You’re biting into a crisp apple or enjoying a steaming hot cup of joe, when, suddenly – ouch. You feel a shooting pain in one or more of your teeth, and you have no idea where it came from. So what causes sensitive teeth? Find out about common causes, as well as ways to treat and prevent the problem.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Gum Recession or Infection
As you get older, the gum tissue near your teeth can wear away. This is known as gum recession, and severe cases can leave the roots of your teeth exposed. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, can also cause sensitive teeth if left untreated. The incredibly common issue affects more than 47 percent of adults over the age of 30; however, despite being so common, gum disease can have a devastating effect on your teeth. If your teeth are a little more sensitive than usual, take a look at your gums and consider whether your flossing routine leaves something to be desired.
Sensitive Teeth and Enamel Erosion
Enamel is the thin outer shell that protects the tooth. Even though enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, a lifetime of wear and tear can cause it to erode. Eating a highly acidic diet, overdoing it on carbonated drinks like soda, brushing your teeth too hard, or overusing whitening products can all chip away at your tooth enamel; unfortunately, the enamel you lose never grows back. If a tooth loses its enamel, it stands unprotected. This can lead to sharp dental pain when you bite into certain foods or come into contact with hot or cold temperature extremes.
Tooth Decay and Tooth Sensitivity
If you have untreated tooth decay or cavities, you might notice more dental sensitivity than usual. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause an infection. That, in turn, can lead to pain or sensitivity in your tooth. To minimize tooth decay, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least once daily.
Grinding or Clenching
We’ve all gritted our teeth in heavy afternoon traffic or clenched our jaws during a stressful situation. But grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw on a regular basis can wear away at the enamel on your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity. You might not even be aware of grinding, especially if it takes place at night while you’re asleep. When in doubt, ask your dentist about a mouth guard to help minimize sensitivity from grinding.
Treating Sensitive Teeth
Whether your tooth sensitivity stems from decay, grinding, gum recession, or another issue, there are several steps you can take to treat the problem:
- Fluoride: While you can’t technically “regrow” enamel once it’s worn away, you can strengthen existing enamel with fluoride. Your dentist can apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen the enamel; after that, they may prescribe at-home fluoride trays that you can use on your own time.
- Desensitizing Toothpaste: You can use a variety of over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes to help strengthen your enamel and potentially reduce pain. Talk to your dentist about which brand is right for your specific kind of sensitivity.
- Surgical Gum Grafting: If you’ve experienced significant gum erosion, your dentist may opt for a gum graft. This procedure involves taking a portion of gum tissue from elsewhere in the mouth and re-attaching it to the affected site. Not only can gum grafting reduce overall sensitivity; it can also help protect exposed tooth roots, keeping your mouth healthier over time.
- Root Canal: Root canals allow dentists to treat infection and other problems in the dental pulp, which is the soft core of the tooth. This can be an excellent solution for an advanced dental infection.
So, what causes sensitive teeth? From tooth decay to unwitting grinding, there are a few variables that can all lead to sensitivity. If you’re struggling with sensitive teeth, make sure to give your dentist a call to treat the problem.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist in Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or request an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!