Sensitivity is a problem faced by the majority of people. It is one of the most common dental conditions which can affect patients while hindering their day-to-day routine. This condition can make even the most routine tasks impossible such as eating, and drinking. Sensitivity is characterized by a sharp pain in the mouth in response to a stimulus. The pain can be of a shorter duration. However, it can also be long-term depending on the condition of the tooth.
Sensitivity is also caused by other factors such as a cracked tooth, worn-off enamel, and gum diseases. Parafunctional habits such as night grinding, and in-house dental procedures such as teeth whitening and caries can also lead to sensitive teeth.
How does Sensitivity start?
Sensitivity starts when the top layer of the enamel is worn off. The enamel is a protective covering over the dentine and pulp. The enamel lack the nerves and vessels hence we are not able to feel any sensation while eating. Once the enamel is worn down the underlying dentine and pulp are exposed. The dentine is a permeable structure and it passes gases and liquids more easily. Once the substances pass through the dentine and reach the pulp – the patient can experience pain.
The pulp contains the nerves and vessels which can transmit the uncomfortable sensation leading to pain. When the patient takes hot and cold food the nerve endings can trigger pain and sensitivity.
Ruling out the underlying cause is the first step toward managing sensitivity.
Your dentist can guide you through some of the following options listed below.
Desensitizing toothpaste can help block the pain sensation by forming a protective layer over the dentine. These pastes contain potassium nitrate which tends to block the pain signals traveling from nerves to the brain.
While there are various products available in the market, consulting your dentist before getting one is the most suitable option.
Flouride application is another great way to form a protective barrier over the tooth surface. It also helps to strengthen the enamel and minimizes any sort of painful sensations. Over the counter, fluoride can also be applied via tray after consulting the dentist.
3. Root Canal
If other options don’t work, the dentist might end up recommending root canal treatment. This procedure can remove the nerve endings responsible for pain. This treatment to date is the most successful one for eliminating tooth sensitivity.
4. Salt Water Rinses
If you are lucky and the damage to the enamel is not great, salt water rinses can also help get rid of the pain, inflammation, and sensitivity in some cases. A 2017 study suggested that saltwater rinses can be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwashes to reduce plaque buildup.
5. Desensitizing Agents & Bonds
Dentine and adjacent structures are often covered by desensitizing and bonding agents to protect the underline dentine and pulp. These are most commonly applied to the exposed root surfaces.
6. Surgical Grafts
Surgical grafts are done in cases when the root is exposed with significant loss of gingival tissue. The gum tissue can be harvested and used to cover the defect or the exposed root surface.
The incidence of sensitivity can however be reduced by sticking to a proper oral hygiene routine. Using a soft bristle toothbrush, mouth wash and eliminating any risk factors can help you avoid sensitivity in most instances.