Many of our patients complain of sensitive teeth sometimes throughout the mouth, but mostly they complain of one or two teeth becoming sensitive. The type of sensitivity is almost always of the cold and sweet variety. This pain can be minimal or quite painful yet dentists are not sure why this is the case.
We do know that tooth enamel contains no nerve endings and acts as a covering for the dentin, the second layer of the tooth. Roots have no enamel and thus any part of a tooth root which is exposed to the oral cavity has no enamel to protect nerve endings from being exposed to irritants such as sweets and cold liquids.
What is interesting is that many patients have those root exposures yet experience no pain whatsoever, while others have extreme amounts of pain when they drink cold liquids or have chocolate.
While pain symptoms can ebb and flow, once a tooth is sensitive, it is not always easy to remove the pain. We try desensitizing toothpaste and varnished, bondings and home fluoride treatments for the most part. But we will always point out these areas and encourage you to treat them before they begin to get sensitive.
Common causes for root exposure include:
- Brushing too hard
- Grinding at night
- Associated gum disease
No matter the cause will always let you know when we see exposed roots and most likely encourage you to use desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatments at home, or place bondings. The latter acts as a sort of “spackle” that covers over the exposed nerve endings and most of the time can eliminate the sensitivity.
Learn more next time you see your hygienist.