Have you ever taken a bite of an ice cream cone or sipped your morning coffee only to have your teeth ache with pain? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans—one in eight people to be precise—suffer from tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity develops when the enamel on the teeth is worn down or the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving the underlying layers of your teeth exposed. It can range from a mild twinge to serious discomfort and often occurs after consuming hot, cold, sweet, or sour food or drinks.
There are many reasons why people develop sensitive teeth, such as teeth grinding, gum disease, brushing too hard, plaque build-up, age, cracked teeth, and more. Depending on the cause of the tooth sensitivity, dentists may recommend various treatments to relieve the pain.
- Toothpaste. One of the easiest ways to treat sensitive teeth is to swap your regular toothpaste for one designed to treat sensitivity. These toothpastes contain active ingredients, such as potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride, which help to desensitize the nerves inside of your teeth. Toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth is safe to be used every day and should provide relief after a few weeks of consistent daily use. It’s important to note that toothpaste does not treat the underlying problems that may be causing sensitive teeth, it only treats the symptoms.
- Fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can help prevent tooth decay and protect the enamel on your teeth. Most community water systems add fluoride to the water to keep teeth strong, however, sometimes more is needed. Fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office are available as gels, foams, or varnishes and can be applied after a regular dental exam.
- Dental sealant treatments. If using a sensitive teeth toothpaste and adding fluoride treatments are cutting it, sealants (a thin plastic coating) can be painted on the teeth. This provides a new layer of protection that prevents extreme temperatures and acids from affecting the teeth. Dental sealants are quick and easy to apply and can last for several years.
- Root canal. Extreme tooth sensitivity that cannot be alleviated by the methods above may require a root canal. In a root canal, dentists remove areas of infection and place a crown or filling over the tooth to protect it. This is often advised when infection is the cause of tooth sensitivity.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, it’s best to talk to a dentist about how you can relieve your pain. To schedule an appointment with Vacendak Dentistry, call us at (757) 609-3510 or request an appointment online.