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Mark Bornfeld, DDS
Mark Bornfeld, DDS, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 5754
Experience:  Clinical instructor, NYU College of Dentistry; 37 years private practice experience in general dentistry, member Academy of General Dentistry, ADA
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My dentist just closed a gap between 18 and 19 that was trapping

Resolved Question:

My dentist just closed a gap between 18 and 19 that was trapping food and hurting. He used an inlay (onlay?) on 18. It's been 2 and half weeks now and the pain is gone and food seems to NOT be trapping anymore after a year of trying combos of fillings and crowns on both teeth.

After I eat tho, I feel an intense need to floss it out as if something's in there, but its not !

The dentist said it's because the papilla needs to grow back and we need a few more weeks.

Three questions:

What do you think about this as to why I feel the need to floss whenever I eat... and do papillas grow back? Can I speed that up by flossing it or massaging it or salt watering it?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dental
Expert:  Mark Bornfeld, DDS replied 2 years ago.
Welcome to JustAnswer, and thank you for putting your trust in me!

Your dentist's explanation is feasible, although it is not necessarily accurate or relevant to your case. Your papilla may or may not grow back, because this would depend on the contour of the tooth surfaces adjacent to the "interdental space", as well as the overall morphology of the gum tissue and the general periodontal health in the area. Having been subjected to food impaction for over a year, that papilla may have permanently receded, and may not grow back.

That does not mean that your compulsive flossing may not eventually stop on its own, regardless of whether that papilla grows back, because your mouth will ultimately accommodate to the new contours of your onlay. This may also be a behavioral carry-over from the extended period when the need to floss due to food impaction was real, and that compulsion will eventually undergo "extinction" (a Pavlovian term) once your mouth realizes on a visceral level that this practice is no longer needed.

Hope this helps...
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Is there anything I can do to encourage papilla regrowth? floss etc? How long will the compulsion last till extinction would you guess and I know its a guess? (I have a BA in Psychology)
Expert:  replied 2 years ago.
Regular oral hygiene, including the conscientious use of dental floss, will minimize gum inflammation and maximize the potential for gum re-growth-- assuming that the interdental papilla has indeed receded. An important caveat is that you should floss thoroughly, but use restraint in the amount of force applied while flossing. It is important not to pull the floss too hard against the gum, because mechanically-induced inflammation can foster gum recession just as easily as bacterial inflammation.

As someone trained in psychology, and more familiar with your own psychological temperament, you would be better qualified to predict how long you would customarily engage in compulsive behavior. I would decline the opportunity to offer any predictions, as it is not within my area of expertise.

Good luck!
Mark Bornfeld, DDS, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 5754
Experience: Clinical instructor, NYU College of Dentistry; 37 years private practice experience in general dentistry, member Academy of General Dentistry, ADA
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