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Tooth sensitivity

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Is the taste of ice cream or a sip of hot coffee sometimes a painful experience for you? Does brushing or flossing your teeth make you wince from time to time? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.

Possible causes include:

- Tooth decay (caries)

- Fractured teeth

- Worn fillers

- Gum disease

- Worn tooth enamel

- Exposed tooth root

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of the teeth, the part that sits above the gum line. Below the gum line, a layer called cementum protects the root of the tooth. Beneath both the enamel and the cementum is the dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow ducts or channels). When the dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, these tubules allow cold, acidic, or sticky food to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin can also be exposed when the gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on the cause of the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:

- Desensitizing toothpaste. It contains compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve and usually requires several applications before sensitivity is reduced.

- Fluoride gel. Ambulatory technique that strengthens dental enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.

- A crown, inlay or union. These can be used to correct a defect or deterioration resulting in sensitivity.

- Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.

- Nerve treatment. If the sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing pain from sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.

As soon as you start to experience any of the warning signs described above, make an appointment at CASADENS.

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