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What is sensitive tooth?


Sometimes you wince when you take hot or cold foods. This may be a sign of dentine hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth), caused by a couple of things including tooth decay (cavities), fractured teeth, worn out fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth root.
Sensitive tooth

The Dentin (see diagram of tooth) contains tiny tubes (called tubules). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat / cold, acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth more easily. The irritation of the nerves causes the sensitivity.


Can sensitive teeth be treated?

Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist will know which treatment is appropriate to the cause of it.

Treatments include:

tooth anatomyDesensitizing toothpaste.
Use less abrasive toothpaste or one that adds a coating to the teeth for extra protection. You may also use a high fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the enamel and reduce the sensations

tooth anatomyA crown, inlay or bonding.
These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.

tooth anatomySurgical gum graft.
If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.

tooth anatomyRoot canal.
Sometimes sensitivity is severe and cannot be treated with the above methods. Your dentist may advice this option.

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