If you experience pain or sensitivity from hot or cold foods and drinks, you’re not alone. Sensitive teeth are one of the most common complaints we hear from our patients. Sensitive teeth may be caused by many things; medication, a fractured tooth, worn fillings, or an exposed root can all be the cause. You don’t have to suffer, there are easy and painless ways to help your teeth be less sensitive so that you can enjoy your favorite hot or cold foods and drink.
Understanding Tooth Composition
To understand why your teeth are sensitive, it helps to understand their composition. Your teeth have a hard outer layer known as enamel. The enamel protects the crowns or our teeth above the gum line. The hard outer layer underneath the gum line is known as cementum. Both enamel and cementum protect the inner layers and root.
The layer under the enamel and cementum is dentin. Dentin is less dense than the outer layer and contains what are called tubules. Tubules are microscopic tubes or canals in your teeth. When the enamel or cementum wears down the tubules allow hot, cold, stick, or acidic foods to reach the nerves inside of your tooth. Receding gums may also expose the dentin.
The root of your tooth is located under the dentin. The root is where the blood vessels and nerves are located and if hot or cold sensations reach the root, you may experience sensitivity or pain.
Treatment Options for Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth are usually not a serious health issue, but they can limit the foods and drinks you enjoy. A toothpaste for sensitive teeth, an application of a sealant and fluoride gel, a placement of an inlay, crown, bonding, root canal, or a surgical gum graft are used to treat this condition. Which option your doctor will recommend will be based on the severity of your sensitivity.
Desensitizing toothpaste uses potassium which helps block the transmission of sensations from the surface to the root of your teeth. This is a very easy treatment, but may take several applications before you notice improvement.
A fluoride gel applied in office strengthens the enamel of your teeth by helping to remineralize them. This also helps to reduce the transmission of sensations to the root.
Dental sealants seal the enamel and protects the dentin and root. Sealants are a very thin coating applied to the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
Bonding, an inlay, or a crown treats a flaw or decay which may be causing sensitivity.
A surgical gum lift may have to be performed if your gum tissue has been lost or receded to protect the root of your tooth and reduce sensitivity.
A root canal is a last option if no other treatment is successful. The root and nerves of the tooth are removed. This relieves pain and sensitivity.
Don’t suffer with sensitive teeth. If your favorite foods and beverages are causing you pain, contact us today and ask about treatments for sensitive teeth.