Have you ever been into a cold apple only to be greeted by the bitter taste of pain? Did it feel like your tooth was suddenly throbbing and all you could focus on was how much it hurts? Then, suddenly in the time it takes you to decide whether you should call your dentist, the pain is just gone. If this sounds familiar, then you may have had your first experience with tooth sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity in a temporary toothache that occurs when your teeth are exposed to hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods and beverages. The pain comes on suddenly, as soon as your tooth has been exposed, then fades once the source has been removed. This sensation occurs when stimuli are able to go past the enamel, into the dentin layer. Since the dentin layer is porous, the stimuli will ultimately go into the center of the tooth where the nerve resides.
Normally, tooth enamel is hard enough to act as the protective layer around the teeth. However, when tooth enamel is weakened by damage, decay, or excessive wear, it cannot protect the tooth as well. As a result, cavities, tooth fractures, and thinning enamel are all potential causes of tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can also occur when an old filling is no longer properly sealed and allows stimuli to enter the tooth. In these cases, the best way to alleviate tooth sensitivity is to have the underlying cause treated by your dentist.
Another potential cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession that exposes the tooth roots. Because tooth roots are normally protected by the gums, they do not have as much enamel as the rest of the tooth. This ultimately means that what little enamel they do have wears down quickly when exposed to the acids found in food and produced by bacteria. When exposed tooth roots are the cause of tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a specialized cleaning known as periodontal scaling and root planing. In severe cases, they may also suggest a gum graft to grow new gum tissue over the exposed roots.
Whether you are awaiting treatment or simply have sensitive teeth with no apparent cause, there are some ways to find relief. Here are the top tooth sensitivity solutions:
There are numerous different types of toothpaste out there, but if you have sensitive teeth you will want to try desensitizing toothpastes. This particular toothpaste contains specific ingredients that have been proven to reduce sensitivity and is also free of ingredients that can irritate sensitive teeth. Desensitizing toothpastes use stannous fluoride to strengthen the enamel, as well as potassium nitrate to reduce pain by clogging the porous dentin. As an additional note, people with sensitive teeth should also avoid whitening toothpaste since this can further irritate your teeth.
In addition to the stannous fluoride found in desensitizing toothpastes, it is also beneficial to get regular fluoride treatments. Even though fluoride cannot regrow lost or damaged enamel, it does work well to preserve the existing enamel to prevent your sensitivity from becoming worse. Fluoride treatments are usually offered after your semi-annual teeth cleanings, however your dentist may recommend additional treatments.
Cosmetic Dental Treatments
Most people think that cosmetic dentistry is only for improving the look of their smile. While this is certainly a main goal of cosmetic dentistry, it is not the only thing cosmetic dental treatments accomplish. In fact, many treatments such as dental bonding, inlays, onlays, crowns, and veneers have been used to alleviate tooth sensitivity. This is because these restorations ultimately act as a barrier between the enamel and external stimuli.
Dr. Admar holds dual certificates — a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2010 from India and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 2014 from Canada. He is now a full time practicing dentist in Kamloops where he provides a variety of services, including emergency dentistry. Dr. Admar spends hundreds of hours in continued dental education to stay up to date in cosmetic and implant dentistry and he has achieved several advanced qualifications.