Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

woman with tooth sensitivityMany millions of people suffer from tooth sensitivity at some point in their life, usually in the form of tooth pain in reaction to heat or cold. Tooth sensitivity has many causes, some more easily fixed than others. However, it’s important to know that tooth sensitivity is sometimes a sign of a more serious dental problem of condition. What follows are the basics of what you should know about having sensitive teeth.

First, we need to have an understanding of how teeth are constructed. The hard, shiny outer layer of your teeth is called enamel. This layer protects the softer, porous layer below, which is called dentin. On the part of your tooth that is rooted in your gums, the dentin is protected by a thin, hard layer called cementum. Inside the center of your tooth is the root canal, which contains a substance called the pulp, made up of nerves & blood vessels.

Tooth pain or sensitivity occurs when dentin is somehow exposed & heat or cold is able to penetrate through it & irritate your tooth’s nerve. Wearing away of enamel & cementum, along with receding gums, can cause dentin to become exposed.

You can wear away enamel a few ways:

  • Bacteria build-up from poor oral hygiene can cause enamel erosion & decay.
  • Brushing too hard or with a toothbrush with hard bristles.
  • Eating or drinking highly acidic foods such as soft drinks or energy drinks.
  • Grinding your teeth while you sleep.

In addition to erosion, tooth sensitivity can also be caused by a crack or a cavity in your tooth that you may not have realized is there yet. If you have persistent, intense sensitivity that doesn’t go away for a few days, come see as soon as you can so we can look for decay or damage.

The same goes for old fillings that may have become loose or developed tooth decay around them. Fluids can get under & around the filling & irritate the nerve through the dentin. If you find that a tooth with a filling has become extra sensitive, you should also come to the dental clinic immediately so we can see if the filling needs to be replaced.

Some people also experience tooth sensitivity after dental procedures, particularly professional teeth whitening or bleaching. People with hypersensitive teeth can also be irritated by the chemicals in some tooth whitening toothpastes.

Tooth sensitivity is also a notable symptom of gum disease. When you have gum disease, your gums can start to pull away or recede from your teeth, leaving the dentin exposed.

Often the best treatment for tooth sensitivity is a change in your habits & oral care routine. If you brush too hard or use a hard bristle toothbrush, switch to a soft bristle brush & try to brush less aggressively. If you’re irritated by a whitening toothpaste, try switching to an anti-sensitivity toothpaste that also contains fluoride, which helps remineralized & strengthen tooth enamel. With these changes, your tooth sensitivity will decrease & likely disappear over time.

If you still experience a level of sensitivity that bothers you, please talk to us. We may be able to offer you treatments, such as a topical anti-sensitivity paste, that can help.

 

The Many Ways We Provide Gentle Dental Care

teddy bear dentists providing gentle dental careWhen we talk to patients about dentistry, one of the main concerns they bring up is whether the dental care they receive will be gentle. As dentists, our main concern of course is your health, but we understand the desire to have a gentle dental care experience. We know it’s not everyday you have to let another person look around your mouth, so we strive to do all we can to make sure your visit & your treatment comfortable, & we mean this in the broadest sense possible.

Gentle Dental Hygienists & Dentists

We pride ourselves on having brought together a team of dental professionals who always use a gentle touch when treating patients. Our dentists & dental hygienists provide meticulous teeth cleanings & take care & time when navigating the delicate structures of your mouth, such as your gums. And we are always happy to make accommodations for you if you have specific sensitivities. If you are uncomfortable in any way, please let us know! We prefer hearing feedback to worrying that you might have endured some kind of discomfort in silence!

Gentle Dental Care Through the Latest Technology

Advances in dental technology, procedures & materials mean that we can take a more conservative approach to dental care than ever before. Plus, many of the technological advances we use at our office result in quicker, more comfortable processes & procedures. Even taking x-rays has become a faster & more efficient process now that we use digital radiograph technology. Technology means being able to catch problems early when they’re easier to fix & shorter recovery times for procedures that were more invasive with the limited instrumentation of the past. We’re living in a bright new future of dentistry & we’re happy to bring all of the best advances in smile care here at our practice.

Gentle Impact on Your Daily Schedule

We know one of the roughest parts about going to your regular teeth cleanings is fitting the visits into your busy schedule. We don’t want anything to stand between you & regular preventive dental care. That’s why we offer teeth cleaning appointments that fit around your work schedule, so you don’t have to take time off to see us. We will always do our best to learn your availability & schedule you into an appropriate time slot in the first place. However, please let us know if an appointment time conflicts with another obligation in your schedule. Asking to reschedule is always preferable to a last-minute cancellation. Seeing you consistently for cleanings is vital to keeping your smile healthy for the long run.

 

The Difference Between Cleanings, Deep Cleanings & Periodontal Maintenance

dentist ready to perform scaling and root planingThere is more than one type of dental procedure that may be casually referred to as a cleaning. For example, there is a regular cleaning & then there is what is referred to a deep cleaning. It’s important to understand that there is a big difference between these procedures & implications that each of these procedures have when it comes to your oral health. Read more

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