Tooth sensitivity refers to stinging and sudden pain in one tooth or several teeth. Sensitivity is often caused by a reaction to cold or heat or touching the tooth. The reason for the sensitivity should be clarified and treated at the dental appointment.
What causes tooth sensitivity?
The most common reasons for tooth sensitivity are
- gum recession
- a dental cavity or chip in the tooth
- opening at the edge of the old filling
- tooth wear
A common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession. There are channels filled with liquid under the gums in the dentine which go deep inside the tooth. The liquid in these channels starts moving, such as when eating cold food, and the nerve cells of the tooth sense this as ache in the tooth. Tooth sensitivity may be caused by consuming hot, cold, sweet and acidic foods.
The most common cause for gum recession is advanced gingivitis. If you notice gingivitis symptoms, such as red or swollen gums or bleeding, you should book an appointment with a dentist. Sensitivity may also be caused by strong brushing of teeth or, for example, gum recession resulting from the use of an orthodontic treatment appliance.
Sensitivity experienced in a large area may also be related to tooth wear. Occlusion system disorders or frequent use of acidic products, such as juices or soft drinks, may also lead to sensitivity.
Treatment of tooth sensitivity
The most simple treatment of sensitive teeth is to fill the cavity or prevent the cavity from progressing. If the sensitivity is caused by a crack or chip in the tooth, the dentist can fix it with composite resin.
If the sensitivity is caused by gum recession originating from gingivitis, the gingivitis must be treated first. The brushing technique must also be checked: teeth should be brushed with short strokes using a soft toothbrush. The dentist can also treat the teeth with agents preventing sensitivity.
Gum recession can also be fixed surgically either by stretching the gum next to the tooth or using tissue from the palate to cover the recession.
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