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Posted on: December 3, 2021
Understanding Sensitive Teeth
Millions of dental patients have sensitive teeth. When eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages, you may experience a sharp pain or twinge in a certain tooth or in a localized area of your mouth. Sometimes, even cold air or very sweet or sour foods can produce the same sudden pain. It can affect what foods and drinks you consume. Afterall, if you are going to be in pain consuming a food or beverage, it takes the joy out of eating or drinking. Teeth sensitivity can also make you wait until your coffee or cold drink is tepid, forcing you to wait while everyone else is enjoying theirs.
There are two major causes of teeth sensitivity. First, the enamel is either eroded or there is a crack or cavity that is allowing stimulus to reach the tooth’s nerves. Underneath the tooth enamel is the dentin. Dentin does not have any nerves, but it does have microscopic tubules that connect to the innermost layer, which is the pulp. This is where the nerves are located. If eroded or damaged enamel exposes the pulp, you will feel a sharp pain when the tooth is exposed to stimuli. Receding gums also cause sensitivity because the roots are exposed. Roots don’t have enamel to protect the nerves from hot and cold stimuli.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, there is good news! Tooth sensitivity is common in adults and there are plenty of solutions. In fact, one in eight adults have sensitive teeth, although only some of them bother seeking treatment. Luckily, it is treatable. There are many home remedies available, such as desensitizing toothpaste, but it is advisable to see a dentist to rule out any dental problem, like a fractured tooth, that could cause further damage without treatment.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Teeth Sensitivity?
Certain dental conditions and behaviors on your part can cause sensitivity, including:
- Brushing your teeth overzealously. This can cause the enamel to wear down more quickly because of the pressure and roughness.
- Using a hard toothbrush. Similar to above, most people should be using soft-bristled brushes to avoid damaging the tooth and the gum tissue.
- Tooth decay. Unfortunately, cavities create very sensitive conditions.
- Cracked teeth. Cracked teeth can be very painful and cause tooth sensitivity due to the exposed parts of the tooth.
- Broken or worn fillings. While this may cause sensitivity, it is even more detrimental to the health of your teeth as it leaves the tooth vulnerable.
- An acidic diet. Acids wear down the enamel of the teeth.
- Receding gums expose the sensitive parts of the teeth.
- Teeth grinding. When you grind your teeth, you grind down the enamel protecting the teeth.
- Overuse of teeth whitening products which can cause sensitivity due to the bleaching agents.
- Excessive use of mouthwash with alcohol it it.
- Acid reflux
Additionally, some individuals have thin enamel because of genetics. Fortunately, dentists can help a person rebuild their enamel so they don’t have sensitive teeth.
What Can I Do to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?
Teeth sensitivity is almost entirely preventable. For example, you can follow the guidelines below to help you get rid of sensitive teeth and prevent them from happening again. Follow these guidelines:
- Have regular dental checkups. Your dentist can detect cavities, hairline fractures and failing fillings before they become a problem. He or she can also look for the early signs of gum disease before your gums recede.
- Developing good oral hygiene habits will also help. Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brushing too hard can erode tooth enamel. Use a soft touch. Don’t brush for at least 30 minutes after having an acidic food or drink. Instead, brush beforehand and rinse with water afterward.
- Limit how often you consume acidic foods and drinks, such as orange juice, sodas and sour candies. If you enjoy them, then don’t nurse them all day long. Use a straw to drink acidic drinks to limit contact with your teeth. If you enjoy acidic foods, like tomatoes, have them with a meal. Meals will increase saliva production which helps neutralize the acid.
- Drink plenty of tap water if your supply is fluoridated. Do not use a water filter unless you are sure it does not eliminate fluoride from the water. The extra fluoride can help strengthen your tooth enamel.
If you’ve developed the habit of chewing on ice or hard candies; stop. These habits can cause hairline fractures in your teeth.
How Can a Dentist Help Repair My Sensitive Teeth?
Your dentist can examine your teeth to look for any issues that are causing your sensitivity. If just one tooth is affected, you could have a cavity, a failing filling or a hairline fracture. Having this issue resolved will solve your sensitivity. You may need a filling or bonding or a crown to repair the tooth.
If you have receding gums, a dentist can tell if you’ve damaged them with overzealous brushing or you have gum disease. Dentists can replace missing gums with a gum graft, which will eliminate the sensitivity. This is a problem that your dentist must fix as gum tissue will not grow back once it has receded, so it’s best to fix the problem in its earliest stages.
Dentists can have custom-made night guards fabricated for you if you grind your teeth while sleeping. This will protect your teeth from enamel wear and protect existing fillings from damage. Tooth grinding can present other problems as well, so contact your dentist right away if you wake with a headache or a sore jaw.
Your dentist can provide a professional fluoride treatment to repair weak enamel. It’s a simple in-office treatment, usually a varnish painted on the teeth. Asa bonus, fluoride treatments can help prevent cavities. He or she can also prescribe prescription strength dental care products to use at home.
There isn’t any reason for teeth sensitivity to dictate what you can eat and drink. See your dentist for relief and to make sure there isn’t a serious dental issue causing your pain and you can start enjoying your favorite foods and beverages again.