Is having sensitive teeth an emergency?

I was wondering what causes tooth sensitivity? Also, is this an urgent issue? Do I need an emergency dentist appointment?

– Hope in Virginia


Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common concerns people have. The sensitivity varies from person to person and is wide-ranging in terms of urgency and seeking out emergency dentist care.

The main reason that an individual deals with sensitivity is because some of the underlying tooth tissue called the dentin is exposed. When the tooth’s enamel wears away or decays you may notice some irritation, sensitivity, and in some cases a toothache. Another issue that leads to increased tooth sensitivity is when the gums have receded. Many are more prone to the effects of sensitivity when eating or drinking something hot or cold. The change in temperature sometimes sends a zing. Others have sensitivity to breathing in cold air, or from dental tools at an exam where air is used to dry or clear a particular area.

Causes may include brushing the teeth too hard. Over time hard brushing can break down tooth enamel. Or consumption of highly acidic foods and drinks like soda, sugary energy drinks, or citrus fruits can wear down the tooth’s enamel. A chip or crack can expose the dentin too. Some patients may not realize it but they may grind or clench the teeth during sleep. This can add to the stress that teeth endure. Another culprit are those whitening toothpastes or abrasive toothpastes. These can also add to your tooth sensitivity.

If your sensitivity progresses into pain or a dull ache or throbbing, you may be in need of a root canal treatment to save the tooth. This may mean that the decay has reached the inside of the tooth and the nerve endings are dying in the pulp of the tooth. Don’t put this off. Schedule an emergency dentist appointment today if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or notice a small abscess or pimple on your gums near the aching tooth.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Teeth Grinding in Children

My daughter is only four years old and I recently discovered that she is grinding her teeth. Will this harm her teeth as she gets older?

– Leslie in Florida


You may not realize it but it isn’t unheard of for children to grind their teeth. In fact, there have been studies that show almost 40 percent of young children grind. It can cause some damage in the long run, but many times children will stop grinding after their permanent teeth have erupted. At least she still has her baby teeth at this time.

There are many reasons why your daughter may be grinding her teeth. Teething can actually be a contributing factor to grinding. The permanent teeth that are still below the surface are developing and progressing as their eruptions near. The teething  process can cause pain and anxiety which can make a child grind their teeth. These symptoms of teething can also lead to teeth that are out of alignment, as well as allergies.

A pediatric dentist has pursued two additional years of schooling beyond dental school. So if you are particularly concerned or noticing ware on your child’s teeth, you may consider seeing one. But remember, there is really nothing very harmful or damaging happening.  And there is not much that can be done about it. Now if several years go by and the surfaces of the teeth are showing signs of distress, than that may increase the speed at which your child’s baby teeth are lost. Often times, when a child’s permanent molars erupt, the grinding will subside. Children are approximately six or seven years old when the permanent teeth come in.

At this young of an age, you don’t need to be concerned with TMJ problems. That is unless your child is complaining of pain while chewing or biting down. In most kids, teeth grinding typically occurs at bedtime. One suggestion may be to limit television viewing right before bed. This habit stimulates the mind before sleep. Another suggestion may be to give your child a bath and read stories right before bead to help them become more relaxed. This my help with the tension and grinding.

It is pretty likely that you don’t have anything to worry about from a clinical standpoint.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Drinks That Are Not Bad for Your Teeth

I’m only 21 years old and I used to almost never brush my teeth from late elementary school to late high school. I’d chew gum all day to keep my breath fresh. I know I was really stupid. By the time I realized it I already had a ton of cavities, decalcification, and discoloration. I still have many, many cavities to get filled. I’ve been taking good care of my teeth for 3 years, I brush 2-3 times a day, and use a fluoride rinse at night and floss, but they keep getting worse. It’s so frustrating. It’s because all I drink is Coke, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, grape and apple juice. My dentist says I’m hairline close to losing a few of my molars if I don’t quit. So I am. Cold Turkey. I really dislike that taste of water (it does have a taste), but that’s probably because I never really drank it, so I’m not used to it. I do like water with lemon, but I’m afraid that even just the acid from the lemon still be horrible for my teeth. Is there anything to drink besides water that is completely safe for your teeth? Would putting lemon in water, be bad? Are those flavored waters like SoBe and Vitamin Water also bad? What about flavored water packets?

