The 411 on Sensitive Teeth

kitsilano dentist talks sensitive teeth

Summary on Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are usually the result of damage or loss of tooth structure which all can be the result of many conditions.  Tooth decay that infiltrates the inside layers of a tooth, the dentin and eventually the pulp or nerve of the tooth, can cause discomfort when exposed to temperature changes.  Over aggressive tooth brushing can cause damage to the gums, exposing the roots of teeth or abrading away the out layer of enamel.  Erosion from acid due to eating disorders, gastric acid reflux, or having a diet with acidic foods and fluids can also result in sensitivity over time.  Grinding or clenching causes your teeth to be worn down, hence damage and loss of tooth structure as well.  Other conditions can also result in sensitivity but sometimes patients can present with more than one cause that results in sensitive teeth.

by Dr. Alex Rosenczweig at Accord Dental in Kitsilano

FAQ’s About Sensitive Teeth


Why are my teeth sensitive?

Hot and cold temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect or change your eating, drinking and breathing habits. Taking a spoonful of ice cream, for example, can be a painful experience for people with sensitive teeth.

Is tooth sensitivity a common condition?

Sensitive teeth are one of the most common complaints among dental patients. At least 45 million adults in the U.S. and 5 million Canadians suffer at some time from sensitive teeth.

How can I avoid sensitivity?

Some toothpaste contains abrasive ingredients that may be too harsh for people who have sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpaste that lightens and/or removes certain stains from enamel, and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpaste, may increase tooth sensitivity.

What can I do about sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity can be reduced by using desensitizing toothpaste, applying sealants and other desensitizing ionization and filling materials including fluoride by your dentist and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods. Tartar control toothpaste will sometimes cause teeth to be sensitive as well as drinking diet soft drinks throughout the day. Avoid using hard-bristled toothbrushes and brushing your teeth too hard, which can wear down the tooth’s root surface and expose sensitive spots.

What can the dentist do for my sensitivity?

Dentists have a variety of regimens to manage tooth hypersensitivity, including both in- office treatments and patient-applied products for home use. If you are diagnosed with dentin hypersensitivity, your dentist may apply a desensitizing agent or a protective coating. You may be prescribed a stannous fluoride gel or over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste containing fluoride and either potassium nitrate or strontium chloride.

from the Academy of General Dentistry


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