Dentist in Syracuse, NY
Dr. Karen Lawitts and Dr. Nancy Yeates

100 Intrepid Lane
Syracuse, NY 13205

(315) 492-8138
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Posts for tag: sensitive teeth

By Drs Lawitts and Yeates
October 01, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sensitive teeth  
ReducingToothSensitivitywillDependontheCause

If you're one of over 30% of Americans who wince in pain when eating and drinking certain foods and beverages, you may have tooth sensitivity. Although there are a number of possible causes, the most common place to look first is tooth dentin.

Lying just under the enamel, dentin consists of tiny tubules that transmit sensations like pressure or temperature variation to the nerves of the inner pulp. The enamel, the gums and a covering on the roots called cementum help dampen these sensations.

But over-aggressive brushing or periodontal (gum) disease can cause the gums to shrink back (recede) and expose the dentin below the gum line; it can also cause cementum to erode from the roots. This exposure amplifies sensations to the nerves. Now when you eat or drink something hot or cold or simply bite down, the nerves inside the dentin receive the full brunt of the sensation and signal pain.

Enamel erosion can also expose dentin, caused by mouth acid in contact with the enamel for prolonged periods. Acid softens the minerals in enamel, which then dissolve (resorb) into the body. Acid is a byproduct of bacteria which live in dental plaque, a thin film of food particles that builds up on teeth due to poor oral hygiene. Mouth acid may also increase from gastric reflux or consuming acidic foods or beverages.

Once we pinpoint the cause of your tooth sensitivity we can begin proper treatment, first and foremost for any disease that's a factor. If you have gum disease, we focus on removing bacterial plaque (the cause for the infection) from all tooth and gum surfaces. This helps stop gum recession, but advanced cases may require grafting surgery to cover the root surfaces.

You may also benefit from other measures to reduce sensitivity: applying less pressure when you brush; using hygiene products like toothpastes that block sensations to the dentin tubules or slow nerve action; and receiving additional fluoride to strengthen enamel.

There are effective ways to reduce your tooth sensitivity. Determining which to use in your case will depend on the cause.

If you would like more information on tooth sensitivity, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity: Understanding Your Options.”

By Drs Lawitts and Yeates
August 06, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sensitive teeth  
WhatCausesDentalDiscomfort

Nothing ruins a thirst-quenching cold beverage or a dish of your favorite ice cream like a sudden pang of tooth sensitivity. If you're experiencing this problem — and especially if there are other triggers, like biting down — we encourage you to make an appointment. It could be something harmless and temporary, but it's always prudent to check. At the very least, you'll feel better once the underlying problem is identified and treated if necessary.

Here are some common sources of tooth sensitivity:

  • Enamel erosion — typically caused by acidic beverages/food, regurgitation of stomach acids (due to gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD] or the eating disorder bulimia), or improper brushing
  • Tooth decay — a sugary diet and poor dental hygiene may be contributing factors
  • Tooth fracture or chipping due to tooth grinding (bruxism) or other trauma
  • Gum recession due to age, improper tooth brushing, or gum disease
  • Filling that needs repair or replacement
  • Residual effects of recent dental work

Some things you can try at home to minimize sensitivity include:

  • Ease up on the toothbrush; a light touch is all that's needed to dislodge daily plaque build-up
  • Try using fluoride-containing toothpaste like an ointment over the affected area (fluoride decreases fluid exchange from the oral environment to the nerve inside the tooth)
  • Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (use judiciously and according to the package insert guidelines)

Discomfort related to recent dental work should resolve on its own; give it several weeks. If you're feeling discomfort for another reason, even if the sensitivity subsides, the underlying cause may still require attention.

If you would like more information about tooth sensitivity, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”

By Drs Lawitts and Yeates
March 18, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TaketheScreamOutofIceCream

“We all scream for ice cream,” the saying goes. But what if eating ice cream — or any very cold or hot food — literally makes you want to scream because your teeth hurt so much?

What causes sensitivity in teeth?

Understanding the anatomy of a tooth helps explain what happens when a tooth becomes sensitive to heat and cold. A tooth is composed of three types of tissue: a hard outer shell of enamel, the body of the tooth composed of the dentin, and an interior tissue of the pulp.

Enamel: The enamel forms the outside of the crown, the part of the tooth you normally see. Made of densely packed crystals of calcium, it is resistant to wear. It is not living tissue, and does not contain nerves, but it is capable of transmitting temperature like hot and cold.

Dentin: Inside the tooth's crown and root is a living tissue called dentin, which is a porous structure similar to bone. It is composed of microscopic tubules containing living cells, which are encased in a hard substance made of calcium crystals.

Pulp: The living dentin transmits sensation through to the pulp, which is in the center of the tooth and contains the tooth's blood vessels and nerves.

A tooth's enamel normally protects the dentin from exposure to extremes of temperature and pressure. If you wear away the enamel and expose the dentin, it will pass sensation through to the nerves in the pulp more directly. The result can range from a twinge to an excruciating pain.

