For some, sensitive teeth only occur every once and a while when they are exposed to stimuli such as hot or cold beverages, and the sensation usually subsides within moments. For others, sensitive teeth can be practically debilitating. There are a few different options for treating sensitive teeth, with one recently developed treatment in particular causing a good deal of excitement among researchers.
In order to better understand the treatments, it is first good to have an idea as to what causes teeth sensitivity. Enamel loss is definitely the main reason why people experience sensitive teeth. Enamel can be lost through tooth decay, improper brushing, and eating acidic foods. When enamel erodes, the dentin layer of the tooth becomes exposed. The dentin contains microscopic tubules that lead directly to the nerve tissue of the tooth located in the pulp. Normally, blood and nutrients are exchanged through these tubules, but external stimuli are introduced when dentin becomes exposed. In addition to hot and cold liquids, other external stimuli can be sweet or sour food items and changes in pressure. When these external stimuli come into contact with the dentin, they also make their way via these tubules to the nerve, causing the sensitivity.
Fluoride treatments are sometimes given to patients with sensitive teeth in an effort to strengthen tooth enamel. Many stores sell special toothpastes that are specifically designed to combat sensitivity. The way these toothpastes work is by blocking the openings of the tubules that lead from the dentin to the nerve tissue. The issue with these toothpastes is that the seal is superficial and therefore not very long lasting. A new treatment that is causing excitement is a special type of paste that utilizes calcium and phosphorous to block the opening of the tubules. This treatment more deeply blocks the openings of the tubules, and it is believed that this depth is key to truly treating tooth sensitivity.