If you pass on hot or cold drinks because you know they’ll make your teeth hurt, it may be time to talk to your dentist about the possibility that you have sensitive teeth. Sometimes other things can aggravate them, too, like sweet and sour foods or even cold air.
Why does tooth sensitivity occur?
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the layer of a tooth underneath the enamel (called the dentin) or the layer covering the root (called cementum) is exposed along the gum line causing receding gums.
The dentin contains microscopic channels called tubules, which are pathways to the nerve. When dentinal tubules are exposed, due to receding gum tissue or enamel loss, nerves are more easily triggered by heat, cold, sweet or sour foods and cause sharp shooting pain in your teeth.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Sensitive teeth can be caused by the following dental issues:
- Worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively.
- Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages.
- Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth.
- Gum recession that leaves your root surface exposed.
- Grinding your teeth at night.
- Post dental treatment sensitivity – common, but temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching.
Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity
We at The Dental Specialists will evaluate your teeth thoroughly and assess your-grade of sensitivity.
Treatment may be as simple as fixing a cavity or replacing a worn filling. However, if your discomfort comes from gum loss exposing root surfaces, our periodontist may suggest a gum graft to protect the root surface and support of the tooth.
- 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.
- Laser treatments to fuse (close) the tunnels.
- Fluoride gel:An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
- A 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.
8 ways to relieve and prevent tooth sensitivity
- Use a soft-bristled brush and brush with gentle strokes
- Consider using desensitising paste
- Cut down on acidic foods and soft drinks
- Do not rush to brush after having citrus juices
- Avoid grinding your teeth ( ask your dentist about mouth guard)
- Take a break from teeth whitening a.k.a bleaching
- Warm saline mouth rinses could relieve your sensitivity
- See your dentist and talk about your sensitivity