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Understanding Tooth Sensitivity and How To Treat It

May 12, 2014

Filed under: Prevention — lrfamily @ 6:29 pm

Do you frequently experience sudden, sharp pain in your teeth when drinking hot beverages such as coffee, tea or hot chocolate, or when eating ice cream, chilled fruit, frozen yogurt or other cold foods?

Tooth sensitivity (known medically as dentin hypersensitivity) is an all-too-common condition that affects upwards of 15% of the general population to some degree. Although it doesn’t pose any direct threat to a person’s health, it may cause noticeable discomfort and even pain depending on the severity of the condition.

Tooth sensitivity pain is typically triggered by one of the following:

  • Hot or cold foods
  • Hot or cold beverages
  • Electric pulp test
  • Dental probing during examinations or treatments
  • Sugar
  • Acids

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

The leading cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession. As the gums recede towards the jawbone, root surfaces of the teeth are left exposed and vulnerable to the elements. The protective enamel is thinner around the roots; thus creating greater sensitivity when this area is exposed.

Gum recession is usually a sign of aggressive brushing, brushing with an abrasive toothpaste, and/or the presence of periodontal disease. Other causes of tooth sensitivity include overuse of whitening and bleaching products, acid erosion and periodontal root planing. Although there’s no known cure for gum recession, it can be prevented through daily brushing and flossing along with routine visits to your professional oral hygienist.

How To Treat Tooth Sensitivity

The good news is that tooth sensitivity can be treated. Your first course of action should be to purchase a special desensitizing toothpaste that contains sensation-blocking compounds. When applied to the teeth and gums, it sends compounds directly into local nerves, telling them to reduce their sensitivity.

After brushing your teeth for at least 7 days, you should notice a difference in your sensitivity levels. Don’t just choose any desensitizing toothpaste, but instead check to make sure it contains the official American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. This seal is only given to products that meet the stringent requirements set forth by the ADA.

Sensitivity caused by a cavity can usually be corrected with a filling. If you’re still experiencing problems with tooth sensitivity, talk with your dentist to discuss alternative treatments. Fluoride gel and other desensitizing agents may be prescribed to help minimize the effects of overly sensitive teeth.


If you have sensitive teeth, you need to schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to see what the problem is and how to treat it before it turns into something worse. Treating your tooth sensitivity couldn’t be easier with Little Rock Family Dental Care. Contact us or give us a call at (501) 954-9900 and we will make sure you are taken care of.

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