Is the taste of ice cream or a sip of hot coffee sometimes a painful experience for you? Does brushing or flossing make you wince occasionally? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. Sometimes, however, tooth discomfort is caused by other factors, such as a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or gum disease. It may be time to talk to your dentist about your sensitive teeth.
Possible causes include:
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Fractured teeth
- Worn fillings
- Gum disease
- Worn tooth enamel
- Exposed tooth root
Depending on your specific circumstances, your dentist might recommend:
- Desensitizing toothpaste – After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste can sometimes help block pain associated with sensitive teeth. There are a variety of products available over-the-counter.
- Fluoride – Your dentist might apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain.
- Desensitizing or bonding – Occasionally, exposed root surfaces can be treated by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces. A local anesthetic might be needed.
- Surgical gum graft – If your tooth root has lost gum tissue, a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and attached to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
- Root canal – If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments aren’t effective, your dentist might recommend a root canal — a procedure used to treat problems in the tooth’s soft core (dental pulp). While this might seem like a significant treatment, it’s considered the most successful technique for eliminating tooth sensitivity.
Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.