Dr. Max Zaslavsky on Sensitive Teeth

The Dentist in Fort Lauderdale - Tel: 954-491-3544

Do you suffer from tooth root or gum-line sensitivity?   I’ve been very impressed with the number of new patients I’ve seen with this complaint.  Relatively subtle findings like those illustrated in the clinical photograph do not reflect the gnawing and wincing pains reported by patients with this condition.  The pain is often associated with such things as cold drinks and foods, and in many cases will mimic pain experienced with tooth decay.

The condition is attributed to gum recession and exposure of some of a tooth’s root surface to the oral cavity.  This surface is not protected by the hard enamel that covers the crowns, and is easily abraded away to expose a layer of the tooth that is very porous.  The tiny pores communicate directly with the pulp, the nerve center of the tooth.  When certain substances, like ice, come in contact with these pores the pulp of the tooth responds with nerve signals that have been described as “electric shocks”.  The immediate response by the patient is to avoid the substance that serves to trigger this painful sensation.

Early treatment for this condition usually involves filling-in the tiny pores on the root surface to eliminate communication with the pulp.  Over-the-counter products, like Sensodyne toothpaste, have been shown to be very effective in occluding the pores.  Other materials applied by a dentist usually give more lasting results, significantly reducing or eliminating the pain complaints.  With advanced cases of gum recession, the abrasion of the tooth’s softer root surface may be so severe that the resulting defect must be repaired with some type of filling material.

While many things can cause or contribute to this dental problem, mechanical abrasion and teeth grinding are most noteworthy.  Many patients are now experimenting with over-the-counter whitening products that contain a high level of abrasives.  These abrasives may reduce stain and discoloration, but improper techniques or excessive use has a scouring affect on the teeth which can lead to gum recession, root abrasion, and sensitivity.  Another process known as abfraction is related to excessive grinding or clenching of teeth.  Forces generated with this abnormal function are magnified around the gum-line, causing the shearing away of tooth structure, and a similar problem with sensitivity.

If you think you suffer from root sensitivity consult your dentist or call my Fort Lauderdale dental office at 954-491-3544.  Self-directed treatments like the use of Sensodyne toothpaste might seem to solve the problem, but an accurate diagnosis and identification of the cause is key to a long-term solution  – you must get to the root of the problem.