Tooth sensitivity is generally the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots due to gingival recession. Other causes of tooth sensitivity include tooth decay, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or periodontal disease. Tooth sensitivity is a very common problem affecting more than 1 in 8 Americans. For some they are aware and neglecting the problem and for others they think it is normal and try to mask it by avoiding those teeth when it comes to certain food items. When tooth sensitivity is present it becomes difficult at times to enjoy our favorite food and drink or even brush our teeth properly.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
The pain or discomfort you feel when a tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures or even an acidic food or drink. This is the hallmark sign of tooth sensitivity. There are 3 layers of a tooth. These are called enamel, dentin, and pulp. The enamel is the harder outer shell that covers your teeth. Tooth enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in the body. Even stronger than bone. There is one other piece to the puzzle and that is cementum. Cementum covers and protects the root surface where the enamel does not cover. When something happens to the enamel or cementum you end up with tooth sensitivity. The enamel could be damaged thru tooth decay or trauma while the cementum can be lost due to periodontal disease.
–Worn Down Enamel. Enamel can be damaged in a variety of ways. These can include overly aggressive brushing, tooth trauma, tooth enamel erosion from acidic drinks, and even teeth whitening products if not used as directed. In areas where the enamel breaks down it will expose the soft underlayer, the dentin. The dentin has tubules that connect to the inner layer the pulp. The pulp is where all the nerves and blood is. This will cause you tooth sensitivity to begin to develop.
–Periodontal Disease. This is a progressive disease that triggers an inflammatory response in the mouth. If left untreated it can progress from gingivitis (reversible) to periodontitis (non reversible). Periodontitis will lead to destruction of cementum, gingival tissues, and bone surrounding your teeth. Once the roots of your teeth are exposed, you will develop tooth sensitivity.
–Bruxism. Also referred to as teeth grinding. When we grind our teeth we put extreme forces on our teeth. This force can lead to cracks in the enamel on your teeth. Once those cracks form, it exposes the soft dentin beneath leading to tooth sensitivity.
Tips If You Have Tooth Sensitivity
-Softer Toothbrushing. Brushing technique should include use of a soft-bristled brush and use at a 45 degree angle to your gum. this will help prevent damage to your enamel and gum tissues. -NO! acidic foods and drinks. These will only cause you pain and discomfort if you already suffer from tooth sensitivity. But if you do choose to consume these wait about 30 minutes after bruhing to give you a chance not to feel so much pain or discomfort.
-Slow Down On Teeth Whitening. Teeth whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. If you do develop tooth sensitivity while undergoing teeth whitening treatment speak to your dentist immediately.
How Is Tooth Sensitivity Treated?
Dentistry is highly personalized care. Tooth sensitivity is no different. The treatment for tooth sensitivity will depend on the cause. A proper diagnosis is necessary to develop a proper treatment plan for your tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity treatment can include: -Use Of Desensitizing Toothpaste. A common over the counter toothpaste is called Sensodyne. This toothpaste acts to seal those tubules present in the dentin. By sealing those tubules, it will remove or diminish the tooth sensitivity you may be feeling. Sensodyne contains, calcium, phosphate, as well as fluoride.
-Fluroide Treatment. This can be done at home or in office. In office, the fluoride will be applied using a tray and applied to your teeth giving adequate coverage. There are also take prescription home rinses that can be used by the patient as needed. -Custom Fabricated Mouth Guards. This would be used to ward off damage from teeth grinding that can cause tooth sensitivity.
–Restore Broken, Chipped, or Fractured teeth. This can include dental bonding or dental crowns to restore your teeth to a healthier state and prevent tooth sensitivity.
-Periodontal Disease Treatment. This can include bone grafting as well as gum grafts to cover the root surfaces of your teeth that have been exposed.
–Root Canal Therapy (RCT). In some cases tooth sensitivity is caused by a dental infection present inside a tooth.
Now you know the causes of tooth sensitivity it is important to address these issues if you have them with your dentist. Be proactive and treat tooth sensitivity before it gets out of control.
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