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Effective Treatments for Dentin Hypersensitivity

dentin hypersensitivity

We’ve all been there— that unexpected sharp pain while sipping a hot latte or biting into an ice cream. This discomfort, commonly known as sensitive teeth or dentin hypersensitivity (also called dentinal hypersensitivity), is a widespread dental concern that could significantly decrease your quality of life.

However, it’s not a condition you must live with forever. With proper dentin hypersensitivity treatments and oral care, you can eliminate tooth sensitivity and enjoy your favorite foods without cringing.

What Is Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity is a common dental condition characterized by sharp, sudden pain in response to certain stimuli. It occurs when the dentin, the layer beneath the tooth enamel that contains tiny channels leading directly to the tooth’s nerve center, becomes exposed.

Factors such as gum recession or loss of enamel can expose these channels, also known as dental tubules. This increases pain response to stimuli like hot, cold, sweet, or sour elements and even to a gust of air, hence the term “dentin hypersensitivity.”

Teeth sensitivity can manifest in various ways. Here are the common symptoms associated with sensitive teeth: 

  • Sharp Pain. Sensitive teeth can cause sharp, sudden, and shooting pain that originates deep within the tooth nerve endings. Some individuals also experience severe pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages.
  • Reactions to Temperature. Symptoms may include discomfort when consuming hot foods and beverages, as well as cold foods and drinks. Additionally, exposure to cold air can trigger sensitivity.
  • Response to Foods and Beverages. Sweet and acidic foods and beverages may provoke sensitivity in affected teeth.
  • Physical Activities. Certain activities such as brushing, eating, and drinking can lead to sharp, temporary pain in the teeth for individuals with sensitive teeth.
  • Severity of Discomfort. The discomfort experienced due to sensitive teeth can range from mild twinges to severe discomfort that persists for several hours.
  • Indicative Signs. Dental problems like receding gums, cracked teeth, loose fillings, dental erosion, and gum disease can also cause teeth to be overly sensitive. 


Predisposing Factors

The following conditions can cause the exposure of the dentin surface and lead to sensitive teeth:

  • Periodontal Disease. Conditions like gum disease or gingivitis can cause gum recession, exposing the dental tubules. This exposure triggers nerve response, leading to intense discomfort while consuming hot, cold, or acidic foods or drinks.
  • Dietary Substances. Intake of dietary acids from foods and drinks like citrus fruits and soda can cause enamel erosion. The erosion can gradually wear down your tooth enamel, revealing the dentin layer underneath and causing tooth sensitivity.
  • Over-Brushing. Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush could wear down the tooth enamel. Not only could this exposure lead to sensitivity, but it could also make your teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay.
  • Tooth Whitening Products. Some of these products could contribute to dentin hypersensitivity. The chemicals in the whitening products may infiltrate the dentin layer, causing discomfort and increased sensitivity to different temperature foods or drinks.

How to Treat Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Unfortunately, there’s no cure-all for sensitive teeth. However, management of dentin hypersensitivity has been proven to provide substantial relief.

Over-The-Counter Products

A wide range of desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, potassium chloride, or potassium citrate is available over the counter for managing tooth sensitivity. These ingredients work by blocking the movement of fluids in the dentinal tubules, thereby reducing the flow of fluid that causes discomfort. Regular use of these toothpaste can fill the tubules in the dentin and create a barrier against sensitivity, providing long-term relief if used consistently.

In-Office Treatments

If OTC products aren’t providing adequate relief, in-office treatments may be the next step. These treatments obstruct the open dentinal tubules, stopping the fluid flow that triggers the painful reaction.

  • Dentin Bonding Agent. A clinical study has demonstrated that applying a dentin bonding agent on the dentin in response to an air stimulus can reduce the dentinal fluid movement, diminishing the pain sensation. This procedure involves covering the dentin’s surface with a thin coating of a plastic material that can protect exposed dentin and prevent sensitivity.
  • Fluoride Varnish. This treatment forms a protective layer over the dentin, reducing the fluid flow. Applied in a thin layer, this varnish strengthens tooth enamel and decreases the transmission of sensations from the tooth surface to the nerve, thereby reducing sensitivity.
  • Application of Calcium Carbonate. Known for its capability to cover patent dentinal tubules, it alleviates discomfort. Obstructing the tubules creates a physical barrier preventing stimuli from reaching the nerve fibers, thus relieving sensitivity.
  • Dental Restoration (Inlays, Crowns, Dental Bonding). This treatment option includes inlays, crowns, and dental bonding. Inlays and crowns are used when significant parts of the tooth are damaged or decaying; they cover and protect the exposed dentin to reduce sensitivity. On the other hand, dental bonding can be applied to the tooth’s surface to close the exposed tubules and protect the dentin from external stimuli, thereby reducing tooth sensitivity.
  • Root Canal Therapy. This is a more extensive treatment option for tooth sensitivity when the tooth’s nerve is severely affected, or other treatments aren’t sufficient. Root canal therapy involves removing the affected nerve, cleaning and filling the inside of the tooth, and finally sealing it. This treatment not only eliminates the sensitivity but also protects the tooth from future microbial invasion.

