Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth Sensitivity
Posted on 06/27/2017

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 3.58.06 PMAll parents want their children to have beautiful smiles, but pediatric dental care goes beyond helping teeth look good. At Children’s Dentistry of DuPont, we are proud to provide expert, exceptional pediatric dentistry services to children throughout the DuPont, Steilacoom, Lacey, Olympia, and Yelm areas, as well children who are a part of the JBLM community.

We believe every child deserves a smile he or she feels proud of, and our pediatric dentist, Dr. Tracy Takenaka, and her highly trained staff work with patients to customize treatment plans that meet their needs. 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 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 your child is experiencing minor tooth sensitivity, the first thing you can do is try and adjust your child’s brushing style. When brushing the teeth, it is important not to be too aggressive or brush the same area for too long. Additionally, make sure your child is using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, which builds the strength of enamel. You may also want to consider getting your child a 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 Children’s Dentistry of DuPont 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 child’s visit to our DuPont, WA office we'll also examine the teeth to see if there is another underlying problem causing tooth sensitivity. If there is, we'll form a treatment plan to get your child back to optimal dental health.

Contact Your Local Pediatric Dentistry

While normally mild, tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects many people. If your child has been struggling with this issue, Children’s Dentistry of DuPont is always happy to help. As a premier pediatric dentistry in DuPont, WA, 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 child’s dental health, we encourage you to contact us today. We're excited to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child achieve a beautiful, healthy smile!