Tooth Sensitivity: Why It Happens and How to Treat It

Tooth SensitivityDid your teeth feel any discomfort or pain over the holidays from the sweets and drinks? Teeth sensitivity often happens when you eat something hot, cold, sour, or sweet. But why does it happen and how can you fix it?

Why Do Teeth Feel Pain?

Normally, teeth don’t react to cold, hot or sweet beverages and food. The tooth is covered by a protective layer called the enamel, which prevents anything from getting through into the dentin and pulp chamber, where the root and nerve endings are. The dentin is a soft, calcified, yellowish tissue that has many microscopic pores which lead directly into the nerve in the center of the tooth.

Once the dentin is exposed, foods and liquids can enter the microscopic pores and go straight to the nerve. These food particles cause nerve irritation which our brain processes as tooth sensitivity. The dentin can be exposed when the enamel of the tooth gets worn down or the gums recede and expose the tooth root.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Around 40 million Americans experience tooth sensitivity at some point in their lives. The cause can be one or more of the following:

  1. Old age. As you grow older, gums start to recede and expose the tooth root, causing sensitivity.
  2. Excessive brushing. Brushing more than three times daily can wear down the tooth enamel.
  3. Abrasive brushing. Using a very hard-bristled toothbrush or brushing too aggressively can also wear down enamel.
  4. Gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis can cause gum recession and expose the tooth root.
  5. Acidity. The acid in foods and beverages can wear down enamel and the effect can be aggravated if you brush your teeth right after eating or drinking something acidic.
  6. Bruxism. Grinding of the upper and lower teeth when not eating wears down the enamel of the upper and lower teeth.
  7. Fractured tooth. A chipped or fractured tooth may be sensitive if the defect goes deep enough into the dentin.
  8. Dental treatment. A number of dental treatments, especially ones that required drilling of a hole or trimming down the enamel, can make the teeth temporarily sensitive.

How Can I Treat My Sensitive Teeth?

The best way to treat sensitive teeth is to figure out what triggers the symptoms. Is it because of excessive brushing, or is your tooth enamel completely worn? Stetson Hills Dental Clinic’s staff have the professional expertise and equipment to assess the cause of your tooth sensitivity. Once the cause has been identified, we can develop a plan of treatment to fix the issue.

Depending on the cause of your tooth sensitivity, here are the possible treatment options that we might recommend.

  1. Proper brushing. Don’t brush too hard or too often. Use a soft-bristled brush to reduce the abrasiveness of the brushing motion.
  2. Lifestyle adjustments. Minimize the consumption of acidic foods or beverages. Don’t brush right after eating anything acidic, just rinse your mouth with water.
  3. Desensitizing toothpaste. Many toothpaste brands on the market offer desensitizing varieties. These, however, may take a few weeks to see results.
  4. Crowns. If you have a fractured tooth, getting a crown to cover up the exposed area will solve the sensitivity.
  5. Mouthguard. If you grind your teeth at night, using a mouthguard while sleeping will reduce the pressure on your teeth and prevent further damage.

Stetson Hills Dental Clinic is dedicated to providing the best dental care for you and your family. If you want to know more about sensitive teeth and how we can help, give us a call at (719) 838-5013 and we will schedule an appointment for you.

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