Teeth sensitivity: Causes and Treatment

teeth sensitivity

It has been very hot lately and with that comes a throat parching thirst that can only be quenched by a drink of ice cold water. Imagine on reaching the glass to your lips, relief is robbed from you and instead you feel a sharp pain in your teeth that can either cause you to hurriedly swallow or to spit it all out. Sometimes, you dance on the spot, to the beat of pain while you gargle the water in attempts to reduce the pain. This is likely to be due to teeth sensitivity, especially if it is happening for the first time.

What is teeth sensitivity?

Teeth sensitivity is a condition characterized by a sharp pain on exposure to some stimuli which can be heat or cold or even osmotic for example sweet or salty food, which pain dissipates immediately the stimulus is removed.

What causes teeth sensitivity?

It occurs as a result of loss of tooth structure either due to caries, a crack in the tooth, a restoration that is failing or the non-pathological causes of tooth substance loss. When this happens, there is exposure of dentinal tubules to the oral environment. These dentinal tubules contain a fluid and odontoblast processes which play a role in transmission of stimuli. This stimuli is read as pain by the brain and thus the sharp pain felt on exposure.

The mechanism of how this pain comes about has been a subject of contention for many years but the most widely accepted theory is the hydrodynamic theory. In this theory, it is suggested that the stimuli cause changes in the dentinal tubule fluid which then impinges on the neural structures in the tubule which information is transduced and read as pain by the brain.

How is teeth sensitivity treated?

Treatment for teeth sensitivity unless otherwise is not invasive. It usually involves a few behavioral modifications for example a proper tooth brushing technique, using proper toothpaste and reducing the consumption of cariogenic foods. Prescription toothpaste may also be recommended by the dentist. This toothpaste contains higher amounts of fluoride than the usual toothpaste which makes remineralization of your teeth faster, closing the dentinal tubules and thus reducing the sensitivity. In case it is due to a failed restoration, the restoration may be removed and repaired and in case it is due to gum disease, this may necessitate treatment by a periodontist.

Teeth sensitivity should never be ignored because it signifies presence of an active disease process which can progress to cavities and even result in tooth loss. It should be treated with sufficient attention so that the process can be reversed.

Are you experiencing teeth sensitivity, make an appointment with our dentist today for a free checkup and consultation.