If you feel a twinge when you pass cold or hot food or drinks on your teeth, then there is a possibility that you have sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth can also make you feel some pain when you brush your teeth. In this article, you will learn about tooth sensitivity, its causes, the various available treatments, and the preventive measures that you can use to stay away from sensitive teeth.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a condition that arises when the dentin (a layer of a tooth below the enamel) or the cementum (the top layer that covers the tooth root) becomes exposed at the point where the tooth should be attached to the gum. The receding teeth gum causes the exposed sections of the tooth to respond to cold and hot foods. Additionally, when you have sensitive teeth, you are likely to experience some pain in the teeth when you eat spicy or sweet foods.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common causes of toothaches. The term tooth sensitivity implies the feeling of discomfort or pain that you experience in a tooth or several teeth when you put a cold or hot food item or drink in your mouth.
Several factors can make your teeth sensitive. Some of the leading causes of tooth sensitivity are listed below.
- Hard brushing or over-brushing: While brushing teeth twice a day is a highly recommended practice, too much brushing can have negative ramifications. First, brushing your teeth with a hard-bristle toothbrush or using too much pressure may cause the tooth enamel to wear down. When this happens, the dentin or cementum may become exposed, leading to tooth sensitivity. Secondly, over-brushing can lead to toothbrush abrasion, where the gums are pushed back from the root of the tooth because of too much brushing. When enamel gets removed, or the dentin or cementum becomes exposed, your teeth will start responding to changes such as hot or cold food.
- Grinding of teeth: If you frequently rub your teeth, this can cause the enamel of the teeth to wear away, leaving the dentin exposed.
- Acidic foods: Such foods promote erosion of the enamel.
- Dental treatments or cleaning: If you have any dental problems such as cavities, exposed roots or dentin, and receding gums, then performing dental procedures such as scaling and polishing may cause you some harm. Before you visit a dentist for processes such as scaling or polishing, you should ensure that any preexisting dental problem gets addressed first. You may also experience tooth sensitivity after undergoing dental procedures such as an extraction, a root canal, or crown placement.
- Gum recession, due to diseases such as gum disease and gingivitis. Dental conditions such as gum disease and gingivitis can cause gum inflammation and gum sores. In turn, gums will recede and pull away from the teeth, making the teeth vulnerable to sensitivity.
- Long-term use of teeth-whitening toothpaste or mouthwash: Some toothpaste contains teeth-whitening compounds that cause tooth sensitivity. Mouthwashes also contain alcohol and other compounds that can erode your teeth’s enamel and make the teeth more sensitive.
- Cracked tooth: A tooth that is broken or chipped can cause symptoms such as those associated with sensitive teeth. If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, you will need to visit a dentist so that they can diagnose the problem and recommend the best treatment method.
- Plaque buildup: An excessive accumulation of plaque on your teeth can cause the teeth’s enamel to wear down.
Tooth Sensitivity Treatments
If you have sensitive teeth, you should make an appointment with a dentist. The dentist will make a diagnosis to recommend a suitable treatment method. Depending on the nature of the condition, your dentist will propose any of the treatments below.
- Use of fluoride: The dentist may apply fluoride to the areas in which your teeth are sensitive. The aim of using fluoride is to strengthen the enamel of the affected teeth and lessen pain. The dentist may also prescribe the use of fluoride at home over a given period.
- Desensitizing toothpaste: Desensitizing toothpaste is applied several times to the sensitive teeth. The toothpaste helps in blocking pain that is associated with tooth sensitivity.
- Bonding or desensitizing: In some cases, the dentist will treat exposed teeth root surfaces by applying a bonding compound to the sensitive areas. This procedure may require the use of a local anesthetic.
- Root canal: If tooth sensitivity is causing you severe pain and other treatments are not beneficial, your dentist can suggest a root canal. The root canal procedure is useful in treating problems in the dental pulp of the tooth. A root canal is one of the most effective methods of treating tooth sensitivity.
- Surgical gum graft: If some of your teeth’s root surfaces get exposed due to gum loss, the dentist will extract a small amount of gum tissue from other areas in the mouth and attach it to the affected area. It will protect the exposed roots and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Measures to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity
To prevent tooth sensitivity or stop the problem from recurring after treatment, you should follow the following tips:
- Brush your teeth two times a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss regularly to prevent the buildup plaque on your teeth.
- Avoid over-brushing and using abrasive toothpaste.
- When brushing your teeth, use gentle strokes instead of harsh or vigorous scrubbing.
- If you often grind your teeth, talk to a dentist since tooth grinding can remove the teeth’s enamel and result in tooth sensitivity.
- Avoid acidic drinks and foods. Examples of such substances include carbonated beverages, wine, and citrus fruits. The acid in them erodes tooth enamel over time.
- Drinking water after consuming any acidic substance will help reduce the level of acid in your mouth.
Tooth sensitivity can make it difficult for you to consume hot or cold foods and drinks. Brushing and biting can also be painful if you have sensitive teeth. You should seek help from a dentist if you feel pain any time you put something hot or cold in your mouth. It is also essential to avoid any of the practices that can cause tooth sensitivity. Most importantly, you should follow a dentist’s advice when it comes to treating or preventing tooth sensitivity.