Damaged Enamel Causes Indirect Exposure
Incredibly hard enamel protects your teeth above the gum line so that you can bite and chew without pain or discomfort. Beneath the enamel, a more porous layer, dentin, extends to below the gum line. A soft interior portion called pulp contains vital nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. The pulp fills the root canals, and it is the source of life to the tooth.
Damage, such as receding gums or chips and cracks in enamel, or heavy-handed brushing, exposes the dentin and can create a condition known as dentin hypersensitivity. Through tiny pores in the dentin, called tubules, temperature fluctuations, air, and pressure can directly affect nerves. This type of sensitivity can cause sudden, acute, and unexpected oral pain. About 45 million Americans suffer from tooth sensitivity, and if you’re one of them, we can help.
In some cases, laser therapy may seal the tiny exposed tubules and solve the problem. Another therapy includes dental sealants or bonding agents, which create a barrier similar to natural enamel. Sometimes treating the symptoms is the best solution. We may suggest a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect your gums from further irritation, an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensitive automatic shut off, or special toothpaste formulated with potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to block or insulate nerves. A fluoride rinse or gel, or an oxalate compound applied to an exposed tooth root may reduce your tooth sensitivity. For a few weeks, as you wait for these measures to take effect, you’ll need to monitor what you eat and drink to avoid extreme temperatures.