1212 Ashley Circle, Suite 4
Bowling Green, KY 42104
Walden, J Eric D.D.S.
6905 Burlington Pike # A
Florence, KY, 41042-1618
3801 Springhurst Blvd
Louisville, KY, 40241-6137
2358 Nicholasville Rd # 156
Lexington, KY, 40503-3041
Austin, Michael S D.D.S.
2824 Farrell Cres
Owensboro, KY, 42303-1391
It is ironic that one of the most common dental disorders is also the most neglected, malocclusion, bad bite. The way the teeth fit together when the jaw closes and chews is of profound importance to the long-term health of your teeth.
If surfaces of the teeth interfere with how the jaw moves, the teeth can be worked loose or the enamel can be worn away this is know an malocclusion, bad bite. The muscles that move the jaw are very powerful and can do major damage to the teeth when the biting surfaces don't fit together properly.
The problem can be compounded if teeth interfere with functional muscle patterns, the jaw muscles will attempt to "erase" the part of the tooth that interferes by grinding against it all the more. This can lead to even more severe wear or it may crack off a cusp or split the tooth. Or it may loosen the tooth or cause it to move out of alignment. The excessive muscle activity often results in pain in the muscle itself. All of the jaw muscles can become sore including the temporal muscles that are the source of many so-called tension headaches.
Some excessive muscle activity may be caused by emotional stress. But with some special exceptions, damage done by stress induced grinding and clenching can be minimized to a manageable level by equalizing the biting surfaces that are in conflict with jaw movements.
The power of the jaw muscles may surprise you. Some people can exert over 900 pounds of compressive force with their jaw muscles so you can imagine how much damage such force can do when you close into a single tooth and then work it from side to side. The effect is very much like working a fence post loose as the bone around the root breaks down. If you can put your finger on any tooth in your mouth, and then squeezing your teeth together causes the tooth to move, you can be sure that it is just a matter of time before there will be a problem with that tooth.
Sometimes in malocclusion, bad bite the muscle forces that work the tooth sideways stimulates bone around the root to build up and become stronger. When that happens, the tooth actually bends in its socket and this creates a microscopic chipping away close to the gum line to form a deep groove in the tooth. This is called an abfraction. These deep grooves at the gum line are often mistaken for toothbrush abrasion, but scientists have shown us that the grooves are actually the results of bending of the tooth in its socket. These grooves can lead to much sensitivity in those teeth because the opening into the tooth exposes nerves that can be exquisitely sensitive. Correction of the bite to remove excessive lateral forces on the teeth in most instances either eliminates the sensitivity completely or reduces it to a much more acceptable level.
Patients should be aware that much confusion surrounds the importance of a harmonious bite, including many misconceptions that have been fostered by flawed research that has failed to properly relate the bite interferences to the position and condition of the temporomandibular joints. Knowledgeable clinicians, however, are very much aware of this relationship and can achieve excellent results in making both your teeth and your jaw muscles more comfortable by bringing your whole biting into harmony and avoiding malocclusion, bad bite.
By Peter E. Dawson, DDS
Tooth sensitivity to cold and/or sweets may be a sign of a cavity, but it may also be caused by root sensitivity. Teeth are made up of a very hard substance called enamel, which protects the nerve inside the tooth from the stimuli your teeth experience, such as hot, cold, sweets, and chewing.
The surface of the root of the tooth is covered by a material called cementum that is not as strong as enamel, but is protected by the overlying gum tissue. Tooth sensitivity basically occurs when something happens to cause the gum tissue to recede, leaving the sensitive cementum exposed.
One of the most common factors of gum recession is due to the toothbrush. The process is caused by brushing too hard or by using a hard bristled toothbrush, thereby causing the gums to recede. The use of a soft toothbrush with proper technique can help prevent this recession.
Chemical erosion is another cause of root sensitivity. This can occur in people who drink an excessive amount of carbonated beverages or suck on highly acidic foods, such as lemons or limes. The acids in these products can actually eat away the protective enamel coating of the teeth right along the gum line, leading to sensitivity.
This same type of tooth sensitivity may also occur after any dental treatment that affects the position of the gum tissue on the tooth. Some examples would be gum surgeries that expose more tooth structure or the extraction of teeth, which may cause shrinkage of the gum tissue in the area adjacent to other teeth.
The most critical aspect in treating root sensitivity is accurately diagnosing and treating the cause with your dentist. If the cause is not known and corrected, the problem will continue to recur in spite of treatment. Treatment is aimed at coating or sealing the surface of the exposed root to prevent the stimulus (cold, sweets) from transmitting to the nerve of the tooth, causing sensitivity.
There are toothpastes available at most stores that are specifically designed for sensitive teeth. These products decrease the sensitivity over time, although you may find if you stop using them, the sensitivity returns. This may be because the underlying cause has not been treated.
Another option is to have a highly concentrated fluoride gel applied to the sensitive areas at your dentist's office. Your dentist can also seal the area with a thin coating of resin. This is not like a filling, but more like a thin coat of a clear liquid that helps to seal your tooth when it is placed and cured.
Placing restorations (fillings) in the exposed areas will also seal them, but unless the cause of the tooth sensitivity is identified and corrected, the gum may continue to recede past where the filling was placed, causing a new area of root to be exposed below the level of the filling. If the recession is more extreme, a gum graft may be placed, where gum tissue is taken from another part of your mouth and grafted over the exposed area.
By Greggory Kinzer, DDS, MSD