Essenmacher Family Dental

Dentin Hypersensitivity: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Dentin Hypersensitivity: Discover the Underlying Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Dentin hypersensitivity is a condition in which the dentin layer of a tooth becomes exposed, causing severe pain and discomfort when exposed to certain stimuli. This condition can be caused by a number of factors, including gingival recession, aggressive brushing, enamel erosion, and tooth grinding. While there is no cure for dental hypersensitivity, there are several treatments available to help alleviate symptoms and reduce sensitivity. We’ll give you the details on the causes of tooth sensitivity as well as various treatments that can be used to reduce its effects.

Understanding Dentin Hypersensitivity

Your teeth are made up of three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. Dentin is a protective layer of hard tissue that lies beneath the enamel and covers the pulp. It is composed of small dentinal tubules that allow nutrients to travel from the pulp to the outer layers of the tooth. When these dentinal tubules become exposed due to gingival recession or other causes, they can cause sharp pain and discomfort when exposed to cold, hot, sour, or sweet foods. This is known as dentinal hypersensitivity, which can be uncomfortable and even painful in some cases.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

1. Acidic Foods

Consuming acidic foods and drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices, or citrus fruits can cause tooth sensitivity due to their low pH levels. When these acidic substances come in contact with the dentin layer of a tooth, they can cause erosion of enamel which exposes the dentinal tubules and leads to sensitivity. 

2. Tooth Grinding

Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition in which people grind their teeth either consciously or unconsciously. This can cause excessive wear on the enamel and dentin of the tooth, exposing the dentin surface and leading to sensitivity. If you believe you may have bruxism, it is important to consult with a dentist or doctor for treatment.

3. Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is an infection of the gums caused by plaque buildup around the teeth. This can cause inflammation and gingival recession, which can cause the dentinal tubules to become exposed and lead to sensitivity. 

4. Aggressive Brushing

Aggressive brushing can be a major contributing factor to dentinal hypersensitivity. When you brush your teeth too hard or use a toothbrush with stiff bristles, it can wear away the enamel layer of your teeth which exposes the dentinal tubules and causes sensitive teeth.

5. Gum Recession

Gum recession is a condition in which the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, exposing more of the dentin layer. This can be caused by periodontal disease or brushing too aggressively. When a gingival recession occurs, it can cause sharp pain and discomfort due to increased exposure to dentin.

6. Teeth Whitening Products

Teeth whitening products can cause dentin hypersensitivity if not used correctly. These products can contain bleaching agents that are highly acidic and can damage the enamel on your teeth, causing them to wear away and expose the tooth roots. It is important to use these products according to the instructions given and take breaks between applications to minimize the risk of sensitivity.

Other factors that can contribute to dentin hypersensitivity include tooth decay, recent dental procedures, cracked teeth, and acidic mouthwashes.

Dentin Hypersensitivity Treatments

1. Desensitizing Toothpaste

Desensitizing toothpaste is specially formulated to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with dentinal hypersensitivity. This toothpaste usually contains potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which block the pathways that transmit the sensation of pain from the exposed dentinal tubules to nerve endings in your brain. Additionally, this kind of toothpaste often contains fluoride which helps to remineralize and protect the tooth enamel.

2. Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatment is a popular treatment for dentin hypersensitivity that can be done in a dentist’s office or at home. In-office treatments involve the application of a high concentration of fluoride gel directly onto the affected teeth, while at-home treatments usually involve mouth rinses or gels containing lower concentrations of fluoride. Fluoride helps to remineralize and protect the enamel of the affected teeth, reducing its risk of sensitivity.

3. Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a procedure in which a composite material is applied to the tooth surface in order to improve its appearance and reduce sensitivity. This material can be used to fill cavities, restore chipped or cracked teeth, or even change the shape of the tooth. After cleaning and drying the affected area, the composite material is applied and then shaped as desired before being hardened with a bright light.

4. Root Canal Treatment

This procedure is recommended for teeth that are severely damaged or infected. During a root canal treatment, the pulp of the affected tooth is removed and the chamber inside the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Afterward, a filling material is used to fill in any remaining space. This procedure helps to reduce tooth pain and sensitivity from an infected or damaged tooth.

5. Nightguards

If you grind your teeth at night, a dental night guard can help to protect your teeth from further damage and reduce sensitivity. A mouth guard is a custom-made appliance that fits over the teeth and helps to prevent them from coming into contact with each other. This can help alleviate the symptoms of bruxism (teeth grinding) and reduce any associated sensitivity.

Preventing Dentin Hypersensitivity

Though dentin hypersensitivity can be caused by a variety of factors, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing this condition.

      • Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Good oral hygiene practices are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily can help prevent plaque build-up and reduce the risk of developing tooth decay.

      • Avoid Excessive Acidic Foods: Highly acidic foods and drinks can damage the enamel on your teeth, leading to sensitivity. Try to limit your consumption of citrus fruits, sodas, and other highly acidic beverages.

      • Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Regular dental checkups can help catch any signs of developing cavities or other issues before they become severe. Your dentist can also recommend further treatments and preventive measures to reduce sensitivity.

    Contact Essenmacher Family Dentistry in Albuquerque Today!

    Our dental professionals are here to help you find relief from your dentin hypersensitivity. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help reduce your symptoms and keep your oral health in top shape.