Sensitive teeth is suffered by some 40 million Americans. There can be any number of underlying causes of the problem, best diagnosed by a dentist.
A tooth primarily consists of dentin. Dentin is made of microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings. The tooth’s enamel – a tough outer layer – acts as a safeguard to the dentin in the tooth’s crown portion. The dentin extends into the root of the tooth where it’s protected by a layer of cementum.
Hypersensitivity or irritation occurs when there is loss of protective cementum or enamel covering dentin. This exposes the tiny nerve endings which will react negativity when contact is made with cold, hot, sticky or acidic consumables.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
- Erosion on teeth due to significant ingestion of foods and beverages high in acidic compounds.
- The exposure of root surfaces as a result of gum recession.
- Temporary post-dental treatment sensitivity. A common occurrence with operations such as fillings, crowns and tooth bleaching.
- Worn down tooth enamel from use of a hard toothbrush.
- Using too aggressive an approach to brushing.
- Grinding of teeth.
- Worn leaky fillings, tooth decay and broken teeth.
See a Dentist
The first step to relief from tooth hypersensitivity is having a conversation with a dental professional. They will review symptoms, including when the pain started. Be sure to let the clinician know if there is anything that makes the tooth feel better, like a warm compress.
After an examination, the dental professional will likely have a reason for the sensitivity. They will prepare a treatment to manage the underlying cause. This can be replacing a worn or damaged filling, or repairing a cavity. Your dentist might apply a fluoride gel to strengthen enamel and reduce pain. If discomfort is coming from root exposed surfaces due to gum loss, a gum graft may be suggested. This is a procedure conducted by a periodontist to secure root surfaces and manage support of the tooth.
Products for Sensitive Teeth
If you are using a medium or hard toothbrush, stop. Swap out for a soft bristle brush, even if you are not having pain. While hard and medium brushes have their purposes, soft brushes are safe and practical for the majority of mouths. Your dental practitioner can tell you if you need a medium or hard bristle brush and why.
There are specific toothpastes engineered for sensitive teeth that can minimize pain if used regularly. They can block-off nerve endings in exposed dentin. Rubbing this toothpaste directly on affected areas after brushing may be suggested.
If you are suffering from tooth hypersensitivity, make an appointment with a dental clinician right away.