Sensitive Teeth | Treatment
by George M Bailey, DDS
Why are my teeth sensitive?
The most common reason for sensitive teeth is exposure of the root surface (dentin). Gums may recede and expose the roots of the teeth which have nerve endings.
For many people, drinking a glass of cold water is very painful.
How can I reduce or stop the sensitivity?
Try the following:
- Eliminate the use of all “tartar control” toothpastes. The chemicals in these toothpastes can cause hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth).One has to read the labels in order to get those that are truly free of “tartar control” products and then read them each time you buy a toothpaste because formulations change rapidly! The buzz words “Total, Complete, etc, usually indicate they have tartar control ingredients.
- Avoid most whitening products—most have bleaching agents which can cause sensitive teeth
- Do use toothpastes designed for sensitive teeth (NOTE: some toothpastes eliminate tartar control products and include products that reduce sensitivity such as fluorides in the same toothpaste).
- Do use concentrated brush-on fluorides such as PreviDent 5000 Plus®— these require a prescription from your dentist
- Do be patient! Use of these products usually requires several weeks before noticeable results. Keep after it!
NOTE: Buyer Beware! Most toothpaste manufacturers want to be everything to everybody and frequently include products that may cause sensitivity—tartar control and whitening ingredients—with products that may reduce sensitivity. Confused? So are we! We particularly like Tom’s of Maine products since they list ingredients, purpose, and source.
Consider Soft Tissue Grafting to Cover the Exposed Root(s)
Frequently one of the more effective long-term solutions to reducing/eliminating sensitive roots, is to cover them with gum grafts. Here is a typical case that shows an exposed root before which is very sensitive and after it is covered by a gum graft with no sensitivity.
Additionally, a newer, gentler treatment for gum recession is the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique. The pinhole surgery offers the same benefits as gum grafting with less pain for those who are candidates. Dr. Bailey is one of only a few periodontists in Utah trained to perform this technique.