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Article: The many causes of sensitive teeth DR. JERRY GORDON
Concerns about sensitive teeth are one of the most common things that a dentist hears when a patient comes in for an appointment. Unfortunately, there are many different causes for sensitive teeth and the treatment options are also varied.

Concerns about sensitive teeth are one of the most common things that a dentist hears when a patient comes in for an appointment. Unfortunately, there are many different causes for sensitive teeth and the treatment options are also varied. The first step is for the dentist to discover what is causing a tooth to become sensitive. Cold or hot food and drinks are the most common triggers of dental sensitivity, but breathing in cold air, tooth brushing, and chewing hard foods can also be to blame.

After listening to the patient, the dentist will examine the area, and may take an x-ray to see what is causing the sensitive tooth. In most cases, sensitive teeth are caused by cavities, recession of the gums, broken teeth, teeth that have become infected, or recent dental treatment. Undiagnosed cavities are a common cause of tooth sensitivity. After a comprehensive dental check-up, the dentist diagnoses how many cavities there are. Filling the cavities usually alleviates the sensitivity.

Gum recession is another reason teeth can become sensitive. When the gum starts to expose a portion of the tooth's root, cold sensitivity is a common complaint. The dentist can treat this problem with special desensitizers, high concentration fluoride, and in some cases, a graft of gum to cover the affected area is required. Patients can also use desensitizing tooth paste at home like Sensodyne.

Broken teeth cause sensitivity by exposing the inner portions of the tooth that are usually protected by the enamel. The dentist can treat this by either filling the tooth, or by preparing the tooth for a crown (cap).

Infected teeth cause discomfort or pain when eating or drinking, or without any stimulation. The treatment involves either saving the tooth with root canal or having the tooth extracted. In some cases a tooth that has had root canal can become infected again and can become sensitive.

Teeth that have recently been filled, have had root canal, or a crown can be sensitive for a week or two in some instances. If the sensitivity persists, see your dentist. Teeth may also be sensitive for a few days after a dental cleaning, especially if they have not been professionally cleaned in several years. Any treatment of the gums, including deep cleaning or gum surgery can cause teeth to be sensitive for a short period of time.

Sensitive teeth should always be evaluated by your dentist. Treatment of sensitive teeth can help you enjoy the holidays this year.

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Dr. Gordon is the dental columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times. He has published more than 300 articles since 1998. Dr. Gordon was recently asked to provide commentary about mid-level providers for the influential dental journal Dental Abstracts.

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