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August 19, 2019
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If you’ve had a toothache, you know they are miserable and often, very little helps make your toothache go away. Why is that?


Tooth pain has many different causes. One cause is decay penetrating deep into a tooth and exposing the dental pulp (which contains your tooth’s nerve). Another is when your tooth abscesses. An abscess is when your tooth’s nerve dies and produces pus and gasses as it decomposes. The pus and other products of infection need to get out of your tooth somehow—often they will use the end of the root as their escape route.


Pain medications can decrease feeling of pain but they do not fix what is causing your pain. It would be a bit like asking pain medications to fix your broken arm. If you break your arm, the pain medication may make you feel a bit better, but it doesn’t fuse the broken bones—you still need to see a doctor to fix the break. (In the case of teeth, you need a dentist to evaluate and fix the underlying problem.) Recent studies show that alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen is more effective than prescription pain medications.


Antibiotics are not the answer either. They can help your body reduce the number of bacteria, but they do not fix the problem that is causing your pain. Antibiotics are a bit like putting a band-aid on your broken arm. It does something, but it doesn’t fix the break—you still need a doctor to do that. (Again, in the case of a tooth, the doctor is your dentist.) An antibiotic may be used to help control your symptoms until you can have dental treatment, but it will not “fix” your problem, and you should plan to have dental treatment as soon as possible! (Infection can still be present even if you are not having any pain, and if the infection decides to spread, you may need to be hospitalized to get it under control. And yes, people have died from untreated dental infections.)


Since the worst toothaches stem from problems with your tooth’s nerve, and the tooth nerve has no blood supply of its own, it is very hard for any medication to get to the nerve to relieve your pain. Even your dentist’s “Novocaine” sometimes has a hard time getting through the pus to numb your tooth.


If you do have a toothache, call your dentist right away. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers until your appointment. Ones that have an anti-inflammatory action (ibuprofen, Naprosyn, etc.) may provide slightly better pain relief than Acetaminophen which does not have the anti-inflammatory effect. As stated above, recent studies have indicated that taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen on an alternating , overlapping basis seems to be more helpful than prescription pain medications. (For example, take a dose of ibuprofen and 3 hours later take a dose of acetaminophen, then three hours later (a total of 6 hours after the first dose) take another dose of ibuprofen—keep taking alternating medications every three hours.) Topical anesthetics (Ora-Gel etc.) may also be helpful. For gum-related pain, rinsing with warm salt water is often soothing.

You can learn more about tooth pain at these links: Tooth Pain

Note: This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professional.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is accepting new patients. Please call 440-960-1940 to reserve your time to visit her office located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. Find more information about Dr. Robb at or on Facebook at

August 04, 2019
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Scarce as hen’s teeth is a saying that means very rare. Birds don’t have teeth, instead stones in their gizzard cut food like our teeth do.


But did you know we humans have several different kinds of teeth among our 32 adult teeth?


(Quick note: You have an upper arch and a lower arch, each of which can have 16 teeth in it.)


Your front teeth, the ones with the flat edges, are called incisors. They are used to bite and cut your food. You have four (4) incisors in each arch for a total of eight (8).


At the corners of your mouth, are your canines or eye teeth. This tooth usually comes to a point on its biting surface and is used for tearing. It got the name canine from looking like a dog’s tooth and the name eye tooth because it is usually located directly below your eye when people look at your face. You have two (2) canines in each arch (one on each side) for a total of four (4).


Behind the canines are your premolars or bicuspids. This tooth is used for chewing. The name premolars shows that they come before (pre-) the molars. Bicuspids shows that they have two (bi-) cusps. Cusps are the raised pointy looking part of your tooth. There are four premolars per arch (two on each side) for a total of eight (8).


At the back of your mouth are your molars. Your molars have a wide chewing surface that is used for grinding up your food. Most of your heavy chewing is done on these teeth. There are six (6) molars in each arch (three on each side)—though you, like most people, may only have two (2) per side in each arch in your mouth. This is because your wisdom teeth are one of your molars! And these days, finding a wisdom tooth that’s fully come in to someone’s mouth is as scarce as a hen’s tooth!


I hope you enjoyed this brief tour through your mouth.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is accepting new patients. Please call 440-960-1940! She is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. or


PS: Humans also have 20 deciduous (or "baby") teeth: 8 incisors (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom), 4 canines (2 on top and 2 on bottom) and 8 molars (4 on the top and 4 on the bottom). Your adult premolars replace the baby molars, and your adult molars come in behind your baby molars as your jaw grows. 

July 28, 2019
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The most common side effect of tooth whitening is sensitive teeth or sensitivity around the teeth you are whitening.  


Soft Tissue Sensitivity:

Whitening concentrations higher than 15% can irritate your soft tissue. This is usually perceived as stinging or tingling gums or you may see small areas of blanching or tenderness. If this happens:

  1. check tray for overlap (If you have a dentist made tray they may need to adjust it for you)
  2. Make sure you are not overfilling your tray with material
  3. Inspect your mouth for or have your dental professional inspect your mouth for food, floss, or toothbrush-caused cuts or abrasions


Pulpal Sensitivity:

This type of sensitivity usually occurs due to dehydration of your tooth and is usually felt as a dull toothache or headache. If you feel this is what is causing your sensitivity, reduce whitening time to 20-60 minutes. 70% of whitening has occurred by the end of the first hour and your saliva can then rapidly rehydrate your teeth. You also may need to take a break from whitening for 1-2 days and then restart whitening using the shorter time.


