. That’s it — you have a smile that looks brand new!

What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

You probably know that a dental cavity is a hole in one of your teeth. And you might also know that a cavity is the result of the process of tooth decay that happens over time. That’s why regular dental visits are a particularly important part of tooth decay prevention – if caught early, tooth decay can be easily treated and possibly even reversed. But exactly what are the stages of tooth decay?

Stage 1: Tooth decay starts with lesions appearing on your teeth

Before a cavity forms, there is an initial lesion on the tooth, which often results in chalky white or brown areas appearing on your tooth’s surface. This is due to a build-up of plaque and is due to the loss of calcium. Bacteria in the plaque eventually begins to metabolize sugars from the food that you eat, and the build up of these acids causes your tooth enamel to deteriorate, which is known as demineralisation.
At this early stage of dental decay, your tooth structure is still intact and damage won’t be visible in any X-rays. Which is good news, because that means tooth decay may still be reversible and further decay may be suspended if you undergo proper treatment. Treatment generally involves using good oral hygiene, brushing properly, using a fluoride toothpaste, and undergoing a topical fluoride treatment when you attend one of your regular dental visits.

Stage 2: Enamel decay results in dental cavity formation

If the lesion on your tooth is allowed to progress, the tooth enamel is affected and starts to breaks down under your tooth’s surface. This is because the natural remineralisation process is unable to restore the proper minerals and enamel, causing a lesion to form within your actual tooth. At this stage of dental cavity formation, the decay of your enamel is visible in X-rays, and if your tooth is damaged enough that the underlying dentin layer of your tooth is exposed, you may experience sensations of pain and/or tooth sensitivity.
Dental restorations like dental fillings are the best option to treat this stage of tooth decay, and your dentist will also work to rebuild missing enamel and restore your ability to chew and bite normally.

Stage 3: Dentin decay leads to dental cavities and tooth sensitivity

If left untreated, acids and bacteria will continue to dissolve the enamel on your tooth and tooth decay can begin to spread beyond the enamel layer. This can affect the dentin of your tooth, which is a porous substance beneath your tooth enamel. When dentin is affected, tooth decay can spread very rapidly, and you may begin to experience sharp pains in the infected tooth.
When enough of the sub-surface enamel is weakened by the loss of minerals and calcium, the enamel collapses and a dental cavity results. At this stage, a filling will definitely be required to restore the tooth and rebuild the damaged structure.

Stage 4: Infection of the dental pulp often results in root canal treatment

Inside the centre of every tooth is a chamber filled with soft tissue known as dental pulp which is made up of nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels, and this is what has assisted in the initial formation of your tooth. Cells of this pulp produce dentin, which acts as the connective tissue between the pulp and the enamel and pulp.
If the pulp of your tooth gets infected with bacteria and reaches the pulp chamber, pus then forms which inadvertently kills the nerves and blood vessels in your tooth. This is known as a root canal infection, and it can be extremely painful.
At this stage of tooth decay, the most common type of dental care is root canal treatment, which involves removing the pulp within the tooth, sterilizing the pulp chamber, and filling the chamber with an inert material, which is then capped off with a crown.

Stage 5: The formation of an abscess often requires tooth extraction

If the infection of the dental pulp spreads to other parts of your mouth like the jawbone and surrounding gum tissue, inflammation and swelling can occur resulting in the formation of an abscess. This is the final stage of tooth decay and is without a doubt the most painful. If the infection reaches the tip of the root of the tooth, the conjoining bones risk infection as well, and this is when advanced dental treatment is needed. This can include tooth extraction, infection control and procedures which can help restore the damaged
structures that have been affected.

Prevention of tooth decay starts with practising good oral hygiene

Preventing tooth decay comes down to a number of factors, with the most important one being that you should practise proper oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, using mouthwash and flossing at least once a day.
However, other dental hygiene tips can also include cutting down on sugar (including natural ones like fruit and honey), avoiding acidic foods like lemons, oranges and soft drinks, and drinking plenty of water to help flush the bacteria off the surface of your teeth.
And of course, don’t wait for the onset of dental pain before you see your dentist. Pain in a tooth means there is inflammation, which means the tooth is probably already affected by decay or infection. If you ignore it, it’s only going to get worse. That’s why it’s recommended that you see your dentist at least twice a year. As they say, prevention is better than cure!

