When I Stick My Finger in My Mouth, I Catch My Nail on the Outside of My Tooth.

Well that’s really not a question. It’s more of a statement of a finding. The hidden implication is that something is not right. Those of you who know me can anticipate my response. Your fingers should not be in your mouth. It’s okay for me to put my fingers in your mouth, but not for you. Except for brushing and flossing, fingers in the mouth invariably lead to trouble. However, now that the subject is brought up, let’s spend a little bit of time discussing it.

Those areas on the outside of your teeth which develop craters or fingernail catches develop in a couple of ways. Cavities or decay is usually not one of them. Areas of decay are composed of slowly breaking down tooth structure that is being destroyed by the acid from bacteria in plaque. This plaque sticks to your teeth and causes decay or rotting of the tooth.. The decay doesn’t usually turn into hard and sharp catches for your fingernail. So a cavity is usually not the cause.

The areas that this patient referred to are usually caused by overzealous brushing or excessive tooth wear. Let’s spend some time with both of these. In sports certain injuries are called “overuse injuries”. It usually refers to too much of one motion or movement that wears out a certain body part. Baseball pitchers can wear out their shoulders if pitching too long or too often without proper rest. The same thing can happen in your mouth with either the wrong type of tooth brush or too much pressure. The outer surface of the tooth in the area near the gum is very thin. It is very easy to wear this away and then get into the inner layer of the tooth. This is much softer and these concave area or craters develop. As long as you continue to abuse the area, the greater will be the destruction. I had one patient who was so aggressive that he destroyed his tooth all the way down to the nerve. This caused him tremendous pain just by breathing in air and he required a root canal treatment to alleviate his pain

The other cause for these “catches” on the outer surface of the tooth is grinding. The  force of grinding causes the outer surface to fracture. I just saw a patient yesterday, who grinds ice in his mouth. We commonly call this, “chewing on ice”. Even though one could thing of this as harmless eating as there is no sugar or chemicals in the ice. However the cold and pressure of purposeless ice chewing ends up with fractures along the gum line. He had 13 such fractures along his gum line.

The fix for both of these causes is rather easy. In the past, we had to drill large holes to fill this defect and prevent you from further destroying tooth structure resulting in fracture or root canal treatment was we pointed out above. With newer techniques we no longer have to drill large holes and even get you numb. We can use bonding to adhere the material. We can do 3-4 teeth, if needed, at once without even using local anesthetic. The result is quick and you can get back to your life without a numb mouth. Bonding is one of my favorite techniques as it is usually simple and non-invasive. I routinely do in office veneers as or cosmetic corrections as well,  as fix damaged teeth in them form our “overuse injury”.  This exciting technology allows us to solve many problems that were so difficult to treat in the pre-bonding era. If you see some area of your mouth that has changed and are curious as to what it if, please call me at 440.951.7856 and we can discuss it. Many times the fix is really easy, simple and pain free.

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