Tooth Sensitivity Causes and Effective Treatment Options

More than 3 million Americans suffer from tooth sensitivity. While some are sensitive to cold, many are equally sensitive to sweets and may even cringe at the thought of sugary foods and drinks. As it turns out, you can treat your tooth sensitivity. Your success at this will, however, depend on how you’re able to identify and tackle the cause.

While this blog will provide some useful information, your dentist is still the first person you should talk to about how to treat your tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Sensitivity Causes

Your tooth sensitivity may come and go. Or it could be constant.

It’s often caused by the exposure of the dentin on the root areas of your teeth. This, in turn, is usually caused by gum recession, gum disease or erosion of the enamel or top layer of your tooth.

While the crown of the tooth is adequately protected by enamel, the root is not. Rather, it is covered by cementum. When this cementum erodes, the nerves underneath are exposed. This is why people react sensitively to cold, hot or sweet substances.

Common tooth sensitivity causes include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Aggressive or overzealous brushing
  • Abrasive toothpaste
  • Bulimia
  • Excess acidity of the diet
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Excess whitening of the teeth

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment

To start with, talk to your dentist about your tooth pain or sensitivity to cold, hot, sweet or acidic substances.

Rule out or treat underlying cases of cavities or tooth decay. Your dentist will let you know whether you’ll need an ADA-approved desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride gel, gum graft, filling or root canal depending on the cause and severity of your sensitivity.

Getting completely over your tooth sensitivity causes may also require changes to your diet as well as maintaining adequate oral hygiene.

Those who have experienced it know how frustrating tooth sensitivity can be. As frustrating as it can be, booking an appointment with your dentist is the first step to overcoming it quickly and easily.

For more information on tooth sensitivity causes and treatment options available to you, schedule a visit or contact us today at 970-812-0355.


Epigenetics Could Someday Restore Tooth Roots

Imagine someday being able to eliminate missing teeth by restoring the roots of decayed teeth. If researchers at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California have their way, that could be possible. That’s because researchers have found a formula that could regenerate those roots, using a process called epigenetic regulation.

Epigenetics is defined as the study of alterations to organisms via modification of gene expression, and epigenetics may be the key to controlling the pattern and formation of tooth rot.

Researchers discovered that tooth rot patterns are controlled by proteins called Arid1a and Ezh2. When these two proteins are in balance, and in certain configurations of tooth roots are in just the right place with the jawbone, a tooth rot pattern can be established.

Dr. Allison Lesko is a Fort Collins-based dentist. She says this type of breakthrough could make a huge difference in how we treat rotten teeth.

“Right now, if a tooth is badly decayed, there’s a chance it may need to be pulled,” Lesko says. “With this discovery, they may someday be able to restore tooth roots, which means even if a tooth is pulled we may not need to rely on dentures or dental implants to replace it.”

That’s because with regenerated roots, the researchers at USC believe they can create enough of a replacement tooth to at least cover it with a crown.

“A crown over an existing tooth is a much better option than a dental implant,” says Lesko. “While dental implants are really the Cadillac of dental prosthetics, there is always a chance of something called implant failure.”

Implant failure occurs when the screw used to anchor a dental implant to the jaw fails to implant itself into the jawbone. This can happen due to bone loss or deterioration, which can occur when too much time passes between the loss of the tooth and the attempted implantation.

“With regenerated tooth roots and a bit of naturally regrown tooth, the risk of implant failure would be obsolete,” Lesko says.

Another benefit to the study that was noted by its authors? The discovery could someday treat cancer, too.

According to the researchers at USC, some cancers can be affected by epigenetic regulators; when these regulators are out of balance, cancer can develop. The key to treating these cancers is to find a way to balance the epigenetics and stop the cancer in its tracks.

“I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about epigenetics in the near future,” says Lesko. “There are some exciting breakthroughs already, and they’re still just scratching the surface.”


Root Canals Not as Painful as Perceived

Who’s afraid of a big, bad root canal? Apparently, a lot of people – but that fear may be unfounded. A new study by the University of Adelaide in Australia found that among 1,096 randomly selected patients who underwent a root canal, the pain of the procedure was ranked no worse than any other procedure performed at the dentist’s office. This may come as a surprise to some, as root canals have earned a reputation as being the very worst type of dental procedure one can endure.

