Sometimes a little sensitivity is a good thing—when relating to others or delivering bad news, for example. Brushing your teeth? Not so much. When eating or brushing your teeth becomes painful, timely treatment is needed to ensure that your teeth do not sustain further damage. Dr. Ryan Hussong, who diagnoses and treats tooth pain in Polk City, IA, offers more insight into sensitive teeth and their treatment.
What Is Dentinal Sensitivity?
We categorize sensitivity in one of two ways. Dentinal sensitivity occurs when dentin, the middle layer of your tooth, is exposed. In a healthy mouth, tooth enamel protects the dentin above the gum line, and connective tissue covers the dentin beneath the gum line. Within the dentin are tiny tubules, or canals, containing nerve branches that lead from the center of each tooth outward. When these canals are exposed, you experience sensitivity to temperature, pressure, and certain types of foods. Dentinal sensitivity most commonly occurs as a result of:
- Erosion of tooth enamel due to grinding and clenching
- Untreated cavities
- Overly aggressive brushing, which wears down the enamel
- Built-up plaque on the root of the tooth
- A diet high in acidic foods and beverages
- Excessive tooth whitening
- Receding gums
How Is It Different From Pulpal Sensitivity?
Unlike dentinal sensitivity, pulpal sensitivity occurs in response to a stimulus within the innermost part of your tooth, the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves, and pulpal sensitivity typically affects only a single tooth. Sensitivity in the pulp usually occurs with:
- A cavity or infection
- When you grind or clench your teeth
- After a filling
- If the tooth is broken or cracked
When you visit Dr. Hussong, he will perform a full examination of your teeth and gums to determine the cause of your sensitivity. He may also take digital x-rays to get a clear picture of your teeth and jaw.
How Does Dr. Hussong Treat Sensitive Teeth?
If enamel erosion is to blame for your sensitivity, Dr. Hussong will recommend fortifying and rebuilding your tooth enamel. For example, he may recommend an in-office fluoride treatment, or you could use fluoridated oral care products, such as toothpaste or mouth rinse. If your teeth have sustained severe damage that cannot be repaired by fluoride alone, you may require restorative dentistry.
A dental bonding procedure uses tooth-colored composite resin to cover the damaged enamel and dentin, and usually can be completed in an hour or less. If the pulp of your tooth is badly damaged or infected, you may require root canal therapy. After treating the decay, Dr. Hussong will cover your tooth with a porcelain dental crown that looks and feels like your natural tooth.
Oral hygiene shouldn’t be painful. To learn more about sensitive teeth, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Grimes, Alleman, Ankeny, Polk City, and throughout the 50226 area. You can also find us on Facebook, where we share the latest news and events from our practice.