Within our dental home here at Bassett Creek Dental we have seen countless cases of tooth sensitivity. We understand the discomfort and frustration it can cause, so we are here to shed light on this common dental issue, explore its underlying causes, and provide guidance on effective management and relief. Together, we can ensure your dental health and make those sensitive teeth a thing of the past.
Understanding Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity, known as “dentin hypersensitivity,” is a condition that affects many people worldwide. It is characterized by a sharp, sudden, and often painful response when the teeth are exposed to certain stimuli, such as cold or hot temperatures, sweet or sour foods, and even cold air. This discomfort can be severe, but the good news is that it is normally fully treatable and manageable with the right approach.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Understanding the root causes (pun intended) of tooth sensitivity is the first step towards effective treatment. Here are some common reasons why teeth become sensitive:
1. Exposed Dentin
The underlying cause of tooth sensitivity often lies in exposed dentin, which is the layer of the tooth located beneath the enamel. Dentin contains microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings. When dentin becomes exposed, it can lead to heightened sensitivity as external stimuli directly stimulate these nerves.
2. Gum Recession
Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth pulls back or wears away, exposing the tooth roots. Since the roots do not have the protective enamel covering, they are more susceptible to sensitivity.
3. Dental Erosion
Acidic foods and beverages, as well as acid reflux or conditions like bulimia, can erode tooth enamel over time. This enamel loss can expose the underlying dentin, leading to sensitivity.
4. Toothbrush Abrasion
Aggressive brushing with a hard-bristle toothbrush or improper brushing technique can wear down the enamel and cause dentin exposure.
5. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Chronic teeth grinding or clenching, often done unconsciously during sleep, can wear down tooth enamel and lead to sensitivity.
6. Tooth Decay
Advanced tooth decay or cavities can reach the inner layers of the tooth, causing sensitivity. Addressing the decay through dental fillings is crucial for relief.
Gentle Care and Effective Management
Our goal is to provide gentle care while helping you effectively manage tooth sensitivity. Here are some treatment options:
- See your dentist for a proper diagnosis. Understanding the specific cause is essential to tailor an effective treatment plan.
- Desensitizing toothpaste is one of the easiest at-home ways to treat sensitivity. These toothpaste formulations typically contain compounds like potassium nitrate or fluoride, which block the tubules in the dentin and reduce nerve sensitivity.
- In-office fluoride application or prescribed high-fluoride toothpaste can strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity. Fluoride helps to remineralize the enamel, making it more resistant to acid erosion.
- Gum grafting is a surgical procedure that involves taking tissue from another part of your mouth and grafting it onto the exposed tooth roots, effectively covering and protecting them. This treatment may be recommended if gum recession is the cause of your sensitivity.
- Tooth-colored fillings may be a good fix if tooth decay has led to sensitivity, as they can be used to repair and protect the affected tooth. These fillings blend seamlessly with your natural tooth color for a discreet restoration.
- Dental sealants are thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. They can shield vulnerable areas from sensitivity-inducing factors like temperature and acidic foods.
- Orthodontic intervention if sensitivity is related to misalignment or an improper bite. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, can correct alignment issues and alleviate sensitivity.
- Lifestyle changes such as avoiding acidic foods and beverages, adopting a gently brushing technique and using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Nightguards if bruxism is causing sensitivity, a custom-made nightguard can help protect your teeth from the damaging effects of grinding and clenching.
A Collaborative Journey to Relief
We believe in fostering a strong dentist-patient partnership in addressing tooth sensitivity. This means open communication, regular check-ups, and a shared commitment to your dental health. Remember we are here to help and the best way we can do that is by fully understanding the issues you are experiencing and creating a treatment plan together.
Together, we can ensure that your dental health is in the best possible hands, and that those sensitive teeth become a thing of the past, allowing you to enjoy life to the fullest. Schedule your appointment today: 763.546.1301