Have you ever taken a bite into some delicious ice cream only to have a jolt of pain shoot through your mouth? Have you ever skipped out on a coffee date because you know the hot beverage will only hurt your pearly whites? Do you avoid sweets because they hurt your teeth? If so, you may have sensitive teeth. What causes this problem? How can your dentist treat it? Continue reading below to find out.
What Are the Causes of Sensitive Teeth?
Sensitive teeth may be caused by a number of factors, such as:
- Exposed tooth root due to receding gumline
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Gum disease
- Worn fillings
- Eroded tooth enamel
Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. It’s made of a hard material that protects the underlying layer, called the dentin. Dentin contains microscopic tubules that lead to the nerves of the tooth. Since enamel is not technically made of organic matter, it cannot be regenerated. Once it’s worn away, the dentin becomes exposed, resulting in sensitivity to extreme temperatures as well as to sweet and acidic foods and drinks.
How Can Sensitive Teeth Be Treated?
Because tooth sensitivity is such a common problem, modern dentistry has come a long way in addressing this issue. There are multiple ways that your dentist can treat sensitive teeth, including:
- Toothpaste for sensitive teeth. This special kind of toothpaste contains compounds that prevent transmission of sensations from the surface of the tooth to the nerve. It may take a few applications before it really starts to work.
- Fluoride treatment. Your dentist can apply a fluoride gel in-office, or prescribe a gel to be used at home. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens the tooth enamel, so it does a better job at protecting the dentin.
- Crown. If your sensitivity is the result of decay, a crown may be placed over the tooth to correct the issue.
- Gum graft. If your gumline is receding and your tooth root is exposed, a surgical gum graft will protect the root.
- Root canal. If your sensitivity is severe and persists even after the above methods have been used, your dentist may remove the pulp and nerve from the tooth to alleviate your discomfort.
Sensitive teeth are fairly common, so your dentist can decide which method of treatment is best for you. If your teeth are sensitive, ask your dentist if they can get to the root of the problem.
About the Author
Dr. Tim Vacek opened Amberly Dental in Waverly, NE in 2009. He loves science, medicine, and being able to help people, so dentistry is his true passion. He can provide any and all treatment you may need for your sensitive teeth. To learn more, contact him by clicking here or calling (402) 786-2007.