Causes and Tips for Coping With Sensitive Teeth

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Have you ever bitten into an ice cream cone or taken a drink of hot coffee and felt a sharp pain in one or more of your teeth? Do you feel similar discomfort when you brush your teeth? These are typical signs of tooth sensitivity, which can make activities like eating, drinking, and even performing your oral hygiene routine uncomfortable.

There are several causes for sensitive teeth, and depending on the cause of your tooth pain, there are a few ways of coping with the discomfort. And since it could signify an underlying issue with your oral health, it’s a good idea to see a dental professional if you have tooth sensitivity.

At Soft Touch Dentistry in Sacramento, California, Dr. Andrew Owyoung and our team of dental professionals offer compassionate care to deal with your tooth sensitivity, which includes listening to your concerns, treating the underlying cause, minimizing your discomfort, and recommending ways to avoid flare-ups in the future.

Tooth anatomy

To understand tooth sensitivity, it’s helpful to understand the parts of teeth and their functions. The crown of your tooth is the part just above the gum line, and the roots of your teeth extend into the gums. In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crown and bony material called cementum protects the roots.

Below both the crown and roots of your teeth is dentin. Dentin contains small hollow tubes, and if it’s exposed, hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods can reach the nerves of your teeth and cause discomfort. When your enamel or cementum wears down or cracks, or if your gums recede too far, the exposed dentin puts you at risk for experiencing sensitivity to food and drink.

Causes of tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is uncomfortable, and understanding what’s led to this sensitivity can help Dr. Owyoung treat it effectively.

Before your appointment, take note of your symptoms and what activities cause your teeth to feel pain. Prepare to discuss any dental work you’ve had and whether you can remember any damage to a tooth. Let us know where you most experience discomfort, including a specific location if you can narrow it down.

Usually the cause can be determined through an examination of your teeth to look for noticeable cracks, fractures, worn enamel, or receding gums that expose your tooth’s roots. Generally, causes of sensitivity can be linked to this sort of tooth damage, decay, or wear.

These causes include:

Treating and coping with sensitive teeth

If your tooth sensitivity is caused by damage to a tooth or tooth decay, Dr. Owyoung can treat it by filling a cavity or applying a crown. In cases of sensitivity caused by decay that’s led to an infection, or for persistent tooth pain without another identifiable cause, Dr. Owyoung may recommend a root canal procedure.

For sensitivity caused by worn enamel, fluoride treatments or toothpaste meant specifically for sensitive teeth may help. Dr. Owyoung applies fluoride to strengthen and protect your enamel. He can also recommend a toothpaste to use at home that can continue to ease your sensitivity and discomfort.

Once your tooth sensitivity has decreased, you still need to protect your enamel. The following tips can help you prevent future discomfort:

If you’re ready to find the root cause of your tooth sensitivity and reduce the discomfort you feel when eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth, contact Dr. Owyoung and the team of dental professionals at Soft Touch Dentistry today.

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