For about 3 months, I’ve had periodic tooth sensitivity at the gumline on my top right front tooth and the one to the right of it. The teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, but if I run my fingernail or a toothpick along the gums, it’s sensitive. Flossing or brushing my teeth doesn’t hurt. The sensitivity has increased over the past 3 weeks. The only thing different is that I’ve started whitening my teeth at home. The sensitivity isn’t during or after whitening, but if I put pressure on the teeth, it feels like the nerves in the area are more irritated than ever. What’s causing this? – Luke
Thanks for submitting your question. Persistent tooth sensitivity should not be ignored because it can lead to internal damage and root canal treatment. Until the issue is diagnosed and treated, you should discontinue whitening your teeth, because bleaching gel can cause further irritation.
The good news is that your teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, so it is unlikely that the pulp (living tissue in the tooth) is damaged.
How Are Sensitive Spots on Teeth Treated?
Although many dentists aren’t aware of it, teeth slightly flex where the crown and root meet. These tiny movements can occur when we bite, chew, or clench or grind our teeth. Flexure causes small amounts of tooth structure to break. Over time, flexing sends impulses to a tooth and creates sensitivity. The tooth can develop a significant groove, referred to as an abfracted lesion.
It’s relatively easy for your dentist to treat teeth that are sensitive in specific locations.
- Your dentist must examine your teeth to determine the size of the spots.
- If the spots are small enough, your dentist will seal them.
- Larger grooves must be filled. An ordinary filling often won’t stay in the grooves, so your dentist can use a microfill composite or another flexible filling material. Microfill composite will eliminate or reduce sensitivity in the teeth.
After treatment, your dentist will let you know when it’s safe to resume whitening your teeth.
Plano female dentist, Miranda Lacy DDS, sponsors this post.