PDA Gets to the Root of Sensitive Teeth
To beat the heat during the hot months of summer, we often turn to cold drinks and frozen treats. However, for many people, that sip of an iced beverage or a spoonful of ice cream can trigger a painful sensation in their exposed teeth. Experiencing this type of reaction may indicate you have hypersensitivity or “sensitive teeth.”
Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) member Dr. David Tecosky says the summer months are notorious for bringing a rise in patient complaints of tooth sensitivity due to the increased consumption of cold refreshments. Many of these patients do not know the source of this sensitivity, only that it is uncomfortable and they want relief.
“The causes of sensitive teeth are manifold—sometimes, it can be from more than one initiating event or series of events,” Dr. Tecosky said. “Receding gums exposing tooth roots, followed by abrasion of the roots by brushing and manipulation of the tooth surface, can increase the likelihood and frequency of tooth sensitivity. Clenching and grinding of teeth could initiate internal cracks in the tooth enamel or restorations, which will cause sensitivity when prompted by changes in temperature, or even to chewing normally.”
A recent study by the American Dental Association (ADA) reveals that the problem of sensitive teeth is more common than you think. The study, which was conducted within 37 different US dental offices, indicates that one in eight people have sensitive teeth.
While anyone can experience sensitive teeth, the following conditions put you at a greater risk:
- *Frequently drinking soda, whether regular or diet versions.
- *People who have gastric reflux, indicated by sour stomach, sour taste in the mouth, frequent heartburn. The stomach acids introduced into the mouth increase the acid content of the saliva, dissolving tooth enamel, increasing sensitivity.
- *Eating an excess of sweets, acidic foods and drinks, including citrus fruit and tomato products, have increased erosion of enamel, increasing the sensitivity.
- *Clenchers and tooth grinders tend to have more sensitive teeth.
There are several options for treatment of sensitive teeth. The type of treatment used will depend on what is causing the sensitivity and how severe the case is. The most conservative and inexpensive option to prevent mild surface sensitivity is over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste.
More intense cases may be treated in-office. A treatment may consist of the application of a fluoride gel or varnish to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce transmission of sensations. Other techniques include bonded restorations, a crown or an onlay to correct a flaw or decay which results in sensitivity.
Should you have gum recession, your dentist may suggest a surgical gum graft to repair lost gum tissue to protect the root and reduce sensitivity. In severe cases in which no other treatments provide relief, a root canal may be recommended.
PDA encourages you to practice proper oral hygiene and visit your dentist for regular check-ups to prevent the development of sensitive teeth. Contact your dentist if you have any questions about your general dental health or concerns about tooth sensitivity.