Have you ever encountered tooth sensitivity after eating a chocolate bar, licking an ice cream cone, or biting down into a crunchy apple?  Tooth sensitivity affects approximately one out of every eight adults, according to a survey in HealthDay News.  The study reported that sensitive teeth were most common in young adults, women and people who had receding gums or did at-home tooth whitening.  We turned to Beverly Hills restorative dentist, Dr. Gaby Cosgrove, to get to the root of the problem!

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

According to Dr. Cosgrove, tooth sensitivity can present as a result of tooth decay, fracture, and enamel sensitivity.  Tooth decay occurs when bacteria breaks down the tooth’s protective surface, leaving exposed areas vulnerable to sensitivity.  Fractures, caused by weakened fillings and restorations (often by age) or from excessive nighttime tooth grinding, can cause bite/pressure sensitivity.  Excessive enamel wear from tooth grinding, acid reflux, or recession of the gums exposes the roots at the gum line, thus causing sensitivity.  “Once the hard enamel coating of the tooth is worn through, the dentinal tubules communicate and are closer to the nerve of the tooth,” shares Dr. Cosgrove.  “That’s why the teeth feel so sensitive to touch and cold.”

Ways To Combat Sensitivity

“The best way to combat root surface sensitivity is by using a toothpaste like Sensodyne with active ingredient potassium nitrate to seal dentinal tubules,” shares Dr. Cosgrove.  To manage discomfort, over-the-counter, topical dental desensitizers can be applied to root surfaces or in a bleaching tray appliance.  “Some people benefit from using prescription strength Fluoride based tooth pastes at night only,” she offers.  “Dentist and hygienists can also apply fluoride varnish after a teeth-cleaning to seal dentinal tubules.”

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