Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Park Ridge DentistIS A SIMPLE SPOONFUL of ice cream enough to make you cringe because of the pain in your teeth? Do you have to be careful when you drink hot coffee that none of it touches your chompers? If you know the feeling, then you’re one of millions who experience tooth sensitivity. Let’s take a closer look at what causes tooth sensitivity and what can we do about it.

How We Feel Sensation In Our Teeth

Each of our teeth is covered in a layer of protective enamel. Underneath this is dentin, which is a lot like bone. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules that run through it from the inside of the tooth out to the enamel. At the core of each tooth is the pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Because of those tubules, the nerves inside the tooth can detect what’s happening on the tooth’s surface.

Common Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity

If the enamel wears away, the tubules become exposed and the nerves in the dental pulp suddenly get much more stimulation than they like. This is what makes enamel erosion one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Without enamel, the nerves get a nasty shock whenever anything too hot or cold, or even too sweet or sour, touches the outside of the tooth.

Root exposure from gum recession also leads to sensitivity. The enamel only covers the crown of the tooth, not the roots. Those are protected by the gums. If the gums recede (sometimes as the result of teeth grinding or improper brushing over time), it exposes the roots.

Cavities and tooth injuries can cause sensitivity as well, even if you’ve been taking great care of your gums and enamel.

Use The Right Tools To Protect Your Teeth

Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to fight back, even if our teeth are already sensitive. Using a soft-bristled brush will help prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. There is also special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks (particularly soda) is another way to help your teeth.

We Can Help You Fight Tooth Sensitivity

Your best ally in the fight against tooth sensitivity is the dentist! Schedule a dental appointment as soon as you notice a change in your sensitivity level, or if you’ve been struggling with it for a while. The dentist can help protect your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform restoration work to combat enamel erosion, and may recommend a gum graft for receding gums or prescribe a toothpaste to help with sensitivity.

Together, we’ll keep your smile happy and healthy!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Oral Piercings: Self-Expression With Risks

Park Ridge, IL Dentist

WE ALL LIKE to show off our personality and sense of style in the way we present ourselves, from clothing to hairstyle to cosmetics. Piercings are often an important component of personal image, but unlike clothing and hairstyles, piercings come with health risks — particularly oral piercings.

Common Oral Piercing Risks

There will always be risks associated with piercings, even the most basic earlobe piercings, such as infection or an allergic reaction to the metal. Oral piercings share those risks, and they also have a few unique ones.

  • Infection. The human mouth is home to numerous species of bacteria. Good oral hygiene is crucial to keep it in check, but a piercing can put that bacteria in closer contact with the bloodstream, leading to infection, pain, and swelling.
  • Damage and injury. It’s easy to develop a habit of fidgeting with a tongue or lip piercing, but this can lead to chipped or cracked teeth, damaged fillings, and injury to the gum tissue, lips, or tongue.
  • Gum recession. When the gum tissue is constantly in contact with a piercing, it can wear it away, exposing the roots of the teeth and leaving them vulnerable to decay.
  • Numbness. Tongue piercings can leave the tongue temporarily or permanently numb due to nerve damage. This can affect taste and mouth movements.
  • Drooling. Our salivary glands are activated by the presence of foreign objects in the mouth. Usually this means food, but a piercing can trick your salivary glands into working overtime.
  • X-ray interference. A piercing can obscure important areas in a dental X-ray, making it easier for cavities to slip under the dentist’s radar.
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Oral Piercings And Orthodontics

For orthodontic patients, oral piercings are even riskier. It’s very easy for a piercing to become tangled up in braces, and this can damage the appliance and cause injuries if the piercing tears free. Even if you’re willing to accept the dangers of an oral piercing, we strongly urge you to wait until your orthodontic treatment is over.

Taking Care Of Piercings

Whether you already have an oral piercing or you’re willing to accept the risks of getting one in the future, there are ways you can minimize those risks, aside from being diligent with your oral hygiene habits. These aren’t as effective as not getting piercings or removing them, but they do help.

  • Keep the piercing site clean. Don’t let bacteria and food particles build up around the piercing site; make sure to rinse after every meal or snack.
  • Avoid clicking it against your teeth. Try to be gentle in how you move the piercing around your teeth so they don’t chip.
  • Make sure the piercing is secure. This will prevent it from coming loose and becoming a choking hazard.
  • Remove all piercings while playing sports. Any piercing becomes a hazard during intense physical activity, so make sure to take it out before workouts, practices, and games!
  • Signs of infection? Go to the dentist. Any symptoms like swelling, pain, or unusual redness around the piercing, as well as fever, chills, or shaking could mean infection, so go to the dentist or the doctor right away!

Let’s Keep That Mouth Healthy!

As dental professionals, our top priority will always be helping our patients maintain healthy teeth and gums for life, and oral piercings introduce a lot of unnecessary risks. If you’d like to know more about how a piercing can impact your oral health, drop by or give us a call!

We encourage you to make good oral health a lifelong goal!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

park ridge il dentistTEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Let’s Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your teeth healthy!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The Big Scoop On Tooth Sensitivity

park ridge family dentistDO YOU GET a painful jolt through your teeth every time you try to enjoy a bite of ice cream or a sip of fresh coffee? If you do, then you’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and you’re not alone. More than half of adults between the ages of 20 and 50 experience some degree of sensitivity in their teeth, and children can have sensitive teeth too.

So why does this happen? Well, to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to know about the structure of a tooth and how the different layers function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

The crown of each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules running through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth can detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity

Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel wears away, which could be the result of teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. Without enamel, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.

Another major cause of sensitivity is root exposure. Teeth roots don’t have that layer of enamel; their main defense is the gums. Gum recession, which can also be caused by teeth grinding or improper brushing, leaves the roots vulnerable. Other causes of sensitivity include cavities and having a chipped or fractured tooth.

How You Can Protect Your Teeth

If you do have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, start using a soft-bristled brush if you aren’t already, because hard bristles may further damage the enamel and gum tissue. You can also switch to a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. We recommend Sensodyne and ProEnamel.  Finally, avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks.

What Our Practice Can Do

Make sure to come to us if you begin experiencing tooth sensitivity, even if your next regular appointment is months away. We can strengthen your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform dental restoration work on areas with enamel loss, recommend a gum graft to cover exposed roots, or prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste. We’ll also make sure there aren’t any other problems with your teeth!

We’re here to make sure your smile stays healthy and strong!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.