Tooth Sensitivity: Causes and Treatment
Did you know that 40 million adult Americans experience tooth sensitivity? While many are clueless about its causes, some know about the underlying problem. In any case, your dentist can render the proper diagnosis and treatment.
First let us look at the tooth anatomy to understand the origin of sensitivity. While hard enamel is the first protective layer of teeth, the next layer is the yellowish dentin, softer and containing many microscopic tubules filled with tiny nerve endings.The dentin extends down to the root of your tooth that is protected by a layer of cementum. Dentin hypersensitivity or nerve irritation occurs whenever dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, exposing the nerve endings to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods.
Dental issues that cause sensitive teeth are many. Hard or aggressive tooth brushing can wear down the enamel. Highly acidic foods and beverages can also cause enamel erosion. Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and chapped or cracked teeth can expose the dentin. Gum recession, a symptom of periodontitis, can also expose root surface. Teeth grinding is another culprit. Another cause of sensitivity is dental treatment, however, it is temporary and mostly associated with crown procedures, fillings and tooth bleaching.
How do you find relief for your pain and discomfort? Seeing your dentist is the first step. Discuss your symptoms, when they started and how tolerable is your discomfort. Be truthful when your dentist inquires about your oral hygiene practises, the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, other eating habits. Oral examination can reveal if you grind your teeth, and if wearing dentures make you uncomfortable. Your dentist can also confirm the presence of cavities or tooth decay.
Your dentist can treat the underlying cause of your sensitivity. Treatment may be as simple as fixing a cavity or replacing a worn filling. An in-office fluoride gel to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce painful sensations can be applied. Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes can be prescribed to block off the nerve sensation. In cases of gum loss exposing the root, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist for a gum graft.
Taking Care of Tooth Sensitivity in Bellingham
If you’ve been suffering from painful or disturbing sensitivity that keeps you from eating the foods you like, then see your Bellingham dentist as soon as you can.