Do hot or cold beverages and food make you cringe when they contact your teeth? While sharp mouth pain from chewing is usually a problem with a specific tooth, the Journal of American Dentistry estimates at least 12 percent of the population has temperature-sensitive teeth.
What’s Behind the “Ouch”?
While some people are naturally more reactive to hot or cold sensations in the mouth, recent dental work or orthodontia are often to blame for sudden discomfort. But if sensitivity is a new development that sticks around, it’s likely due to one of several reasons;
Brushing too hard – using hard-bristled toothbrushes or applying too much force
Acidic foods – As we’ve discussed here & here, acid is the enemy of healthy teeth
Old fillings – Over time, weakened fillings can fracture or leak at the edges, leading to new decay
Grinding – As we’ve said, Bruxism can cause many problems, including micro-cracks in teeth that can enhance sensitivity.
Mouthwash junkie – over-use of alcohol-based products can increase sensitivity
Whitening products – All you bleachorexics, beware… over-use is a big contributor to sensitive teeth
Solutions You Can Use
Instead of a power-washing, think of brushing as massage. Stiff bristles and/or scrubbing too vigorously can cause gums to recede, exposing nerve endings. Therefore, you should choose a soft-bristled toothbrush, used twice daily for two minutes. Also, always be sure to brush with an up-and-down motion, rather than side-to-side.
Change Your Toothpaste
There are numerous desensitizing toothpastes that block the transmission of sensation between teeth and nerves. When used twice daily, these over-the-counter products can bring significant temperature relief in as little as two weeks.
Double Down on Fluoride
Switch your alcohol-based mouthwash to one with fluoride to strengthen the all-important enamel layer,which naturally insulates teeth against temperature sensitivity. If you have severely sensitive teeth, there are higher-gel fluoride treatments available that can only be applied in-office. Ask us about additional fluoride options at your next visit.
You’ve been there — a late wake-up, rushing out the door, needing to put anything in your stomach to start the day. And the only thing available to eat that doesn’t require a plate or utensils is… Pizza. And so pizza is what you eat for breakfast.
Contrary to many opinions, that cold leftover slice isn’t really awful for you. As for your teeth, a good brushing is all that’s required to erase the evidence in your mouth… though it won’t help with your dietary guilt. And that’s true for most foods: as long as you remove excess food residue, what you eat for breakfast won’t harm your teeth.
Brushing Away OJ? Don’t.
A new school of thought has emerged that brushing before breakfast is as effective as brushing after. And provided that breakfast isn’t anything with excessive sugar (sweetened cereals, syrup, jelly/jam), this is true.
But according to the Mayo Clinic (via lifehacker.com), when you brush is even more important than what you eat for breakfast. However, the Mayo experts note that the exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink that contains high levels of acid, including fresh fruits and orange juice – both of which are breakfast staples. That’s because the naturally-occurring sugars and acid in these foods temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, and normal brushing can actually cause damage. For this reason, it is recommended that you either brush before breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating.
A Healthy Diet DOES Matter
However, there are many nutrition choices that really do matter to your mouth. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, several specific foods contribute to good dental and overall health. They recommend eating these:
Calcium-rich foods —including milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy products, canned salmon, almonds and dark leafy greens— help promote tooth and bone health.
Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans contain phosphorus, which is good for strong bones and tooth enamel.
For good gum health and immune functions, eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
Always remember that the best plan is to brush after eating if you can – Even if it means you have to rinse away acidic food residue with water before brushing. If you have more questions about making healthy food choices for your body AND mouth, ask Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next appointment.
Heart disease, joint problems, lack of energy – We hear a lot about the consequences from being overweight and inactive. Diabetes gets most of the attention, since the number of diabetic Americans has ballooned to 30 million in recent years. That’s nearly 10 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2017. That number represents a 400 percent increase in the disease prevalence in just the last 20 years.
Diabetes and your mouth
And now new research is showing that diabetes can also contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. As reported in the journal Science Daily this month, a new University of Pennsylvania study found that diabetes causes changes in the oral microbiome, or the microscopic environment of the mouth and upper throat. The elevated glucose (blood sugar) levels common in diabetics also lead to glycemic imbalance inside the mouth. That disruption creates favorable conditions for gum inflammation, leading to infection (periodontitis), and enhanced risk of bone loss from the disease.
The study clinically affirmed a previously ignored link between diabetes and periodontal disease. However, the researchers noted that the risk to diabetic individuals is greatly reduced with effective glycemic control, either through diet and exercise, or supplemental insulin treatments. Also, the team specifically called out good oral hygiene as a tool to further reduce individual risk.
Effective Gum Care
As mentioned in our blog post from last year, gum health is a critical component of good overall oral health. Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums – is caused by a buildup of bacteria found in plaque, and can lead to periodontitis. The good news is that gum disease is preventable with regular check-ups, professional cleanings and good oral hygiene at home. This includes brushing and flossing daily, and telling your Meyer & Johns dental professional if you have any pain or bleeding in your gums.
If you experience these symptoms, let us know when you make your next appointment. We’ll make sure you’re armed with everything you need to make healthy choices for both your body and your mouth.
Today, June 20, marks the Summer Solstice, signaling the peak season for outdoor activities, including picnics and cookouts. All those smells and tastes may bring back fond summertime memories. But did you know that juicy tomatoes and fresh-squeezed lemonade contain acid that can be hard on your teeth?
Acid content is measured its pH value, with 7.0 indicating neutral acidity. These pH levels are ranked on a descending scale, so a pH level of 0 indicates the highest acid level. The higher numbers (from 7.0 -14.0) are lowest pH, also classified as “alkaline”, or non-acidic.
The FDA ranks the average acidity of foods, and it turns out that many summer staples made the wrong end of the list. Several of our Meyer & Johns staff’s favorite fresh seasonal fruits are in the Top Ten most-acidic foods, according to Colgate:
Lemon Juice – #1
Limes – #2
Grapes – #5
Blueberries – #8
Click here for the full rankings of acid content for common fresh fruits and vegetables, as published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The good news is that there are easy remedies for reducing the residual acid on teeth.
Drink – The simplest solution is the most important – for both physical AND oral health. Drinking plenty of water ensures that any remaining food particles, plaque-causing sugars or residual acids are flushed away. Drinking enough water is also critical for proper hydration during the sweaty summer months.
Dairy – Besides naturally reducing acid in your mouth, milk, cheeses and other dairy products contain calcium and casein (milk protein). Both of these help strengthen teeth and protect your enamel.
Brush – As always, we recommend brushing after meals or sugary snacks. This may not be easy at picnics, cookouts or the lake, but it’s still the most effective way to keep a healthy smile.
If you have questions about how different foods affect your overall oral health, contact us or ask during your next regular visit.