Tooth sensitivity can make eating, brushing, and drinking uncomfortable and even painful. Sensitive teeth are usually a sign that your tooth enamel is worn or that the roots of your teeth have become exposed. Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by other factors including worn fillings, cracked or chipped teeth, cavities, or gum disease.
Enamel protects the layer of dentin in healthy teeth, while tooth roots are protected by the gums. When the enamel becomes worn or your gum line recedes, your tooth’s dentin and tooth roots can be exposed. Dentin is softer than enamel and connects to the nerves that trigger pain in sensitive teeth. When the dentin is exposed, hot, cold, acidic or even sticky substances trigger the nerves inside the tooth and cause pain.
If you suffer from the symptoms of sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she can determine what underlying causes may be contributing to your pain. After examination, your dentist might recommend:
- Desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpaste can reduce sensitivity and pain you experience. Ask your dentist about over the counter products that might work for you.
- Fluoride. Your dentist may apply fluoride to your teeth that will strengthen tooth enamel. He or she might also prescribe a fluoride treatment to use at home.
- Bonding. When the roots of your teeth have been exposed, bonding resin can be applied to sensitive root surfaces.
- Surgical gum graft. If you have begun to lose gum tissue, your dentist may graft tissue from elsewhere in your mouth to the affected area to protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
You can prevent the recurrence of sensitivity by brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Avoid harsh scrubbing and abrasive toothpastes when you brush. Patients who grind or clench their teeth can experience tooth fractures and increased sensitivity. Your dentist should check for signs of grinding and clenching and may recommend a mouth guard.
You can also help reduce sensitivity by changing your eating and drinking habits. Acidic foods and drinks including soda, citrus fruits and wine can erode the enamel of your teeth over time. Try drinking from a straw when you drink acidic liquids to limit contact with your teeth. Drink lots of water to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after eating to remove acids and prevent acid erosion.
If you experience sensitivity or pain in your teeth, contact us as soon as possible so that we can rule out cavities, infections, or cracked teeth and help you find a long term solution to your discomfort. We want you to have a comfortable, healthy, happy mouth!