Dentin hypersensitivity (sensitivity to touch or changes in temperature) is a common oral condition that effects many patients. This condition is usually caused by gingival recession and erosive tooth wear. Gingival recession is frequently a result of periodontal disease (gum disease) and/or aggressive tooth brushing technique. When the gingiva recedes, the dentin on the root surface of a tooth is exposed resulting in hypersensitivity. The dentin surface has dentin tubules which communicate with the pulp inside a vital tooth. Therefore, any stimulus such as cold, heat, air, touch, sweets, or acidic food may cause dentin hypersensitivity. The most common area of a tooth affected by dentin hypersensitivity is the root surface near the gum line. 

Recommended Treatment

Do not use an electric toothbrush. The bristle on most of these devices are too abrasive, causing gingival recession and tooth abrasion. Please use a sensitive or soft tooth brush and wet the bristles with warm water prior to brushing. 

Do not use any bleaching (whitening) or abrasive toothpastes or bleaching agents. Please do not use any toothpastes that contain peroxide or baking soda. We recommend using Sensodyne or prescription toothpastes, such as Prevident or Fluoridex, twice daily. These toothpastes contain chemicals such as potassium nitrate that occlude (seal) the dentin tubules and decrease hypersensitivity. 

Do not brush sideways (scrubbing horizontally, side to side). Brush at a 90° angle from the gum onto the tooth surface, not from tooth to gum. 

The dentist or the hygienist can apply a desensitizing agent on the exposed dentin which can occlude (close or clog up) the dentin tubules. 

Should the area of recession or abrasion be extensive, a composite resin filling may be placed over the area to protect the exposed dentin. 

If the area of recession doesn't have extensive abrasion, a periodontist may place a gum graft over the site to protect the exposed dentin. This is the most natural modality of treatment by replacing the missing gum. The graft is usually taken from the palate on the same side of the mouth as the affected area. 

Avoid acidic (low pH) foods and drinks such as wine, sports drinks, soda, oranges and plums. 

By using one, or several of the suggested treatment options mentioned above, one can manage dentin hypersensitivity. 

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