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Sensitive Teeth

Do you feel a sharp painful zing when you're eating ice cream or sipping cold drinks? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.

Other common triggers of teeth sensitivity pain include:

  • Breathing in cold air

  • Flossing and brushing

  • Eating sugary or sour foods

  • Drinking hot beverages such as coffee

What causes sensitive teeth?

Possible causes include:

  • Cavities

  • Worn fillings

  • Fractured teeth

  • Gum disease

  • Worn tooth enamel

  • Exposed tooth root

A tooth is made up of different structures, enamel, dentin, cementum and pulp tissue. Dentin is a layer of tissue that makes up both the crowns of teeth (above the gumline) and the roots of teeth (below the gumline) . Enamel covers dentin above the gumline, and cementum covers dentin below the gumline.

Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules. When enamel or cementum get worn down, dentin's hollow tubules that lead to nerves get exposed. Thus, cold, heat, acidic, sticky foots can reach inside the tooth causing sensitivity.

How to treat sensitive teeth?

There are different ways to treat sensitive teeth depending on its root cause. Your dentist may suggest a variety of treatments such as:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste - such as Sensodyne can help relieve pain after a few weeks.

  • Fluordie gel - applied in-office, to strengthen the enamel

  • Crown - can cover the area that is causing sensitivty

  • Surgical gum graft - if gum recession was the cause of sensitivity

  • Root canal - if sensitivity is severe and cannot be alleviated by other treatments

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022


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