Posts for tag: dental fillings

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

Do you know the difference sources of tooth sensitivity? Do you know what sensitivity can be an issue and which are of small consequence?

Consider these questions:

 1. Is the sensitivity brief or lingering? Lingering refers to more than 30 seconds.
 2. Is the sensitivity all the time or occasional?
 3. Does the sensitivity happen when you do something or does it happen on its own?
 4. Does it hurt when you chew or when its exposed to hot or cold or both?
 5. Do you have receding gums? Receding gums can make teeth more sensitive?
 6. Is there a filling already present on the tooth?
 7. Is there a cavity present on the tooth?
 8. Does the sensitivity keep you up at night?
 9. Do you have to use OTC meds to help with sensitivity?

These are several questions a dentist will use to assess not only the problem but also the severity of the problem. Come visit Dr.Glasmeier to find out the source of the sensitivity and to assess if treatment is needed.

Question: How are cavities detected by a dentist?

Answer: There are multiple ways a dentist can screen for and detect cavities or tooth decay:


1. Visual- The dentist looks for unusual discolorations, stains and dark spots found along different surfaces of the tooth. The most obvious occur along the biting surfaces of the teeth and are found more commonly on the molars.


2. Feel- The dentist uses an instrument called an "explorer" trying to feel for "stickiness" or catches along the surface of the tooth. The stickiness is often found along the grooves and fissures of the tooth and represents an area where the enamel coating of the tooth has been compromised.


3. Xrays- Digital xrays allow a dentist to see cavities not only along the biting surfaces but the flossing surfaces between the teeth. Not only do xrays provide insight to the presence or absence of a cavity, but it can convey the extent or depth of the cavity. A dentist can use xrays to determine how deep the cavity is and if there is nerve involvement.


4. Laser- Using a device called a "Diagnodent", a dentist can use a special laser that measure the damage that is left behind as a result of cavity or tooth decay. While this is not a primary means of detection, it will typically reinforce the presence of absence of a cavity if there is suspicion.


So the next question is, if there are multiple ways a cavity can be detected, what is the best way?


While there are many ways to detect tooth decay, one way is not more advantageous than the other. Simply put, the dentist should use as many ways as possible to help assess. All four ways can give the dentist tremendous insight into cavity assessment and provide the patient confidence that nothing was missed during an exam!

Do we always need an injection?(i.e. being numb, being frozen, putting the tooth asleep)


Sometimes patients do not require injections for fillings. It depends on how large and how deep the cavity(decay) is and where is sits in relation to the nerve. I like to think of a tooth like an M&M peanut. The outer candy shell is the enamel, which has no nerve endings. The inner chocolate layer is the dentin, which does have nerve endings and then there is the peanut, aka the "pulp" or nerve of the tooth.


Cavities that form only in the enamel tend to not cause sensitivity therefore do not need to be numb to be fixed. However when the cavity penetrates into the second layer, the dentin, hot/cold/sensitivity begins. Decay into dentin will require local anesthesia(injections) to put the tooth into a comfortable state so the cavity can be removed. When cavities get into the nerve, thats when we speak of root canals. Once decay(bacteria) have penetrated into the nerve, an onslaught of symptoms begins. Ranging from cold sensitivity to throbbing, sharp pain to biting pain to gum tenderness, the nerve will require removal to eliminate the infection and sensitivity.


So to summarize, the need for being "numb" relies on how far the cavity got into the M&M peanut :)