Dr Sarah explains everything you need to know
about tooth sensitivity and its treatment at the dentist
When your teeth hurt from hot and cold foods and drinks or even cold air, you are considered to be suffering from tooth sensitivity. In some cases, the reason for tooth sensitivity is very obvious, and therefore very easy to treat, but that is not true in all cases.
Some patients who complain of sensitivity have no visible signs or known cause for the discomfort or pain, and that can make treatment somewhat difficult.
Find your new dentist in minutes with upfront quotes for a NEW PATIENT EXAM
Search, Book and Manage your oral health for FREE, with AirSmile!
Find a dental expert on AirSmile
Cheap and easy
Understanding your condition is the
key to making the right choices for you
Our teeth are formed of many layers. The outermost layer is known as the enamel. It is a very strong layer composed mainly of minerals (such as calcium and fluoride) and doesn’t have any nerves or sensitive parts in it. That layer is responsible for protecting the rest of the tooth from the stimuli present inside the oral cavity, meaning when that layer is strong and intact, you can eat, drink and chew safely with no pain or sensitivity. When that layer gets chipped away or broken (the reasons for that are numerous as we’ll discuss later), the layer beneath (known as the dentin) it is exposed, and these are full of nerves that can sense pain from hot and cold stimuli.
So in short, a tooth sensitive to cold is a tooth whose enamel is no longer there or is damaged, exposing the sensitive dentin underneath.
As we mentioned, tooth sensitivity is mainly caused by chipping away of the enamel. This can happen due to:
People with a diet high in sugar and acid can cause the teeth to become hypersensitive to temperature over time as it strips away the hard protective layer of the tooth, the enamel. The saliva and mouth itself can also become an acidic environment from conditions like reflux, constant vomiting causing stomach acid washing over the teeth (pregnancy and eating disorders) and medications changing the flora of the mouth and body.
The main treatment is removing the root cause of the problem. Decayed teeth should be filled to both remove the bacteria and their toxins, and protect the exposed dentin. Chipped enamel due to trauma – if it is significant enough to expose the dentin – should be fixed either with a filling or a crown. Erosion and attrition must be stopped, by changing the diet, controlling the systemic illness and trying to halt the tooth grinding before attempting to repair and rebuild the lost enamel, and finally, the brushing technique must be corrected to avoid further damage.
The main problem happens when the cause isn’t there to remove. In these cases, a strong toothpaste with a high Fluoride content, as well as a Fluoridated mouthwash could be of great help. The Fluoride coats the exposed dentin in a thin layer, shielding it from the hot and cold.
In essence, there is no direct cure for sensitive teeth, but with the correct diagnosis and removal of the root cause (if it existed) the situation could be effectively controlled.
Experiencing tooth sensitivity can affect individuals every day of their life. There are solutions to fix tooth sensitivity, mild or severe, and our expert dentists on AirSmile know just what to do. When you book a new patient consultation with one of our dentist partners, you’ll experience a comprehensive evaluation of the condition of your teeth and be shown ways to help minimize the causes and effects of tooth sensitivity, and other tooth related conditions that may be impacting on the quality of your life.
To find an AirSmile dentist to discuss your needs with, simply join AirSmile for FREE online.