Caring For Sensitive Teeth


Does eating a scoop of ice cream or taking a sip of hot coffee send shooting pains throughout your mouth?  Do you find brushing or flossing to be a painful experience?  If you answered yes, there is an issue that should be evaluated by a professional. Yet, sometimes sensitive teeth can be addressed with simple daily care.

When your teeth are completely healthy, there is a strong protective layer on the outside of your teeth called the enamel.  Below the enamel is another protective layer called the dentin.  The dentin is less dense and contains small hollow tubes or canals.  If the dentin loses its protective covering, the small holes allow hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves in the teeth and may cause hypersensitivity.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn enamel
  • Exposed tooth root

Treatments For Sensitivity

  • Desensitizing toothpaste: Desensitizing toothpaste has compounds that block sensitivity from the surface to the nerve.  Several applications are required before sensitivity subsides.
  • Fluoride gel: This treatment can be done by your dentist and it is aimed toward strengthening tooth enamel and reducing the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding: These are applied to the teeth and used to correct a flaw or decay that causes sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft: If gum tissue has diminished from the root, a gum graft will help protect the roots and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal: If your sensitivity is severe enough, your dentist might suggest this in order to fill the roots and eliminate the problem.

Above all, the best thing you can do to prevent hypersensitivity is practice proper oral hygiene.  If you have any questions regarding this issue or want to learn more, contact your dentist to evaluate your specific concern.

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