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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

                                                                      1415 SAGE STREET ~ GERING, NEBRASKA 69341 
                                                             
      Call: 308-436-3491       www.dentalgentlecare.com           

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SENSITIVE TEETH

If you wear gunglasses you may have sensitive teeth.

Wear Sunglasses?  You may have sensitive teeth!

Over the Counter Products for Sensitivity

  Hypersensitivity affects 45 million adults in the United States and 10 million are chronically affected with sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is tooth discomfort after eating cold or hot foods or liquids or even breathing cold air.  

     This problem often happens when gums recede and/or cementum is not presence.  The gum tissue acts like a protective blanket to cover the roots of the teeth.  As the gums recede the underlying tooth roots are exposed.  They are not covered by hard enamel.  Thousands of tiny dentinal tubules (channels) leading to the tooth's never center (pulp) are than exposed.  These tubules allow more stimuli like heat, cold or pressure to reach the nerve in the tooth and you feel pain!.  Think of your gums and the enamel on your teeth as a down comforter covering and protecting your body from the cool winter air.  Over time, the gums may recede or the enamel or dentin on your teeth may wear down, creating the condition for tooth sensitivity.

Gums recede and dentin is exposed causing tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is caused by:

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Brushing to hard or with too much pressure which removes gum tissue.  2 our of 3 people brush too hard.

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Aging, sensitivity is highest between the ages of 25-30 

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Using a hard tooth brush instead of a soft one

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Poor oral hygiene which leads to plaque build-up around the teeth and gums.  This plaque hardens into tartar.  The bacteria that live in plaque cause  gum disease  and gum recession

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The exposed roots contain small pores or tubules which lead directly to the nerve of the tooth.  Pain, pressure and cold stimuli  can travel down the tubules and trigger the tooth nerve causing pain and discomfort

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Stimulation from hot beverages or foods

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Tooth whitening-often beautiful, but sometimes uncomfortable, at least for a few days 

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Hypersensitivy

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Cracked teeth

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Grinding your teeth

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Long term use of mouthwashes such as Listerine or Oraldene damage dentine and cause dentin sensitivity and reverse the beneficial effects of toothpaste

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Enamel erosion by acidic foods 

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Root sensitivity can occur after having your teeth cleaned, following root planning , crown placement, or even having fillings.  The good news is this sensitivity will disappear in about four to six weeks 

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People with sensitivities to sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch also usually have sensitive teeth. #

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Decreased saliva flow-simple test is to invert the lower lip, dry the mucous membrane off  and see how long it takes for small droplets of saliva to flow from the minor salivary glands.  If it takes more than a minute, the saliva flow is down.

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PH test resulting in an "acidic mouth"

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Dental treatments-simple cleanings, orthodontics or restoration

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Dehydration due to diuretics such as alcohol beverages, caffeine-containing drinks  like coffee and Mountain Dew.+

There are many other causes, some of which can require a more comprehensive treatment plan...

  1. Broken, chipped or fractured teeth

  2. Nerve damage in the root, cant' sleep at night-root canal

  3. Grinding and/or clenching the teeth-mouthguard

  4. Gum disease-begin a comprehensive oral hygiene regimen

  5. Receding gums-gum disease and/or oral habits?

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     The key to preventing tooth sensitivity is to keep your gums healthy by reducing the pressure you use while brushing, use a soft toothbrush and to maintain good oral health habits.  This means brushing all your teeth for 2-3 minutes, not the usually 30- 45 seconds that most people brush. Flossing is crucial in order to reach the 35% of the tooth surfaces where brushing can not reach.

Ask about our Sensitivity Treatment Kits

     What to you once you already have sensitive teeth:

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Use a toothpaste for sensitivity.  They work in a cumulative fashion to cover the open tubules.  They contain strontium chloride and/ or potassium nitrate which act to remineralize the tooth surface by diffusing into the open pores (tubules) on the enamel.  This process  helps block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the tooth nerve. They need to be used 4-6 weeks before any changes can be noted.

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Continue to practice brushing gently and carefully around the gumline so you do not remove more gum tissue or continue demineralize the tooth surface

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Avoid highly acidic foods like citrus or soda pop that can work against the sensitivity toothpaste

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 Brush gently with a soft toothbrush twice/day using a low abrasion desensitizing toothpaste 

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Use fluoride mouth rinse to help remineralize the tooth surface.  Fluoride gels and varnish are effective also.

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Don't use a tartar control toothpaste, use a fluoridated toothpaste or desensitizing toothpaste

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Try spreading a thin layer of desensitizing toothpaste on the exposed roots with your finger or a Q-tip before you go to bed

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Avoiding very cold foods

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Monitor intake of fruit drinks or sports drinks that are high in sugar and/or acid; tomatoes; pickles; citrus, pop; tea

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Always use a de-sensitizing toothpaste for 2-3 weeks prior to having your teeth "cleaned" or before having Root Planning and Scaling

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Avoid teeth grinding and clenching by using a nightguard

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Having professional tooth cleaning, oral hygiene instructions and fluoride treatments.  Our office uses ultrasonic scaling to help minimize dentin sensitivity 

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Home care must be evaluated and adjusted as necessary.

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Chemical desensitization (Gluma/ Hurriseal / Pain-Free) provided by your dentist is the most common method of treatment. 

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Surface sealers or self etch primers (Seal & Protect/Clearfil SE Bond ) can be a costly

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If you drink orange juice in the morning and than brush soon after you may want to either wait at least an hour before brushing, or at least use water only when brushing, then rinse with mouthwash. This gives give time for your saliva to remineralize the enamel.

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     If these suggestions do not give you relief please see your dentist. One way your dentist can gauge the severity of your sensitive teeth is by using the air test.  The dentist sprays the air gum across each area of a your teeth to pinpoint the exact location of sensitivity.  The decision of whether a restoration is needed comes in after an in-office desensitizer has been applied and you have been sent home for a week with desensitizing tooth paste to see whether a more aggressive approach is needed. An in-office desensitizer can be painted or sprayed on.  This is a wuick and relatively painless procedure. Your dentist can apply varnishes; high fluoride mouthwashes and toothpaste or gel; dentin sealer or white fillings (bonding) to cover exposed surfaces and close the pores of the tooth root.

You donít have to suffer with sensitivity!!

Delay Brushing After Eating Erosive Foods

If you are at risk for erosive tooth wear you should avoid brushing your teeth for at least 60 minutes after consuming erosive food or drink such as fruits, salads and sports drinks.

Instead of brushing right after eating erosive foods try:

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 Rinsing with water 

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 Rinsing with a fluoride solution

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Chewing sugarless gum.

 And always remember to brush with a soft bristled toothbrush.

Desensitizer are Here Beautiful Teeth pg 14-15 Vol.2, No. 3, 2004.
Source: # General Dentistry, Dr. Bitter, Nov/Dec 2002
Dental Abstracts by Jaeggi and Lussi as summarized in Dental Abstracts 2000.
              Dentistry Today, pg 46,  September 2002
Cervical Hypersensitivity, CRA Dental Hygiene 2003; 3 (1): 1-2.
+Treatment ides for patient with worsening sensitivity, Dental Practice Reports,  pg 41 April 2003.

~We have NO financial interest in this company.

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February 06, 2008

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          If you have any questions please e-mail me at: drdpeterson@scottsbluff.net
                                                                                 308-436-3491 Office number

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
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