You drink hot coffee, or you brush your teeth and feel a stabbing pain. Most of us experience dental sensitivity every now and then. Usually, it’s no big deal. Other times, it indicates an oral health problem. Mt. Holly dentists, Drs. Greenberg, Ko-Kim, Cygler and Govitrikar, tell patients about tooth sensitivity, how to avoid it and when it needs professional treatment.
Tooth Structure can Cause Sensitivity
Tooth structure is comprised of different layers. The hardest layer the outer enamel. This layer protects the tooth, giving it shape and color. Cavities begin in enamel, too, and it’s where we need to apply good oral hygiene habits.
Another layer located at the gum line is called cementum. Like enamel, cementum is very hard and protects the root.
Underneath these layers is the softer, yellowish dentin. Comprised of tiny hollow tubules, dentin contributes to tooth sensitivity, conveying hot and cold temperatures right to the nerves in the soft inner pulp. Also, when uncovered due to wear and tear or acid erosion of the enamel, dentin makes teeth very sensitive.
What we eat and drink triggers sensitivity. Sugary foods and drinks can cause a “sugar blast” of pain. Also, over the counter teeth whitening strips, gels, toothpastes and rinses create dental pain when used too frequently or incorrectly. Professional teeth whitening, supervised by your dentist at Mt. Holly Family Dentistry, produces little to no gum and tooth sensitivity. However, ordinary mouthwashes, while great for bad breath, irritate teeth because of the alcohol they contain. Finally, people who brush too aggressively may abrade enamel and soft tissues.
While dental patients can think about their product and food choices and eliminate ones that bother their teeth, other problems require attention from Mt. Holly Family Dentistry.
Oral health problems that make teeth sensitive are:
- Acid erosion from citrus fruits, tomato products and soda pop
- Failing restorations, such as fillings and dental crowns
- Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) which causes gum and bone recession and exposes roots
- Accumulated plaque and tartar
Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity
The team at Mt. Holly Family Dentistry begin treatment with an oral exam, checking for cavities and gum disease. A hygienic cleaning removes plaque and tartar.
Restorations, such as tooth-colored fillings and porcelain crowns where appropriate, reduce or eliminate sensitivity. The dentists treat gum disease with tooth scaling and root planing to reduce gum pocket size.
Services such as gum grafting or cosmetic bonding protect sensitive roots. For teeth with deep decay or several restorations, root canal therapy removes infected nerves and pulp. These teeth are no longer sensitive to temperature, foods or other irritants.
Do You Have a Sensitive Tooth?
If you are concerned that your tooth sensitivity comes from more than an occasional ice cream cone, contact Mt. Holly Family Dentistry for an appointment. Your dentist will locate the source of your tooth pain and get you feeling better.