Do you tend to avoid eating cold foods or drinking hot beverages because it makes your teeth hurt? If so, you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity. But what is tooth sensitivity, what causes it, and how can you treat it?
What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
Dentin, a material that contains microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings, makes up the inside of your tooth. This is protected by the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth above the gum line, and cementum, a layer under the gum line that extends down to your tooth root. When these two layers wear away, the nerve endings in the dentin are exposed to cold, hot, sticky, or acidic foods. This causes your teeth to feel sensitive and can be quite painful.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
There are a number of common causes of teeth sensitivity. If you brush your teeth aggressively or with a hard toothbrush, you could wear away the tooth enamel when you brush every morning and evening. Your diet also plays an important role in your teeth sensitivity. If you are eating highly acidic foods and beverages, such as soda, candy, or high-sugar carbs, you can erode the enamel on your teeth. If you grind your teeth at night or clench your jaw during the day, you can also be at risk of wearing down the enamel. You might also experience tooth sensitivity if you are whitening your teeth. Treatments such as dental crowns and fillings could also cause teeth sensitivity.
Existing dental conditions can also cause you to experience teeth sensitivity. Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and bones that support the teeth, can cause gum tissue to separate from the teeth, leaving pockets of space where bacteria can grow. Eventually, the gums can separate far enough from the teeth that the root can become exposed. This exposure can lead to very painful teeth sensitivity.
How Do You Treat Teeth Sensitivity?
The cause of your teeth sensitivity helps determine your treatment. One of the most common treatments is desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that block sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve and can take multiple applications before it begins to reduce your teeth’s sensitivity. Another treatment option is fluoride gel which we apply in our office. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel while reducing the transmission of sensations.
If your dental problems are more severe, you might need a procedure. If decay is causing your teeth sensitivity, you may need a crown, inlay, or bonding. Lost gum tissue around the root of a tooth may mean you need a surgical gum graft to protect the root. For even more severe teeth sensitivity issues, you may need a root canal.
There are a number of ways to treat teeth sensitivity, but the first step is making an appointment with us to determine how we can provide you with the best treatment. Call us today if you’re experiencing teeth sensitivity!