Fix Tooth Sensitivity
For patients with sensitive teeth, activities like eating, drinking, and brushing can cause sharp pain in their teeth. Sweets, sour foods, and cold air can also aggravate the sensitivity. Patients experiencing sensitivity should consult a dentist to determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
One possible cause of tooth sensitivity is when the tooth’s hard, outer layer (enamel) wears away. Should the protective enamel break down, pain causing nerve endings are exposed.
To prevent or halt any enamel damage, patients should take the following precautions:
- Don’t Brush Too Aggressively: Using excessive force when brushing can remove more than just plaque. Aggressive side-to-side brushing at the gumline can cause enamel to wear away faster while simultaneously damaging the gums. A soft-bristled brush should be used at a 45-degree angle to the gums to keep enamel healthy and strong.
- Avoid Acidic Drinks and Foods: Because acid can erode the tooth enamel, avoiding candy, sodas, and sugary snacks can help protect enamel health. Opting for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products will provide nutrients needed to keep enamel strong.
- Avoid Clenching or Grinding the Teeth: Clenching or grinding the teeth can wear away tooth enamel over time. In some cases, stress management techniques can stop the problem but if that fails, wearing a mouth guard may be recommended. In severe cases, dental work may be needed to change the position of the teeth.
- Abstain from Bleaching: While having a bright white smile is preferable, the bleaching agents in most whitening products can lead to sensitivity issues. Abstaining from whitening treatments could help ease any related sensitivity.
How Can Tooth Sensitivity be Treated?
Depending on the underlying cause of tooth sensitivity, the following treatment options may be available:
- Desensitizing Toothpaste: While several applications are needed, desensitizing toothpastes may be able to block the discomfort from sensitive teeth. A variety of products are available over the counter so patients should discuss with their dentist which is most beneficial for their condition.
- Fluoride Treatments: If sensitivity is related to enamel damage, fluoride treatments could be used to restore the minerals, strengthen the enamel, and reduce pain. The dentist may apply fluoride topically to the surface of the teeth or may prescribe it to be applied at home with a custom tray.
- Desensitizing or Bonding: In some cases, exposed tooth roots can be treated by applying bonding resin to the surfaces. Local anesthesia may be used while applying the bonding to the sensitive roots.
- Surgical Gum Graft: Tooth roots may be exposed due to receding gums in which case, a small piece of gum tissue can be harvested from elsewhere in the mouth and attached to the exposed roots. A grafting procedure of this type will protect the roots and reduce associated sensitivity.
- Root Canal: If sensitivity is severely painful and doesn’t respond to other treatments, it is possible the inner layer of the tooth (dental pulp) is infected. Should this be the case, a root canal procedure will be performed to remove the infected tissue, place antibiotics to kill the infection, and covered via a dental crown.