Do you ever watch in envy as somebody effortlessly eats an icecream cone or bites into a hot sandwich? Do you wonder why you can’t do the same thing without excruciating pain radiating through your mouth? If so, you’re suffering from a condition known as sensitive teeth.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, about 40 million people in the U.S experience tooth sensitivity on a daily basis. That painful “zinging” sensation is hard to ignore, especially when it happens so frequently.
Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated a few different ways. You don’t need to live the rest of your life avoiding all hot and cold foods!
Why Do You Have Sensitive Teeth?
The teeth in your mouth are protected by a strong white substance called enamel. In a healthy mouth, enamel fully coats the teeth and keeps the nerves entirely covered.
Sensitive teeth develop when enamel suffers damage and erosion. Without enamel, the inner layers of your teeth like dentist and cementum become exposed to the elements.
Exposed nerves respond to “invaders” such as hot and cold foods with sharp, painful sensations known as sensitivity. This is why it’s more painful to eat ice cream or hot soup than crackers.
Sensitive teeth most commonly develop as the result of these factors:
- Harsh or forceful brushing
- Tooth grinding (bruxism)
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Enamel erosion from sugary and acidic foods
- Cracked teeth
Proper oral hygiene and regular dental appointments are both essential to preventing sensitive teeth. But if you are already suffering from tooth sensitivity, it’s important to understand which treatment options are available to restore your comfort and oral health.
If you ignore your sensitive teeth now, the problem will only get worse as time passes.
Sensitive Teeth Treatment #1: Desensitizing Toothpaste
Desensitizing toothpaste is an easy solution for minor tooth sensitivity issues. This type of toothpaste contains active agents like potassium, fluoride, and strontium salts.
Potassium is used to decrease the flow of fluid through tubules in the dentin. It clogs the tubules to decrease the activity of dental sensory nerves. When used twice a day for consecutive months, desensitizing toothpaste can effectively reduce the number of sensitivity signals that reach the brain.
Fluoride, meanwhile, is added to desensitizing toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel with vital minerals. Enamel losses minerals like calcium and phosphate during the process of decay. With the help of these minerals, enamel becomes stronger and protects the dentin more effectively.
Be sure to select a desensitizing toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That seal is proof that the toothpaste meets ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.
Sensitive Teeth Treatment #2: Professional Fluoride
If desensitizing toothpaste isn’t strong enough to address your sensitive teeth, your dentist may recommend professional fluoride treatments. This involves applying a potent fluoride gel to your teeth. The gel protects against future decay and restores damaged enamel with essential minerals.
In-office fluoride treatment supplements the fluoride that’s already in your toothpaste. Your dentist may also provide prescription fluoride and custom trays for home treatment.
Sensitive Teeth Treatment #3: Restorative Fillings or Crowns
If your tooth sensitivity is caused by a cracked or decaying tooth, a filling or crown may be the best treatment. Overall, sensitivity often occurs when damage to a tooth causes the nerves to become exposed. A white filling or crown can easily recover the roots and restore your damaged tooth back to health.
A dental crown is a specially designed “cap” that mimics the exact size and structure of your tooth. It covers a damaged tooth and restores the tooth’s shape, size, strength, and appearance.
A filling achieves the same goal on teeth with minor damage or decay.
After the portion of your tooth affected by the cavity is cleaned and removed, your dentist applies a filling to “fill” the resulting empty space or hole. This adds protection around the tooth roots and nerves to stop sensations of pain.
Sensitive Teeth Treatment #4: Root Canal Therapy
If desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatments, and restorative procedures don’t adequately resolve your tooth sensitivity, your dentist may recommend a root canal.
The root canal is a hollow section of the tooth that holds blood vessels, nerves, and pulp cells. Root canal therapy addresses injury or decay of the root canal. It’s the only way to prevent extraction and protect the natural structure of a damaged tooth.
The symptoms of a damaged root canal are easy to identify. The nerves held in the root canal area are responsible for creating hot and cold sensations. This means your sensitivity to hot and cold worsen if nerves in the root canal become exposed. A root canal procedure is the best and most efficient way to eliminate painful sensitivity and save the tooth.
Root canal therapy involves the removal of the infected pulp. Thanks to anesthesia, it doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, a root canal helps you feel better almost immediately because it eliminates the source of your tooth pain, discomfort, and sensitivity.
How to Get Help with Your Sensitive Teeth
Don’t suffer the pain and discomfort of sensitive teeth alone. The team at Cassell Dentistry in San Diego, California offers the sensitive teeth treatments you need to improve your smile.
Dr. Cassell understands that dental issues create negative impacts on your quality of life, confidence, and general wellbeing. When you visit Cassell Dentistry, you experience customized, compassionate care. The Cassell Dentistry team designs every treatment to help you embrace a beautiful smile.
Call (619) 940-1498 today to schedule an appointment and learn more about your sensitive teeth.