If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you’re not alone. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience this bothersome issue, but we can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing it and help to improve your symptoms.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Your teeth are made up of a hard material called dentin. Dentin is covered by an outer layer of enamel and contains tiny tubules filled with microscopic nerve endings. Sensitivity typically occurs when the protective cover of enamel is lost, and certain foods (hot, cold, sticky, or acidic) reach the dentin.
Causes of tooth sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of factors. Consuming highly acidic foods or drinks can break down the enamel on your teeth, allowing the continued consumption of these items to increase the sensitivity of your teeth. The enamel can also be worn down, exposing the dentin, due to tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, grinding your teeth, and gum recession. Sometimes you may also experience some temporary post-dental treatment sensitivity from a dental procedure.
As with most dental problems, proper dental hygiene is the best way to prevent tooth sensitivity from starting in the first place. Depending on what the underlying cause of the sensitivity is, there are a variety of treatments that you can choose from.
De-sensitizing toothpaste – There are many over-the-counter tooth pastes available that are designed specifically to help eliminate sensitivity. They’re affordable and generally work well for mild cases of sensitivity.
Fluoride gel - This medical-grade gel is applied in the office, and is designed to help strengthen the enamel and dentin in your teeth. This simple procedure can help eliminate some of the pain and discomfort you’re feeling from sensitivity.
Crown bonding - Dental crown bonding is the longest-lasting solution that also offers the highest level of protection for sensitive teeth due to a chipped or broken tooth. We will simply roughen and moisturize the affected tooth, and then apply a bonding material and shape it into place. The bonding material is then cured into place through a special dental light.
Crown inlay - If you’re experiencing teeth sensitivity due to a broken or chipped tooth, or dental decay, an inlay may be your best option. Crowns are often referred to as “caps” because they are porcelain or ceramic material that is placed over a damaged tooth, keeping the sensitive nerve endings covered and away from irritants such as acidic food or drinks.
Surgical gum graft - A gum graft is used in extreme cases, generally due to decay of the gums which then exposes the sensitive roots of teeth and nerve endings. This procedure takes tissue from another area and uses it to cover an exposed root, sealing it against irritants and helping to prevent further decay.
Root canal - In severe cases when sensitivity cannot be treated by any other means, we may recommend a root canal. In this treatment designed to repair a badly decayed tooth, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed. The tooth is then cleaned and sealed to prevent further decay.
Tooth sensitivity is not something that you just have to live with; it can be treated in many ways, specific to the cause and extent of the sensitivity. For help with alleviating your tooth sensitivity, give us a call to schedule an appointment.