If drinking hot or cold beverages sends a sudden, sharp pain through the tooth, there is most likely a dental problem that needs to be corrected. If tooth sensitivity happens regularly and the tooth is also sensitive to pressure, it is definitely time to schedule a dental examination.
Dr. Rohinton J. Patel can examine the teeth for potential causes of tooth sensitivity, such as exposed tooth roots. Once the cause of tooth sensitivity is established, he can provide restorative dentistry treatment to rebuild damaged tooth enamel and promote the growth of healthy gum tissues, both of which can alleviate tooth sensitivity. To learn more about treating tooth sensitivity and exposed roots at our East Honolulu, HI dental practice, contact us at your earliest convenience.
Understanding Tooth Sensitivity from Exposed Tooth Roots
The tooth consists of two primary parts, the crown of the tooth, which sits above the gum line, and the root of the tooth, which is protected by the jawbone and gums. Both the roots and crown of the tooth are made up of layers, including a sensitive collection of nerves and tissues at the center (known as the pulp) and a slightly stronger layer of dentin in the middle.
However, the roots of a tooth are naturally more sensitive than the crown. The roots are not exposed to the daily forces of biting and chewing, so they simply are not built to withstand the same degree of pressure or temperature as the crown of the tooth. Therefore, if the roots of the tooth are exposed, significant tooth sensitivity can be expected.
Causes of Exposed Tooth Roots
The roots of the tooth are protected by the gums to avoid sensitivity issues. However, there are dental complications that can develop that may cause the tooth roots to become exposed. The two most common causes of exposed tooth roots are gum recession and dental erosion at the gum line (also known as dental abfractions).
Gum recession is a common side effect of periodontal disease. When an infection develops in the gum tissues, the gums become red and swollen. The inflammation causes gum tissues to recede, or pull up and away from the teeth. As recession worsens, small pockets of space form between the teeth and gum line. These pockets can expose the sensitive roots of a tooth.
Dental abfractions are small notches that form in the base of the dental crown, right below the gum line. The most common cause of dental abfractions is aggressive tooth brushing. When a person presses too hard against the teeth, or uses a toothbrush with firm bristles, tooth enamel will eventually wear down, potentially causing an abfraction that can expose tooth roots.
Treating Exposed Tooth Roots and Sensitivity
The only way to effectively alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by exposed tooth roots is to treat the cause of the problem. In the case of gum disease, Dr. Patel offers periodontal treatment to eliminate infection from the gums so that new, healthy tissues can grow. The most common treatment for gum disease is root planing and scaling. This deep cleaning improves the health of the gums to close periodontal pockets that can expose the tooth roots.
Dental abfractions are treated like other types of tooth decay or erosion. Dr. Patel will apply a tooth-colored compound to rebuild the damaged tooth and seal off the sensitive roots, nerves, and tissues. This strengthens and protects the tooth and covers tooth roots to alleviate sensitivity.
If you are experiencing heightened tooth sensitivity, you are in need of restorative dentistry treatment. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity and what Dr. Rohinton J. Patel can do to restore your oral comfort.