Scientists Bring Nanotechnology to Bear on Tooth Sensitivity

Do you have sensitive teeth?

Scientists from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom are studying a new application of nanotechnology — the use of machines and technology built at the molecular or atomic levels — that may eventually help sensitive teeth sufferers.

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentin (a layer of tissue beneath the tooth's bony exterior) loses its protective covering, exposing tiny canals in the tissue. Heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods can then stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth, causing pain.

Conventional treatments include desensitizing toothpastes, which help block pain sensations from traveling from the tooth surface to the nerve, and fluoride treatments to encourage remineralization of the dentin.

However, the Leeds scientists are investigating "nanospheres" made of hydroxyapatite, a ceramic material used in dental coatings, to fill the dentin canals, thereby eliminating sensitivity. By growing the mineral under varying pH levels, the team is experimenting with different sizes of the molecule-sized spheres in order to determine the best fit for filling the tiny channels in the teeth.

Based on earlier experimentation with a commercially available type of silica nanosphere, they concluded that "these tiny spheres are really good at filling the channels in the teeth, packing inside them quite evenly and going down in the holes to a good depth."

The next stage of their research involves determining how to commercially synthesize the hydroxyapatite nanospheres.

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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.

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Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel that protects our teeth gets thinner, or when gum recession occurs, exposing the underlying surface, the dentin, thus, reducing the protection the enamel and gums provide to the tooth and root.

Signs & Symptoms

If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful, then you may have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.

Is Tooth Sensitivity Cramping Your Style?

Tooth sensitivity can make eating and drinking a painful experience. Try one of our sensitivity relief products that, with continued use, can help prevent future occurrences.