Does the idea of eating ice cream or having a cold drink make you wince? If so, you may be dealing with a common dental issue — sensitive teeth.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, roughly 40 million people in the United States face tooth sensitivity daily. This painful zinging is hard to ignore, especially when it happens continually.
Fortunately, you can address sensitive teeth with multiple strategies, without needing to avoid cold and hot foods for the rest of your life.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
A critical substance called enamel protects your teeth. Sensitive teeth develop when that enamel erodes, revealing its underlying layers: cementum and dentin.
The dentin layer contains microscopic canals and tubes loaded with nerve endings. Healthy teeth have enough enamel to shield the dentin layer and protect tooth sensitivity.
When enamel wears down or our gums recede, it exposes the cementum and dentin layers. This problem makes cold and hot foods and drinks aggravate cells and nerves to cause painful sensations and sensitivity.
Sensitive teeth develop from these factors:
- Cracked teeth
- Gum disease
- Tooth grinding (bruxism)
- Tooth decay
- Enamel erosion from sugary and acidic foods
- Harsh or forceful brushing
Regular dental visits and oral hygiene are essential to keep teeth from becoming sensitive. If you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, here are some additional things you can do to help resolve the issue.
For minor tooth sensitivity, desensitizing toothpaste is a practical solution. These kinds of toothpaste contain active agents like strontium salts, fluoride, and potassium.
Potassium decreases fluid flow through tubules in the dentin. Clogging the tubules decreases dental nerve activity. When used twice daily for consecutive months, desensitizing toothpaste will reduce the number of sensory signals reaching the brain.
When shopping for desensitizing toothpaste, choose one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which ensures the product meets its criteria for safety and effectiveness.
If desensitizing toothpaste does not address your sensitive teeth, you may require professional fluoride treatments. This procedure involves applying a potent fluoride gel to your teeth to restore damaged enamel and protect against future decay.
In-office treatments supplement the fluoride already in your toothpaste. You also may need custom trays and prescription fluoride for home treatment.
White Fillings or Crowns
If tooth sensitivity results from a decaying or cracked tooth, a crown or filling may be the best solution. Tooth damage exposes a nerve. A crown or white filling can recover the roots and restore your damaged tooth back to health quickly.
When the root canal experiences decay or injury, the nerves may cause pain or sensitivity. Root canal therapy removes the infected pulp. The process is typically painless thanks to anesthesia. It resolves exposed nerves in the root canal, eliminates sensitivity, and saves the tooth.
Get Help With Your Sensitive Teeth
Don’t suffer the discomfort or pain of sensitive teeth. The team at Hill Country Oral Surgery in Austin is here to provide exceptional dental care for your comfort and appearance.