Okuda Cosmetic Dentistry Blog
Posts for tag: sensitive teeth
This is not your father’s dental office.
Within the last decade, the cosmetic dentistry profession has evolved at great speed.
At our office, art and science have merged to deliver a complete care package. We don’t just fix broken crowns or do root canals – we enhance a person’s lifestyle and well-being. Procedures range from simple teeth bleaching to porcelain veneers to complex full-mouth reconstruction. They address a patient’s desire to close gaps or straighten teeth, have a brighter smile, replace missing teeth or aged restorations, or have a more youthful, natural or elegant looking smile.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A HEALTHY AND ATTRACTIVE SMILE
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), virtually all Americans (99.7 percent) believe a smile is an important social asset, while 96 percent of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. Three-quarters (74 percent) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chances for career success.
The demand for cosmetic dentistry has increased as the public becomes more educated about the power of healthy teeth and an attractive smile. Within the last five years, teeth bleaching procedures have increased 300 percent and porcelain veneer procedures have increased 250 percent.
It is of the utmost importance to my staff and me to be at the forefront of this evolution, and to help transform the way people perceive the dental profession.
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE DENTAL EXPERIENCE FOR PATIENTS
After some pretty horrifying experiences at the dentist’s office as a child – I can remember one instance where I actually ran and hid in terror – I decided in the seventh grade that I wanted to become a new kind of dentist. I was determined to heal the anxiety and fear many people associate with dental work.
And, I have always had a love for art. Several years into my dental career I realized there is a connection between art and dentistry. Cosmetic Dentistry has been a natural fit for me in blending my two interests.
Over the next several years, we began exploring ways to further improve the dental experience. As stated in a Wall Street Journal article, we helped to pioneer the Spa Dentistry concept which has become a popular trend throughout the world. The Dental Day Spa helps those with high dental anxiety to have dentistry done in a safe and comfortable environment. We pamper patients with massage therapy, aroma- and audio-therapy, aesthetician services, movies during dental treatment, catered lunches, computer access to the Internet and e-mail, even limousine service, to create a “WOW” experience. The concept is becoming more popular today as practitioners realize the patient’s need to relax and feel comfortable while having dental procedures.
PATIENTS ALSO BENEFIT FROM STATE-OF-THE-ART DENTAL TECHNOLOGY
However, it’s also extremely important that we focus daily on maintaining the highest credentials, education and training possible. As the dental profession grows, this should be Priority #1 for anyone seeking cosmetic dentistry services as well. I am proud to be the first AACD Board Accredited cosmetic dentist on Oahu. I spend a significant amount of time lecturing for dental associations and universities nationally and around the world (in Japan, Australia and Singapore, among others), and writing articles for dental trade publications to continue to share my knowledge with other dental professionals.
Not only does this help others in the field, but it helps us to keep our practice at the forefront of global technology, letting us employ world-class knowledge right here in Honolulu (for instance, we unveiled some of the latest technology from Australia). Maintaining a global network has also allowed me to influence product development. As an example, we worked with a manufacturer in Japan to develop bleach specifically for sensitive teeth, making the popular procedure available to many more people.
Like any profession, the cosmetic dental industry faces challenges. One challenge is the word “cosmetic.” It can mistakenly imply “all fluff and no substance.” In actuality, people are either born with or acquire cosmetic dental problems as they go through life, and many of these problems are serious enough to affect health, bite, mouth comfort or self-esteem. That in turn can interfere with career success, relationships and enjoyment of life.
In consideration of this challenge, it may be more accurate to use the terms “dental rejuvenation” or “restorative dentistry.” With the tremendous technology employed in cosmetic dental procedures, facial rejuvenation can be achieved in making a person look 10 years younger in as little as two visits. The end result to cosmetic dentistry, when done correctly, can be extremely natural and long lasting. We balance health, science, function and esthetics, treating the whole patient so they can live their best life. I believe this is a good formula for long-term success.
STRIVING FOR EXCELLENT QUALITY DENTISTRY WHILE PROVIDING A POSITIVE DENTAL EXPERIENCE
Every day I’m thrilled by the feedback my patients give us, which further inspires me to strive for excellent quality dentistry while creating a positive experience for patients. We’ve had patients who haven’t been to a dentist in decades because of their anxiety, and we’ve been able to successfully and comfortably treat them, changing their whole outlook on dental care. Just recently after a procedure, I asked a patient how it went for her. She was so comfortable she had fallen asleep! That’s really validating for me.
