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Sensitive Teeth Causes & Treatment

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

By Donna Pleis via

Original page source and article here.

If you avoid eating cold foods or drinking hot beverages because your teeth are sensitive, it may be time to get to the bottom of this painful condition. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience tooth sensitivity, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). So what causes sensitive teeth? Any number of underlying dental problems, and a diagnosis starts with your dentist.

Origin of Dentin Hypersensitivity

The inside of your tooth is primarily made up of a material called dentin, which contains microscopic tubules filled with tiny nerve endings. A hard outer layer of enamel protects the dentin within the crown portion of your tooth, and the dentin extending down to the root of your tooth is protected by a layer of cementum. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, dentin hypersensitivity or nerve irritation occurs whenever dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, exposing the nerve endings to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods. Ouch!

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can be caused by the following dental issues:

Worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively.Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages.Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth.Gum recession that leaves your root surface exposed.Grinding your teeth at night.Post dental treatment sensitivity – common, but temporary, especially with procedures such as crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching.

Preliminary Dental Treatment

Having a conversation with your dentist is the first step in finding relief from your discomfort. Describe your symptoms, tell your dentist when the pain started and let him or her know if there's anything that normally makes it feel better, such as warm compresses.

After your dentist determines the reason for your sensitivity, he or she will treat the underlying cause. Treatment may be as simple as fixing a cavity or replacing a worn filling. However, if your discomfort comes from gum loss exposing root surfaces, your dentist may suggest a gum graft that a periodontist would conduct to protect the root surface and support of the tooth.

Desensitizing Products

Even in situations where there is no obvious cause for your pain, there are numerous treatments to help you manage the sensitivity. Your dentist can apply an in-office fluoride gel to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce painful sensations, while over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes can block off the nerve endings in the exposed dentin. Toothpastes such as Colgate® Sensitive should be used on a regular basis, for best results that you can notice in as little as two weeks. Your dentist may also suggest that you rub some of the toothpaste directly on the affected areas after toothbrushing.

What causes sensitive teeth is a mystery you can solve with some input from your dentist. So if you've been suffering with painful sensitivity that keeps you from eating the foods you love, make an appointment with your dentist today – and you may be eating ice cream tomorrow.

Treating Extreme Tooth Sensitivity

By Tricia Mool via

Original page source and article here.

Tooth sensitivity can occur from drinking a cold beverage or when biting into a hot food. But how do you know when it's normal and when it should concern you? For starters, some people do just have sensitive teeth, but extreme tooth sensitivity is usually a sign of a problem deeper within your gumline.

What Causes Extreme Sensitivity?

You may have experienced an occasional twinge of pain from eating ice cream or breathing in cold air, but it can intensify if it turns chronic or sensitive to a wider range of sensations. Similarly, if one area of your mouth is more sensitive than others – throbbing after each sip of hot tea or bite of food – it's time to see your dentist.

When enamel wears down, according to Mayo Clinic, your tooth's more sensitive dentin becomes exposed. And numerous activities, from brushing too hard, to eating acidic foods to excessive whitening, can erode this enamel and eventually expose the pulp underneath. This leads more severe pain if left untreated.

How to Tell If Your Sensitivity Is Normal

Some people are genetically predisposed to thinner enamel. Two conditions, known as "amelogenesis imperfecta" and "dentinogensis imperfecta," can cause tooth enamel or dentin to grow in this way, resulting in higher tooth sensitivity as explained by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Other conditions, such as poorly treated diabetes, can increase the likelihood of gum infection as well – leading to extreme sensitivity. Pregnancy is also a time when the chances of gum disease rise, resulting in poorly protected roots.

But although these predispositions can result in oral irritation, tooth sensitivity of any kind should not be ignored or chalked up as simply normal.

Treating Sensitivity

Whether your teeth are somewhat sensitive or "10" on a clinical pain scale, there are ways to treat the problem so that it may decrease in intensity and likelihood. First, make an appointment with your dentist if you notice ongoing sensitivity, and stay committed to regular cleanings and checkups; these are important preventative steps to take toward keeping your teeth and mouth healthy. Along the way, these steps can bring relief, too:

Mineralizing toothpastes are a good way to curb sensitivity by taking a protective approach to your discomfort. Mineralization refers to the state of your enamel, and strengthening it lowers the chance of tooth sensitivity. Colgate® Sensitive Prevent & Repair, for instance, is a gentle, effective toothpaste that can significantly remineralize root caries and clean plaque at the same time.A visit to the dentist doesn't just include fluoride gel; it can also necessitate a basic procedure like a filling or crown, which can ease your discomfort by protecting weak spots in your teeth you didn't realize were there.Depending on the nature of your sensitivity, the dentist may recommend a more intensive procedure, such as a root canal or surgical gum graft to cover the root more permanently.

Extreme tooth sensitivity is no doubt painful, but even though it can hamper your quality of life, it's best to catch the problem before it grows beyond your control. Making certain lifestyle changes, like cutting back on sugary food (which can eat away at your enamel over time), is something you can start right now. Of course, drinking water throughout the day cleanses your mouth of bacteria that can cause plaque buildup if left to thrive. So, instead of waiting for that first twinge of tooth sensitivity to subside, take it as a reason to be proactive, and follows these steps to a more resilient mouth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.



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