Tidbits Column, April, 30, 2012

Ask the Dentist
by Dennis L. Burgner, D.D.S.



Q. What can I do about my sensitive teeth?
A. Tooth hypersensitivity may respond to a desensitizing toothpaste.
Last week I mentioned avoiding Tarter Control Toothpaste, which can cause
sensitivity with prolonged use. In addition, avoid frequent use of soft drinks, which
typically have high sugar and high acid contents. Citrus juices and many sports
drinks are highly acidic.

Q. What does a desensitizing toothpaste do?
A. A desensitizing agent in the toothpaste works to close open microscopic pores on the surface of the tooth and block the fluid movement within the small tubes in the dentin that triggers pain inside the tooth. Be patient. It may take a month or so for significant improvement. Don’t “over do it”, since long-term use of a desensitizing toothpaste can actually aggravate sensitivty.

Q. Does the type toothbrush I use matter?
A. Yes! Using a hard brush or brushing too hard with any kind of brush can wear into the tooth’s surface and trigger sensitivity.

Q. How do I know if I’m brushing too hard?
A. Check your toothbrush. If the bristles are pointing every which way, you’re either brushing too hard, or you’ve been using it too long – or both. It’s time for a new one. Change your brush at least every three months.

Q. When is it time to see a dentist?
A. If a tooth is sensitive for more than two or three days and reacts to hot and cold temperatures, it’s time to see the dentist.

Q. What will the dentist do?
A. Diagnose the cause. The dentist will check the tooth to determine what’s causing the sensitivity: Is the pain is from exposed sensitive tooth structure? Heavy biting forces? A cavity? Infection in the tooth, gum or bone? The diagnosis determines the treatment.

Q. How can the dentist treat my sensitive tooth?
A. There are several methods for managing tooth hypersensitivity.Treatment may include a combination of applying a protective coating, laser desensitizing, relieving heavy biting pressures, and prescribing desensitizing products for home use. If there’s a grinding / clenching habit contributing to the problem, the dentist may prescribe a protective appliance.

Dental question? You can Ask the Dentist by calling Dr. Burgner at
720-870-9500, or consult the website: www.ParkerLumineers.com

Dr Burgner has served on the Fellowship Examination Committee of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and received national recognition awards from that 30,000 member organizaation. He has been recognized in the local magazine 5280. He is a general dentist, and practices Family and Cosmetic Restorative Dentistry in Parker, Colorado.