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Home » Sensitive Teeth? Here’s What You Need to Know for Relief 

Sensitive Teeth? Here’s What You Need to Know for Relief 

woman with sensitive teeth needs a Dentist in Washington Heights NYC

It’s so uncomfortable when you want to enjoy a cold drink on a hot summer day, but the moment it touches your teeth, a sharp jolt of pain shoots through your mouth. Tooth sensitivity can turn simple pleasures like eating ice cream or sipping your coffee into a painful experience.  

This common dental issue affects millions of people worldwide and can impact daily life and oral health. If that’s your case and you want to know more about why this happens, what you can do about it and if you need to see your dentist in Washington Heights, NYC, keep reading.

man with sensitive teeth needs a Dentist in Washington Heights NYC

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, occurs when the underlying dentin layer of the tooth becomes exposed. 

Dentin is normally protected by enamel on the crown of the tooth and cementum on the root. When these protective layers wear down or become damaged, dentin can be exposed, leading to sensitivity. 

The dentin contains tiny tubules that connect to the nerves inside the tooth. When exposed, these tubules allow external stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or acidic substances to stimulate the nerves, resulting in pain or discomfort. 

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity can be attributed to various factors, each affecting the protective layers of the teeth and exposing the sensitive inner structures to external stimuli. 

Enamel Erosion 

Enamel erosion occurs when the enamel, wears away due to various factors such as acidic foods and beverages, aggressive brushing, or certain medical conditions. As enamel erodes, the underlying dentin becomes more exposed, leading to increased sensitivity. 

Gum Recession 

Gum recession refers to the gradual shrinking or pulling back of the gum tissue, exposing the roots of the teeth. When gums recede, they leave the sensitive root surfaces vulnerable to external stimuli, resulting in tooth sensitivity. Common causes of gum recession include periodontal disease, aggressive brushing, and genetics. 

Tooth Decay 

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack the tooth’s enamel, leading to the formation of small holes or cavities. These cavities can expose the inner layers of the tooth, including the dentin and pulp, causing sensitivity. 

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) 

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a condition characterized by the involuntary clenching or grinding of teeth, often during sleep. The repetitive grinding motion can wear down the enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity. Additionally, bruxism can cause fractures or cracks in the teeth, further exacerbating sensitivity. 

Excessive Plaque Buildup 

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach with regular brushing and flossing. When plaque accumulates, it can release acids that irritate the tooth’s nerves, leading to sensitivity. Proper oral hygiene practices are essential for preventing plaque buildup and reducing the risk of sensitivity. 

Acidic Foods and Beverages 

Consumption of acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, sodas, and certain wines, can contribute to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. Acidic substances can weaken the enamel over time, making the teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and other dental problems. 

Dental Procedures like Teeth Whitening 

Certain dental procedures, such as teeth whitening treatments, can cause temporary tooth sensitivity as a side effect. Whitening agents contain chemicals that penetrate the enamel to remove stains, which can temporarily increase tooth sensitivity. However, this sensitivity typically resolves after the treatment is completed.  

a Dentist in Washington Heights NYC smiles during appointment

Treatment Options 

When it comes to managing tooth sensitivity, several treatment options are available.  

Desensitizing Toothpaste 

Desensitizing toothpaste is a common first-line treatment for mild to moderate tooth sensitivity. These toothpastes contain active ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which help block nerve signals in the teeth, reducing sensitivity over time. Regular use of desensitizing toothpaste as part of your oral hygiene routine can provide effective relief from sensitivity. 

Fluoride Treatments at the Dentist’s Office 

Fluoride treatments administered by your dentist in Washington Heights, NYC, involve applying a concentrated fluoride solution to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and reduce sensitivity.  

These treatments help remineralize the enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks and decreasing sensitivity. Dentists may recommend fluoride treatments for patients with moderate to severe sensitivity or those at risk of enamel erosion. 

Dental Sealants 

Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars) to prevent tooth decay and sensitivity. Sealants act as a barrier, sealing off the deep grooves and pits where bacteria and food particles can accumulate.  

By protecting the enamel from decay, dental sealants can help reduce sensitivity and maintain oral health. 

Bonding or Dental Restoration for Severe Cases 

In cases of severe tooth sensitivity or enamel loss, bonding or dental restoration techniques may be necessary to restore the tooth’s structure and function. Bonding involves applying a tooth-colored composite resin to the affected tooth to repair cracks, chips, or exposed dentin surfaces, reducing sensitivity and improving aesthetics.  

Surgical Gum Grafting for Gum Recession 

For those with significant gum recession and exposed tooth roots, surgical gum grafting may be recommended to cover and protect the exposed root surfaces. During a gum grafting procedure, tissue is taken from another area of the mouth or a donor source and transplanted onto the receding gums. This helps restore gum tissue and reduce sensitivity caused by exposed roots. 

Lifestyle Modifications to Support Treatment Effectiveness 

In addition to professional treatments, making lifestyle modifications can help support the effectiveness of tooth sensitivity treatments. This includes practicing good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoiding abrasive toothpaste or aggressive brushing techniques. Limiting consumption of acidic or sugary foods and beverages can also help protect enamel and reduce sensitivity. 

When to See a Dentist 

  • Persistent or Severe Sensitivity: If you experience persistent or severe tooth sensitivity that does not improve with over-the-counter remedies like desensitizing toothpaste or changes in oral hygiene habits, it’s essential to see a dentist in Washington Heights, NYC. 
  • Sensitivity Accompanied by Other Symptoms: Tooth sensitivity accompanied by additional symptoms such as swelling, redness, or bleeding gums may indicate more serious dental problems. These symptoms should not be ignored and warrant prompt evaluation by a dentist 
  • Impact of Sensitivity on Daily Life: If tooth sensitivity significantly impacts your daily life, affecting activities like eating, drinking, or oral hygiene practices, it’s important to seek dental care.  

Even if tooth sensitivity seems mild or occasional, seeking professional evaluation and treatment from a dentist is key for proper diagnosis and management. Dentists can identify the underlying causes of sensitivity, provide targeted treatments to address them, and offer personalized recommendations to prevent future issues and maintain optimal oral health.

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Talk to a Dentist in Washington Heights, NYC, Today! 

Are tooth sensitivity issues impacting your smile? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Perfect Smile Doc. We are here to assess your needs and provide personalized solutions to help you achieve a comfortable and confident smile. Schedule your consultation today

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