Sensitive Teeth

What causes sensitivity?

Dental Sensitivity occurs when the inside layer of a tooth becomes exposed.  This layer (the dentin) is full of tiny tubes that carry sensations to nerve endings in the pulp (the nerve center of the tooth).  This exposed dentin allows hot, cold, sweet and other stimuli to stimulate the nerve and cause pain.

How does this happen?

§  Dentin can become exposed from abrasion from a hard bristled tooth brush or overly abrasive toothpastes.

§  Gum Recession – roots don’t have enamel.

§  Tooth Grinding (this is called bruxism) wears enamel away and  exposes dentin.

§  Cracked teeth – chips and cracks in the enamel can allow dentin to become exposed.

§  Gum  disease that causes recession often exposes root surface dentin.

§  Dental decay when areas of enamel and layers of dentin have decayed away dentin is exposed.

§  Acidic foods, soda and certain mouthwashes can weaken enamel and cause areas of dentin exposure

§  Some sensitivity is related to recent dental procedures.  Inflammation in the nerve after some dental procedures can also cause sensitivity. This sensitivity is not usually related to exposed dentin.

What can I do?

If your sensitivity is related to exposed dentin –

1.      Use a toothpaste formulated to reduce sensitivity. We always recommend the use of a toothpaste specifically designed to combat sensitivity such as Pronamel, Sensodyne or Crest Complete. These products may lessen some sensitivity and can be used in conjunction with other therapies.

2.      Wear an appliance if you think you might be grinding your teeth.

3.      Professional desensitizer therapy often reduces or eliminates sensitivity. It is effective for otherwise healthy teeth that have areas of exposed dentin.  A desensitizing treatment is applied at a regular hygiene visit or by itself. The teeth are gently dried and material is applied to the areas of open tubules. This material flows into the tubules to create a barrier between the nerve and fluids of the mouth.  This is a non invasive option and is usually repeated every 3-6 months. It is relatively inexpensive and can be applied by your dental hygienist following a cleaning and fluoride treatment. The treatment becomes more effective with each application. ($35.00)

If your sensitivity is related to recent dentistry –

Please let us know. In many cases some minor adjustments to crowns, bridges, fillings or appliances may eliminate the sensitivity in just a few days.

Rarely teeth do not respond to the above options. If this applies to your sensitivity then we may recommend some bonded restorations or other dental options to cover and protect the teeth