If hot coffee or cold ice-cream leave you wincing in anticipation of pain; when sensitive teeth stop you from choosing sweet or sour treats, it may be time to see your dentist about hypersensitive teeth.

Even occasionally, if foods, drinks or a breath of fresh air hurt your teeth, it’s time to take action. When you have hyper-sensitive teeth even brushing and flossing can make a person squirm. Sweet treats might set off an uncomfortable sensation. If you experience any of these symptoms, there are a variety of options that your dentist can suggest to help you resolve sensitivities and be able to enjoy foods and activities like before.

Possible causes include:

  • Decay. Cavities make holes in teeth’s enamel allowing nerves inside the tooth to be exposed to the extremes of hot, cold even sweet and sour.
  • Fractured teeth. Broken teeth can obviously expose a tooths nerve to stimulus, but even a crack or micro fissure in the enamel can weaken a tooths protection from environmental extremes and stimulation.
  • Worn-out fillings.  It may be news to some patients but fillings often need, periodic, and routine replacement.
  • Gum Disease. Gingivitis and periodontal disease can stress the tooths sensitive nerve making it more prone to becoming sensitive. Diseased gums eventually receded due to inflammation, infection and bacterial toxins the root of the tooth becomes more exposed, further reducing natural protection from soft tissues.
  • Worn enamel.  Enamel wears as we age, the thinner the enamel the easier it becomes for the cold and heat to travel through the porous enamel.
  • Exposed tooth root.  The roots of our teeth are intended to be covered and protected by gum tissue. Injuries, gum disease, harsh brushing and flossing practices can all affect gum health.

All sensitivities have something in common.

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel goes over the part above the gumline, protecting the sensitive parts inside teeth.  Below the gum line another protective layer–called cementum–protects the lower half of the tooth. When these layers are compromised the dentin inside the tooth may be the only barrier between the nerve and outside stimulus.

Sensitive teeth can be treated

The type of treatment recommended will depend on what is causing the sensitivity and which recommendations your doctor thinks will fit best for you

Some patients can alleviate symptoms with desensitizing toothpaste and remineralization efforts. Other recommended treatments may require procedures to bond or overlay the affected tooth.  Other patients may need surgical measures to restore soft tissue and gum line.

Prevention is key

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing hypersensitive teeth and pain associated with decay, gum disease, worn enamel and loose or worn fillings.