Sensitive teeth – When Is Enough Enough?
Having sensitive teeth, or dentin hypersensitivity, is not normal. Any tooth sensitivity or pain is a problem and means the protective layer of enamel is damaged, exposing the inner dentin layers of the tooth. Sensitive teeth can be bothered by heat or cold, even mild heat and cold, but goes beyond that. Hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, as well as inhaling cold air can be painful when you have sensitive teeth.
Causes of Your Tooth Sensitivity
A lifetime of poor diet and neglect of dental hygiene can contribute to tooth sensitivity at a surprisingly young age among some.
The primary causes for tooth sensitivity include:
- Worn enamel caused from vigorously brushing with an inappropriately hard toothbrush.
Pro tip: Teach children to brush properly at a young age.
- Tooth erosion caused from poor diet, highly acidic foods and drinks.
Pro tip: Brush and/or rinse after every meal.
- Tooth erosion caused from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Pro tip: Follow dietary guidelines for optimal health and seek medical help for persistent acid reflux.
- Gum recession that exposes the root, causing sensitivity.
Pro tip: Remember your annual or semi-annual dental check-ups. Gum recession is preventable and treatable.
- Worn enamel caused from teeth clenching or grinding.
Pro tip: Address the stress or situations that cause the clenching. Invest in a mouth guard if the clenching and grinding persist.
What You Can Do
There are a few things you can do at home to ease your pain, including avoiding those things that cause the most discomfort. Of course, avoidance is not the best treatment, because the problem still exists and will probably lead to more serious issues that can be prevented.
- Try a desensitizing toothpaste that displays the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. It may take several applications, but should reduce sensitivity.
- Take a break from or minimize bleaching treatments. Many at-home bleaching kits can cause tooth sensitivity.
- Care for and inspect your teeth regularly. You may think your tooth sensitivity isn’t a big deal, but if you notice receding gums or cavities on the surfaces of your teeth, you need to make an appointment with your dentist.
Find a Dentist
If you see a dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups, they have a record of your X-rays and care. Your dentist can best diagnose and treat your tooth sensitivity.
Receding gums are treatable. Your dentist can treat gum disease to prevent further root exposure and soon you’ll return to healthy gums. However, if the issue is far more serious, a gum graft may be the only answer.
Tooth decay is treatable. While it’s easiest to prevent tooth decay, it is treatable and can stop tooth sensitivity in many cases. Fluoride gel, fillings, sealants, and root canals are some treatments your dentist may recommend.
Ignoring your pain will not help and will make matters worse. Your dentist’s main priority is your dental health. Tooth sensitivity always points to a problem and should be treated.
If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, have bleeding or receding gums, or have a habit of clenching or grinding teeth, make an appointment with to see us today.