Wahlers Family Dentistry

How can I treat tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is very common and can present in different forms such as hot, cold or sweet sensitivity.  Sensitivity to extreme temperatures, or extremely sugary foods like candy, does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your teeth.  Some people simply have teeth that are more sensitive than others, with younger people typically having more issues than elderly people.  Sensitivity is also considered a normal side-effect of tooth whitening, but fortunately in almost all cases the sensitivity resolves after the whitening process is completed.  Cavities, cracked teeth, and other dental problems also are associated with sensitivity, so a quick dental examination should be performed to determine the cause.

The most sensitive area on a tooth is usually found at the gumline.  This portion of the tooth has the thinnest enamel and therefore is less "protected" from hot or cold temperatures.  Gum recession is very common and occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the tooth recedes back, leaving a small portion of the root exposed.  These exposed roots have no enamel covering them, and can be extremely sensitive.

There are many products that treat tooth sensitivity, with the most common being toothpastes that contain Potassium Nitrate 5%, such as Sensodyne toothpaste.  Pottasium Nitrate toothpastes work very well when used daily, but results often take a few weeks to be noticed- they rarely provide immediate relief.  Fluoride is also a great desensitizer and over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinses often work well.  There are also varnishes and sensitivity treatments that a dentist can apply to your teeth to provide relief if the over-the-counter products are not sufficient.  If you are unsure of which sensitivity treatment is right for you, ask us at your next visit!


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