Tooth Sensitivity

KatieM

Katie Moynihan RDH

Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth is one of the most common concerns among dental patients. Tooth sensitivity occurs due to enamel loss or gum recession which exposes the underlying dentin structure of the tooth. The dentin layer of your tooth is found underneath the enamel and contains several tiny tubes which run from the nerve to the outside of the tooth. When exposed, these tubes are highly sensitive to temperature changes, sweets, or mechanical forces. Not to mention very painful!

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Tooth sensitivity can be caused by several factors. Aggressive brushing can wear away your enamel at the gumline leading to gum recession and exposed tooth root. Another cause of sensitivity can be from continuous grinding of the teeth to the point that the enamel is completely worn down to the dentin layer. Cracked teeth or worn fillings can create passageways to the nerve of the tooth. Periodontal disease, or severe gum disease, can contribute to sensitivity because the gums around the teeth break down and lead to gum loss and bone loss.

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There are several ways to help reduce tooth sensitivity either at home or at the dental office. The type of treatment will depend of what is causing the sensitivity.

At home treatments include:

  • using a soft or extra-soft toothbrush while brushing gently in order to avoid toothbrush abrasion at the gumline (take a good look at your toothbrush…if the bristles are pointing in multiple directions, you’re brushing too hard!)
  • using a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate, which penetrates the exposed dentin and soothes the nerve endings
  • using a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen the tooth and exposed dentin
  • using MI Paste (available at your dental office) to block dentin tubule openings
  • limit acidic foods and drinks because they can remove small amounts of enamel over time

In office treatments include:

  • application of a fluoride varnish – helps seal the tubules and rebuild exposed dentin
  • application of a fluoride foam – provides a high dose of fluoride to help strengthen teeth
  • bonding agents can be placed at the gumline if necessary to seal exposed dentin and reduce sensitivity
  • restorative treatment if needed to correct the tooth that is causing the sensitivity
  • periodontal treatment if needed to keep gums healthy around the teeth

A mix of potassium nitrate and fluoride is your best solution for desensitization. Some products which include these active ingredients include Sensodyne, Pronamel, Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief, and Colgate Prevident 5000 Sensitive. These products must be used on a regular basis for at least 30 days before any therapeutic benefit will take place. Whitening and tartar control toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that can damage tooth enamel and may be too harsh for those with sensitive teeth. The application of a fluoride varnish is always available in-office at your request. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, feel free to ask us which desensitizing agents will work best for you!

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Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_33.ashx

https://us.sensodyne.com/faq.aspx

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/tooth-sensitivity/article/treatment-options-for-tooth-sensitivity

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth

Fluoride: It’s not just for the kids.

KO6A0990-Edit
Andra Mahoney BS RDH
 
When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride.In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride.Some examples include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of regular professional dental care
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
  • Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
  • Poor diet
  • Existing fillings
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy

I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.

Recession- Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth. 

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This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.

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As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.

The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).

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Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity. 

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Xerostomia

The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.

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All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions! 

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com/

 

References:

Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf

Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp

Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

Pictures:

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http://www.m.sensodyne.com/?redirectfrom=www.sensodyne.us+R-https%3a%2f%2fwww.google.com%2f

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