What are the different things that can cause sensitive teeth?


The common and most obvious ones are cavities and infections which is directly due to the cavity(tooth decay) getting close to the nerve. Fractures in the tooth, or the filling or both can also cause sensitivity in regards to cold, sweets, and biting.


The one that I see even more than these are sensitive teeth due to root exposure. 4 out of every 5 patients have at least one area where they have root exposure and cold or sweets will create what I call a "zinger". Patient will often report an area on a tooth and state that it is sensitive when they touch the surface with their fingernail or toothbrush bristles.


So what causes root exposure? Several things but the most common are periodontal(gum) disease, receding gums, aggressive toothbrushing, and heavy grinding of the teeth. All of these can cause root surfaces to become exposed and cause a great deal of sensitivity. While it typically is a "tolerable" discomfort, it can be very frustrating and self limiting.


What are the the treatments for sensitivity due to root exposure? It can range as simple as a fluoride topical application to a root surface filling to a gum surgery to help cover up the root surface. The newest type of treatment that I use on a daily basis is called "Laser Desensitizing". Using a special laser, I can "zap" the root surface with laser energy and totally eliminate the cold and sweet sensitivity in a matter of minutes. The advantages of this treatment is that you get instant results(i.e. instant pain relief) and is virtually pain free. Patients have great results from laser desensitization and it is becoming the most cost efficient/conservative treatment available?


Ask your dentist about sensitive teeth and what the causes are and what the recommended treatment is!



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