Do you ever feel pain when you consume certain foods or drinks that are hot, cold, sweet or acidic? You may be suffering from tooth sensitivity, also known as dentine hypersensitivity (DH) or dentine sensitivity (DS). Tooth sensitivity is defined as pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to certain triggers or stimuli, such as hot or cold temperatures. Sensitivity occurs when tooth enamel is thinned.
Tooth enamel is the visible, outermost covering of your teeth. The color of healthy enamel varies from light yellow to a gray or blue-like white. It’s the hardest substance in the human body and contains a high percentage of minerals. It protects the inner, more fragile areas of your teeth known as pulp and dentin. Taking care of your enamel is very important because it is the first line of defense against tooth sensitivity and tooth decay – the most common dental condition worldwide.
How Tooth Enamel is Worn Down
Tooth enamel can be worn down by brushing your teeth too hard, using a hard toothbrush, grinding your teeth at night – also known as sleep or nocturnal bruxism – and regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages. It can also be worn down from repeated exposure to extreme temperatures.
Treating Tooth Sensitivity at Home
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are some things you can try that are considered over-the-counter dental treatments, but it is always important to consult with your dentist about your teeth sensitivity as they have the most knowledge and expertise in this area.
Select a toothpaste that’s labeled as being specifically made for sensitive teeth. These types of toothpaste won’t have irritating ingredients. Some of these types of toothpastes also can contain desensitizing ingredients that can assist in blocking the discomfort from traveling to the nerve of the tooth. If you’re not sure what desensitizing toothpaste is right for you, consult with your dentist.
Mouthwash that does not contain alcohol will be less irritating to sensitive teeth.
Soft Toothbrushes & Brushing Softer
Tooth enamel can be worn down by brushing too hard and using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Try brushing softer and using a soft-bristled toothbrush or electric toothbrush.
Treating Tooth Sensitivity at the Dentist
If the at-home remedies just aren’t working, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist. There are a variety of things they can do to assist with tooth sensitivity.
Your dentist might apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain. Your dentist might also suggest the use of prescription fluoride at home, applied via a custom tray.
Desensitizing or Bonding
Occasionally, exposed root surfaces can be treated by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces. A local anesthetic might be needed.
Surgical Gum Graft
Gum graft, also known as gingival graft, can be performed when your gums are receding. Gum recession exposes the roots of your teeth and can cause sensitivity and lead to tooth decay. If your tooth root has lost gum tissue, a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and attached to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments aren’t effective, your dentist might recommend a root canal — an endodontic treatment used to treat problems inside the tooth, known as the soft core or dental pulp. While this might seem like a significant treatment, it’s considered the most successful technique for eliminating tooth sensitivity.
If you’re experiencing teeth sensitivity schedule an appointment with Roseman Dental. Our skilled team will examine the affected teeth and recommend treatment to reduce your sensitivity.