Using Lasers in Dentistry – Part Two

As our population ages, people are keeping their teeth for longer and longer, bringing an increased risk of periodontitis, gum disease, and of course, hypersensitivity.  Dental Desensitization Therapy can help.

Additionally, many of the individuals in this older population are on medications that cause differences in saliva that contribute to the development of hypersensitivity. Pain can become an issue when patients eat cold or hot foods, brush their teeth, floss, or eat foods that contain high quantities of sugar.

Dentin hypersensitivity is a dental condition that can often be very painful when left untreated. The majority of patients that are affected by this condition are middle aged, and signs of hypersensitivity can be found in almost a third of all adults. It is not uncommon for a dental professional to see several patients a day that exhibit signs of hypersensitivity. This condition is slightly more common in women and those with a history of periodontitis.

The 5 types of Sensitivity Triggers

There are five different types of external stimuli that can cause pain when dentin is exposed: tactile, chemical, thermal, osmotic and bacterial.

1. Tactile – Stimulation that is caused by toothbrush bristles or filaments, friction from dental clasps or prosthesis, or objects such as eating utensils or dental instruments.
2. Chemical – This is perhaps the most overlooked of the triggers of dentin hypersensitivity. Acids that exist naturally in many foods and beverages (citrus fruits, vitamins, condiments, spices, wine, sauces and carbonated drinks) can cause a great deal of pain in some patients.
3. Thermal – Some studies show that up to nine in ten individuals suffering from dentin hypersensitivity show a strong reaction to a thermal stimulus, most notably cold stimulus such as consuming a cold drink, which will trigger the painful sensation associated with sensitive teeth.
4. Osmotic – Flow within the dentinal tubules has been found to have a notable impact on sensitivity. This is important because there may be variations in the ways in which different stimuli affect fluid flow.
5. Bacteria – Oral bacteria produce a corrosive acid when they come in contact with unclean regions of the mouth. This acid is attributed to the signs of sensitivity that many people report when seeing their dentist or hygienist.

The Basics of Desensitization Therapy:

  • This treatment is the most time consuming of the laser dental therapies.
  • Desensitization therapy is also the most popular laser treatment.
  • It is often used in and around where the gum tissue has receded.
  • Lasers crimp the tubules shut so that it blocks the sensitivity.
  • This treatment produces permanent relief in the targeted areas.
  • If new exposure occurs the treatment can be repeated.
  • Desensitization therapy is completely pain free!

 Read more in our series on Lasers in Dentistry:

Using Lasers in Dentistry

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