Teeth can be sensitive for many reasons.
The dense enamel surface covering the crown of the tooth protects the tooth from sensitivity. However, if the gums recede, the softer dentin covering the root is exposed. This exposed root surface is much closer to the center of the tooth that houses the nerve and blood vessel (pulp) of the tooth. Radiating out from the center of this pulp are millions of tiny nerve endings enclosed in tiny tubes. As the root surface wears away, the portion of the tubules that still contain nerve tissue come closer to the external surface of the tooth. The closer the nerve-filled portion of the tubes get to the surface of the tooth, the more the outer layers of the tooth become sensitive. When these nerve-filled tubes are stimulated by hot, cold, or even touch, they fire off and cause the sensitive tooth.
What do patients do that make it worse?
- Brush too hard – hard bristled toothbrushes or pressing too hard
- Gum infection – receding gums expose sensitive roots
- Cracks in the teeth – can fill with bacteria and get into the nerve of the tooth
- Clenching/grinding – wears down enamel on the biting surface of the teeth
- Whitening products – peroxide can irritate the nerve of the tooth
- Age – the older we get, sometimes gum recession increases, again exposing sensitive roots
- Plaque – soft food & bacteria accumulate at the gum line and irritate the gums
- Tartar control toothpaste – these abrasive toothpastes are irritating to sensitive teeth
- Cavities/Decay – infection can cause sensitivity and pain
What can patients do to stop their sensitive teeth?
- Brush & floss regularly – reduce gum recession, prevent plaque
- Use an electric toothbrush – to reduce wear on the teeth
- Use a desensitizing toothpaste – our favorite is our prescription strength fluoride toothpaste – put this on your finger and rub on the gumline of sensitive teeth – don’t rinse so it can soak in
- Change your diet – avoid sticky, sugary, acidic foods that dissolve away exposed dentin – especially soft drinks
- Avoid tartar control toothpaste
Here at HealthPark, we can help assess the reason why you have sensitive teeth. We can then select the best method to treat your symptoms or modify a method at home.
1. We can give you a free sample size of Sensodyne toothpaste and a coupon for a full size tube. This contains an ingredient that can help to temporarily “numb” the nerve. If that doesn’t work, then . . .
2. We can prescribe a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste that can help to block the sensitive sensation from getting to your nerve.
3. We can also apply a fluoride desensitizer to your tooth. We simply “paint” on a sticky varnish that helps block sensitivity better.
4. If none of these approaches calms your tooth’s sensitivity, used in localized areas. You may be a candidates for a tooth-colored filling on the side of your tooth or a clenching and grinding exam.
You do not need to suffer from sensitive teeth. Just let us know that you’re having a problem and we can help.
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