Why do sweet foods cause my teeth to be sensitive?

How to find an emergency dentist to help with toothache and root canal treatment

We often have patients attending the 24 hour emergency dental service complaining of sensitivity to sweet foods and drinks.

This can occur due to a variety of reasons, but primarily it is due to exposed dentine. Let’s have a quick look at the anatomy of a tooth.

The tooth comprises of a hard layer of enamel which serves as a protective shield. Beneath there is a softer layer called dentine. The dentine contains tubules which run from the main nerve center or pulp of the tooth.

If any dentine is exposed or irritated there is a change in the fluid dynamics within the tubules and this is translated by the pulp as pain/sensation to let you know that something is wrong.

How to find an emergency dentist to help with toothache and root canal treatment
A toothache can be incessant and debilitating

These tubules may be exposed by dental caries, over-zealous brushing, dentine exposure secondary to acid erosion, gum recession, dental trauma or lost fillings.

Left untreated, over time the sensitivity may lead to further damage including irreversible damage to the pulp. It is important to identify the cause and to treat it appropriately.

Can I smoke after a tooth extraction?

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One of the most common reasons we see patients vising us in dental emergency clinics is due to smoking related infections after a dental extraction.

Smoking is a really difficult addiction to break, if tobacco was be classed as a drug today it would probably be illegal.

Smoking after a dental extraction is really asking for trouble. Think about it. Would you blow smoke on an open wound anywhere else on your body?

Smoking affects the quality of healing, it normally takes longer for smokers to heal after they have had any oral surgery. This is due to there being less oxygen available in the blood and smokers tend to have poorer circulation too.

Image result for dry socket
Dry socket sites often look grey and denuded, there is an absence of a healthy clot

What is Dry Socket?

Dry socket  is a condition that occurs when there has been abnormal healing or disruption of the clot that naturally forms following a dental extraction. It is characterized as a deep seated pain that starts normally a few days after the emergency dental extraction. It may be accompanied with a bad taste or smell from the wound. It is quite simply an infection of the bone socket. Patients often comment how this is more painful than the situation prior to the dental extraction.

How to treat Dry Socket

Treatment of the dry socket is fairly straightforward and consists of removal of any old clot and food remnants, irrigation of the socket with special antiseptics and placement of an antiseptic dressing. You may also be provided some antibiotics.

In order to prevent painful dry socket after extractions, it is recommended to avoid smoking for a minimum of five days.

Risk factors include smoking, not following care of the wound following the extraction, use of the contraceptive pill and a prior history of dry socket. You are more likely to develop a dry socket if the extraction was particularly difficult or traumatic.

Left untreated, dry socket can (rarely) cause a chronic infection of the bone called osteomyelitis.

Toothaches & Painkillers

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Toothache is one of the most common reasons to see an emergency dentist. It can occur due to a multitude of reasons, vary in intensity and duration.

Everyone reacts differently to painkillers for dental pain.

There are a few over the counter painkillers which are readily available.

Ibuprofen this can really help with toothache as it is an anti-inflammatory as well as an analgesic. You can buy this in tablet or soluble form. It is not advised for asthmatics or people with certain stomach problems.

Paracetamol This is readily available over the counter and comes in tablet and soluble form. Many patients find this effective for dental pain. You can buy it with caffeine formulation (helps it work faster) or with codeine.

Paracetamol and codeine or paramol is a combination tablet. The codeine component is an opioid and can cause drowsiness which may impair normal function. You can buy these in tablet or soluble form. You have to be careful not to take additional paracetamol or codeine tablets if you are taking paramol, and you shouldn’t use them for longer than 3 days. You should avoid alcohol.

Aspirin Readily available, and in a number of combinations with caffeine and ibuprofen. Should be avoided in children under 16 and if you are planning a dental extraction.

See an emergency dentist if you have toothache:

  • that lasts more than 2 days
  • that doesn’t go away when you take painkillers
  • with a high temperature, pain when you bite, red gums, or a bad taste in your mouth
  • and your cheek or jaw are swollen

Your GP won’t be able to give you dental treatment.