Is discomfort keeping you from enjoying your favorite hot or cold foods? Is the delight of that long-awaited dessert constantly being interrupted by pain? If so, it sounds like you may have sensitive teeth.
More than being a sign of tooth decay, tooth sensitivity can also be a distressing problem that can worsen if not properly cared for. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what causes tooth sensitivity, what you can do to ease or prevent it, and how seeing the right Little Rock dentist can keep your teeth healthy for years to come.
Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity
If eating sticky, sugary, acidic, hot, or cold foods causes pain in your teeth, you could be experiencing tooth sensitivity. Pain associated with tooth sensitivity is usually quick and sharp and often accompanies activities such as eating the above types of foods, flossing, brushing (especially with hard-bristle toothbrushes), and sometimes even just breathing through your mouth.
While evaluating the severity of your tooth sensitivity, it’s important to take into account not only how strong the pain is, but how frequently it occurs. If you’re experiencing infrequent bouts of mild pain a couple of times a month—perhaps only while eating very cold foods, like ice cream—then your sensitivity is not as severe as someone who experiences significant pain every day while eating or drinking.
In either case, it’s important to take steps toward lessening sensitivity and practicing correct preventative dental care to keep it from getting worse or occurring in other teeth. In order to do this, it’s essential to understand what is causing your tooth sensitivity.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Plenty of things can cause tooth sensitivity. In many cases, cavities and other forms of tooth decay are the source; but fractured teeth, depleted tooth enamel, worn-down fillings, tooth roots exposed by receding gums, or regular consumption of sticky, sugary, acidic, and sweet foods or beverages can also play a role.
In healthy teeth, all of the important protective layers, such as enamel (which coats the outside of the teeth) and cementum (which protects the tooth roots underneath the gums), are present in healthy supply and not worn away. As a result, your teeth can fight off decay and guard the sensitive nerves against certain types of foods or temperatures. Enamel and cementum cover and protect dentin, which is a tubule-filled tooth layer that houses the nerves. Without these protective layers, shocking temperatures and sticky or sweet foods can easily penetrate the tubules and reach the nerves, causing the sharp pains associated with sensitive teeth. This is why we also refer to tooth sensitivity as “dentin hypersensitivity.”
This enduring experience of pain can become very distressing, and if you do not take proper preventative measures to restore the integrity of the sensitive teeth, the problem could get worse. In the next section, we’ll explore what options are available to get your teeth back in action, from taking advantage of self-care to visiting Little Rock dentists for professional help.
Easing and Preventing Tooth Sensitivity
If you have sensitive teeth, there’s no need to worry. Treatments are available for any immediate pain that you may be feeling, and adopting a healthy oral care routine can help prevent further sensitivity from developing.
However, if you’ve been struggling with tooth sensitivity for over a week, or if the sensitivity is very painful, it is best to see a dentist as soon as possible to assess how severe the problem is. They can create a plan of action for you to not only ease the sensitivity and restore the health of your teeth, but to also prevent future sensitivity from occurring. Here are a few treatment options they may suggest:
- Specialized Toothpaste: You may have come across toothpaste for sensitive teeth in the grocery store. These desensitizing products include compounds that block the transmission of sensations from the tooth surface to the nerve. They may take a few applications to become effective, but they will eventually allow you to enjoy the foods you love with diminished sensitivity.
- Fluoride Gel: A dental professional can apply a fluoride gel to your teeth to fight off tooth decay and sensitivity. This is a common procedure in dentist offices that can safeguard your teeth against cavity-causing materials by strengthening enamel and reducing sensations from the tooth surface to the nerve.
- Surgical Gum Graft: If loss of gum tissue around the roots of your teeth is making them sensitive, your dentist can perform a gum graft procedure to cover the exposed roots and help reduce that sensitivity.
- Crowns, Inlays, or Bondings: If your dentist determines that a small defect in a tooth is causing your sensitivity, they can use crowns, inlays, or bondings to cover any defects that are too extensive to be treated with fillings.
- Root Canal: If your tooth sensitivity is extensive and persistent, such that none of the above methods can alleviate it, your dentist may deem it necessary to perform a root canal.
Preventative Dental Care in Little Rock
If you’re struggling with tooth sensitivity, come and see one of our experienced dental professionals at Arkansas Family Dentist. With years of experience serving our local community, we pride ourselves on providing the best dental services for oral health, tooth sensitivity, and teeth cleaning Little Rock residents can trust.
Interested in learning more? Contact us on our website or give us a call at 501-663-8886 today to take advantage of the best preventative dental care Little Rock has to offer.