What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

One of the most common issues addressed by dental professionals is pain from sensitive teeth. Some individuals may have sensitivity affecting all or most of their teeth. Additionally, the problem could be localized to one or more particular areas. Often, the sensitivity is to cold foods or drinks, however, teeth may also be sensitive to sweets, acidic foods or hot foods or drinks. While cold sensitivity is quite common, sensitivity to heat or hot things may indicate a more serious problem.

The discomfort felt by those with sensitive teeth can range from mild sensitivity to very painful and debilitating. Those with extremely sensitive teeth may have to restrict what they eat and drink and may even experience pain when breathing in colder outdoor temperatures.

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Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Gum recession– When gums recede, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. Unlike the strong, enamel-covered upper portion of a tooth, roots are primarily made of dentin. Dentin is softer and more porous and is made up of tiny tubules filled with fluid. While eating something cold, hot, sweet or acidic, the fluid in the tubules sends a signal to the nerve of the tooth which results in the feeling of pain or discomfort.

Dental erosion– If you have dental erosion and have lost all or some of the protective layer of enamel, this can result in sensitivity. Erosion may be caused by diets high in acidic foods and drinks, acid reflux or eating disorders.

Grinding/bruxism– Those who clench or grind their teeth may experience increased tooth sensitivity. However, in advanced cases of grinding, the enamel is worn off the biting surfaces of teeth, and the dentin is exposed.

Decay– Cavities can cause sensitive teeth, as a result, increased sensitivity to sweets may indicate a cavity.

Tooth whitening– Any type of whitening products can cause short-term sensitivity. However, the sensitivity usually goes away after the whitening treatment is stopped.

Treating Tooth Sensitivity

Visit a dentist– It is essential to find the cause of the sensitivity and rule out decay or any other serious dental problems.

Excellent oral hygiene– Keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy is essential in treating or preventing sensitive teeth. So make sure to remove plaque thoroughly by daily brushing and flossing.

Soft-bristled toothbrush– Choose a soft or ultra-soft toothbrush. Avoid medium or firm toothbrushes as these are too hard and cause damage to the teeth and gums. Additionally, avoid brushing aggressively.

Desensitizing toothpaste– There are toothpaste and mouthrinses designed to treat sensitive teeth. Some toothpaste work by calming the nerve of the tooth, while others create a shield around the tooth to block the dentinal tubules. It may take some trial and error to find the right toothpaste that will work for you, so try a few brands for at least a month to see the results.

Varnishes– These are applied by a dental professional. There are different types of varnishes used by dental professionals that will seal and protect the sensitive areas.

Biteplate/nightguard– If clenching or grinding your teeth, you may need to wear a protective appliance overnight. These devices protect teeth from excessive wear and help prevent associated sensitivity.

Limit acidic foods and drinks– Sensitive teeth may be caused by a diet high in acids. If having acidic drinks like pop or juice, try to limit them to meal-times and drink through a straw if possible. Rinse mouth out with water after eating or drinking anything acidic.

While not all tooth sensitivity is severe, it is essential to visit a dentist to get a proper diagnosis of what is causing the discomfort. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, don’t suffer, visit your dentist. Call us now: 905-785-0669

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