How to Prevent Teeth Sensitivity

Understanding potential predisposing factors helps you maintain your tooth surface health. Hence, it’s crucial to:

  • Stick to a Good Oral Hygiene Regimen. Regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash rinse are essential to maintaining a healthy mouth. Good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay, which are leading causes of dentin hypersensitivity.
  • Use a Toothbrush With Soft Bristles. A toothbrush with soft bristles is much less likely to cause gums to recede or wear down the tooth enamel. Over time, this can help to protect your teeth and prevent the painful symptoms associated with dentin hypersensitivity.
  • Limit the Consumption of Dietary Acids. Drinking acidic beverages or eating acidic foods can erode tooth enamel over time. Reducing your intake of these substances can preserve your tooth enamel and protect the dentin beneath from exposure.
  • Seek Professional Dental Care Routinely. Regular dental check-ups can ensure early detection and treatment of issues leading to dentin hypersensitivity. Dentists can also provide expert advice on how to care for your teeth to prevent the condition further.

FAQs About Dentin Hypersensitivity

How Do You Fix Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity can be managed using over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste or in-office treatments like dentin bonding agents, fluoride varnish, or application of calcium carbonate. Adapting good oral hygiene and limiting the intake of dietary acids can also help.

Does Dentin Hypersensitivity Go Away?

Dentin hypersensitivity does not naturally go away. It requires treatment either through over-the-counter products or professional, in-office dental procedures. Proactive dental care can also prevent the condition from progressing.

What Is Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity, often called sensitive teeth, results from gingival recession and enamel loss, exposing dentin. This exposure incites a heightened pain response to stimuli like heat, cold, or sweet substances.

How Long Does Dentin Hypersensitivity Last?

Without treatment, dentin hypersensitivity can persist indefinitely and worsen over time as the dentin gets more exposed. However, symptoms can be significantly reduced or even eliminated with proper treatment.

How Do You Fix Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitive teeth can be treated using desensitizing toothpaste, good oral hygiene, or professional dental treatments. Limiting the intake of dietary acids can also preserve tooth enamel and prevent sensitivity.

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive All of a Sudden?

Sudden tooth sensitivity could be due to exposed dental tubules from gum recession or enamel loss, excessively rough tooth brushing, consumption of dietary acids, or tooth whitening products. If you’re experiencing sudden tooth sensitivity, it’s best to consult with a dental professional for a proper diagnosis.

Get Rid of Discomfort Caused By Teeth Sensitivity: Contact Us Today!

Finding effective treatment for dentin hypersensitivity is pivotal for improving the daily lives of individuals affected by sensitive teeth. Understanding the underlying causes, exploring accurate diagnosis methods, and embracing innovative treatment options help you regain comfort in daily activities. Don’t let sensitive teeth hinder your enjoyment of life—reach out to dental professionals, explore treatment options, and take proactive steps to enjoy a pain-free smile once again.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment with our dental specialists for expert guidance on managing dentin hypersensitivity and achieving effective relief.

Miller’s Family Dentistry is your trusted partner in addressing all dental concerns, including managing dentin hypersensitivity. With our comprehensive care approach, state-of-the-art equipment, and a team of experienced dental professionals, we prioritize your oral health and strive to provide you with the most effective, personalized treatment options.

Call us now, and let us guide you toward pain-free, radiant smiles.

Dr. Ron Miller - Miller's Family Dentistry

About Dr. Ron Miller

I’m proud to be following in my family’s footsteps when it comes to providing families with quality healthcare. Dentistry has changed so much since my father opened this office more than 50 years ago. I take pride in bringing you the benefits of the latest advances for gentler, more effective care. But one thing hasn’t changed: We still offer the personalized care that makes every patient feel special.

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