Why Isn't Your Sensitivity Toothpaste Helping?

When your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold foods, you're likely to turn to a sensitivity toothpaste for help. These products are widely available over-the-counter, and they are effective in relieving sensitivity for many patients with just a few weeks of regular use. What happens, however, when sensitivity toothpaste is not working for you? Chances are, you have an underlying dental condition that's contributing to your sensitivity, and you'll need to have it treated in order to eat more comfortably again.

How Sensitivity Toothpaste Works

Sensitivity toothpaste only treats tooth sensitivity due to one cause: dentin exposure. Dentin is the layer of your teeth found beneath the outer enamel. When your enamel begins to wear away, your dentin is left exposed, and the nerve endings in the dentin react to hot and cold stimuli, causing pain or aching. Dentin can also become exposed when the gums recede, since there is little or no enamel covering the dentin below the gum line.

Sensitivity toothpaste contains compounds that block the transmission of pain signals from the receptors in the dentin. However, if your sensitivity is not caused by dentin exposure, the toothpaste will do little to nothing to alleviate your symptoms.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity that Won't Respond to Toothpaste

If your teeth are still sensitive after using sensitivity toothpaste for several weeks, it's time to call your dentist. There are several possible causes of sensitivity that won't respond to sensitivity toothpaste, and all of them require dental treatment. They include:

Tooth decay or cavities: Large cavities that reach into the pulp of the tooth may cause irritation of the nerves in your teeth.  Keep in mind that just because you can't see a cavity does not mean you don't have one. Often, cavities form between the teeth and can only be visually detected on x-rays. It's also common for a cavity in one tooth to cause referred pain in another tooth. Having the cavity filled will fix the problem.

Dental abscesses: The pulp of your tooth may be infected with bacteria, which cause sensitivity and pain. If you have a fever, redness in your gyms, a draining sore in your mouth, or foul breath, you should be especially concerned that you have a tooth abscess. Treatment often involves a root canal or pulling the tooth and replacing it with an implant.

A loose filling: A previous filling may be becoming loose, and bacteria may be causing the tooth material around it to decay. Your dentist can replace the filling, and alleviate your sensitivity in the process. Keep in mind that you generally won't be able to tell if a filling is loose without visiting the dentist.

If you're experiencing tooth sensitivity, using sensitivity toothpaste is a good first treatment step to follow. However, if this does not work, chances are good that your sensitivity has an underlying cause and should be treated by a dentist at a clinic like Dental Center Of Steamboat Springs.