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What is Dentin Hypersensitivity & How is it Treated : Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention of Dentin Hypersensitivity

What is Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity is commonly known as teeth sensitivity and refers to dental pain. It is a short, sharp, intense burst of pain and discomfort originating from teeth due to a stimulus. It occurs when the enamel or the top protective layer of the tooth wears off and exposes dentin.(1) Dentin hypersensitivity has many causes and is mostly treatable with changes in a person’s oral hygiene.(2)

In Dentin hypersensitivity, there is discomfort when the exposed dentin responds to heat, cold, touch, pressure, or acidic food.

Teeth are the hard structures in the body that help with biting and chewing. It consists of 4 different dental tissues one of which is dentin.

Dentin plays a role in helping with the structure of teeth and also helps in transmitting sensations from the teeth. Dentin contains nerve tissues and is sensitive to stimuli.

Causes of Dentin Hypersensitivity

Exposure of dentin may lead to dentin hypersensitivity. This may be caused due to the following problems:

Potential risk factors of dentin exposure are:(3)

  • Brushing teeth hard, causing wear and tear of teeth and gums
  • Consuming acidic food and drinks
  • Shrinking and receding gums
  • Teeth grinding
  • Using oral products that may harm teeth such as whitening toothpaste

Symptoms of Dentin Hypersensitivity

People with dentin hypersensitivity may experience pain and sensitivity to stimuli that are mostly harmless. These include gentle touch, mild temperatures, and harsh chemicals that might cause short sharp bursts of pain.(4) When this stimulus is removed from the tooth the pain alleviates.

The symptoms of dentin hypersensitivity include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to acidic or sweet food and drink
  • Short, intense bursts of pain
  • Pain in teeth and sensitivity on applying pressure to the tooth
  • Having discomfort using oral products

Diagnosis of Dentin Hypersensitivity

Diagnosing dentin hypersensitivity is difficult as the symptoms are very similar to other dental conditions. A dental professional may do a clinical examination and review the person’s medical history to diagnose the condition.(4)

The dentist identifies the site of dentin exposure and performs a stimulation test to determine whether a person had dentin hypersensitivity or other diagnoses. The doctor also enquires about the following information:

  • Site of discomfort
  • Severity of pain
  • The frequency of occurrence
  • Whether the pain goes after the removal of the stimulus

Treatment of Dentin Hypersensitivity

There are several treatments for dentin hypersensitivity. The person is recommended to try some treatment at home, which may include desensitizing toothpaste. The toothpaste may contain ingredients that may prevent any uncomfortable condition from reaching the nerves. Several applications may be helpful in making a person notice a reduction in sensitivity.

A review suggested that propolis could be helpful in treating dentin hypersensitivity.(5) It is a natural resinous mixture produced by honeybees that can be helpful in treating dentin hypersensitivity.

Other treatment options include:

  • Fluoride gel: It works by strengthening the tooth enamel and reducing the pain transfer to the nerve.
  • A crown filling or bonding: It involves covering, filling, or repairing the teeth and covering the exposed nerves.
  • Gum tissue graft: The sensitivity occurs due to the receding gum tissue. A gum graft repaired the gum and protects the root of the tooth.
  • Root canal: Root canal therapy may be recommended if the dentin hypersensitivity is persistent.

How to Prevent Dentin Hypersensitivity?

Dentin hypersensitivity can be prevented by the following tips:

  • Thorough oral hygiene
  • Brushing teeth properly
  • Avoiding chemical products to brush teeth
  • Avoiding certain foods and drinks
  • Dental appointments

Dentin hypersensitivity is also known as sensitive tooth and is a common dental problem. It arises due to exposing dentin due to certain stimuli such as temperature. A dental professional can be helpful in diagnosing and providing proper treatment. A person needs to bring in a change in dental hygiene or maintain it to prevent the sensitivity from occurring.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 23, 2022

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