Tooth Sensitivity Explained

Many Patients today are keeping their teeth years later than previous generations. The well being of these people, I can be sure, is the highest calibre.

As we age, many patients experience periodontal disease, which is the loss of supporting bone around root surfaces. With this loss, comes exposure of the root surfaces above the gum line. Exposing these surfaces can cause root sensitivity (especially to cold or sweet foods) and many times can be quite extreme.

What is tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity should not be confused with tooth pain which is the result of decay or internal and external cracking. Patients can also experience pain in a tooth which does not have an apparent cause. This is called unprovoked pain and can cause a patient to experience sleepless nights, or the person to avoid that tooth. It is constant and lingering pain. On the other hand, tooth sensitivity occurs only under specific circumstances and is a twinging sensation in one or more teeth. The most effective remedy for tooth sensitivity is a professional tooth cleaning followed by topical fluoride treatment. The cleaning is necessary prior to the fluoride to remove the bacterial colonies attached to the tooth surfaces. If this plaques and calculus (hardened plaque) remains on the tooth surface the sensitivity will persist.

After an office visit many people respond well to the use of fluoride rinses or gels after tooth brushing and flossing at home. It is also been noticed that several fluoride toothpastes that are " for sensitive teeth" can have a positive effect.

In rare cases, with thorough home care and fluoride rinses, sensitivity can persist. In these cases, a restoration or sealant or the root surface may be indicated. This technique is routine and relatively predictable, but may have to be maintained if sensitivity returns, every six months to a year.

If all else seems to be ineffective, it is wise to consult a pain specialist and research options that are beyond the scope of this article, but once again this is extremely rare.

For the vast majority of patients tooth sensitivity can be lessened and may be completely eliminated. Essential to this process is proper dental visits periodically, and the use the "good old fashion" brush and floss.

by Dr Robert Carlisi

919 12th Place, Suite #9

Prescott, AZ  86305

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