Do your teeth hurt when you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee, or when consuming other extremely cold or hot foods? Are your teeth sensitive when you eat sweets? Tooth sensitivity can be triggered by several different factors, but one thing is for certain: no matter what the cause, tooth sensitivity can be painful. At Silverwood Dental Clinic in Saskatoon, SK, we offer a variety of treatments that may help alleviate your discomfort. Today, we will explore tooth sensitivity causes and remedies, so you can identify the root of the problem (no pun intended!) and pursue the appropriate treatment.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity can be caused by many factors including:
- Tooth erosion: When the protective layer of enamel wears off your teeth, the dentin (the part of the tooth which covers the nerve) and cementum (the tissue that forms the outer surface of the root of a tooth) become exposed. Tooth erosion can be caused by brushing too aggressively or consuming high amounts of acidic beverages and foods.
- Dental decay: When cavities reach deep into the tooth structure, the dentin becomes exposed, causing sensitivity.
- Damaged restorations: Leaky dental fillings and broken dental crowns can also expose the sensitive layers of the teeth.
- Gum recession: The roots of teeth are not covered by enamel; therefore, these surfaces are much more vulnerable to sensitivity and decay. When gums recede, tooth sensitivity is worsened.
- Bruxism: Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can lead to an array of dental problems, including sensitivity.
- Dental work: If you have ever received a new crown or filling, or undergone professional teeth whitening, you probably experienced slight tooth sensitivity. This is a common byproduct of dental work but is temporary and typically diminishes within a day or two.
Diagnosing the problem
To determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity, your dentist will perform a complete dental examination. During this visit, you will be asked to describe your symptoms in detail. Once the underlying cause is identified, we can begin designing a personalized treatment plan for you.
In-office treatments for tooth sensitivity
Treatments for tooth sensitivity at our Saskatoon dental office range from simple to complex, depending on the root cause. Some of the most common procedures include:
- Fluoride treatment: In order to strengthen the enamel and decrease sensitivity, fluoride can be applied to the surfaces of your teeth. The fluoride we use in our office has a high concentration and can be applied in the form of a foam, gel, or varnish.
- Dental sealants: Hard-to-reach areas that are vulnerable to food, debris, and bacteria can be shielded with dental sealants. Dental sealants are applied to back teeth to seal out plaque and acid from forming on teeth, preventing decay in those areas and cavities from forming.
- Dental bonding: If you have areas of exposed dentin, a composite resin material can be placed on these areas to decrease sensitivity. Composite resin is the same material used for tooth-coloured fillings.
- Root canal treatment: Sensitivity that is caused by deep dental damage may require root canal therapy to alleviate it.
- Gum grafting: If your tooth sensitivity is due to advanced gum recession, a gum grafting procedure may be recommended. In these cases, we often refer out to a trusted periodontist who specializes in gum treatments.
How can I prevent tooth sensitivity at home?
If you are prone to tooth sensitivity, it is a good idea to use a fluoride toothpaste daily. Be sure to look for the CDA Seal, so you know the product is safe and effective. Your dentist may also prescribe a prescription fluoride gel to keep your enamel strong and healthy. You should also be using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging the gum tissue and your enamel.
Learn more about treatment for tooth sensitivity
If you would like to learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity and reliable treatments, schedule a visit at our Saskatoon dental practice. You can contact us online, or call our office at (306) 242-5233.