Lincoln, NE dentist, Dr. Craig P. Vacek, talks about tooth sensitivity


Most people experience tooth sensitivity. A reaction to temperature, food acidity, whitening gels and other factors, tooth sensitivity warns about oral health issues, too. Learn more about this common condition from Lincoln dentist, Craig P. Vacek DDS. You drink a hot cup of coffee, or you brush your teeth and get a stabbing pain in a back molar. Most of us have dental sensitivity from time to time. Often it’s benign. Other times, it’s a red flag. Lincoln family dentist,Craig PVacekDDS, informs his patients about tooth sensitivity, how to avoid it and when to see him about it.

Actual tooth structure can cause sensitivity

Our teeth are comprised of different layers--the hardest of which is the outermost enamel. This layer protects the tooth and gives it its shape and color. Unfortunately, it’s where dental decay can begin, and where we must focus good dental hygiene habits.

At the gumline is another layer called cementum. Like enamel, cementum is very hard and protects the tooth root. Underneath these layers is the softer, more yellowish dentin. Comprised of tiny hollow tubules, dentin plays a big role in tooth sensitivity, conveying hot and cold temperatures right to the nerves in the soft inner tooth pulp. Additionally, when uncovered due to deterioration of the enamel, dentin makes teeth sensitive.

What else causes sensitivity?

What we expose our teeth to triggers sensitivity as well. Sugary foods and drinks often cause what kids call a “sugar blast” of pain.  Also, teeth whitening strips, gels, toothpastes and rinses create dental pain when used too often or incorrectly. Professional teeth whitening produces little gum and tooth sensitivity. Many ordinary mouthwashes, while great for bad breath, irritate teeth because of the alcohol content.  Finally, people who brush their teeth and gums too aggressively may abrade enamel and soft tissues.

While dental patients can think about their product and food choices and eliminate those that bother their teeth, other problems require attention from your LIncoln dentist.

Oral health problems that trigger tooth sensitivity are:

  • dental decayacid erosion from citrus fruits and soda pop

  • deteriorating restorations such as fillings and crowns

  • advanced periodontal disease which causes gum and bone recession and exposes roots

  • tooth grinding (bruxism) that exposes erodes enamel

  • plaque and tartar build-up

How does Dr. Vacek treat tooth sensitivity?

Dr. Vacek and his team start treatment with a thorough oral exam, checking for decay and gum disease. A hygienic cleaning removes plaque and tartar. Restorations such as tooth-colored fillings and porcelain crowns where appropriate often reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity. It’s also important to treat gum disease with scaling and root planing to reduce gum pocket size.

More advanced treatments such as gum grafting or simple cosmetic bonding can protect roots. For teeth with serious decay or multiple restorations, root canal therapy removes infected nerves and pulp. These teeth are no longer sensitive to temperature, foods or other irritating agents.

Which tooth is bothering you?

If you are concerned that your tooth sensitivity comes from more than an occasional ice cream cone, contact Vacek Family Dentistry and arrange an appointment. Dr. Vacek will find the source of your tooth pain and treat it effectively.