Toothpaste and other products are often sold over-the-counter to people who are suffering from sensitive teeth. Whether hot or cold puts you in pain, it could be tempting to buy a product easily over the counter if it would bring you relief. While the reality is that it might reduce your pain, it won't necessarily treat the basic problem. Here's why you should see a dentist first before trying to treat yourself.
What Causes Sensitivity
Sensitivity can be caused by a few problems, but the most common issue is that the teeth have broken down the point where nerves are closer to the surface. While the touch of something cold or hot would normally just be felt but not actually hurt, if your nerves are too close to the temperature, they'll transmit a signal of pain. Usually, this happens because your enamel has worn down and possibly some of the layers of the tooth beneath the enamel.
What Toothpastes Do
Sensitive toothpastes are helpful because they plug up some of the tiny holes of the tooth. The tooth is naturally porous, so the toothpaste can be used to plug in those holes and prevent the nerves from picking up strong signals from the surface.
Here's the problem: these pores are naturally present in all teeth. While it has a beneficial effect on how much sensitivity you're experiencing, it won't help the underlying problem. If the enamel of your teeth has worn down, toothpaste can't restore it. If the layers under the enamel have been damaged, then you especially need help from a dentist.
Your dentist can not only improve your symptoms but keep your condition from getting worse. While there's no harm in picking up a tube of toothpaste while you wait for your appointment, don't try to use it as a substitute.
When you visit your dentist, they'll carefully examine your teeth visually and with x-rays to find out what's happening. If enamel damage is discovered, your dentist can repair it by bonding your teeth and remineralizing any remaining enamel. Once your teeth are protected by an external layer again, you'll not only not feel pain but you'll also be protected from any further damage to your teeth from simple exposure to things like acidic beverages.
Losing tooth enamel is a big deal, and if it isn't taken care of, you could run the risk of experiencing significant pain or even losing the tooth. Talk to a dentist and consider using sensitivity pain in combination, but don't skip the dentist's office just for special toothpaste.