It is estimated that nearly 45 million people in the United States suffer from sensitive teeth and out of these 10 million people have chronically hypersensitive teeth. When a person has sensitive teeth, he experiences a sharp shooting pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods or liquids. Even breathing cold air during winter can cause the discomfort.
Sensitive teeth occur due to number of the reasons but the most common is gum recession. The gums act as a protective covering over the roots of the teeth. However, when gum recession occurs, the roots are exposed and this part of the teeth is not covered by the protect layer of enamel. The roots contain thousands of dentinal channels that lead to center of the tooth and it is these channels that are responsible for conducting heat, cold or pressure to nerve of the tooth and thereby causing pain.
Usually people use toothpaste especially formulated for sensitive teeth to overcome this problem. Tooth sensitivity cannot be reversed but it can be controlled. These specially formulated toothpaste have high fluoride content that coats the teeth with a protective layer and thereby blocking the sensation reaching from the dentinal tubules to the tooth nerve. Usually the toothpaste takes around 4 to 6 weeks to work before any change in tooth sensitivity is noticed. But in some people it can work in a couple of days too.
The US FDA controls the fluoride concentration in toothpaste for sensitive teeth. If too much fluoride is present, it can be harmful for the body. Usually an over-the-counter fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth has 0.22 percent sodium fluoride, 0.76 percent sodium monofluorophosphate and 0.4 percent of stannous fluoride. On the other hand for high sensitive teeth, dentists prescribe special fluoride toothpaste that has around 1.1 percent fluoride.
If the fluoride concentration is too low, the toothpaste will be ineffective. However, if it is too high, a person can be poisoned.
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