|How to Help Sensitive Teeth
Posted on 7/8/2018 by Renee Bancroft
|Tooth Sensitivity is a widespread problem among people of every demographic. In a recent study published by the National Institute of Health, one in eight patients had sensitive teeth in private practice. We touched on the blog several of the main reasons patients have sensitive teeth, including whitening, receding gum lines, cracked teeth or roots, or a filling that needs to be replaced or adjusted. The first step in helping reduce tooth sensitivity is identifying the cause. Your Northwest Implants and Sleep Dentistry team can do that for you in a routine check up appointment, and make a treatment plan for fixing it. However, Dentinal Hypersensitivity, which is the most prevalent culprit for tooth sensitivity, can at times be a straight forward fix.
Dentinal Hypersensitivity is the overactive, painful response of nerves specifically in the dentin. Dentin the the part of the tooth usually protected by enamel, the hard white surface of the tooth. When gums recede the dentin on the root under the enamel crown is exposed. Because it is not as hard as enamel, is more porous, and has tubules that directly connect and communicate with the nerves inside the teeth (in the pulp chamber), exposed dentin can be extremely sensitive.
At home, there are several things you can do to lower your sensitivity, if not completely eliminate it. Teeth that are exposed to a more acidic environment are at a higher risk for sensitivity. This includes chemotherapy patients, GERD sufferers, alcohol abuse, and several other risk factors. Coffee, soda, and energy drinks are also culprits along with frequent snacking. Dry Mouth is also a huge contributing factor. Managing medical conditions and altering diet can make a large difference for dentinal hypersensitivity, and is something that your Northwest Implants and Sleep Dentistry team would love to work with you and counsel you through.
There is quite a large market now aimed at aiding patients that suffer from sensitive teeth. Look for toothpaste and mouth rinse labeled “sensitive” or “sensitivity relief” for products that may help. Not all “sensitivity” toothpastes use the same active ingredients however, which means they work differently. The two most common active ingredients (listed on the back of the box under “active ingredient”) are potassium nitrate or strontium chloride in combination with fluoride. Fluoride strengthens teeth and protects against acidic foods. Potassium nitrate lowers nerve sensitivity by blocking pain signals between nerves. Strontium chloride is thought to block the dentinal tubules we mentioned earlier that have a direct pathway to the nerve, lowering sensitivity.
The trick with anti-sensitivity toothpaste is using it often and over a long period of time. Used twice daily for several weeks, patients notice a difference. If the toothpaste is used sporadically, it may not make much of a difference at all.
There are also ways that we can help tooth sensitivity in office. You can ask your hygienist or dentist about the options we provide for lowering sensitivity during your visit and after. We also offer several different types of sedation for your visit, which would completely manage pain. Ranging from Nitrous Oxide (“laughing gas”) sedation to general anesthesia sedation we can ensure that your visit is comfortable and you don’t have to worry about dentinal hypersensitivity. To schedule an appointment to address your sensitivity concerns, a routine visit, or any dental need, call us today at 509-467-5268.