Common treatment options for tooth sensitivity

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There are a range of home and dental treatment options available for individuals experiencing sensitive teeth. The suitability of any one of these options depends on what the actual cause of the sensitivity is.

For example, the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is worn, eroded, demineralised or decayed tooth enamel. Once your teeth lose their outer protective layer of enamel, the dentin within them is exposed. This allows thermal stimuli or acidic food and drinks to penetrate tiny tubules in the dentin, through to the underlying tooth nerves. In this case, restoring your enamel would be the key aim of treatment.
For other types of tooth sensitivity – such as sensitivity triggered by mechanical or chemical stimuli (e.g. chewing food and overuse of whitening toothpaste) – the focus of treatment might be on tooth restoration or behavioural changes.
Only your dentist or hygienist can determine and inform you of the best treatment option(s) for your sensitive teeth.

The following home/dental treatment options and strategies can help prevent, alleviate and treat tooth sensitivity issues:

  • Limit acidic(sweet/sour) food and drinks – they erode tooth enamel and cause gum recession, which exposes dentin and nerves.
  • Desensitising fluoride toothpaste – this type of toothpaste has active ingredients that remineralise your dentin and enamel.
  • Brush and floss gently – over-brushing can strip away tooth enamel, and cause gum recession which exposes tooth roots.
  • Fluoride mouthwash – strengthens tooth enamel, and prevent plaque and tooth decay.
  • Sealants – resin-based sealants useful for grinding surfaces of molars.
  • Fluoride varnish – a sticky coat that is applied to tooth surfaces, and releases fluoride into a tooth’s outer layers over several hours.
  • Fluoride gel – applied topically to re-mineralise affected areas of enamel for several minutes.
  • Avoid overuse of home teeth whiteners – excess use can erode tooth enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Filling, crown, inlay or bonding treatment – restores severely damaged tooth surfaces and structure, and covers and protects dentin tubiles.
  • Mouthguards – effective to prevent enamel wear caused by teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism) while you sleep. De-stressing is an important behavioural change to relax jaw muscles and prevent bruxism.
  • Root canal therapy – treats tooth sensitivity caused by infection and inflammation of tooth pulp and nerves.
  • Gum tissue grafts – cover and protect roots exposed by receded gums.
  • Regular dental visits – for professional preventative care.

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