We all want a healthy, beautiful smile, but dental care goes beyond just helping teeth look good. At Bluff Creek Dental, we’re proud to provide expert, high-quality dental treatments to patients of all ages throughout the Chanhassen, MN area. We believe everyone deserves a smile they feel proud of, and our treatment team of family dentists and highly trained dental specialists works with you to customize a comprehensive treatment plan that meets the needs of your lifestyle. While much of the care we provide focuses on preventing cavities or repairing damaged teeth, sometimes we need to address other types of dental problems, including tooth sensitivity.
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Tooth sensitivity is a surprisingly common problem, affecting more than a third of the US population at one point or another. Unlike normal tooth pain, which refers to the constant ache you might get from a cavity, tooth sensitivity usually occurs when teeth are exposed to certain stimuli like cold, heat, pressure, sweetness, or acidity.
The problem arises from the anatomy of the tooth. Beneath the hard out layer of a tooth (the enamel) is dentin, which makes up the majority of the tooth itself. Dentin contains nerves and tiny tubules that transmit messages down to the root of the tooth where the soft, fleshy dental pulp resides. If dentin is exposed directly to external stimuli without the protection of enamel, it can cause pain.
While enamel normally covers and protects dentin, it may be exposed for a number of reasons, such as:
- Enamel only covers the upper surface of the tooth, so it doesn’t extend below the tooth roots. If the gum line recedes low enough to expose the tooth roots, the dentin there may be vulnerable to external stimuli.
- Acids from sodas, sports drinks, and certain foods can erode the surface of the enamel. The acids work to soften the outer layer of the enamel, and if you brush your teeth while the enamel is in this softened state it may wear down over time and expose dentin. To avoid this, always wait an hour or so after drinking anything acidic before brushing your teeth – or just avoid consuming sodas and sports drinks entirely.
- Tooth decay can also be a problem. Naturally-occurring bacteria in the mouth can interact with the foods we eat to produce corrosive acids, which eat away at enamel. If the enamel wears down enough, it may expose the dentin, producing sensitivity.
- Sometimes just having dental work done can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. For instance, because dental fillings interact directly with dentin, they may cause sensitivity for a few days while the tooth adjusts.
How to Treat Sensitive Teeth
For most patients, tooth sensitivity is a minor issue and can be dealt with at home. If you’re experiencing minor tooth sensitivity, be careful about how you brush your teeth; try not to brush too aggressively, and don’t brush the same area for too long. Make sure you’re using a soft-bristled brush and proper technique, and always use fluoridated toothpaste, which builds the strength of your enamel. You may also want to consider using toothpaste that is specially formulated for sensitive teeth, although it may take 4 to 6 weeks to feel its effects.
In some cases tooth sensitivity lasts long enough or gets intense enough to warrant professional treatment – and Bluff Creek Dental is here to assist. We can use a variety of treatments including concentrated fluoride varnishes, specially-formulated mouth rinses, or even bonding protective materials to the outside of the teeth. During your visit to our Chanhassen, MN office we’ll also examine your teeth to see if there is another underlying problem causing your tooth sensitivity. If there is, we’ll form a comprehensive treatment plan to get you back to optimal dental health.
Contact Your Chanhassen, MN Family Dentist
While normally mild, tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects many people. If you’ve been struggling with this issue, Bluff Creek Dental is always happy to help. As a premier family dentist in Chanhassen, MN, we’ve aided countless patients deal with everything from tooth sensitivity to comprehensive dental repairs. If you have any questions about tooth sensitivity, our office, or your dental health, we encourage you to call us at (952) 679-6360 or schedule an appointment with our Chanhassen, MN office today. We’re excited to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile!