Tooth pain can be unbearable, so when it comes to your oral health, an ounce of prevention is just plain priceless. Toothaches aren’t the only affliction that can make you miserable: Even something as simple as tooth sensitivity can affect your quality of life. But sensitive teeth can be treated. We’ll briefly discuss a few of these treatments after addressing the causes of this problem.
What Makes Teeth So Sensitive?
There are a number of culprits that could potentially cause you to have tooth sensitivity, such as tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel, or exposed tooth roots, just to name a few.
Healthy teeth have a 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 wonderful layer of bonelike tissue called “cementum,” which 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 little hollow canals 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 receding gums.
How We Treat Sensitive Teeth
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 — Many patients find 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 start to have relief.
Fluoride Gel — Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens enamel by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. You can receive an application of fluoride gel at our office.
Surgical Gum Graft — If your tooth sensitivity is caused by gum tissue loss from the tooth root, then a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and applied to the affected site. This procedure is effective for protecting exposed roots and reducing sensitivity.
Root Canal — If your tooth sensitivity is severe and other treatments have not been effective, then your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment to eliminate the problem. A root canal is considered the most successful treatment for giving a patient permanent relief from tooth sensitivity.
Once again, prevention is always the best way to protect your teeth. Be sure to brush 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.