Do you have sensitive teeth? Does ice cream or hot coffee cause you pain? Is brushing or flossing uncomfortable sometimes? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” you may have sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth is caused by many things, but some of the possible causes may be tooth decay (cavities), cracked teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth root. Whatever the cause of your tooth sensitivity, you don’t need to suffer, all of these issues are treatable.
A layer of tooth enamel protects the crowns of your teeth, or the part of your tooth above the gums, when your teeth are healthy. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin.
Dentin is less dense than both enamel and cementum. It contains microscopic hollow tubes or canals and when dentin loses its protective covering of enamel these tubules allow heat and cold foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity which can be painful or at best, very uncomfortable.
Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:
- Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
- Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
- A dental crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
- Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
- Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask Today's Dental if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or if you need treatment for tooth sensitivity.