We have all been there, you take a sip of hot coffee, or a spoonful of cold ice cream, and feel that immense sensitivity in our teeth. Sometimes even brushing and flossing can cause it. Millions of people suffer from sensitive teeth, trust me, you are not alone.
Possible causes of sensitive teeth include:
- Fractured Teeth
- Broken Down Fillings
- Gum Disease
- Worn Tooth Enamel
- Recession (Exposed Tooth Root)
Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel protecting them. Underneath that layer of enamel is what is called dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel, and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When the dentin loses its protective covering of enamel, these tubules allow heat and cold to reach the nerves of the teeth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result is hypersensitivity. I know that is a pretty scary word, but rest assured, it can be treated. Rather easily in most cases.
There are many ways that we can treat hypersensitivity. It all depends on what is causing the sensitivity. Some treatments that we offer, and recommend are:
Desensitizing Toothpaste – There are many over-the-counter and prescription toothpastes out there that have compounds that block the sensation from that tooth’s surface to the nerve. This is the easiest way to prevent tooth sensitivity, but unfortunately doesn’t work for everyone.
Fluoride Gel – We provide fluoride treatments here in the office. Most insurance companies cover fluoride treatments for children, but not for adults. Even though it is not covered by insurance, it is a very inexpensive procedure, and helps treat hypersensitivity almost immediately. Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel of teeth, and reduces the sensations from reaching the nerves.
Filling or Crown – Sometimes the sensitivity is caused by decay present in a tooth (cavity). The only way to fix that would be to remove the cavity from the tooth. Depending on how big the cavity is, either a filling would be placed, or sometimes, a crown, if there is not a lot of tooth structure left. Once the decay is gone from the tooth, the sensitivity will dissipate as well.
Deep Cleaning – If the sensitivity is coming from below the gum line, a lot of times, the gums have become inflamed, and have let bacteria down between the gum and the tooth. When this happens, a periodontal scaling (deep cleaning) must be done to remove the bacteria. Once the bacteria is gone, with proper maintenance visits, the gums will heal tightly back around the teeth, and prevent that bacteria from getting below the gums again.
Root Canal – If the sensitivity is severe and persistent, and cannot be treated by any other means, a root canal is probably needed to treat the problem. I know that “root canal” may be the two scariest words in the English language, but technology has come a long way to where the process is a lot less involved, and invasive. Most of the time it feels just like getting a filling done, and takes the same amount of time.
Proper oral hygiene is paramount to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. We would be happy to discuss these treatments listed above, answer any questions you may have about tooth sensitivity, and review your daily oral hygiene routine with you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment so you don’t have to keep dealing with tooth sensitivity.