Sensitive teeth are uncomfortable and painful, and sometimes they’re caused by serious dental issues. If you’re bothered by one or more sensitive teeth, see a dentist who can identify the root cause and recommend the most appropriate remedy.
Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth
Many people experience sensitive teeth at times, and there are lots of different potential issues that can lead to varying degrees of sensitivity. The following are some of the most common ones.
Cavities that develop as a tooth rots will eventually cause tooth sensitivity. Once the deterioration reaches the tooth’s nerve, it can become sensitive to both temperature and pressure. The sensitivity is more noticeable, and can be painful, when biting down with the decayed tooth.
Worn fillings leave teeth that were previously repaired once again exposed to pressure and temperature sensitivity. Fillings are used to address issues like cavities, but they only last for so long. Once a filling gives way, the protection is gone and a new filling needs to be put in.
Gum disease can leave the exterior base of a tooth exposed. This can lead to temperature sensitivity, as the tooth is thinner in this area so the nerve has less insulation against hot and cold.
Worn tooth enamel can also minimize the insulation a tooth’s nerve has and lead to temperature sensitivity. This may happen where gum disease has exposed a part of the tooth that’s normally protected, or it can happen further up the tooth.
Exposed roots can become extremely sensitive if they don’t have any protection. Whether caused by injury or disease, there’s very little protecting a nerve ending once the root is completely exposed.
Injuries sometimes leave a tooth root exposed and can be very painful. A chipped tooth, for example, can make the smallest temperature change or pressure unbearable.
Treatments for Sensitive Teeth
When patients suffer from sensitive teeth, dentists have many treatment options available to them. Depending on your exact symptoms and diagnosed issues, a dentist might recommend any of the following.
Fluoride creates a protective coating that covers the tooth. The treatment is widely used to prevent cavities, but it also is effective at treating certain types of sensitivity. The protective layer can add some insulation where eroded tooth enamel or gum disease has left a root more sensitive to temperature changes. Fluoride may be applied at home or in a dentist’s office.
Desensitizing toothpaste can be used at home on a regular basis to treat ongoing sensitivities that don’t require a more advanced procedure. Toothpaste may be used to address a single area or multiple spots.
Bonding is a coating that’s applied by a dentist. The coating is used in cosmetic dentistry, but it also creates a barrier that provides insulation against sensitivity. This may be needed if fluoride and desensitizing toothpaste aren’t sufficient.
A root canal is a procedure that removes decay which is deep in the tooth. This may be necessary when there’s serious pain caused by temperature or pressure.
A surgical gum graft replaces lost gums so that the teeth under them are more protected. A graft can help with sensitivities that occur on the side of one or more teeth.
Prevent Sensitive Teeth
While there are many ways to treat tooth sensitivities, the best treatment is proactive prevention.
If you’re able to stop your teeth from becoming sensitive in the first place, you won’t need any of the aforementioned treatments.
There are several things you can do to help prevent tooth sensitivities from developing:
- Brush twice daily with a soft-bristled brush
- Floss daily
- Avoid grinding your teeth
- Avoid acidic drinks and foods
With good habits, you should be able to prevent a lot of potential sensitivity. If your teeth do ever become sensitive, however, your dentist will know how to treat the issue.
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.