Causes and Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can be a pain, but luckily there are a number of ways to strengthen your smile

Experiencing a lot of tooth sensitivity and pain? Chances are you’ve got damaged enamel

Managing the pain and discomfort caused by tooth sensitivity is easy, but prevention is ideal

Few sources of pain are as miserable as toothache or sensitivity caused by heat, cold or exposure to certain foods.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel on your teeth is damaged and the underlying layer of the tooth (dentin) becomes exposed.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

This can be caused by:

  • Gum recession or gum disease
  • Teeth grinding
  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Dental treatment, such as teeth whitening, orthodontics, tooth restoration or cleaning
  • Root nerve damage
  • Fractured tooth

When the dentin loses its protective covering of enamel, it allows heat and cold, or acidic or sticky foods, to stimulate the nerves inside the tooth. This causes hypersensitivity and pain. Happily, sensitive teeth can be treated.

Treating Your Sensitive Teeth

Using specially formulated toothpaste can help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Relief is usually experienced after several applications.

If special toothpaste doesn’t ease the discomfort, a dentist may elect to apply a fluoride gel to the sensitive areas of the teeth to strengthen the tooth enamel.

Where tooth sensitivity is caused by receding gums, a sealant (usually composed of a plastic material) can be applied to cover the roots of the teeth.

If the hypersensitivity is severe and cannot be treated by other means, the dentist may recommend endodontic root canal treatment to permanently eliminate the problem.

As with all health matters, prevention is key. Proper daily oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, is critical to preventing gum disease and gum recession – a leading cause of tooth sensitivity.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.