Thanks, Drew in North Carolina

Dear Drew,

Once a patient has a lot of tooth enamel erosion from acidic beverages, the damage is done. Teeth can remineralize over time, but only very little if there is a lot of damage already. The best method is prevention like brushing, flossing, and using a prescription fluoride toothpaste which you have been doing. The beverages you are drinking will only continue to destroy your teeth so no matter how much you brush and floss you can still be prone to tooth decay. We recommend that you do not add lemon to your water. Lemon, as you are well aware is acidic and can erode the enamel further. You may want to consider slicing up a cucumber and putting that in your water. It actually taste very pleasant and will not cause any damage.

As for SoBe flavored waters, most contain sucrose which is table sugar which causes tooth decay, however they do make three flavors that are called SoBe Lean that contain 0 to 5 calories. These beverages are sweetened with PureVia TM which is the sweet extract of the stevia plant. These would be fairly safe for you to drink in moderation. Most vitamin waters and flavored waters contain fructose, ascorbic acid, and artificial food coloring which have been linked to tooth decay and dental erosion. These should be very limited in the diet or better yet stay away from them if you can. One more option would be to drink unsweetened ice tea. Remember too much of any one thing is never healthy.

Don’t get discouraged, keep up with your hygiene, use your prescription fluoride, and have a healthy balanced diet.

If you continue down the road you were one, with high-sugar drinks, the erosion will only get worse. You may end up missing a tooth or eventually losing multiple teeth. Then dental implants, a dental bridge, or other replacement treatment will be your future.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Does smoking pot harm the teeth?

The short answer is yes. Smoking of any kind, whether it’s marijuana, cigarettes, or a pipe, does increase an individual’s risk for tooth decay. This is mainly due to the fact that smoking obstructs the production of saliva. You may not realize how important saliva is in keeping the surfaces of our teeth clean. When an individual smokes marijuana for an extended period of time it will weaken the immune system as well. The immune system helps to keep your body and mouth health.

In addition to causing tooth decay, marijuana can lead to infection and tumors because THC gets in the way of calcium absorption into the body. And since calcium is imperative for healthy teeth, marijuana smokers tend to see an increased risk with tooth decay. If tooth decay isn’t treated, porcelain crowns may be required and eventually a root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth if the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth.

Smokers also experience staining and a higher risk of gum disease. The effects on the gums are related to the decrease of oxygen in the blood. When there is a lack of oxygenated blood, healing becomes more difficult for the body. Another side effect of smoking is dry mouth which can cause a build up of plaque, which in turn results in the progression of gum disease.

Do whatever it takes to stop smoking, not only for your general health but for healthy teeth and gums.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Loose front teeth

I had an accident last week where I fell down and hit my front teeth. At first it hurt badly and I couldn’t even really bite down. But now they are feeling better than they were, but they are kind of loose. Do you think I need to get in to see a dentist?

– Ross in Ohio


You need to get into a dentist as soon as possible. Even though you didn’t schedule an emergency dentist appointment right away, you still need to get in as soon as possible. The symptoms you have described could mean that there is some possible nerve damage or injured ligaments that hold the teeth in place. The roots of the teeth should also be checked out. It is possible that they are broken which is only detectable from an x-ray.

If the dentist determines that the roots are still intact and there is no damage from the fall, it is possible that they may recommend a splint or retainer of some sort to help stabilize them. This will support them and keep them in the correct position. If there is damage to the nerve of any one of the teeth, a tooth infection may occur. This may not show up initially in the x-ray but be on the lookout for dull pain or aching, sensitivity to hot and cold, or sensitivity to pressure. If the tooth that has nerve damage is salvageable than a root canal treatment will be recommended. This procedure will save the tooth. If there is a crack in the root, than the tooth will need to be extracted. Your dentist will likely present you with some options to replace that missing tooth with a dental bridge or dental implant. There are pros and cons to both of these treatments, so you will want to weigh out the benefits of choosing a dental implant vs bridge, as well as the alternative.

