Tooth sensitivity is due to the exposure of dentin, the part of the tooth which covers thenerve, either through loss of the enamel layer or recession of the gums. Temperature changes and certain foods (acidic or sweet) can cause the tooth or teeth to be painful. The pain usually subsides after a short period of time.

The best way to find out why a tooth is sensitive is to have dental professional examine you. They can look for the signs of dentin exposure, and run tests to determine what the true cause of the sensitivity is. Sometimes, the sensitivity is due to a cavity or gum disease – these can be treated to address the sensitivity. Other times, the cause of the sensitivity is because the enamel has been lost through abrasion or erosion, or the gums have receded, causing the roots to be exposed.

What are sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity results from irritation of nerves in the tooth, which leads to pain or discomfort when teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures or to acidic food and beverages. Sensitivity can also occur during flossing or brushing of the teeth and while eating or chewing.

How can I avoid sensitivity?

Some toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that may be too harsh for people who have sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpastes that lighten and/or remove certain stains from enamel and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpaste, may increase tooth sensitivity.

 What can I do about sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity can be reduced by using a desensitizing toothpaste; having your dentist apply sealants and other desensitizing and filling materials, including fluoride; and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods. Using tartar-control toothpaste will sometimes cause teeth to be sensitive as well as drinking soft drinks throughout the day, so these habits should be avoided.

What Can Be Done?

If the sensitivity is due to a cavity, a restoration can be placed. If gum disease is the cause, the dental professional can perform a thorough cleaning of the area.

However, if the cause is from dentin being exposed, then there are a number of professional and at home treatments that can be used to reduce the sensitivity.

  • In Office Procedures:
    • Fluoride varnish can be applied to exposed areas, strengthening the enamel and dentin
    • Fluoride foam or gel can be placed into a mouth tray; you then sit with this in your mouth for 3-5 minutes, providing the teeth with a high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas
    • Bonding agent, the material used to stick tooth colored restorations to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity
  • At Home:
    • Use a very soft bristle tooth brush, with low abrasive tooth paste
    • Brush correctly and do not over brush
    • Use a tooth paste specially formulated to soothe the nerve endings in the tooth
    • Use a high concentration fluoride toothpaste (given to you by the dental professional) to strengthen the tooth surface

There are a number of treatments available, and your dental professional can help you find those that will work best, depending on your situation. Always seek a dental professional’s help – do not try to diagnose this problem yourself. It may be the sign of something more serious, and only a dental professional can tell you what it really is.

If you still have discomfort, talk to your dentist. There may be some dental procedures that may help reduce sensitivity, including the use of.

  • Whitefillings (bonding) to cover exposed root surfaces
  • Fluoride varnishes applied to the exposed root surface
  • Dentin sealers applied to the exposed root surface

Request an Appointment:

Arlington Family Dentistry

Tel: (817) 259-1385
3100 Matlock Rd Suite #103
Arlington, TX 76015