New Study Shows Men and Women Experience Sleep Apnea Differently

Most discussions of sleep apnea are primarily centered around men — a slant that is rooted in statistics, considering that twice as many men suffer from obstructive sleep apnea as women. But while it’s true that men are more likely to experience sleep apnea, this fact can prevent women from getting diagnosed. And without diagnosis, women with sleep apnea can’t get the treatment they need.

Sleep apnea is more serious than just snoring. In fact, studies show that people with severe untreated sleep apnea may be up to three times more likely to die prematurely than those without it. That’s why it’s so important that men and women both be part of the conversation around how sleep apnea is diagnosed, researched, and treated.

Women’s Brains Respond to Sleep Apnea Differently

new study from researchers from the UCLA School of Nursing has identified sex-linked differences in how sleep apnea impacts the brain. In the study, the researchers analyzed brain scans and clinical records for men and women diagnosed with mild to severe sleep apnea. What they found was striking: Women with sleep apnea were more likely to experience thinning of the brain’s cerebral cortex, particularly in the superior frontal lobe, than men with sleep apnea, or people without sleep apnea.
The researchers believe this might help explain why women with sleep apnea tend to suffer greater cognitive deficits than men with the disease. This cortical thinning may also impair the autonomic nervous system, which is the system responsible for involuntary bodily functions, like digestion, the heartbeat, and breathing.
Despite dialogue on the subject of sex-linked differences in sleep apnea symptoms and impacts, there are very few studies into the actual distinctions between men and women’s experiences with sleep apnea. This study is significant because it offers hard data to encourage more research and different approaches to treatment.

Step One to Sleep Apnea Treatment is Diagnosis

If untreated, sleep apnea can have deadly risks, regardless of the your gender. That’s why it’s so important that people who experience common symptoms of sleep apnea, like snoring, daytime fatigue, and focus or memory problems, speak to their doctor and get a diagnosis, so they can begin to pursue treatment.
The standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This machine connects to a mask that the patient wears while they sleep, and prevents the airway from closing by creating air pressure in the throat. Unfortunately, many people find CPAP difficult to use consistently thanks to its many inconveniences. Side effects from insomnia to sore throat to nightmares can make some sleep apnea patients seek other treatments.
For those patients, oral appliance therapy could be the answer. A dentist trained in oral appliance therapy,can provide you with a custom-crafted oral appliance, somewhat like a mouth guard, that is worn during sleep. This oral appliance repositions the jaw to prevent the airway from closing. It’s effective at treating obstructive sleep apnea, and many patients find it more comfortable than using a CPAP machine.

5 Reasons You Should Wear A Sports Mouth Guard

Whether you’re the parent of a sports-playing child or a regular participant in competitive sports yourself, there’s no doubt that having an active lifestyle is a great thing. When it comes to playing sport, most of us understand the importance of safety and injury protection, which is why we wear helmets when cycling, shin guards when playing soccer, and kneepads when skating. However, many of us overlook the importance of protecting our mouths when playing sport, which is quite concerning, particularly when statistics show that sports players are up to 60 times more likely to suffer harm to their teeth if they’re not wearing a sports mouth guard.

What is an Effective Sports Mouth Guard?

An effective mouth guard is essentially a ‘crash helmet’ for your teeth and jaws that prevents the jaws from fully coming together, which can reduce the risk of mouth and jaw joint injuries and concussion.
Sports like rugby league, rugby union, AFL and hockey are ‘no brainers’ as intentional collision is essentially part of the game. However, it’s the sports where an accidental collision occurs (like cricket, netball, soccer and touch football) that are often responsible for dental trauma.
Every year thousands of people are treated for dental injuries caused by not wearing mouth protection, which is why the Australian Dental Association recommends that anyone who participates in a sport that carries a risk of any contact to the face should wear mouthguard, and this includes activities like martial arts, horse riding, skateboarding, trampolining and water polo as well! But why is it so important?
Here are our top 5 reasons why you should wear a sports mouth guard, and some of the ways you can speed up the healing process in the unfortunate event that injuries do occur.

