If you've recently found yourself starting to avoid hard candies, hot coffee, or other foods and drinks you once loved because of their effect on your sensitive teeth, you may be searching for any solution that will allow you to return to your normal diet. When sensitivity-reducing toothpastes and other home remedies have only had a temporary effect (if any at all), do you have any options left? Read on to learn more about the potential causes of your recent sensitivity, as well as some non-invasive treatments that can permanently reduce the sensitivity of your teeth.
What is causing your teeth to be sensitive lately?
Identifying the source of your sensitive teeth is important when selecting the proper treatment. If the sensitivity is confined to one particular tooth, you could be dealing with a cavity or dead root. If you've recently had dental work performed in the area experiencing sensitivity, this can be a natural side effect of your procedure and should diminish over the course of the next few weeks. Sensitivity around your gums could be due to minor gum recession from gingivitis. And if you notice sensitivity when eating or drinking high-acid items (like citrus fruits or sodas), you may have some acid erosion of your enamel that is exposing dentin (and therefore the nerves within your tooth).
How can you permanently reduce the sensitivity of your teeth?
The right solution for your sensitive teeth depends on the cause. Fortunately, even severely sensitive teeth can usually be permanently treated through one of the below options.
Dental bonding is an ideal choice for those whose sensitivity is due to eroded enamel or erosion at the gumline, as well as those who would like a more uniform smile (or whose teeth could be a few shades whiter). When your teeth are bonded, they'll be covered with a clear film and then treated with a special light that instantly hardens this film to enamel strengths. When applied thickly, this bonding agent can help fully cover any exposed dentin in thin spots on your tooth or around your gums. Bonding can often lengthen your teeth, help your smile look less "gummy," and reduce discoloration or yellowing.
Depending upon your insurance coverage and the cost of living in your area, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $400 per tooth bonded. While this may seem pricey, bonding can last years and should significantly improve your smile in the meantime.
In some situations, your teeth may not yet be eroded enough for bonding to be the best option -- but could still use protection from highly acidic food and drinks. If this is the case, applying a sealant to your teeth can help shield them from the ravages of food and drink without permanently affecting the way your smile looks. These sealants are painted over your teeth and allowed to dry. They essentially form a seal-coat on the surface of your tooth. As long as these sealants are in place, the nerves in your teeth should be protected from exposure to the outside elements.
You'll pay much less for dental sealants than bonding -- likely only around $45 per tooth treated. However, these sealants will likely need to be re-applied every few years to maintain their effectiveness at keeping your sensitivity at bay.
Root canal and crown
For those whose sensitivity is limited to a single tooth, it may be time to have a cavity filled. If you're dealing with daily pain or discomfort around your sensitive tooth, it's likely the root has already been too damaged by exposure to air and saliva to fully recover. You'll need to have this root removed through a root canal procedure and the remaining tooth covered with a dental crown. While root canals can seem intimidating, this procedure shouldn't be much different from having a simple cavity filled and can help eliminate the sensitivity you've been experiencing.