Your teeth are made up of an incredibly hard, outer ‘enamel’ layer that allows you to bite and chew, a more porous ‘dentin’ layer extending from beneath the enamel to below the gumline, and an inner, soft tissue ‘pulp’ layer containing the tooth’s vital nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Damage such as receding gums or chipped, cracked, worn or broken enamel can allow underlying nerve endings to be exposed to air, hot, cold, and touch… resulting in ‘sensitive teeth’. Once dentin is exposed, it’s tough to correct the situation. In some cases, laser technology may successfully seal the tiny exposed tubules; in other cases it’s necessary to simply treat the symptoms.
First, we may suggest a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect your gums from further irritation and recession; we may also recommend a special toothpaste formulated to block access to the nerve endings or to insulate the nerve itself; and finally, we may prescribe a fluoride rinse or gel. For a few weeks, as you wait for these measures to take effect, you’ll need to monitor what you eat and drink– avoiding very hot or cold foods and beverages, stopping any habitual, conscious grinding or clenching, and brushing very gently with a soft brush.