Are you one of the approximately 10 million people who have sensitive teeth? The sensitivity often comes from the dentin of your tooth. The dentin is a layer that lies between the nerve of your tooth and the enamel covering of your tooth. Dentin does not have nerves so it is sometimes hard to understand the how the pain reaction occurs.
Dentin sensitivity often begins with gum recession (or pulling away) from your tooth. Your gum can recede for a number of reasons, including gum disease, abrasive toothpastes, aggressive brushing or oral habits (toothpick, nail biting, piercings, etc.). When your gum recedes, it exposes dentin. Dentin is filled with tiny tubules (like straws). When the exposed dentin comes in contact with cold, hot, sweet or sour, you may feel a sensation of pain.
Plaque can make tooth sensitivity worse, so brushing is very important, even if you are sensitive. You may need to experiment with different water temperatures to find one that is most comfortable for you. An extra soft bristle toothbrush or one made for sensitive teeth may make brushing more comfortable too.
Some sensitivity toothpastes combine potassium nitrate and fluoride, but they can take up to eight (8) weeks to work! And the sensitivity often comes back once you stop using them. Other toothpastes for sensitivity use stannous fluoride (rather than the more common sodium fluoride). The stannous fluoride's effect does last longer if you stop using the toothpaste (but eventually the sensitivity will return).
If you’d like faster relief, you will need to visit your dental office. Depending on your situation, your dentist may place a desensitizing agent on your teeth, use a dental laser such as the Waterlase MD to perform a desensitizing treatment, or place a filling or covering over the area. Your dentist will often recommend using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth after these treatments.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for us to examine your dentin sensitivity, please call 440-960-1940. We're located on the Lorain/Amherst border at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W in Lorain.
*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.