Tooth pain can be acute and severe. Maybe this is why — when it comes to your oral health — an ounce of prevention is just plain priceless. But you don’t have to suffer a toothache to be miserable; even mere tooth sensitivity can greatly affect your quality of life. We have good news, though: Sensitive teeth can be treated. We’ll briefly discuss a few of these treatments below, but first, let’s address the causes of this problem.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
A number of culprits could potentially cause you to have tooth sensitivity, such as tooth decay (cavities), fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel, or exposed tooth root, just to name a few.
Healthy teeth have a precious layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth. Crowns are the portion of the teeth that are visible above the gum line. Beneath the gum line, there’s another valuable layer of bonelike tissue called “cementum” that protects the tooth root. The tooth root is the lower, two-thirds of the tooth that’s buried in bone to anchor the tooth into position.
Underneath the enamel and the cementum is a hard tissue called “dentin,” which is more dense than bone but less dense than enamel and cementum. Dentin has tiny hollow canals or tubes that are usually covered by enamel or cementum, but when these protective coatings are lost, heat and cold as well as acidic or sticky foods can reach the nerves inside the tooth, resulting in hypersensitivity. Dentin can also be exposed by gum recession.
How Is Tooth Sensitivity Treated?
As mentioned above, there are different causes of tooth sensitivity, which means there are different solutions, depending on the reason for the hypersensitivity.
Desensitizing Toothpaste — Starting with the simplest treatment, many patients find significant relief by using desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that block the transmission of sensation from the surface of the tooth to the nerve. This solution may require several applications of the toothpaste before the patient will perceive some relief.
Fluoride Gel — Fluoride is a mineral that’s often referred to as “Nature’s cavity-fighter,” because it strengthens enamel by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. Your friendly neighborhood dental office offers offers a fluoride gel application at the office.
Surgical Gum Graft — If your tooth sensitivity is caused by the loss of gum tissue from the tooth root, then a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from somewhere else in your mouth and applied to the affected site. This procedure is effective for protecting exposed roots and reducing sensitivity.
Root Canal — If other treatments have not been effective and your tooth sensitivity is severe, then your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment to altogether eliminate the problem. A root canal is widely considered the most successful treatment for giving a patient permanent relief from tooth sensitivity.
Once again, prevention is always the best medicine. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s “Seal of Acceptance.” Floss once a day, and try to limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks.
Remember that good oral hygiene will help you to avoid tooth sensitivity. But if you’re worried that you’re having a problem with hypersensitivity, please come and see us. We’re happy to help.