When you experience tooth sensitivity, the most common reasons include: cavities, cracked teeth, trauma, teeth grinding, clenching, worn tooth enamel or fillings, receding gums.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
The tooth has two main parts, the crown and the root. The crown is the part of the tooth that you see above the gum line – which is coated with a hard substance called enamel. The root holds the tooth in place and is covered with a thin layer called cementum. Below both the enamel and the cementum lies a more porous layer, called the dentin. The dentin contains microscopic canals, or tubules that connect to the root of the tooth. The root contains nerves and blood supply.
When a patient feels pain, the dentin tubules have been activated by either pressure, temperature or an irritating food or liquid. For example, if a patient brushes excessively, the gums can recede, exposing the cementum and dentin. So when you sip on a cold beverage, the cold sensation may travel down the dentin tubules and stimulate a pain sensation. Also, a cracked crown, or loose filling may also activate the tubules below the enamel, causing pain. So if you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, it’s important to see your dentist, to figure out the cause.
How To Prevent Tooth Sensitivity
Good oral health – Thorough daily dental hygiene prevents plaque and calculus build-up, which can cause gum recession.
· Don’t use tobacco
· Regular Dental Visits - for cleanings and oral exams
· Proper Brushing and Flossing – the use of a soft bristle tooth brush with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing can also reduce gum recession .
How Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?
1. The most important step in treating tooth sensitivity is to see your dentist. They can diagnose the problem and determine the cause. One treatment that often works very well, is just switching to a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes help close off the dentin tubules , which reduces the sensitivity by preventing tooth nerve activation. Other treatments include in-office dental fluoride treatments and some new methods discussed below.
2. Sensondyne Toothpaste
I also recommend brushing with Sensodyne Toothpaste, to reduce tooth sensitivity. Here’s a link to their website to get more information: https://us.sensodyne.com/. Crest also makes toothpaste for sensitive teeth with the same active ingredient: potassium nitrate. For more information on Crest brand sensitivity toothpaste options, you can visit their website: https://crest.com/en-us/products/compare/crest-toothpaste.
3. Potassium Oxalate Mouth Rinse Reduces Tooth Sensitivity
A new extensive, double blind study tested the safety and effectiveness of over the counter Potassium Oxalate (PK) mouth rinses for reducing tooth sensitivity. Researchers compared two groups consisting of 361 randomly assigned people. One group received the placebo mouth-rinse (control group), while the second group received the mouth rinse with the active ingredient, potassium oxalate. They tested sensitivity in one or more teeth, starting at day one, two weeks and four weeks. They blew puffs of cold air on the areas of sensitivity and had the patients rate their pain on scale. Researchers plotted the pain scores on graphs over time to determine effectiveness, as compared to the control group.
At week two, the PK mouth rinse users experienced a 7.2% reduction in pain as compared to the control group. At week four, the PK mouth rinse users experienced a 19.2% reduction, compared to the control group. From the starting point, overall, those that used the PK mouth rinse reduced tooth sensitivity by 30%. The reduced numbers seen as compared to the placebo group shows that those that used the mouth rinse without the PK, did experience some pain reduction at 2 and 4 weeks. The 4-week, 19% pain reduction (as compared to the control group) does show PK has a statistically significant effectiveness for reducing tooth sensitivity over a 4 week period.
If you’re currently using a tooth sensitivity toothpaste and are not experiencing optimal pain reduction, using this new type of mouth rinse might help. Since they use different chemicals to occlude dentin tubules, a combination therapy could be tried, or a possible switch. Previous research has shown Potassium Oxalate offers a more acid resistant method. Ask your dentist what they recommend for your particular case. Both desensitizing toothpaste and this new mouth rinse have been proven safe for daily use.
4. New Dentist-Applied Tooth Desensitizing Treatment Option Works in Minutes
Many patients suffer from tooth pain when consuming hot or cold beverages and food. This occurs when the enamel has worn away from the tooth, exposing the dentin. The dentin can also get exposed, as people get older and their gums recede. The dentin has tiny tubules, or channels, that carry messages to the tooth nerves. Many products made today, help plug or fill up those tubules. Certain toothpastes, for example, contain ingredients like Potassium Nitrate which over time plugs up those tubule. A new desensitizing gel works almost instantly to plug up the dentin tubules, with a dentist-applied tripolymer material. This new tripolymer gel can be used before and after a dental cleaning, to prevent cleaning pain. The gel is applied to sensitive areas before the calculus is removed and then re-applied, for both quick and long lasting pain relief.
5. New Tooth Desensitizing Product Promises Longer Relief
In the battle to reduce and stop tooth sensitivity, companies have created products that temporarily plug up open tubules in teeth’s exposed dentin. As people age, gums recede, enamel wears away and the exposes the dentin, the part of the tooth that causes discomfort to heat and cold. Dentin is the underlying material, that’s under the tooth enamel and below the gum line. When someone brushes their teeth with desensitizing toothpaste, a chemical, such as Potassium Nitrate, plugs up small, microscopic holes in the dentin. This action of clogging up of the dentin tubules causes the reduction in tooth sensitivity. A new product on the market, called Complete Desensitizer, by Kor, actually fuses to the dentin tubules, creating a strong, chemical bond, resulting in long term pain relief. The chemical reaction, fuses a chemical called calcium oxalate, to the tubule material (hydroxyapatite) and actually goes into the tubules.
Clinical use of this newly available product include sensitivity reduction in teeth whitening, general and specific tooth sensitivity, after surgery pain and in special toothpastes and mouth rinses. Look for more products with this new treatment option to come out soon. It may be for professional, in-office use only, initially.
Category: Tooth Sensitivity