Tooth sensitivity is a generally harmless condition, but it can be seriously uncomfortable when painful. The good news is that tooth sensitivity is treatable. Here, we’ll discuss some of the important things to know about tooth sensitivity.
The Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity, also called dentin hypersensitivity, describes the feeling of pain when dentin is exposed, which is the tissue that makes up the bulk of the tooth, coming in direct contact with hot or cold liquids, foods, or air. It can also occur when the tooth is lightly touched by an object, such as a toothbrush.
Some people experience sensitivity only in certain areas of the mouth or only at certain times of the day or year. Tooth sensitivity is often compared to light, mild pain that can be further described as an “itchy” feeling or a “needle-like” pain.
The Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
A number of factors can lead to tooth sensitivity, including:
- High Consumption of Acidic Foods or Drinks
When people consume acidic foods and drinks (including red wine, coffee, fruit juices, and soft drinks), the enamel of the teeth gets dissolved and therefore becomes softer. Under this condition, teeth get more sensitive as a result of acid exposure.
- Forceful Tooth Brushing
Continuous aggressive tooth brushing can also cause tooth sensitivity. The dentin can be worn away by the brush and become exposed, leading to a sensitivity reaction.
- Bruxism & Sleep Bruxism
Bruxism is the action of grinding or clenching the teeth while asleep or awake, and it can contribute to tooth sensitivity. During this condition the enamel wears away, exposing the dentin and causing tooth sensitivity.
- Gum Disease
Gum disease can cause the gums to recede and expose the roots of the teeth. When the roots come into contact with the oral cavity, tooth sensitivity can occur.
- Tooth Decay
Tooth decay weakens the tooth and makes it more vulnerable to external stimuli. This type of tooth decay can often result in tartar buildup on the teeth, which can cause tooth sensitivity.
Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity
The good news is that numerous treatment options are available for people who suffer from tooth sensitivity.
- Over-the-counter Toothpaste
Toothpaste that is specially formulated for sensitive teeth can be helpful. These kinds of toothpaste use mild, soothing ingredients to create a barrier against hot and cold. Some toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and remineralizes tooth enamel.
Some people, however, find that even these toothpastes can still be irritating to the teeth. In that case, low-fluoride toothpaste is available.
- Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatment is another common prescription for tooth sensitivity. It’s often given in the form of a gel, foams, or mouthwash that contains fluoride. The fluoride works to harden the enamel and strengthen the teeth, making them less sensitive.
If excessive tooth decay is the cause of tooth sensitivity, it can be fixed via a filling. Fillings can be made of various materials, including gold or porcelain.
- Dental Bonding
It might be necessary to cover the dentin with a cosmetic layer of enamel in some cases. Some people prefer to use dental bonding to cover sensitive areas of the tooth because it’s not as invasive as other treatments.
- Inlays and Onlays
If the tooth has been worn down too much, it might be possible to fix it with a filling made of porcelain or metal.
- Root Canal
In some cases, tooth sensitivity can be caused by an infection in the tooth’s nerve. In these cases, the root canal is necessary to remove the bacteria and allow the nerve to heal.
The Bottom Line
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that’s usually not a cause for panic. It can be treated with various approaches, including toothpaste and fluoride treatments. You can also visit your dentist so they can recommend the right treatment for you.
Chelmsford Dental Specialists Group is a trusted family dentist in Central Massachusetts. We are committed to helping patients improve and maintain their oral health. Set an appointment with us today!