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AAAHH!! The dreaded brain freeze  (also called an ice cream headache)…we have almost all experienced it when drinking an ice cold drink or eating ice cream way too fast.

Brain Freeze Marielaina Perrone DDS

The Dreaded Brain Freeze!

But, did you know that the dreaded brain freeze is actually considered a short duration headache? Do you know what causes brain freeze or how to stop it?

What Is A Brain Freeze?

A brain freeze is a form of  cold stimulus headache. The medical term for this type of headache is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgiaThe brain freeze occurs when something cold touches the roof of our mouths (also called the palate). The sudden onset change in temperature of the tissue stimulates nerves to cause rapid dilation and swelling of blood vessels. There is an attempt by the body to direct blood to the area and warm it back up. The dilation of the blood vessels triggers pain receptors, which release pain-causing prostaglandins, increases sensitivity to further pain, and produces inflammation, while sending signals through the trigeminal nerve to alert the brain to the problem. The trigeminal nerve can sense facial pain, strangely the brain interprets the pain signal as coming from the forehead. When the body senses pain in a different area than the source this is called “referred pain”.

Generally, the headache appears in about 10 seconds after placement of cold in the mouth and usually lasts around 20 seconds, although some people may experience much longer instances of pain. The sensation can become intense and hit fast as nerve endings go into overdrive. Only about a third of the population ever experience brain freeze from eating or drinking something cold, though most people are susceptible to a related headache from sudden exposure to a very cold climate.

Can Brain Freeze Be Prevented?

Since the brain freeze is caused by the rapid chilling and subsequent warming by the body, there are a few ways to help prevent brain freeze. They are as follows:

Brain Freeze Marielaina Perrone DDS-Eating ice cream or drinking cold drinks slower instead of rushing through.

-After drinking or eating something cold use your tongue to warm the top of your mouth. This can alleviate the onset of brain freeze.

-Tilting your head back for about 10-15 seconds allows blood flow to equilibrate and not rush to the area as quickly.

-Drink a liquid that has a higher temperature than whatever caused the brain freeze.

Conclusion

A brain freeze is not really a serious issue but it is annoying. Recent research has also shown that those who experience migraines seem to be more susceptible to brain freeze. This can possibly lead research teams to develop new medications that help prevent or treat the vasodilation that is causing the headaches. These drug therapies could  lead to significant advances in many peoples lives.

What many people don’t realize, is that a tooth has nerves and blood vessels just like the rest of our body. A tooth is “vital” or alive. There are reasons why a tooth can become non vital, or dead. ItCosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS is not always easy to tell, and sometimes can be quite painful.

A dead tooth is simply a tooth that no longer has access to nutrients and blood flow. Our teeth are composed of three layers: the enamel, the dentin and the nerve or “pulp”. A healthy tooth has living cells and tissue inside.This living tissue plays a role in the development of the teeth. The nerve is the part of the tooth that can sense temperature, when you drink or eat something really cold or hot. It can also sense how hard you are biting into something, and feel pain.

All the blood vessels and nerve fibers are located in the pulp and this means that when the pulp is dead, then the tooth is dies as well. What can happen if a tooth becomes non vital, and why does it die?

What Causes a Tooth To Die?

The two main causes are:

-Tooth Decay - Tooth decay or a bacterial infection, when left untreated, will begin to invade deeper into the tooth eventually penetrating through enamel and into the second layer, the dentin. When the decay or infection reaches deep inside the tooth, the cells of the pulp try to fight it off by triggering the inflammatory process. This includes action by the white blood cells. Pus develops when some of the white blood cells die during the battle against the infection. If the infection is not treated at this stage, all the white blood cells will die and the blood flow will stop completely.When this occurs, tooth sensitivity is usually the first sign of trouble and this sensitivity will eventually reach the pulp and results in a severe toothache.

-Dental Trauma – This can occur from traumatic injuries, falls, severe grinding and clenching, biting into very hard objects, and sometimes idiopathic internal resorption (a tooth self destructs from the inside out for no apparent reason) . When dental trauma occurs, the blood supply can be severed immediately, resulting in the pulp dying off. Sometimes it is a slow progressive breakdown as teeth wear and crack from bad oral habits. Prevention is the key whenever possible. This is why sports mouth guards are recommended for all contact sports activities. Nightguards are recommended for clenchers and grinders. Extremely hard foods should be avoided such as popcorn kernels, corn nuts, and the mouth should not be used in place of tools such as scissors or a bottle opener.

