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Tooth Sensitivity: Overview, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Written by Danica Lacson on September 28, 2018

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

Dentin hyper sensitivity or tooth sensitivity causes pain due to the exposure of the inner tooth layer or dentin. Dentin contains microscopic tubules. When the protective layer called enamel wears out and exposes the dentin, cold and heat reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth.

How common is Tooth Sensitivity?

Dentin hyper sensitivity records over 3 million cases in the US per year.

According to the National Health Institute, the condition has a prevalence of 12.3 percent among patients. An average of 3.5 teeth is hypersensitive.

Tooth sensitivity is also higher among 18 to 44-year-olds than those over 65 years old. It also has more recorded cases in women than men.

What causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Gum recession can cause the exposure of dentin, resulting in hypersensitivity. Brushing too hard may also lead to teeth sensitivity because it can wear the enamel. A recent dental procedure like dental filling or teeth whitening can temporarily cause mild tooth sensitivity, as well.

Consumption of sugary and acidic foods causes oral bacteria’s rapid growth. Over time, if not given attention, it will lead to the deterioration of the enamel and tooth decay. A cavity can also cause teeth sensitivity because it can result in the exposure of the dentin. Other causes of teeth sensitivity are teeth grinding and fractured teeth.

How is Tooth Sensitivity diagnosed?

Dentin hyper sensitivity is usually self-diagnosable. It is typically triggered by eating cold or hot food and drinks, eating sugary and sour foods, breathing in cold air, and brushing. When these activities cause sharp pain that worsens with pressure, there is a tendency that your teeth are sensitive.

How is Tooth Sensitivity treated?

Fortunately, teeth sensitivity is treatable and usually resolved within months. A variety of treatments is also available upon the recommendation of the dentist. Usual treatments include desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride gel, crown, inlay or bonding, surgical gum graft, or root canal.

  • Desensitizing toothpaste contains compounds helpful in blocking transmission of sensation from the surface to the nerve.
  • Fluoride gel helps in strengthening the enamel, preventing it from wearing away and expose the dentin. Aside from this, a fluoride gel reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding is recommended to correct the decayed tooth.
  • Surgical gum graft will defend the root and reduce sensitivity if gum tissue has been lost from the root.
  • A root canal may be advised by your dentist if sensitivity has become severe and persistent.

Also, to prevent the worsening of teeth sensitivity, it is better to take precautions.

How can I prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

Keeping right oral hygiene routines help a lot in fighting off sensitivity. Brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash are vital to oral health.

If you are suffering from teeth grinding, you can opt for a mouth protector. Watch your diet by including teeth-healthy foods like celery, carrots, apple, and cheese, and by avoiding sugary and acidic foods.

For right diagnosis and the proper treatments to undergo, a consultation with your dentist must be scheduled.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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