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Sensitive Teeth: How to Help a Patient with Sensitive Teeth?

January 9, 2023

Teeth sensitivity is a common problem; by some estimates, about 35% of people experience having sensitive teeth at some time in their lives. The most common sensitive teeth symptom is a sharp pain in the teeth and gums, which can be quite uncomfortable. Today, we’ll discuss the common issues with teeth sensitivity and talk about how dentists can help a patient with sensitive teeth.

Teeth Sensitivity Symptoms

Dentin hypersensitivity, better known as sensitive teeth, is not a rate problem. While it does not affect everyone the same, it is most often experienced as a sharp pain that can be temporary or can, in some cases, be persistent. Still, here are some other symptoms that are linked to sensitive teeth:

  • Intense pain in the teeth when exposed to hot or cold
  • Spontaneous pain in teeth
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Pain when brushing teeth
  • Pain when breathing cold air through the mouth

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Teeth sensitivity is a problem many people experience and is most common for people between 20 and 40 years old. The leading causes for sensitive teeth are worn tooth enamel and exposed teeth roots, as the loss of healthy teeth enamel exposes the dentin layer, indirectly exposing the teeth nerves to external influences. Still, in some cases, teeth sensitivity can also be caused by the following:

  • Toothbrush abrasions – when the patient rigorously brushes their teeth with a stiff toothbrush, they can potentially over-sensitize the teeth’ nerves
  • Enamel erosion – too many acidic foods or drinks may cause the enamel to erode, leaving pits on the teeth’ surface
  • Teeth grinding – grinding the teeth during sleep can severely damage the teeth and cause sensitive teeth
  • Gum recession – can be caused by too hard brushing with a hard toothbrush or can be caused by a periodontal disease
  • Cracked teeth/worn fillings – if the patient has a cracked or chipped tooth or has a worn filling that needs replacing, they may experience teeth sensitivity, especially when exposed to cold

Can Sensitive Teeth Problem Be Prevented?

Yes, it is possible to prevent teeth sensitivity, as living with this problem can be very unpleasant and make people nervous and stressed. There are some things people can do to prevent dentin hypersensitivity; we prepared a list of things that one can do to lower the risk of getting sensitive teeth:

  • Improve oral hygiene – brushing the teeth twice a day with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can go a long way in preventing sensitive teeth, especially with desensitizing toothpaste designed for people with dentin hypersensitivity
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush – using a hard-bristle toothbrush and rigorously brushing the teeth can cause damage to the tooth’s natural enamel layer, leaving the tooth exposed to damage
  • Brush teeth in slow, circular movements – brushing in circular movements clean the space between the teeth and reduces the abrasions on the side of the teeth, leaving the enamel intact
  • Lower the intake of acidic and sugary drinks and foods – the excess intake of overly acidic or sugary drinks or foods disrupts the natural pH level in the mouth, leaving the teeth exposed to acids which deteriorate the protective enamel layer. Avoid sugary, carbonated, and caffeinated drinks, as these also hurt the pH level in the mouth and can damage the teeth and make them more sensitive
  • Avoid at-home bleaching treatments – don’t do at-home bleaching treatments very often as many of these are peroxide-based and potentially damaging to teeth and gums
  • Regular dentist visits –regular yearly checkups with a dentist can prevent further teeth sensitivity issues; opt for twice a year if you already have teeth sensitivity or an underlying gum condition.

How to Help a Patient with Sensitive Teeth?

As dentists, you’ve probably seen many different patients with various problems, and teeth sensitivity is among them. A common problem with patients with teeth sensitivity can also disrupt a dentist appointment and make people reluctant to visit the dentist. Still, here is a general advice and suggestion list of how to help a patient with sensitive teeth:

  • Specialty toothpaste – there are a variety of brands of toothpaste specifically manufactured and targeted at people with sensitive teeth. Please speak with your local reps to understand the ingredients of these and the effectiveness of separate desensitizing toothpaste brands and recommend them to patients
  • Avoid hot or cold – advise and encourage patients with sensitive teeth to avoid extremely cold or hot foods and drinks
  • Fluoride – Fluoride gels can be applied to teeth enamel to strengthen it, and it can help bring relief to patients with sensitive teeth
  • Gum grafts – if the patient has sensitive teeth caused by lost gum tissue, a gum graft could be a potentially successful sensitive teeth treatment.
  • Fillings – covering exposed roots with simple fillings can be helpful, as it can potentially prevent pain caused by inflammation of the tooth’s soft core. How extreme it may seem, treating tooth sensitivity by performing a root canal can be the most effective treatment for sensitive teeth.

Using an intraoral scanner and completing a full-arch scan can help you detect and diagnose potential dental problems. It provides a high-resolution, magnified image you and your patient can see on a side-chair screen. Seeing the actual oral condition can also help identify any potential causes for teeth sensitivity and find the best treatment. Great is an excellent choice for an intraoral scanner, and we provide a free scanner, software, and free training, supporting your way to digitizing your dental practice.

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