Sensitive tooth is a problem faced by a lot of people, especially as they progress from youth to maturity and beyond. This sensitivity is most keenly felt when:
- Having hot drinks or food
- Having anything very cold
- Having sweets
- When a tooth comes into contact with other teeth or tongue
Tooth sensitivity can be either dentinal sensitivity or pulpal sensitivity. Dentinal sensitivity is the result of the exposure of the middle layer of teeth. This layer, known as dentin, is normally covered by enamel on top and by cementum underneath. The dentin layer is rich in nerves that nestle in the center of the several minute tubules in the dentin. These nerves extend from the pulp of the tooth and when the layer is exposed, nerve endings come into contact directly with whatever we put in the mouth. What we call sensitivity is the reaction of these open nerves to too much heat or too much cold.
Dentinal sensitivity could affect one or more tooth at a time. It can be caused by any of the following:
- Forceful brushing of teeth
- Lack of dental hygiene
- Wear and tear of teeth
- Leaking filling
- Hard brushing or other diseases that causes gums to recede
- Gum surgery
- Too much emphasis on tooth whitening
- Too much acid in food
Pulpal sensitivity is generally restricted to a single tooth. It indicates damage to the pulp area of the tooth, which is rich in blood vessels and nerve endings.
Pulpal sensitivity may be the result of:
- Dental decay
- Broken tooth
- A bad filling
- Pressure on tooth
A broken tooth or damaged filling can also cause pain.
Both types of sensitivities manifest as strong reaction to too much warmth or too much cold. When a tooth’s hot and cold sensitivities fluctuate, the tooth may require root canal treatment.
A dentist generally uses a metal explorer to look inside the mouth to check for probable infection, fillings and exposed dental roots. Oral hygiene practices are also probed. When a filling has been done, that filled tooth could experience extra sensitivity because of the metal in the filling. Sometimes tooth etching is necessary for bonded filling and this etching may remove some of the enamel and make a tooth extra sensitive.
The decision whether a root canal treatment is required or not will have to be made by your Daytona dentist.
Dentinal sensitivity can be reduced by:
- Proper brushing and flossing
- Use of ultra-soft or at least soft toothbrush
- Brushing up and down and not sideways
- Use of any fluoride toothpaste
- Regular mouth rinse
- Use of ADA approved toothpaste
- Treating the problem of teeth clenching
Pulpal sensitivity can be controlled only by root canal treatment in most cases.
Treatment for dentinal sensitivity
Use of fluoride mouth rinse and fluoride toothpaste can lessen dentinal sensitivity to a certain extent. If you are getting the problem treated at a dental clinic, teeth will first be thoroughly cleaned and a fluoride varnish will be applied there. Fluoride varnish will strengthen teeth and block the tubules in the dentin area. In cases where the sensitivity is very high, even for the first cleaning, the dental hygienist may use local anesthesia or nitrous oxide.
Fluoride mouth rinses are available over the counter. However, before buying one, a dentist should ideally be consulted as it is not safe to use acidic mouth rinses. A doctor will be able to prescribe the right neutral sodium fluoride mouth rinse.
Treatment for pulpal sensitivity
Where pulpal sensitivity is due to a silver filling, the problem may get resolved on its own after a time, or can be remedied by polishing the filling. Even the sensitivity resulting from clenching or grinding is amenable to different types of clinical treatment. But where a tooth’s nerve edges are damaged, root canal treatment might be the only solution.