Acute (severe or intense) Sensitivity:

Usually direct access to dentin is the cause of this type of sensitivity. Some ways dentin is exposed are recession, enamel fracture, chipped tooth, or leaking filling or crown margins. This is usually experienced as a jolt or shock of pain from a single tooth.


For some people, using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth for 2-3 weeks prior to whitening and throughout the treatment period is enough to help the sensitivity.

Brushing with baking soda on a wet toothbrush for 30-60 seconds may help decrease sensitivity. Pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen is helpful to some people.


Some people cannot whiten due to severe sensitivity.


Professional whitening is better than store bought. Professional materials are different than what you can buy in a store plus you get the advice of your dentist for your mouth.  Be aware that if the product is not applied properly you can make your teeth look worse rather than better. Besides, if your teeth are truly discolored, most OTC products are not going to be strong enough to help.


Note: This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professional.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both children and adults at her dental office.

1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053



July 17, 2019
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Recently I've seen several references to a documentary named "The Root Cause" and just this week someone at the office asked me about it I have not seen this personally since it appears to have been pulled from the online libraries of most sites where I have a subscription.

"The Root Cause" does appear to be based on the experience of a single person and that person's viewpoints and beliefs. Though he does have "experts" comment on this, I'm sure he chose "experts" to feature in his documentary that agreed with his beliefs. As Americans, we have the right to free speech. We can say almost anything we want--but that doesn't always make it true, just like reading something on the internet doesn't always mean it is true. 

I would hate to see someone totally discount a valid dental treatment, such as root canals, based solely on this documentary. To be honest, it seems like these same claims pop up every so many years. Much seems to be based on the work of Dr. Weston Price, whose theory was proven false many years ago.

In fact, very little scientific evidence exists to support most of the claims made in this documentary. So I invite you to take whatever claim you are interested in from this documentary and to do a thorough search of the scientific literature on your own and see what the majority of it says. 

If you're not the type to do your own scientific research then here are two reviews that you can read--one by a dentist and one by a dental hygienist:


Dental Hygientist:

P.S. In case you're wondering, I do have root canals on my teeth--on multiple teeth in fact--and I would not hesitate to get another one if I had a tooth that needed it. (I also have a dental implant that replaces a tooth that couldn't be saved with a root canal. Since I only have one dental implant surrounded by other teeth, I don't feel I can speak to how well it replaces a tooth and whether it feels different than having my own teeth.) 


July 13, 2019
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For many years Fixed Partial Dentures (FPDs or Fixed Bridges) were the high-end standard of care to replace a missing tooth. With the advent of dental implants, that perception has shifted. Why? Because an FPD essentially takes a 1 tooth problem (a missing tooth) and makes it into a 3 tooth problem.


To do an FPD, the teeth on either side of your missing tooth must be ground down to create space for a crown. Sometimes another type of connector to the adjacent teeth is used, but a crown is the most common. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth are called abutment teeth.  80% of abutment teeth have only small or no fillings or other dental restorations before they become the abutment teeth for your FPD—this means we are often taking away healthy tooth structure in order to replace your missing tooth. (You can learn more about FPDs here: Crowns & Bridgework)


The way an FPD is made, the crowns and replacement tooth are all connected together. (If you’ve never seen an FPD, ask your dentist to show you an example of one.) You can brush these FPDs or Fixed Bridges as you normally do, but because they are connected, you cannot floss them like you floss your natural teeth. Flossing them is possible, and your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to do so. But we know that most people don’t take the time to floss their natural teeth—so are they really going to go through the more time-consuming process to floss their Fixed Bridge or FPD?


The two most common reasons that we need to recommend replacement of a Fixed Bridge or FPD are (1) decay on one of the abutment teeth or (2) periodontal disease (gum disease) around one of the abutment teeth.


So why does the title say “Making a 1 Tooth Problem Into a 3 Tooth Problem”? Because most FPDs will fail after 5-10 years and once the FPD fails, even if the decay or periodontal disease is only on one of the two abutment teeth, you’re looking at dealing with 3 teeth in order to fix it not just one. A problem that greatly increases the cost of fixing it.  


Think it won’t happen to you? Studies show that 8-12% of abutment teeth are lost in the first 10 years and 30% are lost after 15 years! Compare that to dental implants which have a success rate of 98% and don’t require you to grind down adjacent teeth. Though dental implants cost more at the beginning, studies show they cost less over time. (By 5-7 years out the dental implants starts earning you money when you don’t have to pay out to replace your failing FPD).  One graph I’ve seen shows that at approximately the 7 year mark the expense lines cross and the FPD starts being more expensive than a dental implant. You can learn more about dental implants here: Top Reasons to Choose Dental Implants and Dental Implants FAQs


Of course, the FPD or Fixed Bridge still has a place. There are times when a dental implant cannot be placed or the condition of the adjacent teeth may mean they’d require crowns anyway (though that still doesn’t negate the possibility of it becoming a 3 tooth problem down the road if the abutment teeth fail.)


If you do find that you need to make a decision about replacing a missing tooth, talk with your dentist about your options and don’t be afraid to ask questions about dental implants, FPDs, or removable options—and be sure you understand the pros and cons of each choice.


**Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.


Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.

1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053