What Causes Tooth Sensitivity and What are My Treatment Options?

Would you believe that at least 40 million American adults suffer from tooth sensitivity? If you’re one of the millions of people who cringe when ice cream comes in contact with your molars or biting into a popsicle causes you to wince with pain, then you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do about tooth sensitivity. 

At Blakeney Dental in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Mark Ranzinger and his friendly dental team are here to help. Tooth sensitivity can happen to anyone, so learn what you can do if it happens to you. 

Ouch! Why are my teeth so sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity usually develops over time, but you don’t notice until you bite into something cold or drink a hot beverage and feel the sharp shooting pain in your mouth — a typical symptom of sensitive teeth. Things that contribute to sensitive teeth include:

Even routine dental procedures can leave your teeth feeling extra sensitive, so you might experience extreme sensitivity after a cleaning, having a cavity filled, or getting a new crown

Denounce the dentin

The reason all these factors may cause tooth sensitivity is because they all have one thing in common — they expose the dentin inside your teeth. Dentin is connected to the nerves that trigger pain in your teeth. 

Thousands of microscopic channels in the dentin lead to your tooth’s pulp — the nerve center of the tooth. When cold, hot, acidic, or sweet foods come in contact with the dentin, you feel a sharp pain.  

Healthy teeth have a strong outer layer of enamel that protects the sensitive layer of dentin inside your teeth. When the enamel wears down as a result of brushing, grinding, or acidic foods, for instance, the dentin becomes exposed. Gum recession exposes tooth roots so the dentin inside is more vulnerable, as well.

What can I do about tooth sensitivity?

First and foremost, make an appointment so Dr. Ranzinger can evaluate your teeth and get to the root cause of your sensitive teeth (pun intended). Truly, before you attempt to treat sensitive teeth on your own, you want to make sure your mouth is healthy and there isn’t a more serious underlying reason for your pain, such as a deep cavity with an infection in the pulp of a tooth. Once we rule out other issues, we may recommend any of the following to help alleviate your tooth sensitivity:

As a last resort for extreme cases of tooth sensitivity, a root canal removes the pulp from inside the sensitive tooth and fills it with dental material that’s not vulnerable to hot and cold foods and other tooth sensitivity triggers. 

Eating ice cream or drinking hot tea shouldn’t send you over the edge of your pain threshold. Many people get relief simply from switching to a desensitizing toothpaste and getting fluoride varnish at their regularly scheduled cleanings every six months. Decreasing your tooth sensitivity could be just as easy. 

Give us a call to schedule an exam today, at 980-289-0664, or click online to request a convenient appointment time. 

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