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DENTAL
SOLUTIONS

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment

The lifestyle choices made by most people these days increase the chances of tooth sensitivity. In medical terms, this condition is known as dentine hypersensitivity and is now a fully treatable condition. The most important thing is to understand what dentine hypersensitivity actually means. A patient with tooth sensitivity experiences sharp pain that is short and transient even when there is no evident dental deformity. This pain is caused by a stimulus that generally does not cause any reaction. This type of stimulus is called a non-noxious stimulus. The condition is characterized by lessening of the pain as soon as the stimulus is removed.
 
Hypersensitivity of the teeth works on the same principle as Brännström's hydrodynamic theory. This theory states that when a stimulus is applied, a change of pressure or sudden disturbance is created in the liquid that fills the dentine tubules. The consequent movement in this fluid reaches dental nerve fibers causing the sudden jolt of pain. The movement of the fluid in the dentine tubule may be caused due to heat, cold, pressure changes or even air. If the stimulus is cold, then the fluid contracts and if the stimulus is hot, the liquid tends to expand. In either case a disturbance is caused, resulting in a sharp, short jolt.
 

Tooth Sensitivity : Symptoms & Causes

Erosion of the enamel is the primary cause of dental hypersensitivity. Dentin which is located just below the enamel is quite sensitive by nature as it is surrounded by dental pulp and the root canals. When the enamel gets corroded, it exposes the dentin causing sensitivity of the teeth. When dentin is exposed, the tubules open and may react to stimuli as explained by Brännström's hydrodynamic theory. There are many factors that expose the dentin.
 
The primary cause of dentin exposure is gingival recession. This is commonly known as receding gums. In this condition, the roots of the teeth come to the surface and cause erosion of the cementum around the teeth. As a result, tubules are opened resulting in the movement of the fluid within.
 
Consuming food that is corrosive in nature is also a reason for the enamel to be eroded. Any food item with critical pH value below 5.5 can act as a corrosive agent. The enamel of the tooth is very resistant under normal circumstances but becomes vulnerable to abrasion when food with low pH value is consumed. Excessive intake of carbonated drinks also causes corrosion and subsequently exposes the dentin making the tooth sensitive.
 
There are a lot of internal factors that can contribute to the loss of enamel. The most common reason is regurgitation. This is a condition in which acids of the stomach are pumped back into the digestive pipe. The acids rise into the teeth cavity and act as corrosive agents. These acids tend to lower the pH value of the mouth quickly, thereby allowing the enamel to become vulnerable to erosion. Some people have the habit of grinding teeth. This habit could also contribute towards abrasion of the enamel and lead to sensitivity.
 
Sometimes chipping of the tooth or some kinds of filling can also expose the dentin. Brushing too hard can corrode the enamel gradually, thereby leading to sensitivity of the teeth.
Examining for dental sensitivity
 
The primary concern with dentine hypersensitivity is that not many patients recognize it as a condition that requires medical attention. In most cases, dentine sensitivity is discovered by chance when a person visits the dentist for a completely different reason. It is impossible to determine the extent of sensitivity through routine tests. It is only through discussions and detailed questioning that a dentist can decide the extent of sensitivity that an individual suffers. Based on the answers given by the patient, hypersensitivity is divided on a scale as follows:
 
  • 0 - No discomfort, but stimuli is noticed
  • 1- Mild discomfort due to stimulus
  • 2 - Marked discomfort caused by air blast
  • 3 - Marked discomfort that lasts longer than 10 seconds

Depending on this rating, a suitable procedure for treatment is selected.  

Tooth Sensitivity: Treatment & Prevention

There are many desensitizing toothpastes that can help relieve tooth sensitivity. These toothpastes usually contain nitrate, fluoride or strontium in some form to help control the condition. Relief with the use of desensitizing toothpaste is temporary and can only last until you rinse the mouth. If you experience extreme pain and sensitivity, it is a good idea to take the toothpaste on your fingertip or a cotton swab and rub over a sensitive area.  You even get mouthwash with nitrate salts or fluoride to reduce dental sensitivity. 
 
Dental procedures to cure hypersensitivity
  • A dental sealant or filling may be applied to cover the exposed part of the dentin
  • In case of receding gums, a bonding agent is used to seal the gum and protect the exposed region
  • If the cause of erosion is teeth grinding, a specially designed night retainer can be used

The more complex procedures include iontophoresis where the chemical, usually fluoride, is delivered through the tooth using a small electric charge. Laser treatments are also known to provide considerable relief from hypersensitivity.

Prevention of Dentin hypersensitivity

Optimum oral health is the best way to avoid sensitivity. Keeping the teeth free from plaque, using soft toothbrushes and flossing the teeth regularly are simple dental hygiene habits that help control sensitivity. People who habitually suck candy, chew gum or take snuff are at the risk of developing hypersensitivity. Snuff or tobacco is considered more harmful than cigarettes and must be avoided for the sake of health in totality.

 
 
Toothpaste for Tooth Sensitivity
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