Whenever your teeth are sensitive to sweets, acidic foods, biting or temperature changes you may have sensitive teeth. There are several factors that can lead to sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth occur when the underlying layer of your teeth, the dentin is exposed. Dentin is composed of thousands of microscopic fluid filled tubules that lead directly to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. Here are some of the reasons teeth can become sensitive:
1. Dental Decay: If you have cavities or dental decay, the tooth can become sensitive since there is a hole than communicates with the dentin from the outside. Even the smallest of cavities in a tooth can cause sensitivity.
2. Over brushing: Brushing too hard or using a hard or medium brush can actually remove enamel and gum tissue causing dentin to be exposed. Remember to not brush aggressively and use soft bristle toothbrush.
3. Gum Recession: Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that leads to bone loss around and between the teeth. Root surfaces become exposed and this leads to tooth discomfort.
4. Cracked Teeth or Broken Teeth: Fractured, cracked and broken teeth can be sensitive because there is a direct pathway of impulses to the pulp.
5. Tooth Grinding or Clenching: Grinding or clenching wears down the enamel and uncovers the dentin leading to sensitivity.
6. Acidy Foods/Drinks or Gastric Reflux: Acid is one of the major factors that causes tooth sensitivity because it literally destroys the enamel via a process called erosion. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits can damage the teeth if eaten frequently. Drinks such as soda or energy drinks are also highly acidic. Also, acid reflux (heartburn) can cause damage to the enamel. People with frequent heartburn, bulimia or anorexia usually have tooth damage due to erosion.
In a healthy tooth, a layer of enamel protects the crown — the part above the gum line. Under the gum, a layer called cementum protects the root and under both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. When dentin loses enamel or cementum, the tubules inside allow acidic or sticky foods and hot and cold items to reach the nerves inside the tooth, causing sensitivity and pain.
The good news is, there are treatments for sensitive teeth! However, the type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. At Atrium Dental, we will do a thorough examination to figure out what has lead to the sensitivity.
Desensitizing toothpaste. The simplest of treatments, this type of toothpaste contains compounds that help block painful sensations from the tooth surface to the nerve. Sometimes, these toothpastes can require several applications before the sensitivity is reduced. Be sure to look for toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association. Desensitizing toothpaste helps more with relieving the symptoms rather than fixing the underlining problem.
Fluoride gel. This is a gel that can be applied in-office and can help to strengthen a tooth’s enamel and reduce the painful sensations. Prescription Fl- usually has 5 times the amount of Fluoride than regular toothpaste; therefore, special instructions must be followed at home.
MiPaste. MI Paste and MI Paste Plus can help soothe sensitivity while providing nourishing minerals to tooth surfaces. MI Paste and MI Paste Plus are the only products for professional use containing RECALDENT™ (CPP-ACP), a special milk derived protein that releases vital minerals into your mouth (calcium and phosphate; also fluoride in MI Paste Plus). MI Paste and MI Paste Plus also can help re-deposit those lost minerals back into the oral environment. At Atrium Dental, we carry this product.
A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to remedy a flaw or decay that is resulting in sensitivity.
Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
Root canal. In extreme cases, a root canal may be needed to alleviate the issue completely.