Treatment of Sensitivity

Usually tooth sensitivity (dentine hypersensitivity) presents as temporary tooth discomfort or pain after eating cold food, drinking cold liquids, or breathing cold air.

Most commonly, the problem begins when the gums recede. Like a protective blanket, the gums cover the roots of teeth. As gums recede, the underlying tooth roots are exposed.

Gums commonly recede for one of two reasons

  1. Improper heavy handed brushing of the teeth. Most people brush with too much pressure. Over weeks, months and years of brushing they remove significant gum tissue exposing the tooth roots.
  2. Poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque build-up around teeth and gums. Over time this plaque hardens into tartar. Bacteria in this tartar are responsible for the gingivitis and periodontal disease that cause gum recession.
  • The dental hygienist will clean your teeth. If your teeth are too sensitive to be cleaned, we may use a local anaesthetic and topical anaesthetic before the cleaning.
  • After a cleaning, your dentist may apply a fluoride varnish to protect your teeth. This temporarily reduces sensitivity. It also strengthens your teeth.
  • Using fluoride toothpastes and fluoride mouth rinses at home also will help to reduce sensitivity. Toothpastes are available just for sensitive teeth.
  • You should choose a fluoride mouth rinse that uses neutral sodium fluoride.
  • Pulpal sensitivity will be treated with a root canal if the tooth's nerve is damaged or dying. The nerve will be removed and a non-reactive substance (gutta percha/plastic point) will be placed in the space where the nerve was. The tooth no longer will have a continuous protective enamel barrier. Therefore it will be restored with either a composite filling or a crown.
  • Another treatment option is to place buccal composite fillings where the dentine / cementum of the tooth root is exposed. This will allow the filling to be worn down rather than the tooth.

To reduce pain due to grinding or clenching, we can make a plastic night guard that you should use while you sleep.