Why are my teeth so sensitive?

Does a bite of ice cream or sip of hot coffee cause you to wince in pain? Is brushing or flossing painful? Often times we have a tooth or teeth that become sensitive. The doctors at Goldenberg Dentistry explain this may be caused by a cavity, but there are a lot of other potential sources of your pain.

Common causes include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Gum disease
  • Fractured/ broken teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Worn tooth enamel from clenching or grinding
  • Exposed tooth root from recession

Dr. Jessica Goldenberg describes that our teeth are made up of three different layers. The outermost layer than is above the gum line is enamel. It is very strong and once it is gone it will not grow back. Under the gums, on the root surface of your tooth, is a layer called cementum. The third layer that is underneath both the enamel and the cementum is called dentin.
The dentin layer is less dense than enamel and cementum. There are microscopic tubules, small canals, within the dentin. When the protective covering of enamel or cementum is lost, these tubules allow temperatures to transmit to the nerve of your tooth. Hypersensitivity can be caused when dentin is exposed on root surfaces due to gum recession.

No need to worry! Sensitive teeth can be treated! During an examination by either Dr. Joel Goldenberg or Dr. Jessica Goldenberg, the cause of the sensitivity will be determined and then a treatment can be offered. some of the most common treatments include:

  • Anti-sensitivity toothpaste: Common brands include Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive. They both contain an ingredient potassium nitrate, that helps to block the dentinal tubules. Sometimes a prescription toothpaste called Prevident will be recommended. This may take a few days to take effect and usually needs to continue to be used.
  • In-Office desensitizer: a special paste may be applied directly to sensitive areas to give immediate relief
  • Fluoride varnish: A varnish may be applied in-office to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding: A restoration may be placed if decay or a defect if present
  • Surgical gum graft. If the root is exposed due to gum recession, a grafting procedure may be performed
  • Root canal. If the tooth pain is related to an infected nerve, root canal treatment will be necessary

Another cause of sensitivity is poor oral hygiene. Excess plaque on the tooth or root surface is a common source of sensitivity. It is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms contact Goldenberg Dentistry to set up an appointment.  (805) 642-4541



About Jessica A. Goldenberg, DDS

Dr. Joel Goldenberg started his dental practice after graduating from the USC School of Dentistry in 1983. He is committed to excellence in dentistry. Dr. Goldenberg is a member of the CDA (California Dental Association), ADA (American Dental Association), AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry and is a member with the Santa Barbara-Ventura County Dental Society. Dr. Goldenberg is well-known for educating his patients and involving them in the diagnosis and treatment planning process. He is very conservative, honest, and appreciates the artistic side of dentistry. For the past five years Dr. Goldenberg has traveled to Honduras with his wife and other local physicians and nurses to provide medical and dental care at a free clinic. Dr. Jessica Goldenberg was born and raised in Ventura, California. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the University of Southern California (USC) for her undergraduate studies. She graduated from USC with her Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene. She continued with the Trojan Family at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC where she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Dr. Goldenberg was the recipient of the prestigious Rex Ingram Award for Excellence in Clinical Operative Dentistry. She is a member of the California Dental Association (CDA), American Dental Association (ADA) and the Santa Barbara- Ventura County Dental Society. Dr. Jessica loves working with patients of all ages, especially families and children. It is important to her to make pediatric dental visits fun and enjoyable. She also enjoys making beautiful smiles with cosmetic dentistry. She prides herself on always being honest and providing conservative dental care.
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