That sharp sting that shoots from your teeth when you bite into an ice cream sandwich is commonly called tooth sensitivity. If you’ve experienced this sensation, you know that when it occurs, you’ll do anything to make it stop. The pain can range from nagging to extreme.
How Teeth Feel
Human teeth have three basic layers: the enamel, which covers a tooth’s crown; the dentin, which is softer and lies just beneath enamel; and the pulp, a bundle of nerves and tissues that runs through the inner canals of a tooth. Teeth are living body parts, even though they stop growing before adulthood. The nerves inside a tooth carry nutrients to and take waste away from the living structure. As with all nerves, those in your teeth transmit information about sensations.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance your body produces and the second hardest natural substance on the planet; diamond is the first. While enamel provides great protection for our teeth, it is porous. Beneath the enamel, the dentin features tiny holes, called tubules, that allow temperature and pressure sensations direct access to the inner nerve.
Common Causes of Dental Sensitivity
Any time a tooth’s nerve encounters a strong sensation, you can experience pain. Common causes of tooth sensitivity include: decay, fractures, chips, worn fillings, gum disease and recession, worn or thin tooth enamel, exposed roots, and internal infection.
Treating Sensitive Teeth
Everyone should visit the dentist twice a year for checkups. Dr. Calcagno checks teeth for all of the issues that contribute to sensitivity. If she identifies and treats a dental problem in its early stage, treatment can be conservative and the patient avoids the potential for more intense problems. However, if tooth sensitivity is an ongoing issue you’ve never addressed, or if you’ve recently developed sensitivity, you can try Sensodyne, an over-the-counter toothpaste that numbs teeth nerves. Using Sensodyne regularly will dull the sensation of teeth nerves.
However, keep in mind that tooth sensitivity is not “normal.” You may need a restoration for a structurally damaged tooth. If your tooth is infected, a root canal might be in order. Worn tooth enamel could be a result of acid reflux, bruxism (teeth grinding), or heredity. All of these problems are treatable!
Your First Step toward Reducing Tooth Sensitivity
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Janet Calcagno today. She’ll assess your oral health, talk with you about your concerns and expectations, then devise a treatment plan to meet your needs. Our dental office serves patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and the surrounding communities.