Tooth Sensitivity


In recent years, the oral condition “dentin hypersensitivity” has been discussed at Bell Dental, PA more frequently. Dentin hypersensitivity is defined as a short, sharp pain arising from exposed dentin in response to temperature or touching stimuli. Dentin is the layer of tooth just beneath the enamel on the crown of the tooth, and the layer exposed on root surfaces when gum recession occurs.

tubules imageSeveral theories have been proposed in attempts to explain dentin hypersensitivity, since not all exposed dentin is sensitive. Exposed dentin is usually coated by a smear layer, and the dentinal tubules are closed over by calcium phosphate deposits in our saliva. Sensitivity occurs when the smear layer that coats the dentinal tubules is removed, exposing them to the oral environment. The image to the left shows a microscopic view of open dentin tubules.

Ltubules toothoss of crown enamel occurs due to wearing of the tooth surface by events such as abrasion (brushing hard or prolonged use of toothpicks) or erosion (acidic food or drinks). Some wear happens from something called abfraction, heavy grinding which causes the neckline of the teeth to flex back and forth causing recession along with the wear. Hypersensitivity is most prevalent on the cheek and lip side areas of the teeth along the gumline.

One treatment to combat dentin hypersensitivity is to clog up the exposed dentin tubules which have lost their smear layer using a chemical blocker. Some over-the-counter toothpastes contain desensitizing agents which will help decrease sensitivity with twice daily use over the course of six to eight weeks. Tooth brushing is a globally accepted dental hygiene method that is part of the daily routine of many patients, and thus requires no changes in habits. Talk to one of our team members to see which toothpaste may be right for you.

Atubulesnother chemical blocker is one we use in our office at Bell Dental, PA called GLUMA®. It can be placed on the sensitive areas by Dr. Katie Bell below crowns, bridges, veneers and around margins of temporary crowns. Our dental hygienists can also place GLUMA® on tooth neck erosion, exposed dentin, and hypersensitive teeth due to gingiva recession. Our patients appreciate the fast, effective, and long-term results of a more comfortable cleaning. The minimal cost of GLUMA® application is not usually covered by insurance, and our team will be happy to discuss options with you.

Dentin hypersensitivity is a condition that affects patient quality of life. Most individuals who seek treatment do so in search of relief for their pain. The longer the use of desensitizing agents, the greater the benefit obtained in reduction of dentin hypersensitivity. It is preferable to try these less-invasive, reversible procedures first. They are cost-effective and readily available.