Treating Tooth SensitivityTooth sensitivity can make brushing, eating, and drinking uncomfortable and even painful. Sensitive teeth are usually a result of the thinning of the enamel of your teeth or exposure of the roots of your teeth. Sensitivity can also be caused by other factors, including cracked or chipped teeth, cavities, worn fillings, or gum disease.

The enamel of your teeth protects the underlying layer of dentin, and tooth roots are protected by your gums. When the enamel gets worn or your gum line recedes, dentin and tooth roots can be exposed. Dentin, which is softer than enamel, is connected to the nerves that trigger pain in sensitive teeth. When the dentin is exposed, hot, cold, acidic or even sticky substances can trigger the nerves inside the tooth, causing pain.

If your teeth are sensitive, tell your dentist. He or she can determine if there is an underlying cause that may be contributing to your tooth pain. After a comprehensive examination, your dentist may recommend:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpaste can minimize the pain associated with sensitive teeth. Talk with your dentist about what over the counter products might work for you.
  • Fluoride. Your dentist can apply fluoride directly to your teeth during your visit to strengthen tooth enamel. He or she might also prescribe a fluoride treatment that you can use at home.
  • Bonding. Exposed roots can be treated by applying bonding resin to sensitive root surfaces in some cases.
  • Surgical gum graft. In cases where gum tissue has been lost, tissue from elsewhere in your mouth can be grafted to the exposed root area to protect and reduce sensitivity.

You can help prevent the recurrence of sensitivity by brushing your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Don’t brush forcefully or scrub harshly, and don’t use abrasive toothpaste when you brush. Patients who grind or clench their teeth can experience tooth fractures and increased tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will check for signs that you are grinding and clenching and may suggest a mouth guard.

Your eating and drinking habits can also help reduce sensitivity. When you eat or drink acidic foods and drinks like soda, citrus fruits and wine, the enamel of your teeth erodes over time. Try drinking acidic liquids from a straw to limit contact with your teeth. Drink lots of water to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after eating to help remove acids and prevent acid erosion.

If you experience sensitivity or pain, contact us as soon as possible so that we can check for serious conditions like cavities, infection, or cracked teeth. We want you to have a comfortable, healthy, happy mouth!

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