Do you experience tooth pain when you eat or drink something particularly hot or cold? Is brushing and flossing your teeth an uncomfortable experience?
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem affecting many people. It can be caused by several things. A few of the most common include:
- Dental caries (cavities or decay)
- Fractured, broken, or otherwise injured teeth
- Old, worn, or loose fillings
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Worn down teeth
- Eroded tooth enamel
- Receded gum line exposing tooth roots
- Infected dental pulp
Healthy teeth are composed of several layers. In the center is dental pulp, contained in the root canals and pulp chamber. It includes the nerve, vessels, and other soft tissue. It is surrounded by a solid layer called dentin. The final, outer layer on the crown (visible portion of a tooth) is super-hard, beautiful enamel. The root (portion below the gumline) is not covered with enamel, but cementum, a softer material.
When enamel or cementum erodes, the dentin is exposed to acids, plaque, saliva, and food particles. There are tiny canals within the dentin layer, called tubules, which allow these substances to reach cells and nerves inside of the tooth. Hypersensitivity to pressure, temperature, or both can result.
Treatment is available for tooth sensitivity. The best solution varies, depending on your overall oral health, and the specific cause of the problem. Some of the most common options include:
- Toothpaste – Many formulas contain a compound intended to reduce sensitivity. They work by preventing sensation from being transferred to the nerve from the tooth surface.
- Fluoride – This mineral helps strengthen and repair your natural enamel, reducing the dentin exposure.
- Restorative dentistry – Procedures such as crowns, inlays, onlays, bonding, or even porcelain veneers can serve the same function as healthy tooth enamel.
- Gum graft – When the problem is caused by receding gum issues, a surgery to restore gum health also covers exposed roots.
- Root canal therapy – If infection has reached the pulp chamber and root canal inside of the tooth, there are only two options to stop the pain: Extraction (not recommended in most circumstances) or a root canal procedure.
In some cases, sensitivity is caused or exacerbated by teeth whitening procedures. This is because most bleaching gels cause pressure changes in the dentin tubules. Only the KöR system contains ingredients that prevent this pressure change, thus preventing most whitening related sensitivity problems.