Tooth Sensitivity from Loss of Tooth Enamel
Everyone has tooth sensitivity… right??
Does everyone have tooth sensitivity? Absolutely not! Is it common? Yes, but it shouldn’t be. Tooth sensitivity is easily prevented and easily treated. Over 40 million Americans are reported to suffer from tooth sensitivity, but with a little discussion at the dentist office and often times some simple topical applications or procedures, tooth sensitivity can be a thing of the past.
Tooth sensitivity is defined as a sharp, sudden, short lasting oral pain. It can be triggered by cold, heat, sugars or acids. It is a fleeting pain, but it should not be ignored. No one should have to go through life avoiding hot chocolate or iced cream because of tooth pain. There is no reason to wince as you rinse your mouth out with cool tap water after brushing.
Tooth Sensitivity from Loss of Tooth Enamel
Each tooth has a layer of hard, protective enamel guarding and insulating the softer layer of dentin. The dentin contains channels leading to the hollow center of the tooth where the nerves are. When a tooth’s enamel begins to wear away, the dentin gets exposed. Temperature changes and foods on the surface of the tooth are able to then contact these dentin channels directly and the nerves inside the tooth feel a lot more than they have been used to.
What causes loss of tooth enamel?
• Brushing Too Hard: Dentists and hygienists appreciate a good brushing twice daily, but if you are brushing too hard, you may be putting your teeth at risk. Make sure you use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
• Acidic and Sugary Foods: Acids and sugars in the foods we eat can wear at the enamel. If you are drinking a lot of soda or coffee, enjoy condiments, or eat a carb-heavy diet, you should pay special attention to rinsing and brushing after meals. Allowing these foods to linger on your teeth can bring damage to the enamel, causing it to be lost in some areas.
• Grinding Teeth: Night time teeth grinding is the root of so much dental anguish, including the wearing down of tooth enamel. If you grind, talk to us about a night time dental guard.
• Teeth Whitening Treatments: We all want pearly whites, but some people are more sensitive to the bleaching treatments than others. For some with weaker enamel layers, the bleach can wear down the enamel further in places causing discomfort. If this occurs treatment can be rendered, and it is important to change the bleaching method used for future teeth whitening treatments.
• GERD or Stomach Acid: Gastroesophagael reflux is a medically-treatable issue of the rise of stomach acid into the throat and mouth. When the back teeth are being continually exposed to this acid, the enamel breaks down and pain begins. If you have issues with GERD, you should talk to your doctor about prescription, dietary, and OTC options to treat the issue and symptoms before your teeth are negatively affected.
• Tooth Decay: Cavities cause holes in the enamel and expose the dentin layer. Anyone with tooth sensitivity needs to be evaluated to see if they have a problem with cavities.
If you are suffering from sensitivity, in addition to tracking and addressing the cause, there are a few treatment options that can reduce or even completely eliminate the sensitivity.
• Topical Gels and Varnishes for Sensitive Teeth: Some of these are over the counter and some are prescription only. They work by covering up the channels in the exposed dentin that relay the change on the surface of the tooth to the nerve. An evaluation at our office will enable us to recommend the best option for your particular situation.
• Bondings: If the enamel has worn away completely in areas of the tooth, we can replace the lost enamel in the area with a permanent dental material that bonds to the dentin. It looks and feels and acts like the natural enamel layer. It covers the dentin and mimics the insulating enamel layer, protecting the dentin and nerves from harm.
• Fillings: Any cavities should be diagnosed and filled.
• Root Canal Treatment: As a last resort, a root canal can be preformed on a tooth with heightened sensitivity. If we cannot rebuild the enamel or cover the dentin, a root canal treatment will remove the nerve itself. Of course, a root canal is only done as a last resort!
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, don’t just live with the pain. Come in to the office and let’s address this issue together. Soon you will be enjoying life without fearing the twinge of tooth sensitivity