Teeth sensitivity can bring you pain whenever you ingest a food or drink that's overly hot or cold in temperature, or when you simply try for a teeth cleaning. Sensitivity is essentially caused by the protective enamel opening to allow access to the more sensitive dentin underneath, and sometimes also to the root canal within the tooth. Treatment for sensitive teeth varies depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the sensitivity.

Here are a few of the common causes of teeth sensitivity – and how to fix it.

Surface Enamel Damage: Dental Products and Bonding

Acidic foods and drink, genetic predisposition, and poor oral healthcare can all result in the breakdown of enamel. Even mild enamel damage can cause sensitivity, but the damage might not be sufficient for your dentist to order formal treatment.

Enamel can't be regrown, but you can slow the deterioration with teeth cleaning using over-the-counter oral healthcare products designed for tooth sensitivity. Using these products diligently and avoiding acidic foods might be sufficient to cure your sensitivity.

If the problem persists but there's no damage to the actual dentin, your dentist might recommend tooth bonding. This procedure involves the dentist painting a tooth-colored enamel replacement over the surface of the tooth as an added layer of protection.

Dentin Crack: Filling or Crown 

Does your tooth have a deep crack due to either a cavity or trauma? The crack can open access to the root canal within your tooth, which contains a pulp material carrying sensitive nerve cells and tissue. Your dentist will want to seal the crack to help your sensitivity.

A filling is often sufficient to fix a tooth that doesn't have any damage to the root canal itself. You can choose from a strong but unnatural looking silver amalgam or gold filling, or the weaker but tooth-colored options like composite resin.

If there is damage to the root canal, your dentist will want to fix it first. A root canal procedure involves cleaning out any damaged pulp, cleansing the area, and replacing the removed pulp with a biomedical cement. The tooth is then closed using a dental crown, which is bonded to the filed down exterior of the tooth. Depending on the level of enamel damage, the crown can either cover merely the top of the tooth or extend down to the gum line.

Severe Decay or Trauma: Restoration or Extraction

Severe decay or trauma can leave significant portions of the tooth missing, which compromises both the enamel and the root canal. The treatment will depend on the severity and location of the damage.

Your dentist will try everything possible to save the natural tooth. This might include shaving down what remains to the essential root structure and covering it with a veneer. Similar to a cross between a bond and a crown, a veneer involves bonding a tooth-colored shell around the entire exterior of the tooth.

If the pulp within the tooth and the canal have essentially died, your dentist won't be able to save the tooth and an extraction will be scheduled. For more information, contact a professional at a location such as Carolina Forest Family Dentistry.