Sensitivity can be caused by:

  • Overzealous tooth brushing resulting in enamel wear and consequently dentin exposure and wear.
  • Enamel and dentin erosion by acids in the foods and beverages you eat and drink.
  • Tooth decay — the most common cause of sensitivity. Decay destroys enamel and dentin inflaming and infecting the living tissues of the pulp, which become increasingly painful.

What can you do to make your teeth less sensitive?

  • Use a soft bristle tooth brush, and brush the affected teeth gently to remove all bacterial plaque. We can advise you on safe and effective brushing techniques.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens tooth surfaces and makes them more resistant to sensitivity and decay.
  • Ask us about professionally applied fluoride varnishes or filling materials that can cover and replace sensitive or lost tooth structure.

Of course, if the problem is caused by tooth decay, make an appointment with us to remove the decay and place a filling in the sensitive teeth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sensitive teeth. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”

By Drs Lawitts and Yeates
January 15, 2013
Category: Oral Health
WaysYouCanMinimizeToothSensitivity

If you have ever suffered from tooth sensitivity, you know all too well how real the pain can be — anything from a slight twinge to pain that can be downright excruciating. Sensitivity may be experienced several times throughout the day or just every once in a while. However, as we say, a little knowledge can go a long way. And we can provide you with the know-how and steps to help minimize your tooth sensitivity.

One of the first steps we will take is to review your brushing habits, as an improper brushing technique can not only cause tooth sensitivity, but it also can make the sensitivity worse once it is present. We will teach you how to remove dental plaque safely without damaging your delicate gum tissues, which can cause gum recession leaving the dentin exposed. Another step we may take is to provide you with a special toothpaste containing fluoride or one specifically targeted to sensitive teeth. The fluoride increases the strength of tooth surfaces and thus makes teeth more resistant to acid attack and sensitive to sweets. Or if the sensitivity is severe and/or constant, we may need to apply a barrier to cover the sensitive areas. These barriers may range from concentrated fluoride varnishes to bonded filling materials to cover the sensitive areas. If the pain is severe and constant, it may be possible that the pulpal tissue containing the nerves in your tooth are inflamed and you may need a root canal treatment to relieve your pain and save the tooth.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have questions about this condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Or you can learn more about this topic by reading the article “Sensitive Teeth.”

By Drs Lawitts and Yeates
April 29, 2012
Category: Oral Health
WhatYouShouldKnowAboutSensitiveTeeth

It is not uncommon to have one or more teeth that are particularly sensitive to heat, cold, or pressure. If you have such a tooth, you probably want to know what caused it and what you can do about it. Here are some frequently asked questions, and their answers.

What causes teeth to become sensitive?
The most common cause of sensitivity is exposure of the tooth's dentin, a layer of the tooth's structure that is just below the outer protective layer (the enamel).

The dentin is sensitive but the enamel layer is not. Why?
The enamel is composed of minerals that are hard and protective. It is not living tissue and has no nerve supply. The dentin layer underneath is bone-like living tissue that does contain nerve fibers. It is protected by enamel above the gum line and by gum tissue in the area of the tooth's root, below the gum line. If the tooth's protective covering is reduced, the nerve fibers in that section of the dentin are exposed to changes in temperature and pressure, which they conduct to the inner pulp layer (nerve) of the tooth. The sensations that reach the tooth's interior pulp layer cause pain.

What causes exposure of the dentin layer in teeth?
Often the dentin is exposed by receding gums, causing areas of the tooth that are normally below the gum surface to be uncovered.

What makes gums recede?
One cause of receding gums is excessive, rough brushing techniques. This is particularly common in individuals who have a family history of thin gum tissues. Removing the film of bacteria called plaque requires only gentle action with a soft brush. This is one reason that we stress the value of learning proper and effective brushing techniques. Gum recession becomes worse after the uncovered dentin of the tooth's root is exposed to erosion from sweet and acidic foods and beverages, such as fruit juices.

Doesn't tooth sensitivity indicate decay?
Decay can also cause tooth sensitivity. As decay destroys a tooth's structure, it eventually invades the inner pulp of the tooth, causing greater and greater pain.

How can you prevent or reduce tooth sensitivity?
As we mentioned above, learn proper brushing techniques; we would be happy to demonstrate them. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which increases the strength of the tooth's protective coating. In more serious cases, we can apply a fluoride varnish or a filling material as a barrier to cover sensitive areas. If you experience long-term tooth sensitivity, make an appointment for an assessment and diagnosis so that we can determine the cause and proper treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sensitive teeth. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”



Dr. Karen Lawitts

Dr. Karen Lawitts

Dr. Nancy Yeates

Dr. Nancy Yeates

Dr. Lawitts was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. She received her Bachelor of Science and D.D.S degree from Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr. Nancy Yeates graduated from Canisius College with a B.A. in Biology. She then attended Georgetown University School of Dentistry.
       
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