The American Academy of General Dentistry estimates that 40 million adults in the United States experience tooth sensitivity. Many people are forced to avoid their favorite hot or cold foods and beverages. So what causes some people’s teeth to become so sensitive? And what can be done about sensitive teeth?
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
Enamel is the hard, outer surface of the tooth that acts as a protective shell. The softer, inner part of the tooth surrounding the nerve is called dentin. Any time portions of the enamel are lost or thinned, the inner dentin can be exposed which provides less protection for the nerve of the tooth. Tooth enamel can be loss from any of the following conditions:
- Wear – due to grinding and clinching teeth together during the day or night
- Gum Recession – leading to the exposure of part of the root of the tooth
- Tooth Erosion – caused by acidic foods and beverages
- Tooth Abrasion – caused by brushing teeth too hard
Recent dental work, especially placement of composite (tooth colored) fillings and crowns, can sometimes cause sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity caused by dental work should be only temporary and gradually improve with time.
How Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?
The first step is to see your dentists at Gallery Park Dental in Glenview to determine what is causing the sensitive teeth. If the sensitivity is caused by cavities, your dentists will remove the decayed tooth structure and place fillings or crowns to protect the teeth. Sometimes if there is a large amount of decay the dentist may need to do additional treatment. If the sensitivity is caused by exposed roots of the teeth due to receding gums, your dentist may suggest covering the exposed roots with composite bonding or gum grafting. Occasionally, this type of sensitivity can also be treated with sensitivity toothpaste, either prescription strength or over-the-counter. If the tooth sensitivity is caused by wear from grinding or clenching your teeth at night, the dentist may recommend a night guard to protect your enamel. Finally, sensitivity caused by erosion or abrasion may necessitate a discussion with the dentist or hygienist about diet and brushing technique.
If you have sensitive teeth, please contact your Glenview dentists at Gallery Park Dental!