Sensitive Teeth

by Dr. James Springer 6. April 2013 16:32

If your teeth become sensitive to brushing, flossing, cold, heat or certain foods, the discomfort can interfere with your enjoyment of daily activities.  You may have common problem called dentin hypersensitivity.

First it is important for your dentist to make sure there are no underlying dental problems causing the discomfort, such as a cavity, tooth grinding, or a dying or fractured tooth.  Teeth become sensitive when the microscopic tubules found in dentin are then exposed, allowing sensations of heat and cold or acidic foods to stimulate the nerves and cells within the tooth.  Cementum may become exposed when gums recede due to age, gum disease or abrasion from vigorous brushing of teeth.

Hypersensitivity can be treated.  Your dentist may recommend an approach that can be tried at home, such as desensitizing toothpastes.  They contain compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.  These products will either seal the exposed tubule openings or reduce the ability of the nerve to transmit pain.

Another option is for your dentist to seal the sensitive areas with one of a number of dental materials.  A sealant or resin or your dentist may use materials (called dentin bonding agents) which are made to bond directly to the tooth root.

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Taking Care of Your Teeth

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