As the crisp fall air begins to offset the humid Florida summer, we find ourselves reaching for those delicious fall-flavored coffees. However, for some patients with sensitive teeth, taking a sip of piping hot coffee can be painful. On the other hand, icy beverages or foods like ice cream can be unpleasant to eat.
Patients with sensitive teeth can not only experience pain with hot or cold but simply brushing or flossing can be uncomfortable. According to the American Dental Association, this sensitivity can result from various underlying causes such as cavities, worn fillings or enamel, gum disease, a fractured tooth or an exposed tooth root.
Understanding the structure of your teeth is critical in understanding how and why they can be extremely sensitive. In healthy teeth, you have a layer of enamel that protects the part above the gum line, also known as the crowns of your teeth. Below the gum line, a layer called cementum covers the tooth root. Underneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin, which is less dense than the layers above and contains microscopic hollow tubes or canals called tubules.
When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, the tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede, resulting in hypersensitivity.
The good news is that if you are experiencing sensitive teeth, we have a variety of ways to provide treatment. However, the type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. One of the most common at-home remedies is a desensitizing toothpaste that contains compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. However, it usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
Depending on your symptoms and after a comprehensive exam, we may also suggest one of the following courses of action:
- Fluoride gel. An in-office technique that strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations, fluoride is the most effective agent available to prevent tooth decay.
- Crown (or Cap): A covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.
- Bonding. This procedure allows us to reshape or repair your teeth using composite resin and is more affordable and less invasive than orthodontics or veneers. Bonding is often completed in a single visit and doesn’t require any anesthetic.
- Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, we may recommend a root canal to eliminate the problem.
Ultimately, proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive teeth. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner. We also recommend that patients replace their toothbrushes every three or four months and eat a balanced diet with limited between-meal snacks. Of course, scheduling your routine cleaning and exam with our dentists at Beulah Family Dentistry is also critical!
If you have questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity, call us today at 850.706.5688 or complete our online appointment request form to schedule a visit. We look forward to assisting you with overcoming or preventing tooth sensitivity.