Eating Ice Cream Shouldn’t Hurt – Treating Tooth Sensitivity

Ah, Summer. The season of iced coffee, ice cream and iced- anything that will cool you off from this heat! But, for those of us who suffer from tooth sensitivity, these methods to beat the heat can also be the culprit for some oral discomfort.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

To understand tooth sensitivity, we must first understand a little bit about tooth anatomy. Each tooth has three layers- the hard, white outer layer is called the enamel. The yellow-ish, softer layer below that is called the dentin. And in the center of each tooth is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Over time, if the enamel is worn away it can expose the dentin to the oral environment. The dentin has tiny channels which connect to the pulp of the tooth. So, if you take a sip of cold water and it washes over the exposed dentin, it can send that wave of energy to the pulp and cause a zing of pain.

How does the enamel wear away? Most often it’s from overzealous tooth brushing which can cause recession of the gums, leading to dentin exposure on the roots of the teeth. Dentin can also become exposed by tooth grinding, cavities, broken down restorations, some treatments for periodontal disease or erosion from acidic foods or drinks.

Treating Sensitive Teeth

And Now that we understand HOW it happens, what are some ways we can treat these issues? The first and most conservative step is to try a desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, which contains potassium nitrate or calcium phosphate. The way these dentifrices work is by blocking the channels in the dentin that connect to the pulp. Pro tip: if you have sensitivity localized to one specific area, brush the toothpaste onto that particular area but DON’T rinse it off. The longer it sits, the more effective it is. Plus, it has an additive effect over time. If the desensitizing toothpaste isn’t doing the trick, let your dentist know. Often, we can do a small, non-invasive filling that helps to cover the exposed area. Plus, we can rule out any issues such as cavities and treat them as needed.

If sensitive teeth is an issue for you, let us know so you can get back to enjoying your cool summer time treats! And as always, we’re happy to answer any questions you might have. Leave a comment below or give the office a call at (212) 246-8700.

 

Broken tooth on vacation?

What happens when you break a tooth on vacation? Dr. Samantha Rawdin is on-the-job providing tips on how to manage this dental emergency:

You’ve been planning for months. Flights are booked. Bags are packed. You finally

arrive at your destination… and then your tooth breaks.

What’s a vacationer to do?! Well, it’ll depend on a few things…

If you’re in pain…

…you should seek help right away. If you’re in a hotel, ask the concierge. Usually

they can direct you to a dentist near by. If you’re not in a hotel, but still in the U.S.,

you can go to the American Dental Association website (www.ada.org) and utilize

their “Find-a- Dentist” tool. It has some advanced search options to help you narrow

down your results. If you’re out of the country, things can be a bit trickier.

Depending on where you are in the world, dental care can be very good or not so

good.

If you can get to a pharmacy…

…try to find a product that helps with toothaches—they’re usually found in the

dental aisle. They come in gums, gels and pastes and can be applied to the sensitive

area. Be sure to follow the instructions, as they can vary slightly among brands.

Can’t get to a pharmacy?

A piece of (sugarless!) chewing gum can help protect a sensitive area from irritants.

You can also try putting desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, directly on the

area and then covering it with gum. If you can find it, a drop of clove oil on a cotton

swab can have a palliative effect.

If you have a cap/crown/temporary/veneer that came off…

…you have a few options. Pharmacies typically have some sort of temporary cement

for at-home use. Again, be sure to follow the instructions. Before using, try to clean

the inside of the restoration as best as you can to remove excess cement or debris.

Then, try it in a few times so you know which way it goes. Mix up the cement, place

only enough inside the restoration to coat the surface in a thin layer and seat the

restoration. Bite down gently, but be sure to bite down all the way. Clean up any

excess with a cotton swab or toothpick before it hardens. If you can’t find temporary

cement, denture adhesive will work as well. Just be aware that you’ll need to replace

it a few times per day. If you’re not in pain and the temporary isn’t staying in well,

take it out before you go to sleep so you don’t swallow it.

And whatever you do, don’t use Krazy Glue! Still confused? Call or e-mail us. Even if

we’re not close by, we can probably at least help point you in the right direction.

And, of course, be sure to come see us as soon as you get home!