Dental pain: Hypersensitivity (extremely sensitive teeth).

Dental hypersensitivity is defined as an adverse reaction to contact with specific substances in quantities that usually produce no reaction in most individual.  It can also be an allergic tendency to contact with specific substances and usually has an unusual violent, or intense  reaction.  Hypersensitivity can be divided into 2 types: 1) immediate; and 2) delayed.  Most hypersensitivity responses are in response to certain chemical compounds, such as: teeth whitening, or bleaching solutions; sugar, or sugar alcohols; acids, such as in soft drinks, citrus fruits, mouth washes, etc.

Hypersensitivity is common following teeth whitening. The most often asked questions I get asked are: 1)  “Why are my teeth sensitive after having my teeth whitened?” and “What can I do to eliminate the sensitivity?”  The process of bleaching uses an oxidizing agent, either carbamide peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide.  The ADA (American Dental Association)  recommends solutions of 10% or less be used in home bleaching solutions, but many manufacturers make and sell stronger bleaching solutions that are not ADA approved for home use.  Many times these stronger solutions used over time can cause dental hypersensitivity.

Other chemicals in products that we use can cause an unusually strong response when used.  Some, such as in lemon juice (which contains citric acid), can actually damage the enamel of the tooth.  When we have some unusual painful response, we need to determine what we were eating, drinking, or using that may have initiated the hypersensitivity.  Then we can determine the proper course of treatment to resolve the problem.

In most cases we have 3 choice of how to respond to the hypersensitivity that we are experiencing.  They are: 1)  Do nothing and live with it.   Many times we want the results of using the product more than we care about the sensitivity that using the product may cause.  This is especially true in the case of teeth whitening.  2)  Discontinue use of the products that is causing the dental hypersensitivity.  or 3)  Use of a desensitizing agent such as desensitizing toothpastes, or desensitizing agents that your dentist can apply to the tooth to help eliminate, or minimize the painful response the patient is having.

Dental hypersensitivity is a painful condition that individuals have in response to certain chemical substances that doen’t affect most people.  Careful review of the possible causes can help individuals determine the proper course of action to resolve the problem.


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