Planning and Preparing for Dental Procedures: Your Questions Answered

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Planning and Preparing for Dental Procedures: Your Questions Answered

Making decisions about your smile can be confusing. Should you have a tooth pulled or get a root canal? Should you get adult braces or stick with a retainer? Should you use at-home whitening remedies or have your teeth professionally whitened? If questions like these are keeping you up at night, you've come to the right place. I used to stress out over routine dental procedures, and as a result, I did loads of research on everything dental-related. To help others, I'm using this blog as a place to collect, review and share what I've learned through the years. I hope you can use the information here to help you plan and prepare for your next dental appointment.

What's Dentin Hypersensitivity, and How Does It Make Your Teeth Hurt?

A toothache is often the inevitable outcome of neglecting your dental hygiene. When a tooth begins to feel painful, you'll probably inspect it in the mirror, and when the tooth has obvious cavities and general deterioration—it's hardly surprising that the tooth is hurting. You might not know the ultimate treatment that will be required to restore the tooth, but you'll know that having a cavity filled or having a root canal is likely to figure in your immediate future. But what about when your teeth appear to be healthy and intact, and your toothache is seemingly unpredictable?

Beneath the Enamel

While your teeth are covered in dental enamel, this protective coating is rather thin. The bulk of a human tooth is made of a substance called dentin. Dentin hypersensitivity is a common cause of toothaches. When dental enamel is compromised, your dentin is exposed, and your dentin isn't exactly happy about this exposure.

Exposed Dentin

Dentin looks like it's entirely solid, but it's a different story if you examine it under a microscope. Dentin has a great number of tiny canals that lead from its exterior to the nerve at the centre of the tooth. Of course, dentin's exterior is usually safely protected beneath your dental enamel. Exposed dentin can be temperature sensitive. The temperature of the food and drink you consume isn't registered by healthy teeth. 

Dentin Hypersensitivity

Enamel and dentin have no nerve endings and cannot register any sensation. However, when the temperature of your food and drink can be registered by the nerve at the centre of the tooth (having penetrated it via the dentin's canals), then the nerve will protest. And that's where toothaches caused by dentin hypersensitivity come from.   

Replacing Deficient Enamel

Dentin hypersensitivity indicates deficient dental enamel. This isn't ideal but is simple enough to overcome. Large patches of missing or thin enamel can be covered with dental bonding, which involves the same material used to fill a cavity. This is applied to the tooth, where it dries, and it then becomes an artificial enamel substitute.

Sealants and Fluoride Treatments

When your enamel deficiency isn't sufficient to warrant dental bonding, your dentist may instead apply a transparent sealant, often in conjunction with a fluoride treatment (which encourages your dental enamel to remineralise itself). This sealant will be reapplied during your standard dental checkups. 

Of course, your dentist will also try to identify the reasons for your deficient enamel (whether it's dietary, general wear and tear, or excessive teeth grinding). It's best to follow their advice, so you can avoid experiencing the toothache associated with dentin hypersensitivity again.

For more information, contact a dental office like Queen Street Dental Care.