Tooth Sensitivity

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Tooth sensitivity.

Expert Dental Care in Spring Lake & Grand Haven, MI

At Arbutante Dental, we strive to provide high quality dental treatment to patients throughout the Spring Lake and Grand Haven, MI areas. Dr. Arbutante and our highly-trained team of dental specialists work hard to treat every patient on an individual level, designing personalized treatment plans that perfectly suit each patient's unique dental needs. We treat a variety of dental problems and conditions, and one of the most common is tooth sensitivity. 

Feeling a Little Sensitive?

If you've noticed your teeth are especially sensitive after you brush, drink cold liquids, or even breathe in cold air, you're not alone. Up to 35% of the US population experiences tooth sensitivity in some form, and the triggers vary from ice cold liquid to the sweetness of certain foods. The problem starts when dentin, the material that makes up most of the tooth, starts transmitting temperature, pressure, or other signals to the nerves on the inside of the tooth. To understand how this process works, we'll have to take a look at the anatomy of a tooth. 

The Anatomy of a Sensitive Tooth

 Blowup of Dentin.

Dentin is the sturdy, calcified tissue that makes up most of your tooth, but it's normally hidden under a layer of hard enamel. On a microscopic level, dentin is composed of tiny tubules – and when these tubules are exposed to the mouth, it can cause sensitivity and pain. 

Normally, the dentin is protected by enamel, but a number of things may expose it. Gum recession is a common cause of exposed dentin, as if the gums recede too low, they can expose the tooth roots, which are covered by the softer substance cementum. Gum recession can be caused by genetics, gum disease, or even extra vigorous brushing and flossing.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is enamel erosion. If the hard outer enamel erodes from exposure to acids and bacteria, it can create tiny holes or cracks in the enamel that expose the dentin and cause tooth sensitivity. Sodas, sports drinks, and sugary foods can all cause or contain acids that attack the enamel, and brushing right after consuming these can make it worse because the acids soften the enamel and make it more susceptible to wear from brushing. Instead, wait an hour after consuming to brush. 

Dental decay is another common factor that exposes dentin, and if left alone for long enough, decay can reach down to the tooth root, which can cause significant pain and necessitate a root canal. Some treatments for tooth decay, like filling cavities, can also cause temporary tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Decay.

Treating Tooth Sensitivity

So if you have sensitive teeth, what are you to do? If the sensitivity is minor, just try to avoid brushing the affected area too hard or too long and ensure you're using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a gentle brushing technique. Make sure to use fluoridated toothpaste, which strengthens the teeth, and you may want to switch to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Be patient, though: it may take 4-6 weeks for you to feel the difference. 

If the sensitivity continues or gets to the point where it's significantly painful, we're always here to help. We can perform an oral examination to determine what's causing the sensitivity, then recommend a treatment plan to help deal with the sensitivity. We may use a fluoride varnish, prescription mouthwash, or bond a protective material to the outside of the teeth.

Contact Your Grand Haven, MI Family Dentist

Tooth sensitivity can be a minor annoyance or a major source of discomfort, but no matter what you're experiencing, we're always here to help. We work hard to provide high-quality dental treatments in our office, and we'd be more than happy to help you with any dental problem you're experiencing. If you're struggling with tooth sensitivity, have another issue, or just want to ask some questions, feel free to call us at 616-842-0090, reach out to us at our contact page, or request an appointment online at our Spring Lake, MI office