Is a sip of hot coffee or taste of ice cream causing you pain in your teeth? Do you wince occasionally when you brush or floss your teeth? These are signs that you have sensitive teeth. It is pretty obvious that having sensitive teeth prevents you from certain activities such as eating, drinking, brushing and flossing. Yet these are all part of life’s daily routine. Since sensitive teeth can be a great hassle to life, it is but proper to visit a dentist from the onset.
Why should you see a dentist?
Basically, dentists have gone through extensive education and years of experience concentrated on the anatomy and physiology of the oral cavity as well as the treatment needed for problems. Hence, they can identify or rule out the cause of the problem accurately. In the case of sensitive teeth, the dentist would recommend the exact solution depending on the circumstances seen.
What are the possible causes of sensitive teeth?
Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Tooth decay is a common problem which occurs to individuals who practice very poor oral hygiene. Acid coming from food products is the major cause of tooth decay. This chemical dissolves the outer layer of the teeth allowing it to wear and become thinner over time. Apart from this, the growth of bacteria inside the mouth also contributes to the existence of tooth decay. Technically, this is termed as dental caries or dental decay.
Fractured tooth is also known as chipped tooth, cracked tooth or broken tooth. This usually occurs when you have bitten on something hard such as candy or ice. Fractured teeth can also be caused by accidents like using the teeth as tool. For example, opening a bottle of soda or removing a staple wire. Fractured teeth hurt because when the white enamel and hard layers called dentin chip off, the nerves and blood vessels found inside the pulp easily respond to hot and cold temperatures. And this what causes pain.
Dental filling is done to address the issues of tooth decay and fractured tooth. When the filling gets worn out, bacteria enter the inner layer of the tooth allowing it to become more sensitive to different food products with varying temperatures.
Gum disease encompasses two gum problems: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is caused by bacteria buildup, causing the gums to bleed due to inflammation. When not treated at an early stage, it leads to periodontitis which is the infection of the gums. Periodontitis causes sensitive teeth because the formation of pockets between the tooth and the gums exposes the root which then results to sensitivity to hot and cold food or drinks.
What do dentists recommend?
Depending on the cause of sensitive teeth, dentists recommend the following procedures:
Use desensitising toothpaste instead of the usual kind of toothpaste. This helps block the occurrence of pain caused by sensitive teeth.
Fluoride is the main component of all toothpastes as this is the best element used to strengthen the tooth and gums. In the case of sensitive teeth, dentist might apply fluoride in the most sensitive areas of the teeth. This is to reinforce the tooth enamel and at the same time reduce pain.
Desensitising or Bonding
For tooth roots that are exposed, the dentist applies bonding resin particularly on the root surfaces. Such treatment can be painful hence local anaesthetic might be administered.
Surgical Gum Graft
Should the tooth lose its gum tissue, a small portion of gum tissue is taken from a part of the mouth and then grafted on the affected area. This protects exposed roots and reduces sensitivity. Gum graft is a surgical method which requires anaesthetic application.
Root canal is the considered most successful technique and most effective treatment for sensitive teeth; however it can only be done in severe cases. Dentist performs procedure inside the tooth’s soft core called dental pulp.
To prevent the recurrence of sensitive teeth, your dentist might offer some effective methods such as these: brush your teeth twice or thrice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, floss daily, avoid excessive brushing and flossing, avoid harsh or vigorous scrubbing, avoid highly abrasive toothpaste. When it comes to food and drinks, limit your intake of acidic products such as yogurt, wine, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks. Water or milk should be taken in order to balance the acid levels inside the mouth. Finally, practice regular visits to your dental clinic to ensure that excellent oral care is achieved.