Is there anything you can do about sensitive teeth?

Sensitive teeth can be painful. What happens when you take a sip of hot coffee or bite into an ice cream cone? Do you feel a sharp pain around one or more of your teeth? If you do, dentists call this “sensitive teeth.” Patients experience discomfort when eating hot or cold foods or beverages. Sometimes even when breathing through your mouth, heightened sensitivity occurs.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Your tooth consists of different layers. The top, outermost layer, called enamel is the hardest. Beneath your gums, the outermost layer is cementum. It protects the root of your tooth. The next layer lies underneath the enamel and cementum. It is called dentin. This layer is not as dense as the other two. In addition, it contains microscopic tubes or canals that allow heat or cold to stimulate nerves and tooth cells. When enamel or cementum wears away, it exposes the dentin to heat and cold. This results in tooth hypersensitivity.

What can cause enamel and cementum to erode, exposing dentin?

A number of factors can lead to tooth hypersensitivity. The American Dental Association (ADA) explains how the following can cause this condition:

  • Brushing. If you brush too hard or brush incorrectly, you can hurt your gums. Doing so can expose the roots of your teeth.
  • Periodontal disease. Infected gums and bones can result in pockets around the teeth. In effect, pockets expose dentin and tooth roots.
  • Tooth decay. Another major cause of tooth hypersensitivity is tooth decay. Decay erodes enamel, which had been protecting the tooth.

How can your dentist help?

One of the first things most dentists suggest is using desensitizing toothpaste. Compounds in the toothpaste can block sensation from traveling to the nerves.

Another early treatment option is fluoride gel. It helps strengthen tooth enamel.

If you still have a problem with sensitivity, your dentist may suggest a filling, a crown, an inlay or bonding to correct a flaw or decay. When gum tissue has worn away from the root, then gum graft surgery may be a workable solution. As a last resort, a dentist can perform a root canal to remove the nerve. Removing the nerve also removes the source of pain.

Would you like to treat your tooth sensitivity?

If you have concerns, give us a call. Our number is (512) 806-7740. At Hutto Hippo Family Dental we’re glad to answer your questions and can schedule an appointment.