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   425​-​354​-​3138

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The Science Behind Cold Sensitivity and Tips on How to Reduce and Relieve It

Baby It’s Cold Outside! As winter approaches and temperatures decrease, I hear from patients more often that the cold air outside makes their teeth hurt. Cold sensitivity, or dentin hypersensitivity, is very common in patients. In fact, 67% of people experience pain when eating cold food or drinking cold drinks, and 51% of people experience pain when breathing in cold air*. Instead of enduring the occasional wince, it is better that you understand why your teeth are sensitive and what you can do to relieve the sensitivity!

What exactly causes cold sensitivity? There are several possible causes of tooth sensitivity including the following:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured/broken teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Exposed roots

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Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects tooth structure above your gum line. It is the hard outermost surface of a tooth. Under the gum line, a layer called cementum protects your tooth root. Below the enamel and cementum layers is a tooth layer called dentin. Dentin is porous and contains microscopic canals with nerve endings in them. When dentin loses its protective covering, the nerve endings are exposed to the external environment, allowing cold to reach the nerves inside the tooth. This results in a short, sharp nerve pain in the tooth. All of the causes of sensitivity listed above damage the protective layer of enamel or cementum in different ways, exposing the underlying dentin layer and making you occasionally wince!

Your dentist can examine your teeth and recommend possible treatments. A variety of treatments could be suggested based on the underlying cause, including the following:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste.Toothpastes like Sensodyne have potassium nitrate in them which help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It usually requires two weeks (14 days) of daily use before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride trays. Your dentist can make you take home trays that you can use to bathe your teeth in prescription fluoride gel. The fluoride will strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
  • A filling, inlay, or crown. These can be used to restore cavities, worn fillings, or fractured/broken teeth, correcting the flaw that has been causing your sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If you have gum recession and exposed root surfaces, your dentist may recommend a gum graft to protect your root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If cold sensitivity is prolonged and/or constant, you may require a root canal to eliminate the problem.

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Be proactive and protect your enamel so that your sensitivity does not worsen! Here are some ways to be proactive in protecting your teeth:

  • Don’t brush too hard. Use a soft toothbrush and brush in tiny circles (not sideways which can expose root surfaces). Brushing vigorously can eventually wear down tooth enamel.
  • Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. Grinding wears away your protective enamel. Ask your dentist about a mouth guard for nighttime or daytime use!
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss twice a day properly to prevent periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can cause recession in your gums and expose your root surface.
  • Schedule your professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist will provide recommendations and advice on reducing your dentin hypersensitivity.

To schedule an appointment, call our office at (425) 354-3138 or visit our website http://mccauleydentistry.com.

Amanda McCauley, DDS

*Source: http://us.sensodyne.com/sensitive-teeth-and-gums/sensitivity-triggers.aspx

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Avoiding Acid Erosion During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is right around in the corner!  In preparation for the start of the holiday season, we’re sharing information on acid and alkaline content in many holiday foods and providing tips to keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Enamel is the protective armor of our teeth. Preventing damage to the underlying dentin and nerve layers, our enamel acts as a first line of defense from hazards including trauma, bacteria, habits like nail or pen biting, and acid erosion. Acid erosion is caused by frequent consumption of foods and drinks with a pH below 5.0-5.7. Although holidays are a time of eating, drinking, and general merriment, it is important to not overwhelm our teeth with an acidic challenge during these feasts. Aside from dental erosion, acidic foods can also trigger heartburn. Where’s the merriment when you are suffering from heartburn?!

cropped cheese graphic

High Acid Content: Fruit juices (especially orange and apple juice), sports drinks, wine, beer, carbonated sodas, dried fruit, beef, chicken, eggs, pork, shellfish, cheese, artificial sweeteners.

Moderate Acid Content: Ketchup, mayo, butter, apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, grapes, mango, orange, peach, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, brown rice, oats, rye bread, wheat, wild rice, ocean fish.

Mild Acid Content: Black beans, chickpeas/garbonzos, kidney beans, cantaloupe, fresh dates, nectarine, plum, sweet cherry, watermelon, soybeans, freshwater wild fish, rice and soy milk, brazil nuts, pecan nuts, hazel nuts.

Mild Alkaline Content: Artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrot, chives, zucchini, leeks, new baby potatoes, peas, rhubarb, watercress, grapefruit, coconut, buckwheat, quinoa, lentils, tofu, goat and almond milk, most herbs and spices.

Moderate Alkaline Content: Avocado, pepper, cabbage, celery, collard/spring greens, endive, garlic, ginger, green beans, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onion, radish, red onion, rocket/arugula, tomato, butter beans, soy beans.

High Alkaline Content: Himalayan salt, grasses, cucumber, kale, kelp, spinach, parsley, broccoli, sprouts (soy, alfalfa, etc.), sea vegetables (kelp), all sprouted beans.

Veggies_final

Don’t worry! You can follow these rules to help prevent acid erosion:

  • Don’t swish or swirl your acidic holiday beverage in your mouth.
  • After consuming highly acidic foods or drinks, rinse thoroughly with water.
  • If you can, bring a soft toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste to your feast so that you can brush 30 minutes after eating! You may even end up eating less at the party, also saving you from heartburn.
  • If you cannot brush during the party, chew sugar-free gum to help dislodge food particles and produce saliva to naturally neutralize acids in your mouth.
  • If you drink soda, use a straw to prevent direct contact of carbonated soda with your teeth.
  • Remineralize your teeth with a fluoride mouthwash or paste.
  • Acid erosion yellows, dulls, thins, and weakens teeth. When your protective enamel layer is slowly dissolved over time by a highly acidic diet, you may begin to notice visible changes. Once the underlying dentin layer is exposed, you may also notice sensitivity. Being proactive at reducing your acid-rich diet can save your armor and ultimately your beautiful, strong, pearly white smile!

Our team at McCauley Family and Cosmetic Dentistry wishes everyone a great start to the holiday season!  Still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving?  Check out our Facebook page as we’ll be sharing our favorite recipes between now and Thanksgiving.

 

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Back to School! Here Are 5 Tips To Help Your Child Like The Dentist

Here are some great tips to help your child like the dentist!

New backpacks, books, and teachers. As children begin another year at school, it is important to make sure they are healthy and strong so that they can excel academically. While they require doctor’s check ups as they grow or perhaps the yearly sports physical, make sure that trip to the dentist is not overlooked! Dental exams are crucial every six months, especially since adult teeth are erupting from elementary school through high school. Protecting teeth properly in the first few years will lead to a full set of chompers your whole life.

Some children may love the dentist, but not mine! I’ve found that the majority of children develop a fear of the dentist if mommy or daddy also has dental anxiety. Even if you are apprehensive about your own dental appointment, make sure not to cancel last minute or postpone having work done. Children can smell our fear! If you are not a fearful parent, their fear may result from the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at their teeth. Whatever the cause, hopefully these 5 tips can help you turn your children’s frowns upside down when they have their next dental appointment!

  1. 6-Month Cleanings. Prevention is the first step toward combating dental anxiety in children, and frequent dental check-ups are the first step in prevention. At six month cleaning appointments, we can catch cavities when they are small, protect teeth with sealants before cavities form, and help teach you where your child needs more help brushing his/her teeth. If a cavity is found when it is small, it can be repaired in a shorter amount of time and with less anesthesia required. No long procedures. No pain. No Fear!
  2. Oral Hygiene. At-home care is step two of prevention, but it is equally as important as frequent dental check ups when it comes to reducing dental anxiety in children! When they are wee, help them to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. When they are old enough to brush on their own, some electric toothbrushes even have songs that play for the advised two-minute length while they brush! A child with great oral hygiene will have shorter dental appointments, making it more enjoyable. blog2
  3. Diet. You guessed it! Step three of prevention cannot be overlooked. You’ve hear the sugar saga before – an unlimited supply of sugar will lead to more cavities. Bacteria love sugar and carbohydrates. You already knew that! If your child IS occasionally enjoying a treat, make sure he/she brushes soon after. Also, keep juice out of the sippy cups as much as possible. Teeth cannot stay strong if they are bathed in sugar all day. Water in sippy cups is your friend! High water content fruits and veggies like apples and carrots also help to naturally cleanse teeth.
  4. Practice When They’re Young. Sometimes the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at your teeth can all be very overwhelming. If you have young children, have them lay down on the couch with their head in your lap. Practice brushing their teeth and having them open wide like and alligator! Count their teeth out loud touching each one with the toothbrush. If they know what to expect, they’ll act like a pro in the dental chair!
  5. Be an Example. At our family dental practice, we can schedule your child at the same time, before, or after you! If your children are anxious, it can help to have them watch you have your teeth cleaned and checked before it’s their turn, so they feel better about their experience. If you are brave and strong, they can be too!blog4

No Bribes Necessary. You shouldn’t have to bribe your child with a post-cleaning ice cream trip to be brave at the dentist. If you’re doing as much as you can at home to prevent decay and they know what to expect, it should be a fun outing with some cool gadgets, a few teeth tickles, an awesome ride in the big chair, a dental joke or two, a goodie bag, a trip to the toy chest, and maybe even their favorite show on the big screen TV! Remember that your child should see a family dentist or pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday!

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

[email protected]

To help your child like the dentist a little bit more today, call (425) 354-3138 or fill out an appointment request on mccauleydentistry.com

 

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18323 98th Ave NE #2, Bothell, WA