Q. I have noticed my teeth becoming more sensitive lately. I don’t know what is causing it, and I wonder if there is anything I can or should do to help it?
A. It is not uncommon for teeth to become more sensitive with age. Sensitive teeth occur when the underlying layer of your teeth – the dentin – becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue (the protective blanket that covers the tooth roots). Grinding or brushing the teeth incorrectly can lead to loss of tooth structure next to the gums. A small circular motion with the brush will clean under the gums without injuring them or the teeth. A soft bristled brush is recommended for everyone. It is very important to not use the “sawing” technique of brushing straight back and forth. Many people can see where the gums have moved further up the root surface or where a cleft has even been formed in the root due to this kind of abuse. The exposed root is much more porous and less mineralized than the enamel. If a cleft has developed, it may necessitate bonding. If the cleft is not too deep, fluoride will help. Your dentist can place a fluoride varnish on your teeth, and daily use at home will also help. Therapies that now relieve pain will also help protect you from the need for dental work in the future.
Dr. Ellen McOmie, D.M.D.
McOmie Family Dentistry
5999 Shallowford Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421