During a root canal, a tiny hole is drilled into the affected tooth, and the pulp and nerves of the tooth are cleaned out and then replaced with a synthetic material called gutta percha. A root canal allows the patient to keep the outer structure of their natural tooth without needing a crown or extraction.

Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, says that many of her patients are surprised to discover that root canals really aren’t as painful as they’d first believed.

“It always comes as a shock to patients that they feel surprisingly comfortable during a root canal,” she says, “and that they actually feel pretty good afterward.”

The latter makes sense too, as generally speaking most people who end up needing a root canal procedure are experiencing some degree of tooth pain in the first place.

“The procedure comes as a relief to the pain that the patient was experiencing before the root canal procedure, because the dentist has cleaned out the infection,” she says.

With over 22 million root canal procedures performed each year here in the United States, Lesko is surprised the procedure doesn’t have a better reputation, but she is hopeful that the University of Adelaide study will help change some perceptions.

“We need to destigmatize many of these procedures, so patients aren’t so afraid to take control of their oral health,” she says.

With an estimated 75 percent of all adults experiencing some degree of odontophobia (fear of the dentist), it is especially crucial to change opinions about dentistry.

“The more afraid people are to visit the dentist, the less likely they are to go to the dentist, which can make any problems with their teeth get worse,” Lesko says. “Pretty soon what was just a cavity turns into a crown or a root canal, all because the patient was afraid of a filling.”


What Does that Dental Professional Do?

When it comes to oral health professionals, there are a lot of different types of specialists out there. For the average patient, it can be confusing to figure out what type of oral care professional they actually need. For those who are confused about what these dental specialists do, here’s a closer look into the world of oral health professionals!

Orthodontist

An orthodontist is probably the most easily recognized type of dental professional besides a dentist. Orthodontists are dentists who receive additional training to learn how to straighten the teeth and correct the bite using orthodontic devices, such as braces, expanders and retainers. Many dentists offer orthodontic services, but most orthodontists do not offer dental cleanings and exams.

Endodontist

An endodontist is a dental professional most people really don’t want to have to see. The endodontist specializes in what is considered one of the scariest dental procedures: the root canal. Thankfully, a root canal sounds a lot scarier than it really is; in fact, it’s not scary at all, especially at the hands of a skilled dentist or endodontist. Endodontists are truly experts in root canals, receiving years of additional training just on that one procedure.

Periodontist

A periodontist specializes in the care and treatment of the gums. If you are diagnosed by your dentist with periodontal disease or another gum infection, you may be referred to a periodontist for further treatment. A periodontist may also treat gum recession and perform gum-grafting surgical procedures.

Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist specializes in treating dental and facial problems that result from missing teeth. Prosthodontists receive an additional three years of dental training beyond dental school. Prosthodontists specialize in dental implants, dentures, crowns, bridges and any other prosthetic teeth that help restore the shape of the face and the function of the teeth and mouth.

Maxillofacial Surgeon

A maxillofacial surgeon works with the soft tissues of the face and jaw, including the gums, lips, cheeks and other surrounding muscle and tissue. Maxillofacial surgeons can perform a variety of dental surgeries, including tooth extraction and cleft palate procedures. Here’s an interesting fact: Maxillofacial surgeons are the only medical professionals who can provide every possible level of sedation besides actual anesthesiologists!

Dentists

Dentists provide cleanings, dental exams and even minor surgical procedures. Hopefully your dentist is the only dental professional you will ever need, but if you’re concerned about any dental issues, your dentist is a great first stop to have it checked out. If your dentist can’t cover it, she will refer you to a qualified specialist who can.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko for a cleaning or for any other concerns you may have, please call 970-812-0355.


Just How Scary Are Root Canals?

If the words “root canal” send shivers down your spine, you’ll be happy to know you really have nothing to fear. In the past 10 years, dental technology has evolved so much that root canals are nothing like they were in the past. All the horror stories your grandparents may have told you simply don’t apply anymore, thanks to medical advances in tools, technology and procedures.

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