Many people are surprised at just how sensitive teeth can be. Whether it’s a bite of your favorite ice cream flavor or a sip of that deliciously hot morning coffee, some folks can’t enjoy life’s culinary pleasures without wincing in pain. The primary culprit of tooth sensitivity is a little villain called dentin, which may be exposed through the surface of worn enamel or cementum. Enamel and cementum are the hard outer coverings that normally protect the tooth and its root. If this cover is eroded or worn away, dentin is exposed and acts as a direct nerve conduit to the tooth nerve. When this occurs, certain foods that are hot or cold or sweet or acidic may cause searing and unbearable pain.
So what can we do to desensitize sensitive teeth? Avoiding erosion of the enamel or cementum is obviously the first step to preventing tooth and gum pain. However, there are a number of things you can do to help your teeth if the dentin is already exposed.
Use toothpastes made specifically for teeth that are sensitive. They contain ingredients that block the small pores in dentin that lead to nerve pain. Results when using this sort of special toothpaste are not immediate and will accumulate over time. It is important to start a toothpaste regimen and stick with it to see results.
Occasionally, the cause of sensitive teeth may be an old silver filling. Check with your dentist to see if you can have it replaced with a different type of material.
Lastly, ask Dr. Grabiak about options he has available for treating exposed dentin. He may be able to coat your teeth with a shield made of fluoride that helps reduce sensitivity.