I have a vested interest in maintaining impeccable standards in cosmetic dentistry. One of the most effective tools is public education. The more people know, the better equipped they are to seek out and demand excellence. I advise anyone interested in having cosmetic dental work done to first ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. Research credentials and accreditation online. Make an appointment for a consultation before any work is done. Look at Before and After photos of work personally done by the dentist.
This sets the stage for Patient and Dentist to work together for the best possible results. That’s the essence of good dentistry.
So there you are, minding your own business and drinking your usual, a Grande Mocha Decaf Iced Frappuccino. Then all of a sudden, “Ouch!” Your tooth feels really sensitive. So you drink and chew on the other side of your mouth, hoping the sensitivity doesn’t return. What does this mean? Should you call your dentist? Should you just get toothpaste for sensitivity and consider yourself healed?
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) states that sensitive teeth are one of the most common complaints at the dental office, and at least 45 million adults suffer at some time from it. A tooth is normally protected from sensitivity by a layer of hard enamel on its surface, or by gums over its root. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel is worn away or gums recede, causing the dentin to be exposed. The microscopic, nerve-filled tube-like structures within each tooth (“tubules”) are exposed to temperature and air, and a feeling of sensitivity results.
Tooth sensitivity may occur when your teeth come in contact with cold, hot, sweet or sour substances. In addition, pain when chewing, tooth brushing, or even sensitivity to breathing air may have more underlying causes that can be problematic. Many people try their best to ignore this sensitivity, and just chew on the opposite side. It’s important to let your dentist know of these symptoms so he or she may assess your situation and prevent a potential problem from becoming progressively worse.
POSSIBLE CAUSES FOR TEETH TO BECOME SENSITIVE
There are various reasons why a tooth feels sensitive. One cause of tooth sensitivity may be due to vigorous tooth brushing. Using a hard bristled brush or applying too much pressure when brushing may result in the gradual wearing down of tooth enamel. Always use a soft bristled brush. Save the hard bristled ones for scrubbing the sink. Use gentle pressure and circular movements on your teeth. Furthermore, although tartar control toothpaste may work well for some, it may be too abrasive for others. Talk with your dentist or hygienist about your special needs.
Another cause of sensitivity could be a tooth fracture or crack, or even a fracture or crack in a restoration. Sensitivity could also be a sign that a cavity has developed. In addition, gum disease or bite-related problems may cause your gums to recede and expose the root surface. In these situations, various dental procedures such as a restoration (filling or a crown), may be needed to correct the problem.
In addition, with an increase of stress in our daily lives, there has been an increase in “bruxism,” or the grinding of teeth. Teeth grinding over a period of time can cause the wearing away of enamel on the biting surfaces of teeth. When bruxism occurs during sleep, a person is unaware of the damage that is chronically occurring night after night. After prolonged grinding, this may lead to severe pain in all affected teeth. For these situations, your dentist may recommend a preventive approach to correcting these problems.
SOME SOLUTIONS THAT CAN HELP RELIEVE TEETH SENSITIVITY
One solution may include the use of a “bite splint” or a “nightguard.” This can be similar to the mouth guards that athletes wear when playing contact sports. This custom-made acrylic resin guard is used as a shield between the upper and lower teeth. Therefore, as you grind your teeth in your sleep, this bite splint will help protect your teeth. This is especially important to wear when delicate restorations, such as veneers, are present.
Finally, toothpastes for sensitive teeth may help to relieve the pain, but are not the solution for everyone. What toothpaste for sensitive teeth does is coat the exposed dentin tubules to minimize its nerve exposure. Another solution your dentist may suggest is an in-office treatment, such as a desensitizing gel to apply to your teeth.
TALK WITH YOUR DENTIST OR HYGIENIST ABOUT TREATMENT OPTIONS
So the next time you’re drinking that Frappuccino and your teeth feel sensitive, don’t just turn the other cheek! It’s wise to mention your sensitivity to your dental hygienist or dentist, so they can determine exactly what’s going on and discuss with you the different treatment options available. Many people just want to ignore tooth sensitivity; however, it’s always better to be informed and be proactive about your dental health.