Are you afraid of enjoying ice cream or drinking hot tea because of your sensitive teeth? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Over 40% of the global adult population suffers from this problem. The good news is that tooth sensitivity is treatable.
But before we learn how sensitive teeth are treated, let us understand what makes teeth sensitive.
What Makes Teeth Sensitive?
Your teeth consist of three layers: the outer enamel, dentine, and the inner-most, soft dental pulp. The enamel is a hard and mineralized tissue that protects the inner layers containing nerves and blood vessels. So, the enamel not only makes the teeth strong but also protects them from sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
The problem starts when a tooth develops a cavity and the enamel layer is destroyed. This results in the exposure of the underlying sensitive layers. This is when you start feeling pain whenever you enjoy a cup of coffee or a bowl of a la mode.
Besides tooth decay, other factors causing tooth sensitivity include:
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Worn fillings
- Exposed tooth roots
- Gum disease
- Using excessive force while brushing
- Teeth grinding
- Gastric acid reflux causes chemical erosion of the teeth, leading to sensitivity.
What are the Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth?
The most common symptom of tooth sensitivity is stinging pain in the affected teeth when taking hot or cold drinks and foods. Other symptoms of dental hypersensitivity are:
- Tooth sensitive to touch with finger
- Pain in the affected teeth when exposed to cold air
- Sensitivity pain on eating acidic foods and beverages
- Pain on eating sweet food products
Why Are My Front Teeth Sensitive All of a Sudden?
Many dental patients complain that their teeth have suddenly become sensitive. One moment, their teeth were fine; the next, they became sensitive. This usually occurs when the outer enamel is gradually damaged due to tooth decay or abnormal dental habits such as using excessive force during brushing or teeth grinding.
What is the Treatment for Sensitive Teeth?
Tooth sensitivity develops over different stages:
- The Initial Stage – The sensitivity is short-lived, disappearing immediately after the drink or food is finished. This indicates that the nerves in the dental pulp are near exposure, and the pulp has not become infected yet. If one seeks treatment at this stage, the problem can be fully reversed with preventive treatment such as fluoride varnishes or anti-sensitivity toothpaste.
- Pulp Exposure Stage – The next is when the pulp tissue is exposed but is still not infected. At this stage, your dentist will treat the affected tooth by replacing the damaged enamel with a suitable filling material.
- Irreversible Infection – If sensitive teeth treatment is not sought timely, the dental pulp becomes irreversibly infected, resulting in severe, sharp pain that is not relieved with pain medication. This is when the only option to treat the sensitivity and save the tooth is to perform a root canal procedure.
An experienced root canal dentist performs the procedure by removing the infected pulp tissue and filling the tooth’s interior with an inert material.
What are Some Home Remedies for Treating Sensitive Teeth?
Various home remedies are effective in providing short-term relief from tooth sensitivity. These include:
1. Desensitizing Toothpastes
These toothpastes contain special ingredients such as fluoride, calcium, phosphate, and strontium that help remineralize the damaged enamel and reduce sensitivity. A recent clinical trial demonstrated that desensitizing toothpastes were effective in the management of tooth sensitivity.
Fluoride-containing mouthwashes help reduce tooth hypersensitivity. Besides, they also help neutralize harmful bacteria that cause gum disease, leading to inflamed gums and sensitive teeth.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective antibacterial agent for treating gum disease-induced tooth sensitivity. A hydrogen peroxide-based mouth rinse is prepared by adding two cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide in equal parts of water.
How to Prevent Teeth Sensitivity?
- Oral Hygiene Maintenance – The most effective way to prevent teeth sensitivity is to ensure optimal oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing. The Canadian Dental Association recommends brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing once daily.
- Tooth-friendly Diet – a diet rich in nutrients and minerals and low in acidic items helps prevent enamel damage and tooth sensitivity.
- Regular Dental Checkups – One should regularly undergo oral health checkups. This helps diagnose and treat any underlying issues – such as tooth decay or gum disease, which can cause tooth sensitivity. For example, if you have plaque and tartar deposits on your teeth, your dentist will remove them to prevent gum disease-induced dental hypersensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity is a serious dental issue that can significantly affect one’s quality of life. However, it can be easily prevented by maintaining good oral health and eating a healthy diet. Plus, regular dental checkups and teeth cleanings go a long way in preventing tooth sensitivity and other dental problems.