Does that bite of ice cream make you wince? Hot coffee or tea have you jumping in pain? Perhaps brushing and flossing are occasionally painful. All these experiences could mean you may have sensitive teeth.
Possible causes include:
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Fractured teeth
- Worn fillings
- Gum disease
- Worn tooth enamel
- Exposed tooth root
There is a layer of enamel in healthy teeth that protects the crowns of your teeth, which is the part just above the gum line. Under the gum line is a layer called cementum which protects the tooth root. Under both the enamel and the cementum is dentin.
Dentin is not as dense as enamel or centum, and contains microscopic hollow tubes or canals. Dentin that loses its protective coating of enamel or cementum causes the small hollow tubes to allow heat, cold, acidic, or sticky foods to penetrate and reach the nerves and cells inside of your tooth. Dentin can also be exposed when gums recede resulting in hypersensitivity.
Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:
Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.
If you have any questions about the sensitivity of your teeth, call our office today at (215) 515-6788.