Dental Sensitivity

When cold, heat, pressure or certain flavors cause pain or discomfort to your teeth, this is known as dental sensitivity. The dentin layer of your teeth is a relatively soft, yellow layer that lies underneath the protecting enamel layer (white part of teeth). Enamel can be lost with cavities, fractures or abrasions caused by improper brushing. When this enamel is lost, the dentin is exposed, and can be a source of dental pain.

Dentin is composed of thousands of microscopic tubules, similar to straws, which connect the outer part of the tooth to the inside where the nerve is located. When the dentin is not protected by enamel or gum, these tubules are left open to the exterior where any stimuli can reach the nerve endings and trigger pain.

Sensitivity is the most common cause of dental pain. When dental pain occurs, a common response is for the patient to avoid brushing in the affected area. When the patient stops brushing in this area, problems like gingivitis and cavities frequently occur.

Dental sensitivity can be perceived as an aching or burning sensation. This sensitivity can occur spontaneously or under certain conditions, for example; when eating sweets. The pain experienced usually lasts only a few seconds.

When left untreated, dental sensitivity can cause inflammation of the pulp (blood vessels and nerve). Certain types of inflammation inside the tooth may subside within a few days. In cases where the inflammation is irreversible, the tooth may worsen to the point where a root canal is needed.

Following are frequent causes for dental sensitivity:

  • New restorations, fillings and crowns.
  • Trauma and fractures.
  • Dental whitening.
  • Gum recession.
  • Loss of tooth structure by brushing aggressively, teeth grinding, biting objects.
  • Ingestion of acidic or carbonated beverages and foods.
  • Pathologies that cause an acidic oral environment.

To cure sensitivity, the following procedures are performed by your dentist:

  • Placing new fillings to cover exposed dentin.
  • Changing old fillings and other poorly adjusted restorations.
  • Use of desensitizing products.
  • Gum surgery.
  • Root canal therapy.

If you are interested in getting dental treatment to cure dental sensitivity in Costa Rica, please fill out the “Find a Dentist!” form and a participating dental specialist will contact you to discuss your case.