Best Treatments For Teeth Sensitivity
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For people with tooth sensitivity, eating or drinking certain substances or those at certain temperatures causes discomfort or pain in their teeth. At least 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth in the United States, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
The pain is often sharp and sudden, but it is temporary. Tooth pain occurs when stimuli, such as hot and cold, reach a tooth’s exposed nerve endings, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated, and the condition can improve.
Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity.
There are no at-risk groups for tooth sensitivity, It can happen to anyone. “The most common symptom … is a sudden, sharp flash of pain when teeth are exposed to air, cold, sweet, acidic or hot foods”. Some people may also experience tooth sensitivity from brushing or flossing their teeth.
Tooth sensitivity generally results from a layer of the tooth called dentin being exposed. The outside of each tooth is normally covered by a hard outer layer, called enamel or cementum, which protects that dentin — the softer, inner layer of the tooth. Enamel protects the crown, the part of the tooth that’s visible above the gum. Cementum covers the dentin surrounding the root, the pointy part of the tooth that extends into the jaw bone, according to the American Dental Association. The gum also protects the root. If the enamel or cementum gets worn down or if the gum line has receded, then the dentin becomes exposed. “Cavities, cracked teeth, gum recession, enamel and root erosion all cause dentin to be exposed,” Culotta-Norton said. “Dentin is connected to the nerve that triggers pain in sensitive teeth.”
Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules, or channels, leading to the tooth’s pulp, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. When exposed, these dentinal tubules allow heat, cold or acidic substances to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Pain is the only type of response that the nerves inside teeth have, Live Science previously reported.
Take Care of Your Tooth Enamel
That’s a hard, protective layer that helps your teeth deal with everything you put them through. When it’s gone, nerve endings that cause pain are exposed.
If you have sensitive teeth, it’s possible some of your enamel has worn away.
To prevent or put the brakes on that damage:
- Don’t brush too hard. Do you clean your teeth with a heavy hand? You might be taking off more than just plaque. Side-to-side brushing right at the gum line can make your enamel go away faster. You should use a soft-bristled brush and work at a 45-degree angle to your gum to keep enamel clean and strong.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks. Soda, sticky candy, high-sugar carbs — all of these treats attack enamel
- Unclench your teeth. Over time, teeth grinding wears away your enamel. Sometimes, addressing your stress can stop the problem. If that doesn’t work, your dentist can fit you for a splint or a mouth guard. If the problem is severe, you may need dental work to change your teeth’s position, or a muscle relaxant.
- Take a break from bleaching. The quest for pearly whites may cause your pain. Thankfully, sensitivity from bleaching is usually temporary. Talk to your dentist about how the treatment might be affecting you, and whether you should continue it.
Sometimes, tooth sensitivity can be a sign of other issues, like:
- Naturally shrinking gums. If you’re over 40, it could be that your gums are showing signs of wear and tear by pulling away from your teeth and uncovering your tooth roots. Those roots don’t have enamel to protect them, so they’re much more sensitive than the rest of your tooth. Tell your dentist if your gums look like they’re receding. It can be a sign of other problems, like gum disease. Serious cases may need a gum graft. That moves tissue from somewhere else to cover the bare area.
- Gum disease. Plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth can make your gums pull back. Sometimes, disease can set in. It can destroy the bony support of your tooth. Don’t smoke. It can lead to gum disease. To treat it, your dentist may do a deep clean of your teeth, called planing or scaling, that scrapes tartar and plaque below the gum line. You could also need medication or surgery to fix the problem.
- A cracked tooth or filling: When you break a tooth, the crack can go all the way down to your root. You’ll notice pain when your tooth is cold. How your dentist fixes the crack depends on how deep it goes. If it’s a small crack that ends before your gums start, your dentist can fill it. If it’s below your gum line, your tooth will have to be pulled.
Once you’ve found the problem, there are things your dentist can use to help ease your pain, including:
- Toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Fluoride gel
- Fillings that cover exposed roots
- Desensitizing pastes (not used with a toothbrush) you can get from your dentist
- Mouthguard to protect teeth if you grind
If your case is serious, your dentist might suggest a root canal.
It’s also important not to shy away from dental care because of tooth pain. Ignoring your teeth can make things worse. Brush and floss twice a day to help keep your smile bright and pain-free. And see your dentist for a checkup twice a year.
Thank you for reading this article, and check back frequently for other dental health articles. Should you have any questions, please contact Apple Tree Dental today!
Article compiled by Apple Tree Dental
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