Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but it has its vulnerabilities. Teeth sensitivity is uncomfortable proof of that. Does biting down make your tooth ache? Does sipping a tall glass of something cold send pain shooting through your teeth? If you’re dealing with sensitive teeth, identifying what’s causing the problem and seeking treatment can help you protect both your oral health and your smile.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
The enamel that forms the tough outer layer of teeth shields the delicate nerves and tissues that lie within them. If that enamel is damaged or weakened, teeth sensitivity often occurs. Several things can cause sensitivity because of tooth enamel that is compromised:
- Cracked teeth. When a tooth is cracked or chipped, crevices form that offer an ideal hiding place for bacteria. This may trigger inflammation. In some cases, the damage may expose the sensitive nerves inside the tooth, causing pain.
- Gum disease. Enamel only shields the surfaces above the gum line. When gum disease causes gum tissue to recede, the tooth root surfaces under your gum line are more sensitive.
- Aggressive tooth brushing. Brushing your teeth is a vital part of any oral health routine. Aggressive tooth brushing or using the wrong tools or techniques can damage teeth and gums.
- Whitening treatments. Popular teeth whitening products can brighten your smile. However, if they’re overused, they can damage your enamel.
- Dental procedures. It’s not uncommon for some temporary teeth sensitivity to follow restorations, cleanings and other dental procedures. This should fade. Old fillings and restorations can also be a source of sensitivity if they begin to fail. Repairs or replacements can provide relief.
- Tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can wear away your enamel and damage teeth &/or jaw joint. See symptoms of teeth grinding and available treatments.
- Acidic foods and drinks. Consuming foods and beverages that are acidic can weaken the enamel that protects your teeth. Oddly enough, some over-the-counter mouthwashes are also highly acidic. Using these products can aggravate sensitive teeth.
- Age. Years of wear and tear can up the odds of weakened or damaged tooth enamel. Receding gums also become more common as people age. These factors may explain why the risk of sensitivity often increases with age.
Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity
What should you do if you have a tooth sensitive to cold food or drinks or a group of teeth that hurt when you bite down? The best treatment for your teeth sensitivity depends on the underlying cause.
- If you’ve recently gone to the dentist to repair a filling or other type of restoration, then call your dentist to make them aware of the issue, but they might suggest to give it a few more days.
- If after a few days, you still have sensitivity, seeing your dentist is a smart choice.
- If the problem is caused by a damaged tooth or failing restoration, treating this might resolve the sensitivity.
- When teeth grinding is the culprit, a mouthguard may be recommended. What about sensitive teeth pain relief?
- Believe it or not, your dentist can tell if you brush your teeth correctly. At that time, your dentist may suggest improving your tooth brushing technique or using a desensitizing toothpaste.
- Either way, don’t wait to talk to your dentist.
At Wekiva Dental, we love seeing healthy, beautiful grins. If sensitive teeth are making it hard to smile, contact us today to schedule an appointment.