Treatment for dental sensitivity

If you have ever had to avoid eating something for fear of pain in your teeth, you might be suffering from Dentin Hypersensitivity.

According to the American Dental Association, 1 in every 8 individuals in the Unites States suffers from this condition. Just as its name suggests, this condition refers to pain in one or more teeth when exposed to certain stimuli.

This condition is more frequent in women than in men and normally appears between 20 and 40 years of age. The sensation experienced by the patient can vary between mild discomfort to severe pain.

Sensitive teeth can be a consequence of factors such as gum recession and root exposure or worn tooth enamel. This causes the dentin in the mouth to become exposed.

If you have sensitivity or any type of tooth pain, it is important to have your teeth evaluated by a dentist, who can offer oral hygiene advise to incorporate in your daily routine that will help avoid dental sensitivity.

What causes dental sensitivity?

Our teeth are covered with a layer that protects the dentin from exposure to external stimuli. 

Tooth enamel is found in the crown of the tooth and the cementum is found in the tooth’s root. When the enamel or the cementum becomes worn, the dentin becomes exposed, which causes the tooth to become sensitive to hot or cold beverages and sweet or acidity substances.

The dentin contains microscopic tubules that connect the nerves of the tooth. When the dentin becomes exposed, the tubules become stimulated, which can trigger a painful response. Temperature change is one of the stimuli that can cause this pain.

Normally, enamel and/or cementum become worn down in the neck of the tooth where both protective layers meet. 

Mujer tocando su cachete con dolor al tomar un vaso de agua fría causada por la sensibilidad dental

The following are some of the most frequent causes of dental sensitivity:

1. Brushing your teeth too vigorously and dental erosion

Brushing your teeth inadequately or aggressively, using with a hard toothbrush or brushing right after eating acidic food are certain habits that can have harmful effects on your teeth and gums. 

Those actions can wear down enamel and cause gum recession, which is one of the principal causes of dentin hypersensitivity.

2. Gum disease

Because one of the principal causes of dental sensitivity is gum recession, any action that deteriorates a patient’s periodontal status contributes to dental sensitivity. 

3. Bruxism

Bruxism is a habit that involves unconsciously clenching or grinding of the teeth. This can cause tooth enamel to erode, exposing the dentin and causing sensitivity to cold or heat and to sugary or acidic foods.

4. Dental procedures

Some procedures are carried out in the dentist’s office that can cause temporary dental sensitivity. These include teeth whitening, teeth cleaning, and dental restorations. This type of sensitivity is short-lived and will disappear on its own.

It is also possible that dental sensitivity to cold and/or heat is caused by a filtration in a restoration piece or by a cavity or tooth fracture. If this is the case, it is important to receive an evaluation and the appropriate treatment by a qualified professional.

5. Systemic illnesses

Any systemic illness that in some way comprises your periodontal health is a possible cause of dentin hypersensitivity. This includes diabetes or any condition that causes an acidic environment in the oral cavity such as acid reflux, bulimia, etc. This type of condition promotes erosion of tooth enamel.

Treatment of dental sensitivity

There are several types of treatment for dental sensitivity. The ideal treatment is determined according to the specific conditions of each case. After an exhaustive clinical evaluation by a trained specialist, the cause of the sensitivity will be determined, and the proper treatment will be chosen. 

The following treatments are some of the most frequently offered by the Gil Dental Clinics located in San Pedro de Montes de Oca and San Rafael de Escazu:

Flouride Application

Your dental specialist can apply topical fluoride gel. This will strengthen the enamel while protecting your teeth and reducing sensitivity.

Sealing dentinal tubules

Dental adhesives and resins are used to seal dentinal tubules. This prevents external stimuli from reaching the dental nerve.

Periodontal plastic surgery

Periodontal plastic surgery works by repositioning the gums and thus covering the exposed roots.

Occlusal splint

This type of mouth guard alleviates the erosion caused during bruxism. This prevents the progression of enamel erosion which can lead to increased sensitivity.

Root canal treatment

During a root canal treatment, the dental nerve is removed, relieving any type of pain or sensitivity. However, this procedure is only carried out in cases of extensive cavities or fractures in which the dental pulp is compromised.

Tips to avoid dental sensitivity

When speaking of oral health, it is essential to work to prevent dental issues before treating them. Because of this, some of the best advice to avoid dental sensitivity is to visit your dentist regularly. However, other tips to avoid this condition are as follows:

  • Use non-abrasive toothpastes that are made especially for sensitive teeth
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Use correct brushing techniques

Although dental sensitivity is quite common, it does not have to be a permanent condition. Schedule an appointment with one of the specialists at Grupo Gil Dental. We will help you to find dental peace. 

Frequently asked questions regarding dental sensitivity

How can I get rid of dental sensitivity and how long will it take?

This depends on the cause of your dental sensitivity. There are some cases that are short-lived and temporary, such as those caused by dental procedures. Other cases will not disappear until the cause is determined and treated.

What does dental sensitivity feel like?

A pain or discomfort when in contact with hot, cold, acidic or sugary foods. The sensitivity does not go away until the stimuli is removed.

Why does dental sensitivity occur?

When erosion of the tooth enamel or cementum occurs, the dentin of the tooth is exposed, resulting in dental sensitivity.

How is dental sensitivity avoided in children?

In order to avoid dental sensitivity in children, use a soft toothbrush, proper brushing technique, a non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste and finally, schedule regular visits to the dentist.

Content reviewed by: Dra. Mariana Gil