Treatment Options for Sensitive Teeth

Published Online: Saturday, May 1, 2004

Sensitive teeth are common among many individuals. Teeth can become sensitive when the dentin?the soft inner core of the teeth?loses its protective coating of enamel and cementum. Without this coating, heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods may stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The most common causes include incorrect or aggressive toothbrushing, gum recession, and periodontal disease. These problems can result in a loss of gum tissue, leaving the sensitive tooth roots exposed.

The good news is that this condition is treatable. Depending on the cause, the dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste, which is composed of compounds that help prevent sensation from traveling from the tooth to the nerve. If this toothpaste does not work, the dentist may suggest in-office treatments (ie, a fluoride gel or special desensitizing agents applied to the sensitive areas of the affected teeth).

Another course of action if the problem persists is a filling, a crown, an inlay, or bonding to fix a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity. If gum recession becomes a problem as a result of the gum tissue being lost from the root, the dentist may suggest a surgical gum graft to cover the root, protect the tooth, and reduce the sensitivity.

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