Causes and Treatments of Extremely Sensitive Teeth

It's common for hot and cold foods to trigger tooth sensitivity, but if you have pain along with other symptoms – such as loose teeth, swollen gums or pain while chewing – you may have extremely sensitive teeth caused by another dental issue. Your dentist can determine the problem and appropriate treatment, but it's best to know what you're doing yourself to cause this oral issue.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

The crowns, or the part of the teeth above your gumline, are covered with a layer of protective enamel, while the roots below your gumline are protected with a material called cementum. Underneath the enamel and cementum is dentin, which is less dense than the protective coverings. The dentin contains microscopic canals called dentin tubules, and when enamel or cementum wears away or becomes damaged, it exposes the dentin. When your gums recede and expose the dentin, the tubules allow fluid to flow in them and are affected by heat and cold causing the nerves in the tooth to have sensitivity and pain, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site.

What Causes It?

Why would the enamel or cementum wear away? You may be consuming too many acidic foods and beverages, brushing your teeth too aggressively, or overusing certain tooth-whitening products. However, with extremely sensitive teeth, or hypersensitivity, the more likely causes are those that expose more dentin, such as tooth decay, worn fillings or fractured teeth.

In-Office Treatment

Because extremely sensitive teeth are frequently caused by a more complex dental problem, it's important to see a dentist and have the issue treated directly. This may involve a crown, inlay or bonding, depending on the problem. If you have gum disease that has progressed to a chronic or advanced stage, you'll need to treat this as well.

If you have lost gum tissue from the root, your dentist may recommend a surgical gum graft to cover the roots so they're protected again. If you have persistent and severe sensitivity, an x-ray should be taken to determine if a root canal could be the issue, which, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), removes the nerve so it's no longer there to cause you pain.

At-Home Treatment

You can also find some relief from a desensitizing toothpaste. Products such as Colgate® Sensitive contain ingredients that help protect the tooth surface. Your dentist might also recommend a fluoride gel treatment, which strengthens your current tooth enamel, decreasing the sensations sent to the nerve.

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

Definition

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.