Everything you need to know about root sensitivity

Root sensitivity is a form of tooth sensitivity that can cause periodic discomfort when exposed to cold air, hot or cold drinks or foods, or when brushing teeth. It is a very common situation, one with some very effective treatments.

The tooth is made up of two parts, the crown and the root. The crown is the part of the tooth you see and is made up of tooth enamel, dentin in the middle and then pulp in the center. The root is below the gumline and is also made up of three layers, cementum on the outside, dentin in the middle and pulp in the center.

Dentin consists of tiny fluid-filled tubes that usually have a mineral deposit on the end to protect it. The tubes have nerves within them. The mineral at the end of the tubes is covered by tooth enamel or cementum. These layers protect the tooth and prevents those nerves being exposed. When those tubes are exposed you get that momentary discomfort associated with tooth sensitivity.

How root sensitivity is caused

There are a few ways to bring on sensitive teeth. Surface sensitivity is most commonly caused by abrasion. This is where the protective enamel layer is worn away and exposes the softer dentin. Abrasion can be caused by brushing your teeth too hard, a harsh toothpaste, some tooth whitening toothpastes, wear and tear and a poor oral health regimen.

All are preventable.

Root sensitivity is often caused by erosion. Erosion can be as a result of grinding the teeth, clenching the jaw, gum disease or excessively chewing gum or tapping teeth. These habits can cause the bone in the jaw to recede and expose the cementum underneath. This then wears quickly as it is nowhere near as strong as tooth enamel.

Just like the crown of the tooth, the dentin underneath has tubes that can become exposed to the outside world, producing root sensitivity.

Treatment of root sensitivity

Aesthetic Family Dentistry has a range of treatments available for root sensitivity. Treatments can be as simple as using a softer toothbrush, prescribing a different, non-abrasive toothpaste or a special toothpaste designed to address sensitivity. These toothpastes are designed to replace that missing mineral “cap” at the end of the tubes in your dentin and can be very effective.

While root sensitivity can have a debilitating effect, the discomfort is usually very short lived. However, it isn’t a situation you should leave untreated as it will likely get progressively worse. Aesthetic Family Dentistry are experts in treating tooth sensitivity. Come see us today and we’ll take care of it together!