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Treating and Preventing Sensitive Teeth

Posted on 7/25/2015 by Anthony M. DiCesare
A woman suffering from sensitive teeth.Does biting into an ice cream cone or taking a drink of hot coffee cause shooting pain in your teeth? Does flossing or brushing your teeth sometimes result in a painful experience? If so, you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity.

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental patient complaints, and it is thought that in the U.S. alone, more than 40 million adults sometimes experience pain from sensitive teeth. By better understanding the causes of sensitive teeth, you can take steps to treat and prevent this condition.

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth result when the gums pull back to expose the surface beneath, known as the dentin. This soft layer will make up the roots and inner portion of the teeth, including thousands of tiny tubules that lead to the pulp, which serves as the nerve center of the tooth. These tubes allow the hot or the cold trigger to reach the nerve, which can be painful. There are several things that may cause sensitive teeth:

•  Tooth decay that results near the gum line
•  Normal wear and tear that results from brushing too hard or grinding the teeth
•  Gum disease in which sore and inflamed gums pull back to expose the tooth roots
•  Grinding or clenching of the teeth that can wear down the enamel to expose the dentin
•  Damage, chipped, or broken teeth, as they may fill with bacteria to cause inflammation
•  Tooth whitening products
•  Plaque buildup on the root surfaces
•  Long-term use of mouthwash

Treating Your Sensitive Teeth

If you are concerned about tooth sensitivity, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she will be able to rule out or identify underlying causes of your tooth pain, and one of several treatment methods can be recommended:

•  Sensitivity toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpastes contain certain compounds that help to block sensations that travel from the tooth surface up to the nerve. These pastes will generally require several applications before you notice a reduction in your sensitivity.
•  Fluoride. Your dentist may apply fluoride to your sensitive teeth in order to strengthen enamel and reduce your sensitivity to pain. He might also recommend a prescription fluoride solution for you to use at home.
•  Bonding or desensitizing. In some cases, an exposed root surface could be treated by applying a bonding resin to the root surfaces that are experiencing sensitivity. You may need local anesthetic in order to complete this process.
•  Root canal. If tooth sensitivity is causing severe pain and other treatment methods are not effective, a root canal may be recommended. This procedure treats problems within the dental pulp. While it is a significant treatment option, it is considered to be the most successful manner for correcting tooth sensitivity.
•  Surgical gum graft. If the tooth root has lost gum tissue, a small amount of the tissue can be taken from another spot in your mouth and attached to the affected area. This can reduce sensitivity by protecting the exposed roots.

Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent and control tooth sensitivity.

Use the following steps to control your tooth pain:

•  Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and brush carefully and gently around the gum line.
•  Brush and floss your teeth regularly by using proper techniques to keep your mouth clean.
•  Use toothpaste intended for sensitive teeth, as regular use can make your teeth less sensitive.
•  Avoid foods and beverages that are highly acidic.
•  Avoid grinding your teeth by using a mouth guard while you sleep.
•  Continue to visit your dentist every six months.
•  Use fluoridated mouth rinses and other products to keep your teeth clean.

If you have additional questions about how to control your tooth sensitivity, please contact us to set up an appointment.

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