Have you ever wondered why a sip of hot coffee or a bite of ice cream may make you wince in pain? Do you experience occasional pain while brushing or flossing? If you said, “yes” you wouldn’t be alone. Many people describe the same experience and often report it as having “sensitive teeth”.
A patient who has healthy teeth has a layer of enamel which protects the crowns of their teeth, the part above the gum line. A layer called cementum, which lies under the gum line protects the tooth root. Underneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin.
While dentin is much less dense than enamel and cementum, it contains small hollow tubes or canals (Microscopic tubules). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum the tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. When gums recede, dentin may also be exposed which results in hypersensitivity.
By performing an initial exam, we can typically determine the cause of sensitivity. And, depending on the cause there are a variety of treatments.
Fluoride Gel: This is an in-office technique which strengthens your tooth enamel and reduces the sensitivity.
Desensitizing Toothpaste: This method contains the compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It usually requires several applications before you’ll notice a reduction in tooth sensitivity.
A Crown, Inlay or Bonding: Oftentimes there are flaws or decay which results in sensitivity. A crown, inlay or bonding may assist in correcting the sensitivity problem.
Surgical Gum Graft: When gum tissue has been lost from the root, a surgical gum graft will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
Root Canal: Patients who experience severe, persistent sensitivity which cannot be treated by other means often opt for a root canal to eliminate the problem.
Maintaining proper and consistent oral hygiene is the real key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain.
For more information or questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity you can contact our office at (651) 393-9739 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Cheryl Lindgren or Dr. Erik Johnson.
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6936 Pine Arbor Drive, Suite #210, Cottage Grove, MN 55016