Tooth sensitivity: Causes and Treatment

Tooth sensitivity: Causes and Treatment

Posted by Dr.Pittman on Jul 19 2021, 01:22 PM

Have you ever experienced a sudden, sharp pain in your teeth while eating cold, hot, or sweet food or drinks? Tooth sensitivity is a common dental issue faced especially by adults due to the erosion of the enamel or recession of the gums, leaving the tooth's dentin exposed. When the dentin is exposed to hot or cold temperatures, tooth pain or discomfort can occur.

As per the Academy of General Dentistry, approximately 40 million adults in the US suffer from sensitive teeth. However, though this condition is common, it is not wise to ignore it.

What leads to tooth sensitivity?

As we know, our teeth are covered by the strongest substance in the human body, called enamel. However, the nerves at the center of the teeth are delicate. Beneath the enamel lies the dentin that consists of several microscopic tubules or pathways that lead to the tooth pulp. The nerves of the tooth are located in the tooth pulp. As a result, if the tooth enamel or gum tissue covering the tooth roots is exposed, the tooth can become more sensitive to heat, cold, and acidic substances, thus causing pain.  

What factors lead to exposed dentin and sensitive teeth?

As we already saw what leads to tooth sensitivity, let us understand the factors that cause the exposed dentin. In most cases, the below given are the major factors that can erode the enamel or compromise the gums and expose the dentin, leading to tooth sensitivity: 

  • Hard brushing 
  • Gum recession
  • Gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Cracked, chipped, broken, or fractured teeth
  • Bruxism and clenching of teeth
  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Excessive use of acidic mouthwash
  • Acidic foods
  • Teeth whitening treatment that a dentist does not supervise

How to manage a sensitive tooth?

Tooth sensitivity is often short-lived. It can be felt like a dull ache or a quick, sharp pain that radiates into the tooth's nerve. For some people, the following remedies can help to relieve the discomfort and prevent further sensitivity: 

  • Brush gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use a desensitizing toothpaste 
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash daily
  • Avoid the intake of sugary and acidic foods

However, the patient would require a dental professional's help to get relief from tooth sensitivity in some cases. After determining the cause of tooth sensitivity, a dentist may suggest the following treatments to resolve the underlying issues and ease the pain:

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Dental sealants for exposed tooth roots
  • Dental bonding
  • A dental filling, inlay, or crown
  • Periodontal treatment to fix gum recession
  • Root canal procedure and crown to eliminate tooth infection
  • Surgical gum graft
  • Mouthguard for bruxism

The tooth enamel doesn't restore back on its own. However, an experienced dentist can rebuild it using various effective procedures so that the tooth nerves stay protected. The first step to treat tooth sensitivity is to identify its cause with the help of a dental professional. With proper analysis and treatment, it may be possible to get tooth sensitivity under control. 

If you have tooth sensitivity, visit Dental Spa Sanford. Dr. Pittman and her team can determine the cause of tooth sensitivity and treat them. Call us at (407) 330-3601 or schedule an appointment online.

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