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Simple talk about a not-simple problem: “sensitivity.”

How many times have you heard people talk about how sensitive their teeth are to cold fluids, brushing, sweets or other factors? You may have those problems, as well.

WHY? There are many reasons: from the toothpaste you use, exposed root surfaces, deep cavities or fillings to even your bite and grinding your teeth in your sleep. All these problems lead to multiple answers. There is no one answer for everyone and some of these answers are purely the result of excluding what does not work for you. It is always a “work in progress” and is best-attempted with patient attention from both the patient’s standpoint as well as the dentist’s. There often is not just a single answer or specific “silver bullet” that works quickly.

One of the main problem areas are those patients who have had braces. The movement of teeth in the mouth for purely esthetics (read looks) is great for appearances but may not be great for many other reasons. Once the braces are removed, the patient tends to forget how very sore and sensitive teeth were to having their braces “tightened.” If the final position of the teeth does not totally agree with the position the muscles want the joint to be in, then a “war” can develop. This can be so overt that the joint pain is intolerable OR can be covered to the point that it is discovered with just a simple filling or some other simple trauma such as a fall where the teeth hit together just a little harder than usual.

Here are some take-home points to remember:

  • Over 80% of all of us have a bite problem, but less than 20% of us ever have real problems that result in the need to treat the problem.
  • Over 90% of us grind our teeth at night, but not all of us have problems because of it. What matters is the amount of time per night that the condition arises and how much pressure is applied to the teeth.
  • If you have had braces, your chances are much greater to have bite problems. Ask Dr. Yount more about this issue personally if you want more information.
  • Even the pattern and timing of how the permanent teeth come into position in the mouth affect this, as well. A tooth in the wrong position can be in the pathway of closure and can change how you close and chew without you being aware that something is happening.

What are the solutions?

It depends on the initial problem. Exposed root surfaces respond very well to advanced fluoride therapy and can even improve nearly immediately with the application. Sometimes, repeat application is needed. Also needed is discontinuing certain toothpastes that are known to have abrasives, whitening and brightening, and tartar control formulas. This is absolutely key to solving the problem.

Because teeth move, after fillings, crowns and even tooth removal, there are times that the bite needs to be adjusted. Often, the adjustment is needed on the adjacent teeth and not the tooth that was treated. The bite is the first item checked and the last item checked, but teeth move… that is how braces work. Adjustments to adjacent teeth are evidence that the bite is not balanced in the first place and that any disturbance can result in unhappy teeth. At times, this just involves a lot of patience on both the patient’s part as well as our part. In real extreme cases, the patient needs a mouth guard to prevent the teeth from being ground on all night long.

The same applies to joint pain and pain where the patient says “all my teeth hurt.” A mouth guard is needed and it makes ALL the difference. As mentioned, a very high percentage of us grind our teeth at night. The pressure is so very high that something is going to give… teeth wear, teeth break, teeth become very sensitive, muscles break down, and even the joint breaks down (frequently referred to as TMJ). Instead, most of those problems are TMD, temporomandibular dysfunction. The bulk of those problems are what we refer to as occlusal motor dysfunction. Meaning, there is a war between where the muscles want the jaw and joint to be positioned and where the teeth try to direct the jaw and joint position. The first step in solving the problem is a bite guard. Once the pain is under control, then further treatment can be completed if needed.

Further evidence reports ANY patient that has 4 crowns or more needs a mouth guard and fluoride trays. Also, any patient over 60 years old or taking certain medications also needs Fluoride trays. Preventing damage to teeth is still the best treatment and can help make your treatment dollars go much further.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Dr. Yount today at 324-821-2404 or use our online Request an Appointment form.

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