Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

The second you see that ice cream cone, it’s as if you can already feel it hurting your teeth. That sudden, sharp pain that you feel when you something cold or hot touches your teeth is a certain indicator of tooth sensitivity. You might feel like this is perfectly normal and you simply have to deal with it. The truth is that it can only get worse without treatment.

There are a few ways to alleviate the pain and prevent further damage to your teeth, and it’s best to take care of it as soon as possible.

Understanding the Root Cause of Your Sensitivity

When the enamel on your teeth is damaged, a layer of protective covering called cementum can be exposed under the gum line. Underneath the cementum are dentin or dense, bony tissue with tubules that send hot or cold feelings to the nerves in the tooth. If the enamel and cementum are damaged, the dentin gets more exposure to extreme temperatures and your nerves send off intense signals to your brain!  In short, sensitivity is the result of damage to the tooth enamel and cementum, which are the protective outer layers of your tooth.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Now that you know how tooth sensitivity works, the first step to treating your sensitive teeth is by determining what could be wearing your enamel down. This could be the result of:

Brushing too hard
If you brush your teeth with excessive pressure, you could be removing more than just plaque and cavity-causing bacteria. While being thorough in your brushing is important, you should also make sure that you are not applying too much pressure.

Gum recession
As you grow older, your gums may start to pull away from your teeth. Receding gums start to uncover portions of teeth that are not protected by enamel, which is why they may be much more sensitive than other parts of your teeth.

Gum disease
Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar buildup setting in. This can damage the bones of your teeth, and result in painful tooth sensitivity.

Decay, Worn Out Fillings, or Broken Teeth
Whether your teeth were damaged overtime or happened suddenly, any of these issues can affect the root of your tooth. Tooth decay, damaged fillings, or a cracked tooth can lead to sensitivity pain.

Consuming Highly Acidic Food & Drinks
Between sugary beverages, sticky snacks, and carbonated sodas, what you indulge in today can damage your teeth in the long run.

Treatment Options for Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the severity of your sensitivity, you could treat the pain with:

Sensitivity toothpaste that you can apply at home and use regularly as you brush your teeth. This toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These are compounds that block the dentin tubules, keeping any extreme temperatures from reaching the nerves and releasing pain signals.

Fluoride gel, which can be applied professionally during a dental visit. Flouride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay by making your teeth more resistant to plaque acid damage by strengthening them with remineralization.

Dental fillings, if there are exposed roots caused by decay. Dental fillings protect your pulp from being exposed to extreme temperatures that cause pain.

Sealants that can protect your teeth from further damage. Dental sealants are a thin, protective coat that cover and bond to your enamel, creating a shield against plaque.

What is an Endodontist?

If you are experiencing extreme tooth sensitivity or pain, your dentist might recommend you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in dental pulp and has at least two years experience doing root canals and treating gum problems. If the reason for your sensitivity is a cracked or rotting tooth, ask your dentist about getting a referral to a trustworthy endodontist.

While the pain caused by tooth sensitivity can discourage you from visiting the dentist, the team at New Generation Dentistry does not want you to live in pain. It is important that you take care of the problem as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Your dentists in Mission Viejo are available for appointments to discuss options for treating sensitive teeth.