Reason 1 – Mouth Guards Can Protect Against Tooth Displacement

Wearing a sports mouth guard can help cushion teeth, as it can help to distribute the force of a heavy knock around your entire mouth so that individual teeth aren’t necessarily receiving all of the impact.
Receiving a hit to the head or face can result in an extruded or partially dislodged tooth, however, these are more easily treated than broken or even missing teeth. If this happens to your child, relieve pain by giving them an analgesic, applying a cold compress to the outside of their mouth or cheek in the affected area, and seeing your dentist as soon as possible!

Reason 2 – Mouth Guards Can Protect Against Tooth Fractures

One of the most important reasons for wearing a dental mouth guard is to protect yourself from broken teeth, because unfortunately, if one of your teeth fractures, it’s sometimes difficult to save. Treatment can include:
  • Tooth crown: Your dentist may be able to place a filling material in your tooth so that the fractured portion is replaced.
  • Pulpotomy or root canal: This treatment often occurs if your dental pulp is actually exposed – your dentist will either remove a portion of the pulp with the intention of maintaining the vitality of the remaining pulpal (known as a pulpotomy), or perform root canal surgery (where they will extract root nerves from the tooth, clean and shape the canal cavity and then insert fillers to prevent bacteria from re-entering the nerve system).
  • Extraction: If your tooth root is fractured close to the end of your tooth, your tooth may be able to be saved, however, if the fracture is near the crown, you may need to have your tooth extracted.
In the unfortunate event that a tooth fracture occurs, you should try and save any pieces of the tooth you can. Rinse your child’s mouth and the broken pieces of the tooth with warm water, and apply a piece of gauze to the area for 10 minutes until any bleeding stops. Give them an analgesic for the pain, apply a cold compress near the damaged tooth to reduce swelling, and again, see your dentist ASAP!

Reason 3 – Mouth Guards Can Protect Against Knocked-Out Teeth

Nobody wants to have a tooth knocked out, and it’s even worse when it happens because you or your child hasn’t been wearing a mouth guard for sport. However, if you act quickly, your tooth may be able to be saved. Teeth that are returned to their socket and are attended to by a dentist within five to 10 minutes of being knocked out have the highest chance of survival, and quick action can prevent permanent damage.
If your child does lose a tooth, pick up the tooth by the crown (the part that’s usually exposed in the mouth), and if dirty, give it a quick gentle rinse in milk or water. DO NOT scrub it or remove any tissue fragments, and if possible, try to place the tooth back into its socket immediately. Ensure it’s facing the right way, and hold the tooth in place with a soft cloth or aluminium foil that’s been placed either side of the tooth to aid stability. Ask your patient to bite down gently on it to hold it in place. If it’s not possible to return it to its socket, wrap it in cling wrap to keep it moist or place it in a small container of milk.

Reason 4 – Mouth Guards Can Protect Against Soft Tissue Injuries

Cut, bruised or grazed cheeks, lips and gums sometimes occur as a result of direct impact to the mouth area, and this often results in substantial bleeding. Because dental mouth guards help cover up the teeth’s sharp surfaces, they can also help minimise soft tissue injuries.
If this occurs, and to control bleeding you should rinse out your child’s mouth with a mild salt water solution, and use a moistened piece of gauze to apply pressure for 15 to 20 minutes. Pain can be managed with analgesics and by holding a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek for around 5 to 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, it’s wise to see your dentist as soon as you can, or if you’re particularly concerned, go straight to your local hospital’s emergency department.

Reason 5 – Mouth Guards Can Protect Against Jaw Fractures

Receiving a blow to the head causes teeth to jar considerably against one another, and because there isn’t a lot of space for flexibility if you’re not wearing a sports mouth guard, people who have experienced a fractured jaw will often require major surgery and months of rehabilitation.
Wearing mouth protection acts as padding for your teeth, head and jaw as it helps to absorb and spread the impact which otherwise may result in a significant mouth or jaw injury or even concussion. There are no real quick-fix solutions with jaw fractures – it’s simply a case of being diligent about wearing a sports mouth guard. Because as the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure!