Dental anxiety is a powerful reason that many go to the dentist far less often than they should. But fear of dental work shouldn’t keep you from seeking the care you need. Reducing dental anxiety is an undertaking that requires everyone on board — starting with yourself and ending with the staff at your dental office.
Many dental offices are adopting principles of pain-free dentistry, which extends to anxiety-reducing measures to make the experience more tolerable, if not wholly pleasant, for those who suffer serious fears. There are some steps you can take to help reduce your dental anxiety and cope with it as you seek regular care and treatment to keep your smile looking and feeling its best.
Nothing that gives you joy during tough times is frivolous. With the status of your next dental appointment unknown or up in the air due to global health events, it’s only natural to focus on the state of your smile — it’s a major point of pride, and keeping it looking gleaming and sparkling is a priority for many. While the only safe teeth-whitening treatment is one provided by your dentist, there are some ways you can preserve and prolong the effects at home — and some DIY home remedies you should definitely steer clear of.
If you can’t stand the thought of eating ice cream or your morning cup of coffee makes you cringe until it’s lukewarm, you may have sensitive teeth. Acidic foods, like your favorite orange or spaghetti with tomato sauce, can also cause you pain at the mere thought of eating them, and you might be so sensitive that you wish you could skip brushing, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash altogether. Sensitive teeth are teeth that hurt — and while some people have naturally sensitive teeth, others may notice a sudden onset of sensitivity caused by other problems.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
If you hit the genetic lottery, you may just have naturally thinner enamel covering your teeth than other people. Enamel is the hard outer shell of your teeth that keeps the soft, sensitive dentin and pulp shielded from external stimuli.
Other times, you might experience sensitivity as a result of an underlying disease or condition. For example, GERD (gastro-esophagel reflux disease), gastroparesis or hyperemesis gravida can wear down enamel through excessive exposure to acid. Closer to the root of the pain, cavities, gingivitis or broken or lost fillings and crowns can also contribute to tooth sensitivity.
Habits like eating or drinking acidic foods too often, brushing your teeth overly enthusiastically or grinding your teeth at night can also add to pain throughout the day. If you’ve recently gotten dental work done — from intensive care like a filling to cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening — you may also experience a temporary increase in sensitivity to your teeth.
What Can I Do About Sensitive Teeth?
Caring for sensitive teeth starts with a good home care routine. Choose a soft toothbrush and ease up on your grip — you don’t need to scrub hard to ensure your teeth are clean and free from bacteria. Alcohol-free mouthwashes and rinses can help, as can those that provide extra fluoride.
Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth can provide some relief. These toothpastes are free from irritating ingredients and may have extra fluoride to help build up your enamel. Some sensitive toothpastes may also include ingredients that help numb the root of your teeth to provide relief from mild pain and irritation. Steer clear of whitening toothpastes, which can weaken enamel, as well as DIY or at-home whitening treatments. Skip gimmicky, charcoal-based toothpastes that can cause mechanical damage by abrading the surface of your teeth, which may be irreversible.
If you’re experiencing sensitivity that’s more than just an irritating sensation — pain or discomfort severe enough that it interferes with your life — it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist.
How Does My Dentist Treat Sensitive Teeth?
Your dentist will start by giving your teeth a cleaning and thorough exam to try to determine the underlying cause of your sensitive teeth. If your discomfort is due to thin enamel, you may be given a prescription for fluoride mouth rinse to help build up your teeth’s defenses. Your dentist may also apply fluoride via a custom-fit tray or directly to your teeth, and will likely advise you to skip whitening treatments or ingredients that promote tooth whitening.
For sensitivity caused by gum recession, cavities or other major issues, your dentist will form a treatment plan to help alleviate your discomfort. For example, gum recession due to periodontal disease may require a more advanced cleaning to restore gum health and allow your gums to grow back over the parts of your teeth that aren’t normally exposed and are therefore more sensitive. Sensitivity due to cavities can be remedied by a filling. For extreme pain or discomfort, you may need a root canal to remove the damaged nerve.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed to protect the health of our staff and patients and cannot take phone calls or requests for appointments at this time. We can, however, answer any questions or concerns sent via email, which you can do by clicking here. We hope to open again soon and can help address concerns about mild to moderate tooth sensitivity at that time.
Self-care isn’t always lighting a candle and drawing a hot bath while brewing your favorite cup of tea. Self-care is sometimes choosing to actively and mindfully focus on improving part of your health, and one of the simplest ways to be more proactive is remedying commonly overlooked minor dental or oral health issues. While you may not be able to get into your dentist’s office, you can make plenty of self-care power moves for a fresher, cleaner, healthier smile at home.
Whether you’re looking for a couple’s date idea for you and your significant other for Valentine’s Day or are single and looking to kick up your dating life, a trip to the dentist can be a practical way to get things going. While it sounds as far from romantic as you can get, science has proven time and time again that good oral health can improve your romantic prospects and launch your love life into high gear.
Tackling Childhood Tooth Decay — Fillings, Sealants or Other?
Mommy wars and parent shaming are real — everyone has a different way of doing things, and this can often cause conflict and ruffle feathers. The common link between all parents is wanting to do what’s best for their children, especially when it comes to their medical and dental needs.
As infants grow into toddlers, preschoolers and grade schoolers, their dental care needs increase, too. One thing all parents worry about at one time or another is the best way to prevent decay. There are a number of solutions to help combat tooth decay and cavities in children, but which is truly the best?
New Study Results
The results of a three-year, multi-university study are in: active prevention is the best way of dealing with childhood tooth decay. According to the FiCTION study, the results of which were published in the November 26, 2019, issue of The Journal of Dental Research, the best way to deal with childhood tooth decay is to stop it before it starts. Although this nugget of wisdom is conventionally held as true based on common sense, medical science now backs it as fact.
Study findings concluded that, once decay sets in and treatment is started, there’s not much difference in the outcome. Most children will experience pain and infection regardless. So by default, the best way to treat your child’s teeth for cavities is to make sure they don’t happen in the first place.
How to Prevent Childhood Cavities
Preventing childhood cavities starts with regular dental checkups, starting about six months after infants get their first tooth and continuing at least twice a year. Checkups allow dentists to spot problems before they start and offer preventative treatments. For example, children who lack adequately strong enamel may require fluoride treatments to escape cavities. Starting and maintaining a regular dental visit schedule also ensures that your child’s teeth come in properly and on time — and that they can get early treatment for any spacing issues or abscessed teeth.
Regular checkups also allow dental staff to adequately clean your child’s teeth — something that brushing and flossing alone cannot do. It’s easy for young children to miss spots while brushing or to have trouble flossing because of the small size of their mouths. Dental cleanings give your child a fresh, clean slate to work with.
In addition to making and keeping regular dental appointments for your child, you can help prevent cavities by getting your kids into the habit of taking care of their teeth at home. Kids should brush twice a day for at least two minutes at a time, using a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
If your child isn’t old enough to avoid swallowing toothpaste, skip those containing fluoride. Once they can spit their toothpaste out, switch to a formula containing the mineral. Flossing, too, should happen at least twice a day. Mouthwashes and rinses are optional but can help — and your dentist may recommend an additional rinse or wash containing fluoride if your drinking water lacks it.
A variety of brush types, styles and sizes exist — while some research suggests that electric toothbrushes may get children’s teeth cleaner, it’s most important to pick one that your child likes and will use regularly. If possible, let your kids help pick out their toothbrushes. Similarly, devices that help kids floss (like GumChucks or branded, shaped single-use flossers) are available to get kids interested in flossing and make it easier.
Treating Cavities — What’s Best?
Even with religiously kept appointments and adequate home care, some children will develop cavities. Whether it’s due to sneaking sweet, sugary candy, genetic factors or spacing issues that can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria between the teeth, cavities that form must be treated to avoid pain and infection.
There are two main ways of dealing with tooth decay in children — drilling it out of the tooth and filling it to prevent further damage, or sealing it under a crown or filling without drilling it to stop its spread to surrounding teeth.
Research suggests that there’s no marked difference in outcomes between children whose decayed teeth are drilled and filled or sealed — the incidence of complications and future cavities was about the same.
Still, every child is different, and your child’s teeth may have factors that make one option or the other better for their unique situation. So it’s important to work with your dentist to choose the treatment option that’s best for your child.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur loves to get kids excited about dental health and hygiene. Our staff is friendly and patient — we want to make sure your kids are happy to come back after their first appointment. We employ a pain-free dentistry approach to our practice, and part of that is reducing the anxiety that often surrounds a trip to the dentist.
Whether you’re booking baby’s first dental appointment, just moved to the area and need a new family dentist or are seeking treatment for a cavity, we’re honored to have you choose us. To book a spot, simply call our office at (201) 560-0606. You can also reach out to us by email by clicking here, and someone will be in touch to confirm your appointment.
Cold Weather Got Your Teeth Hurting? Here’s How Sensitive Teeth Work (And How We Can Help!)
Cold weather is a nightmare for those with sensitive teeth. While it’s reasonable for those with extra-sensitive smiles to expect a twinge when biting into something cold or sipping something hot, it’s another thing entirely to feel discomfort or pain from merely walking outdoors in the winter. Although this phenomenon may seem downright disrespectful, it’s something that can be remedied, in most cases, with a trip to your dentist and some self-care steps.
Tooth Anatomy and Pain
Your teeth have nerve endings, which are usually well-protected by the enamel of your teeth. These nerve endings, like others, respond to outside stimuli and send your brain signals accordingly. When exposed to cold weather, those nerve signals can translate to pain.
Eroded enamel can happen from exposure to acidic food or beverages, over-brushing, improper teeth whitening or accidental damage, to name just a few common causes. When the enamel wears down, it exposes the next layer of the tooth: dentin. Dentin is the layer that surrounds the pulp, which holds your teeth’s nerves and blood vessels. Without the hard outer shell of the enamel to shield exposed dentin, cold weather can cause pain to teeth.
Expansion and Contraction
Don’t discount the contraction and expansion of your teeth when exposed to extreme temperatures as a source of pain, either. Teeth can fluctuate up to 120 degrees in their temperature. Like other organic matter, they contract in cold temps and expand in hot ones. As they do this, your teeth may develop minor cracks or fissures to accommodate the changes. Although they don’t typically cause damage to your tooth’s health or integrity, they can cause discomfort. If you’ve had previous dental work with metal amalgam fillings, the discomfort may skyrocket into pain, because metal expands and contracts at a quicker rate than the surrounding tooth.
Sinus Pressure Hurts, Too
Cold and flu viruses make the rounds at the same time as cold weather — not as a result of the weather but because more people are congregating indoors and sharing their germs. It’s no coincidence that tooth pain can occur during these times. Likewise, those with seasonal allergies may find early autumn cold weather difficult on their teeth, too — and it all boils down to sinus pressure.
Our sinus cavities, when full of mucus and other gunk, can put pressure on the roots and nerves that lead to our teeth. If you find your upper teeth hurting more during cold weather, it may not be the temperature at all: it could be your sinuses wreaking havoc on the nerves that serve your mouth.
What You Can Do — And How We Can Help
The only acceptable amount of dental pain is none at all. The first step in figuring out the root of the problem and the most effective solution is to book an appointment with your dentist. With a visual exam and a set of X-rays, your dentist and their team can figure out how best to stop the pain.
Some people with large amounts of exposed dentin may need a protective coating painted onto their teeth to stop the discomfort, pain and sensitivity. Others may need only brush with a toothpaste designed to give relief to those with sensitive teeth. If you have a cavity or another dental problem, this can exacerbate the pain — your dentist will work on that to give you relief.
Self-care of your teeth and gums is important when you’re having cold-related sensitivity or pain. Brush and floss as normal to reduce plaque and lessen decay. Eliminate at-home whitening treatments (which you should be avoiding anyway!), abrasive toothpastes containing charcoal (which you should also be avoiding!) and folk remedies like baking soda, and reduce or avoid acidic foods and drinks like coffee, citrus and tomato-based products, which can make the sensitivity worse.
Taking protective measures to keep your mouth warm when you step outside may also help. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can keep the pain at bay, as can bundling up with a scarf.
Let Us Help You
Although going to the dentist is rarely anyone’s favorite task, the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur does everything we can to make it as pleasant and enjoyable an experience as possible. We use the latest technology to deliver a pain-free experience from the moment you book your appointment to the moment you leave after being seen.
To that end, we’ve made it easy to schedule an appointment. You can snag your spot by giving us a call at (201) 560-0606. Or you can book your appointment by email. To do so, click here and one of our team will reach out to you to firm up your details. We look forward to helping give you the smile you deserve — whether it’s the dead of winter or the height of summer.
How you look as you age is determined by a number of factors largely out of your control — genetics, environmental exposure to hazards and toxins and underlying health issues, to name a few. Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are a few things you can do to ensure you age like a fine wine, rather than an organic banana relegated to the bottom drawer of the fridge. One of those things is making sure your teeth and gums are well taken care of.
Can you remember how you learned to brush your teeth? If you’re lucky, your mom or dad taught you and guided you on proper form and oversaw the task until you were old enough to do it by yourself. But not everyone had that kind of experience, so perhaps the task of teaching you how to brush your teeth was left to others in your life, or worse, you had to figure it out on your own.
Whether you’re a millennial in need of a “life skill” reminder or someone who is genuinely curious about the most efficient and effective way to take care of your smile, there’s no embarrassment in admitting you need to brush up on your home dental care skills.
If you’re looking at your child’s mouth and notice thick, opaque white lines or patterns on their teeth, or worse, pitting or extreme discoloration that ranges from slightly yellow to dark brown, it’s easy to worry and think it’s an emergency. In most cases, it’s not. Rather, these symptoms are signs of fluorosis, a cosmetic condition caused by overexposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life. Although it looks bad, there’s no loss of functionality, but the blow it deals to your child’s self-esteem can be devastating. Treatment involves whitening and polishing the teeth or masking the staining — something your child’s dentist can do with ease.