Have Sensitive Teeth? Here are Things You Should Know
Do you experience tooth pain or twinge when you eat an ice cream cone or drink a hot beverage? If you answered yes and it seems like a daily problem for you, chances are that you are suffering from tooth sensitivity. Over 40 million people (one out of every five adults) have sensitive teeth – a dental problem in which a person experiences short, sharp pain when the teeth come in contact with something. So, if you feel discomfort while consuming beverages or foods that are cold, hot, sour or sweet; when flossing or brushing; or even when you breathe in cold air – continue to read to find out more about the types, causes and treatments associated with tooth sensitivity.
Sensitive Teeth: Two Types of Discomfort
To understand tooth sensitivity in a better way, we’ll need to look at its types and what things differentiate them. Depending on the location of your sensitivity, you may be experiencing one of the following:
Dentinal sensitivity: it happens due to exposure of dentin (the middle layer) of a tooth. Hot or cold temperatures can affect the nerve branches, resulting in sensitivity. The common causes of dentinal sensitivity include poor oral hygiene, brushing too hard, consuming acidic foods and drinks frequently, untreated cavities, an old filling with a leak or crack, or, receding gums that expose the roots of your tooth.
Pulpal sensitivity: this type of tooth sensitivity is associated with the tooth’s pulp, a bunch of nerves and blood vessels near the center of each tooth. It tends to affect a single tooth, and the common causes include excessive pressure from grinding or clenching, infection or decay, a broken or cracked tooth, or perhaps a recent filling. In case you feel pain upon biting, it’s possible that you have cracked or broken filling, whereas pain at the time of releasing a bite points to a cracked tooth.
Possible Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Being aware of the common causes of this problem, you can improve your oral health as well as potentially reduce your sensitivity. Have a look at the following factors that cause sensitive teeth, and remember them whenever you say “ouch” the next time.
Brushing too hard: when you use too much force while brushing, the protective layers of the teeth wear down. Over time, discomfort and sensitivity follow whenever your teeth are exposed to certain foods or beverages.
Acidic foods: in many cases, foods like tomato sauce, pickles, kiwi, grapefruit, and lemon are responsible for sensitive teeth.
Gum disease or excessive plaque: two reasons why it’s recommended to brush and floss regularly! Receding gums, or gingivitis, can be the cause of tooth sensitivity.
Gum surgery or dental procedure: it’s not uncommon to have an increased sensitivity after an extraction, a root canal, or placement of a crown.
Using tooth whitening toothpaste or mouthwash: you may be sensitive to the chemicals present in their toothpaste or mouthwash, especially if the dentin is exposed.
Cracked tooth: a cracked or chipped tooth can cause a lot of pain, much more than what’s caused by sensitive teeth.
3 Effective Tips for Fighting Sensitive Teeth
Who said you have to put up with all this pain? The solutions for sensitive teeth are not that complicated, and the following three tips can get you relief in the long term.
Use de-sensitizing toothpaste: discuss with your dental care professional if using toothpaste especially made for sensitive teeth is appropriate. They contain certain ingredients that block sensations and help in filling the holes (called tubules) in the exposed dentin, and protect your teeth’s roots. Also make sure that the toothpaste doesn’t contain baking soda or any other chemical for controlling tartar, as that may worsen your sensitivity issue.
Change your toothbrush: switch to a toothbrush that has softer bristles and is designed to be gentler on your teeth and gums while brushing. This way you can ensure that you don’t irritate the gum-line or wear down the enamel.
Try a fluoride rinse: an extra treatment of fluoride will help strengthen the enamel and also protect the roots of your teeth. This, in turn, can help with your problem of sensitive teeth.
If you are one of the 40 million people who can’t fully enjoy their foods and drinks due to sensitive teeth, you are not alone. But, that doesn’t mean you should ignore this issue. It’s always recommended that you visit a dentist who can help you get relief from your dental problems. You can contact Dr. Scott Williams of Ascent Family Dental, if you need to consult with an experienced dentist about your sensitive teeth.