Tooth Sensitivity

Dec 1 • 1 minute read

Tooth sensitivity is typically noticed when eating hot or cold liquids and foods.  In healthy teeth there is an outer layer called enamel that helps protect tooth structure above the gums.  Below the gums, an outer layer called cementum protects the tooth structure. Under both enamel and cementum lies a layer called dentin.  Dentin is less dense than the outer layers and contains hollow tubules. When the outer layers are compromised these tubules in dentin allow hot and cold signals to transmit to the nerve and inner cells of the tooth. 

The most common causes for tooth sensitivity are: 

  • Tooth decay (cavities)

  • Fractured teeth

  • Exposed tooth roots (recession)

  • Gum disease

  • Worn tooth structure

  • Worn fillings

Possible treatments for tooth sensitivity are:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste: can help block transmission of hot and cold signals along the dentin tubules.  Usually requires several applications.

  • Root canal: may be needed with severe, persistent sensitivity

  • Surgical gum graft: can help cover exposed tooth structure

  • Fillings or crowns: can be used to correct certain defects or worn tooth structure that may be causing sensitivity

  • Fluoride mouthrinses: can be used to help block transmission of signals in exposed dentin tubules. Usually requires frequent use.

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