The main cause of tooth sensitivity is fluid movement within the small tubes of the dentin, which is the layer of tissue beneath the top layer of enamel. The result of this movement in the dentin is nerve irritation/tooth sensitivity. Exposure of the dentin tubes is the result of worn down enamel, leaving the tooth more susceptible to the temperature changes of consuming cold and hot food and drink. Consuming acid-containing foods and drink wear down enamel as does acid reflux and bulimia that expose the teeth to stomach acids. Tooth sensitivity is a common condition that at least 40 million adults experience at some time, but thankfully, there are various ways to treat and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Simple treatments for tooth sensitivity
Patients with sensitive teeth may want to rethink their choice of toothpaste, as some contain abrasive ingredients. Whitening toothpaste and tartar-control kinds of toothpaste also contain ingredients that can increase tooth sensitivity. Switching to desensitizing toothpaste can help if there’s no other dental issue causing the discomfort, but it can take a month of regular use for them to alleviate pain. Dentists can treat sensitive teeth with dental sealants or fluoride and recommend reducing the number of foods that contain acid. Changing to a soft bristle brush and not brushing as hard can reduce sensitivity as hard bristles and brushing can wear down enamel and expose sensitive dentin.
Visiting the dentist
When a tooth or teeth become highly sensitive for several days and causes discomfort when exposed to hot and cold foods, it’s time to visit the dentist to find out what’s going on. Anyone experiencing tooth sensitivity should consult with their dentist first before trying treatments on their own, as they may not be effective in addressing the problem. Abscesses or cavities patients can’t see yet, but that a dentist can find during an exam, can cause tooth sensitivity.
Describing symptoms to the dentist
Tooth sensitivity can feel like a sharp pain followed by an aching and patients need to explain exactly what they’re feeling and what brought it on to their dentist. Patients should share what happens when they eat or drink hot or cold foods and what if anything helps ease the pain and sensitivity. Communicating symptoms with the dentist can help them make an accurate diagnosis.
Dental treatments for sensitive teeth
Dental treatments for sensitive teeth can include in-office treatments and products the patient applies at home. For patients diagnosed with dentin hypersensitivity, the dentist can apply a protective coating or desensitizing agent. Dentists also sometimes recommend desensitizing toothpaste or prescribe a stannous fluoride gel. If a dentist applies a desensitizing agent as treatment, the patient should avoid eating or drinking for a short period to eliminate irritation sources, and the dentist may recommend changing oral hygiene habits to prevent tooth abrasion.
It’s important to pay attention to any oral discomfort or pain as it can indicate a deeper problem that requires dental attention. Contact Dupont Dental to set up a regular exam and discuss any issues you’re experiencing.