Sensitive teeth can occur for a variety of reasons and in many ways. Sensitivity to temperature, sweets, touch, or pressure are the main types of tooth sensitivity. The pain and discomfort from sensitive teeth are generally a sign of trauma, tooth decay, or wear, and can range from mildly irritating to quite painful. Did you know there are effective treatments against sensitive teeth?
Types Of Sensitive Teeth
There are two very different types of sensitivity:
Dentinal Sensitivity. This occurs when the middle layer (dentin) of a tooth is exposed. Dentin is usually covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum (bone like connective tissue covering the root of a tooth) below the gum line. There are tiny openings called tubules in the dentin. Inside each tubule there is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth’s pulp (the nerve center of the tooth). When the dentin is exposed, these nerve branches can be affected by hot, cold, or certain foods. This causes tooth sensitivity.
When the outer protective layers of enamel or cementum wear away the dentin becomes exposed. This can affect one tooth or multiple teeth. Dentin exposure can be be caused in a variety of ways. These can include:
1. Aggressive brushing. The enamel layer can be worn away from brushing too hard.
2. Plaque build up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
3. Tooth wear that occurs over time from clenching and grinding.
4. Untreated dental cavities.
5. Gingival recession. When the gums recede they expose the tooth’s roots. Receding gums are often caused by periodontal diseases or by aggressive brushing. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.
6. Periodontal surgery (gum surgery) that exposes the tooth’s roots.
7. Tooth whitening.
8. Frequently eating acidic foods or liquids.
Pulpal sensitivity. This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. The pulp consists of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Sensitivity of the pulpal tissue tends to affect only one tooth. Causes of this type of sensitivity can include:
1. Dental cavities or infection.
2. Placement of a recent filling.
3. Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.
4. A cracked or broken tooth. If you feel a sharp pain upon biting, you may have a broken or cracked filling. Pain when you release your bite is a sign of a cracked tooth.
Your dentist will be able to diagnose the type of sensitivity you have.
Can Sensitive Teeth Be Strengthened?
Your dentist can strengthen your weakened teeth in two ways. These include the following:
-Attempt to rebuild the worn enamel. Fluoride treatments are highly effective at strengthening weakened tooth enamel. Fluoride contains minerals that can help to strengthen your teeth enamel. Exposing your teeth to more fluoride can be done in several ways:
-In Office Fluoride Treatment. This is the most concentrated fluoride treatment available. During this procedure, trays of fluoride gel, varnish, or foam are placed over your teeth, and allow the fluoride to take effect for several minutes to several weeks.
-At Home Fluoride Treatment. You can also use fluoridated toothpaste, gel, or mouthwash at home for gradual enamel maintenance.
-Create A New Enamel-like Layer. The cosmetic dentistry procedures that are highly effective are dental bonding, crowns, and porcelain veneers.
Dental bonding gives the dentist the ability to add tooth colored material to cover the areas lacking in tooth enamel. This effectively creates a protective layer between the sensitive areas of your teeth and the outside stimulants in the outside world.
Sometimes the sensitivity is related to the tooth nerve suffering from inflammation. This may or may not lead to a need for root canal therapy to stop the pain.
Porcelain veneers and crowns can act as a protective layer and decrease sensitivity or protect a tooth after root canal therapy.
Sensitive Teeth Conclusion
Dealing with sensitive teeth can be very frustrating. Oftentimes sensitivity can be treated effectively and quickly. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, consult your dentist to see what can be done for you to relieve your discomfort and address problems which may be occurring. The sooner the sensitivity is addressed the less chance of more serious problems.