Oral Health News

December 2016

Baby, it's cold outside

Winter is upon us, and the cold winter air can cause major discomfort to people with dentinal hypersensitivity! Dentinal hypersensitivity is sharp, sudden tooth pain that can occur when the inner layer of the tooth (dentin) is exposed. When the gums recede or move away from the crown of the tooth, dentin is exposed. Dentin is composed of tiny tubules. When the tooth is stimulated by outside forces, fluid moves through the tubes and stimulates the tooth nerve, resulting in sudden, sharp pain.

Pain can be caused by: 

  • Hot or cold foods/drinks
  • Cold air
  • Sugary or sour foods/drinks
  • Touch (by a dental instrument or toothbrush)
  • Carbonated beverages

Treatments for dentinal hypersensitivity must either calm the nerve or block the opening of the tubules so that the nerve cannot be stimulated.

Potassium nitrate is found in toothpastes for sensitive teeth. It works by calming the nerve. Results are not immediate and you need to use the toothpaste daily.

Several materials can be used to block the tubules. These provide immediate results. Your dentist may provide an in-office treatment, such as fluoride varnish or fillings to cover the exposed area. At home, you can try an over-the-counter strip that contains oxalate. Speak to your dentist about any concerns and to find the best treatment.