But first thing is first, get into the dentist right away!

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Why The Tongue Gets Sore After Eating Sour Candy.

Sour candies contain high concentrations of citric acid. So when one chews or sucks on sour candy over a long period of time it burns the epithelial layer of the tongue off. Any type of chemical burn will cause sloughing of the superficial layer of the oral mucosa. The tongue will most likely heal within five days therefore it really is nothing serious to worry about.

Remember anything in excess is usually not a good thing. Try to avoid sour and spicy foods as well as foods that are too cold or too hot for about seven days or so. Making up a baking soda and water solution to rinse with will help ease the pain. Take a teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with eight ounces of warm water. Swish and spit until the entire glass is empty. Do this several times a day for about three days. There are also some topical agents you can buy at your local store that contain benzocaine, which is a numbing agent to help relieve pain symptoms, however if you have any heart conditions bezocaine is not recommended. If your problem still persists after a week we recommend you visit your dentist. Sometimes schedules are booked out weeks or months, so you may need to visit an emergency dentist appointment to be seen sooner.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

My tongue is white.

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m sick, have a sore throat, and am coughing. I also have a runny nose and my tongue is white. What does this mean?

Thanks, Kelly in Massachusetts

Dear Kelly,

Bacteria collect on our tongues just like it sticks to our teeth. The longer bacteria stays on our tongues the more discolored our tongue becomes. The main reason for a white tongue is poor oral hygiene. It’s just as important to brush your tongue as it is your teeth. Our tongues are a common feeding ground for bacteria to grow and accumulate; therefore daily cleaning of the tongue is important. One may use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clean the tongue. Your tongue could be white for a couple of reasons. It could just be plaque built up from lack of cleaning it. Also you have a cold and sore throat which could be an indicator you either have a streptococcal infection or other type of bacterial infection. If you’re on any type of antibiotic for your cold or sore throat you may also have oral thrush which is a yeast infection, however this white coating would be thick, impair your taste buds, and cause bad breath. We recommend you drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist and clean your tongue thoroughly. After a couple of days if your tongue is still white either see your physician or dentist to make sure you don’t have oral thrush or any other condition with your tongue going on.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

You may also be interested in learning more about teeth cleaning


I’m losing sleep over going to the dentist!

Do you have any tips for overcoming my fear of the dentist? Please don’t think I’m weird, I seriously am scared. I will literally be up all night before my dental appointment. This happens every time I have to go in for a visit. Just thinking about it makes me anxious. Seriously, I know as an adult I should just get over it. It has to stop, because I don’t want to be a bad example for my children.

– Cindy in Arizona


Please don’t feel silly or embarrassed. Millions of people deal with dental fear and anxiety. There are many great cater to cowards dentists out there that take a gentle approach to caring for your dental needs. There are many things that can be done to help, depending on the level of anxiety you deal with. When you call for the appointment, let them know right upfront that you deal with dental anxiety. Ask them what steps or procedures they offer to help.

For some people, all it takes is a simple distraction. Watching a movie or listening to music are a few examples. Other dentists pride themselves in gentle dentistry techniques. A dentist that makes this a priority will work with you on a treatment plan. They will ask if you have concerns before they start working, so be sure to speak up and let them know your nervous. They can go slowly or stop at any time if you are uncomfortable.

Nitrous oxide is another option that may help. This mild, relaxant gas is also known as laughing gas. It can be administered during your dental appointment with a mask and all you do is breathe it in. The effects wear off almost immediately. This has helped many fearful patients that just need a little extra help relaxing in the chair.

But if you are extremely fearful, you may want to try sedation dentistry. Oral sedation is a form of sedation that simply involves taking a pill before your appointment. This technique has helped fearful patients manage their fear. Oral sedation patients will remember little to nothing about the dental appointment. It puts you into a sleep-like state, that is why it is also known as sleep dentistry. You will be indifferent to what is going on, but you will still be conscious. Your protective reflexes like breathing and coughing will still work normally. You will needs to have someone drive you to and from the appointment. Sometimes it takes a few positive experiences with this sedation dentistry technique and patients will gain confidence to the point where they don’t need to use it anymore.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.