Does it hurt whenever you bite into something cold, like ice cream, or drink something hot, like coffee? Or maybe they hurt when eating sweets or acidic foods? These are all signs associated with Sensitive Teeth, or Dentin Hypersensitivity. This is one of the most common complaints among dental patients, affecting 40 million adults a least once in their life.
Why Does it Hurt?
Your teeth are made up multiple layers, as shown in the image above. They become “sensitive” once the protective layer of enamel, or cementum, is stripped away, exposing the layer of Dentin. Dentin is a calcified layer that surrounds the root of the tooth and is made up of small individual tubes. These tubes lead straight to the root. This is where ice cream, coffee, and air pass through and reach the root, causing that sharp pain that you don’t like so much.
What Causes It?
Sensitive teeth can be brought on by many factors, such as:
- Worn tooth enamel from brushing too aggressively, or using a hard toothbrush
- Tooth erosion from highly acidic foods and beverages
- Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings, and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth
- Gum recession that leaves the surface of your root exposed
- Grinding your teeth at night
How is it Treated?
Depending on the cause of the sensitivity, there are a variety of treatments that your dentist may suggest:
- Desensitizing Toothpaste can be used to alleviate the symptoms but is not a cure. The toothpaste fills in the tubes of air in the dentin to stop anything from reaching the roots. Effectiveness takes place after about a month of consistent application.
- Fluoride Gel is applied in the office and is used to repair the tooth enamel, and thus, reduce the transmission of sensations.
- A Crown, Inlay, or Bonding can be used to repair a flaw or decay that may be causing the sensitivity.
- Surgical Gum Graft is the process of taking healthy gum tissue from some other part and placing it over the exposed root.
- Root Canal may be suggested if the sensations persist and other means seem to be ineffective.
However, sensitive teeth can be avoided through proper at-home oral hygiene and regular visits to Greenspoint Dental for teeth cleanings and checkups!