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Learn All About Tooth Sensitivity

We’ve all experienced it at some point. That jolt or ache feeling through a tooth or several teeth, typically when consuming something cold or sweet. It can also commonly occur when biting and chewing. The pain is usually sharp and sudden and doesn’t linger. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, you are not alone. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints patients experience regarding their teeth. 

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity can occur for anyone, and can be brought on by consumption of foods and drinks that are cold, hot, sweet or acidic. It can even be caused by cold air exposure to the teeth, as well as brushing or flossing. Sensitivity generally occurs when there is a wearing away of the protective coverings of the tooth structure, such as the enamel that protects the inside layer of the tooth, or the gum which protects the root of the tooth. 

Contributing Factors to Tooth Sensitivity 

  • Gum recession, which is caused by brushing too aggressively on the gum line, using a medium or hard bristled toothbrush or trauma to the gum line 
  • Clenching or grinding that cause the enamel to wear down on the biting surfaces
  • Chipped, fractured or cracked teeth 
  • Long time consumption of acidic foods which can lead to enamel erosion 
  • Gingivitis or periodontitis, which can cause the gums to recede away 
  • Dental procedures such as whitening, teeth cleaning and dental fillings can all lead to temporary sensitivity after the procedure, but will subside naturally

Treatment Options for Sensitive Teeth 

There are several treatment options to alleviate and prevent tooth sensitivity. The treatment options depend on the severity of the sensitivity, as well as the cause. For example, if the sensitivity is related to wear from clenching or grinding, the best treatment would be to use a night guard to prevent further wear. Listed below are several main treatment options for tooth sensitivity. 

  • Use of sensitivity toothpaste. This type of toothpaste lays down a protective barrier to prevent any external stimuli from entering the tubules of the enamel that travel to the underlying nerve. Sensitivity toothpaste offers short term and long lasting prevention from sensitivity if used consistently. 
  • Use of protective fillings overtop of exposed root surfaces. Protective fillings act as coverings for the exposed root when there is recession, preventing wear of the root surface and sensitivity. 
  • Gum grafting to patch up areas with exposed root surfaces. If recession is moderate to severe, gum grafting can be used to cover the exposed root, extending the life of the teeth and preventing sensitivity.
  • Fluoride varnish applied by a dental professional. Fluoride in a higher percentage can be applied directly to the sensitive areas. Fluoride acts as a barrier for external stimuli such as cold and sweets. Fluoride varnish can help prevent sensitivity for up to 6 months.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity and would like to discuss treatment options, we encourage you to contact our office today to book an appointment.

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