Have you ever taken a bite of something very cold or a sip of something very hot and recoiled in pain? Do you ever wince with discomfort when brushing or flossing? If you answered yes to any of those questions you may have what’s commonly known as “sensitive teeth”. Around 40 million adults in the United States experience tooth sensitivity, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
Why do my teeth feel sensitive?
The inside of your tooth is made up of a material called dentin. This dentin contains microscopic tubules filed with nerve endings. A hard outer layer of enamel protects the crown portion of the tooth, while a layer of cementum protects the root. When this dentin becomes hypersensitive it usually means that it’s lost its protective covering of enamel or cementum, and the nerve endings are left exposed to hot, cold, and acidic foods.
What dental issues cause this?
A bevy of things can cause the enamel and cementum to be worn down, including:
- Brushing too hard or aggressively, or using a hard bristle toothbrush.
- Tooth erosion from acidic foods or beverages.
- Gum Recession
- And Grinding your teeth
Periodontal disease- an infection of the gums and bones supporting the teeth-may also be to blame. If left untreated, gum tissues can separate from the teeth and form pockets that can house a plethora of bacteria. This can continue until the bone and other supporting structures are destroyed, exposing the root surfaces of the teeth.
How do I treat my sensitive teeth?
Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman of Periodontal Associates in the Denver and Aurora, CO area recommend that at the point of Periodontal Disease, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your periodontist to take measures to combat it. If not, you could suffer from many other complications that could arise. However, if your teeth are just experiencing sensitivity, other measures may be:
- Desensitizing toothpaste
- A fluoride gel or special desensitizing agents
- A filling, crown, inlay, or bonding, depending on the cause of sensitivity.
If gum tissue has been lost, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman say they might recommend a surgical gum graft to cover the root and reduce sensitivity. In severe cases of sensitivity that can’t be treated by other means, your periodontist might recommend a root canal to eliminate the issue.