Signs and Symptoms

It can be very difficult to identify a dead tooth just by looking at it and that is another reason why it’s important to visit a dentist regularly. It is possible to have no symptoms when a tooth becomes non vital. However, a non-vital tooth may exhibit some a tell tale symptom like turning darker. This discoloration is usually the dead pulp becoming visible. Another sign of a non-vital tooth is an unexplained swelling, or a raised white pimple like area. These signs are normally a result of a periodontal abscess, caused by periodontal disease or injury, which can rupture and produce an infection in the gums and mouth. A dead tooth will eventually become loose due to the destruction of surrounding bone by the infection process. It can also produce a foul odor and even more severe pain.

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDSTreatment Of A Dead Tooth

Many patients will ask, “If the tooth is dead why not just leave it alone?”.Simply put, the dead tissue in the pulp chamber will become a breeding ground for bacteria. If left untreated, an abscess can occur along with pain and discomfort. There are usually two options for treatment of a non vital tooth:

-Extraction – A tooth extraction can be performed if the tooth is not savable, or it can be chosen due to finances becoming an issue. A tooth extraction is usually the least expensive option but it can also can leave other issues on the long term horizon (such as tooth shifting, cosmetic and functional issues). Once extracted, tooth replacement can be done using a dental implant, a fixed bridge, or a removable denture.

-Root Canal Therapy -  This procedure is performed when a patient chooses to save the tooth. Root canal therapy allows the dentist to clean out the dead tissue and infection, ridding of the decayed part of the pulp. This will allow the dentist to rebuild on the sterile tooth to return full form and function. With today’s modern technology, root canal therapy can be a painless and comfortable experience and, if done early, can save a tooth by preventing further infection and subsequent tooth loss. The procedure usually begins with anesthesia to prevent any pain, then a dentist will make an opening for the cleaning instrument to penetrate the affected inner parts of the tooth. The infection is cleaned out and the opening is then closed with a filling. The tooth can then be bleached to turn it whiter or a veneer or a crown can be placed over the tooth to make it look natural.

How To Prevent A Tooth Becoming Non-Vital

Maintaining a proper dental hygiene regimen including brushing and flossing regularly can prevent the buildup of food and bacteria that gets trapped between teeth and gums, which can cause infection and tooth decay leading to dead teeth. Regular visits to the dentist are also very important, since your dentist will be able to identify and diagnose early signs of tooth issues. There are other early signs that you can recognize on your own that include sensitivity to heat or cold, pain when chewing or biting down, slight discolorations, bad breath, gum swelling and facial swelling. Saving a dead tooth depends on early detection and early treatment. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms – get it checked out to decrease your chances of infection and tooth loss.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) – also called male impotency. Male Impotency is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual performance.

Recent studies have shown that men with advanced periodontal disease (also called periodontitis) are at greater risk for erectile dysfunction. The same study also says young men under age 30 are at risk as well. The study was based on almost 33,000 men with erectile dysfunction and then randomly selected another group of men without erectile dysfunction. About 12% of the participants had advanced periodontal disease. This group with advanced periodontal disease included about 27% of the men with erectile dysfunction and about 9% of those without erectile dysfunction issues. The study lasted for five years.

This particular research study found advanced periodontal disease was much higher among the men with erectile dysfunction than those without. After taking into account other lifestyle factors (example, income level and pre existing medical conditions) the researchers found periodontal disease was still linked to erectile dysfunction.  This was  especially the case in men younger than 30 and those older than 70.

The study did not show or prove that advanced periodontal disease causes erectile dysfunction. But it does show that an association between the two does exist. One theory as to why the link exists is that both are likely caused by inflammatory processes in the body. The Periodontal disease process is directly linked to the inflammatory process in the gum tissues and bone, and has been found to be linked to heart disease,vascular disease (damage to blood vessels), pregnancy issues, and other overall health problems. Researchers believe the same inflammatory process is affecting sexual function. The inflammatory process is systemic (throughout the body) and is thought to be causing damage to the vessels supplying the penis.

While these results are far from set in stone they tell a tale of a link between the inflammatory breakdown in advanced periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction. So this means, it is doubly important for men of all ages and not just the ones mentioned in the study to maintain their dental hygiene to not only maintain their teeth and gums but also to maintain their sexual function. Luckily for us, periodontal disease is very treatable. Periodontitis and advanced periodontitis are very preventable. Brush your teeth, floss and schedule routine dental visits to keep your gums and teeth healthy. While the linkage between periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction requires more research at this very early stage, it would be wise to think of full body health and do all that you can to guard against preventable illness.