Tooth sensitivity is sharp, sudden and shooting pain in one or more teeth, which is increased by hot, cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks. This is due to wearing away of the tooth surface or gum tissue. Tooth sensitivity can be the first warning sign of a more serious dental disease.
A tooth has two main parts: a crown portion and a root portion.
The different parts of a tooth consist of:
Enamel is the highly mineralized and hard outer substance of the tooth. Its colour varies from light yellow to greyish white.
Dentin is that part of the tooth which is present between enamel or cementum and pulp chamber. It is softer than enamel and therefore decays more rapidly.
Cementum is a bony substance covering the root of the tooth. Its colour is yellowish and is softer than dentin or enamel. The main function of cementum is to serve as a medium for periodontal ligaments to attach to the tooth for stability.
The dental pulp is the centre portion of the tooth. It is filled with soft connective tissue which
contains blood vessels and nerves. It is commonly called the “nerve of the tooth”.
Do you know there are two types of sensitivity?
This occurs when the dentin layer of tooth is exposed. It can affect one or more teeth.
This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. It affects only a single tooth.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease or condition. Risk factors for developing tooth sensitivity include:
Your dentist will ask about your dental history and examine your teeth with an explorer to assess for any cavities, cracked fillings, and exposed roots.
Dentinal Sensitivity: Treatment of dentinal sensitivity includes cleaning of teeth and application of fluoride varnish.
Pulpal Sensitivity: This will be treated with a root canal if the tooth's nerve is damaged. The nerve will be removed and a nonreactive substance will be placed in the space where the nerve was.
Fluoride Varnish can be applied to exposed areas to strengthen enamel and dentin.
Fluoride Gel can be placed in to a mouth tray, and then placed in the patient's mouth for 3 to 5 minutes, providing the teeth with high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas.
Bonding Agent, a material used to stick tooth coloured fillings to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface that cause sensitivity.
Dental Laser is a newer approach to treat sensitivity. The laser treatment alters the dentinal tubules to reduce sensitivity.
Some steps you can take to reduce tooth sensitivity include:
Watch what you eat. Frequent consumption of highly acidic foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. This may also aggravate the sensitivity and start the pain reaction.
Other preventive Measures:
Avoid teeth grinding: If you grind or clench your teeth use a mouth guard.