Tooth sensitivity is pain in teeth that comes and goes, often triggered by eating or drinking cold or hot foods. It can also be caused by brushing too hard or using a whitening product.
Regular dental cleanings and good oral hygiene can help prevent tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash that contains fluoride.
If you experience tooth pain when you eat or drink cold, hot, sweet, or sour things, it’s a good idea to see your dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to help you find a treatment that works for you.
While there are many treatments that can ease the symptoms of sensitive teeth, they should only be used as a temporary measure. If you have frequent tooth pain, it could indicate that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed by your dentist.
Some at-home treatments for sensitivity include clove oil, which contains a natural anesthetic and can relieve pain when applied directly to the affected area. You can also try a warm salt water rinse to soothe gum tissue and ease sensitivity. Add one teaspoon of table salt to a glass of warm water and rinse for several seconds.
You can also use a toothpaste that is made specifically for sensitive teeth. This type of toothpaste is designed to reduce the sensitivity caused by abrasion and erosion of the enamel and dentin. It will usually come in a gel form that can be applied directly to the affected area. If your sensitivity is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth at night, you should ask your dentist about getting a mouthguard to prevent this habit from damaging your teeth.
If your teeth ache when you eat or drink hot, cold or sweet things or brush them, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. The dental team will be able to identify the cause and treat it. They may recommend a treatment course of high fluoride gel, mouthwash or varnishes that are applied to the sensitive areas at regular appointments one or two weeks apart.
Tooth sensitivity involves the dentin layer that is under the enamel and cementum and contains microscopic nerve fibers. When this layer is exposed it makes the nerves in the teeth more sensitive to stimuli like heat, cold or sweet food and tooth brushing. The underlying dentin can become exposed due to erosion (wear and tear), gum disease that pulls away the gum tissue, a cracked tooth or a filling that is broken.
If the sensitivity is caused by gum recession, the dentist can perform a surgical gum graft to cover the area and reduce the sensitivity. They can also place a restoration such as a crown or a root canal to repair the tooth if it is a cracked or dead tooth. Despite the treatment, it is important to practice proper oral hygiene to prevent a recurrence of tooth pain and sensitivity. This includes brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash and sticking to a healthy diet.
Tooth sensitivity may occur as the result of an injury to your tooth or gums. For example, biting down on a popcorn kernel or having a mouthful of ice cream can cause a throbbing sensation in your teeth that lasts a day or two. Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by acidic foods that wear down the enamel over time, or receding gums that expose sections of your root and cementum to the air. It’s common for a tooth to feel sensitive after receiving dental work like fillings, crowns or teeth cleanings. This type of sensitivity usually disappears in four to six weeks.
Your dentist will assess your symptoms and look at your teeth to find out what’s causing your sensitive teeth. They will do a visual exam and run tests on your teeth, including an X-ray to check for problems like cavities, broken tooth roots or loose fillings.
Once they determine the cause of your sensitivity, your dentist will treat it. If the problem is an exposed tooth root, they will recommend a gum graft to cover the sensitive area and protect it. They may also apply a tooth-colored resin to the affected area, which will physically block the dentine tubules that trigger your pain. They will paint the material onto the affected tooth at several appointments, one or two weeks apart, to build up a layer of protection.