Don't Be So Sensitive
posted: Jun. 07, 2018.
Summer is upon us. That means ice cream, popsicles and cold drinks. For some, even the thought of ice cream touching their teeth is enough to send them over the edge. That’s because they are experiencing the symptoms of sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth are usually a sign of an underlying dental issue, such as tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth root.
Our teeth are protected by enamel, which forms a barrier and defense against hot, cold, sour and acidic foods. Under the gum line, the tooth root is protected by a thin layer called cementum. Under both the enamel and cementum is a layer called dentin. The dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains small hollow canals.
When the enamel or cementum of a tooth is worn down, the dentin loses its protective covering. The hollow canals in the dentin allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The result can be hypersensitivity.
Enamel can become weaker with age, a diet high in sugar or acidity and a history of acid reflux disease. Receding gums, which are typically a side-effect of gum disease or gingivitis, can also expose dentin and lead to sensitivity.
Tooth hypersensitivity is almost always a sign of a broader dental health concern. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to live with sensitive teeth forever. Sensitive teeth can be treated. Depending on what is causing your sensitivity, your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:
- Desensitizing toothpaste
Toothpaste made for sensitive teeth contains potassium nitrate, an ingredient that, according to the ADA, helps to "depolarize" nerve endings in the teeth.
- Fluoride gel
Applied in-office, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
May be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
- Root canal
If sensitivity is severe and persistent and does not respond to other treatment options, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.
As with all dental issues, proper oral hygiene and a healthy diet are key. If your child is experiencing dental pain from sensitive teeth, or you have questions or concerns, we would love to help. Contact Anderson Pediatric Dentistry today at 864-760-1440.