Help! What Are the Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity?
You’re enjoying an ice cold smoothie or a hot bowl of soup, then suddenly you feel an intense sharp pain in your tooth.
Tooth sensitivity can strike at any time, and you can most likely thank your enamel for it. It may be the hardest mineral in the human body, but it’s also a fragile one.
You’re not alone and there is much that can get done to remedy sensitive teeth. Read on for the common causes of tooth sensitivity and what to do about it.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
You may be wondering what causes sensitive teeth all of a sudden. It can happen to anyone and come out of the blue. Tooth sensitivity can be a result of genetics, age, dental hygiene habits, or even the changing weather patterns.
Here are the top reasons you’re experiencing discomfort from sensitive teeth.
Your Enamel Is Wearing Down
Think of enamel as a shield that helps to protect and insulate the teeth. It keeps the inner layers of the tooth from getting damaged when chewing, biting, or grinding.
Once enamel starts to wear down, it exposes the layer beneath called dentin. This layer is full of tiny tubes that connect right to your nerves. These nerves are extremely sensitive to temperature changes.
This explains the feeling of tooth sensitivity to cold or hot foods and temperatures. Cracks in your enamel can also cause the same feelings of pain or discomfort. People who grind their teeth wear their enamel down even further.
You also want to be careful with at-home whitening methods. If applied wrong or too often it will deteriorate the enamel on your teeth.
You Need to Change Your Brushing Habits
Brushing your teeth too hard can also wear down your enamel, making teeth more sensitive. Try applying less pressure to your brushing technique. Also, use a toothbrush with softer bristles.
Certain kinds of toothpaste contain chemicals that can enhance tooth sensitivity. If using whitening or tartar control you may want to try switching out your toothpaste. The same thing goes for mouthwash.
Switch to a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth, such as Tom’s or Sensodyne. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Enamel Repair toothpaste contains potassium nitrate, which can provide further relief to sensitivity.
Desensitizing toothpaste should get used at every brushing to see the best results. It may take about a month for teeth to feel less sensitive.
Use a saltwater rinse for a sensitive teeth home remedy. It will help with inflammation and provide some pain relief. A turmeric paste can also do the trick.
You’re Not Watching What You Eat
Your diet could be to blame for your sensitive teeth. Acidic foods and beverages can make tooth sensitivity feel way worse.
Avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
- Lemons and other citrus fruits
- Sticky candy
Food temperatures can also make sensitivity worse, such as hot coffee and cold ice cream. You may also want to drink beverages without ice cubes.
Instead, eat foods that promote a healthy smile. This includes milk, yogurt, apples, and almonds. Also try cheese, which can lower acidity levels in the mouth.
Your Teeth Need a Deep Cleaning
If plaque gets built up, it can also wear down the enamel layer of your teeth. It’s important to practice proper brushing and flossing daily. Otherwise, you are at risk of cavities, which can make tooth sensitivity much worse.
Gingivitis and gum disease are other culprits of sensitive teeth. As gums recede from teeth it can create extra sensitivity, as the tooth’s root does not contain enamel. This can happen with age or from poor dental health.
Healthy gums should be firm and light pink in colour. Bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. Treat gum disease as soon as possible, as it can put a person at risk for other diseases, such as diabetes.
Fillings in your teeth can also be a cause of sensitivity. Over time they may have a build up of bacteria which can break down the enamel. Lost fillings can also cause a great deal of teeth pain.
It’s best to visit the dentist for a professional cleaning every 6 months. This will ensure the removal of plaque as well as checking to make sure there are not any bigger issues at hand.
When to Take a Trip to the Dentist
If tooth sensitivity worsens or persists longer than a week, you may want to visit your dentist. It could be a symptom of a cavity or gum disease. Or you may want to learn more about available in-office treatments.
Tooth Sensitivity Treatment Options
To determine the cause, the dentist will perform a full examination. This will most likely include x-rays.
Your dentist may recommend at-home remedies or a treatment option. This can be an agent to desensitize the teeth or add a special layer to coat and protect the teeth. Sealants and fluoride gels are other options.
If you grind your teeth, they may recommend a custom fit mouth-guard. This will help protect the remaining enamel that you have left.
A crack or chipped tooth can leave the dentin layer exposed, adding to tooth sensitivity and pain. This should get fixed by your dentist. You may need an extraction or a cap for the tooth.
If the problem is more extreme, your dentist may recommend a root canal. This gets used as a last resort to fix the pain problem.
It’s important to note that certain dental procedures can also cause temporary sensitivity. This can be from whitening treatments, bonding, crowns, or a gum graft.
Yet, the sensitivity should subside within a few weeks. If pain or discomfort persists, visit your dentist to rule out a possible infection.
Maintaining a Healthy and Happy Smile
While the causes of tooth sensitivity may be painful or uncomfortable, they are possible to fix.
It’s best to always check with your dentist if experiencing pain or discomfort in the teeth or gums. It’s the most effective way to get to the root of a dental problem before it gets worse.
Learn more about methods for maintaining and happy and healthy smile.