Tooth sensitivity is never fun. You can no longer enjoy your favorite hot, cold or sweet beverage or food item. Maybe your tooth sensitivity is new, or perhaps you’ve been bearing it for a few years. Regardless, tooth sensitivity isn’t anything anyone should have to deal with. In fact, in many cases, tooth sensitivity can be a sign of an underlying oral health problem.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
While there are many causes of tooth sensitivity, the single underlying cause is exposed dentin in the teeth. Each tooth has a layer of dentin, which it the bulky, hard, bony layer of teeth just underneath the protective layer of enamel. Dentin, however, is softer than enamel so once the enamel is broken down and the dentin is exposed, the nerve endings within the pulp (center) of the teeth can become easily irritated, causing the pain and sensitivity.
Below are common reasons why the dentin of teeth can become exposed and cause tooth sensitivity:
- Brushing teeth too hard and/or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
- Receding gums
- Cracked teeth
- Grinding or clenching of teeth
- Tooth-whitening products
- Plaque buildup
- Long-term use of mouthwash
- Acidic foods
- Dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, crown replacement, and root planing
How to Lessen Tooth Sensitivity
Only a dental professional will know what is the underlying cause of your tooth sensitivity. Sometime the tooth sensitivity will continue even after it has been treated. Whether you got your tooth sensitivity cause identified and treated and are waiting for it to subside or you’re postponing going to the dentist to have it checked out, here are some ways to reduce the tooth sensitivity and pain:
Use Desensitizing toothpaste. There are many toothpastes out there specifically designed for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes won’t have the abrasive texture of traditional toothpaste, so they won’t irritate your tooth as much, all the while giving your teeth and gums the important anti-plaque clean. Be sure to get a kind with fluoride in it. It may take some trial and error to find the specific brand of desensitizing toothpaste that works for you.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard toothbrushes can inadvertently scrape off some of the teeth’s enamel, especially if one brushes too hard or too vigorously. A soft-bristled brush is just as effective as a hard-bristled one but won’t scratch up your teeth enamel and the soft tissue of your gums.
Avoid highly acidic foods. Foods such as oranges, lemons and tomatoes contain a type of acid that can eat away at the enamel of your teeth. As the enamel weakens, the dentin will become exposed, causing the sensitivity.
Avoid teeth grinding. Clinching of the jaw and teeth grinding can cause the enamel of the teeth to get worn down, making the teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. If you have Bruxism (the unconscious, usually nighttime, grinding of the teeth, consider getting a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
If you don’t notice a reduction in your teeth sensitivity, professional dental treatment may be necessary. At Marshall, Shofner & Phan Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry, we offer multiple dental treatment options that can address the source of your teeth sensitivity including:
- Gum planing and scaling
- Root canal
Teeth sensitivity is often the result of exposed nerves in the tooth because of the wearing down of the tooth enamel and dentin layer.
Sometimes the tooth sensitivity can be reduced at home such as using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Other times, professional dental treatment may be necessary for the tooth sensitivity to subside. Regardless of the level of pain or sensitivity, it is encouraged that you stop by our office and have one of our dental hygienists take a look as your tooth sensitivity may be the result of a more serious dental health issue.
If you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, don’t try to bear with it any longer. Contact us today to schedule an appointment so we can pinpoint the source of your tooth sensitivity.