Tooth sensitivity can be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful issue that occurs when one or more of your teeth react to various stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks, or even exposure to cold air. This pain is often sharp, sudden, and can radiate deep into the nerve endings of your teeth.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity arises when the underlying layer of your teeth, known as dentin, becomes exposed. This exposure is typically the result of receding gum tissue, which serves as a protective covering for the tooth roots. Unlike the hard enamel that covers the rest of your tooth, the roots are not shielded, and they contain thousands of tiny tubules that lead to the nerve center of your tooth, also known as the pulp. When stimuli, such as hot, cold, or sweet foods, reach the nerve through these dentinal tubules, it triggers the pain you experience.
There are numerous factors that can contribute to the development of tooth sensitivity, including:
Brushing too vigorously: Over time, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and expose dentin. This can also lead to gum recession, where the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth.
Gum recession: As gums recede, typically due to conditions like periodontal disease, the root surface becomes exposed.
Gum disease (gingivitis): Inflamed and sore gum tissue may lead to sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface directly to the nerve of the tooth.
Cracked teeth: Teeth that are chipped or broken may trap bacteria from plaque, leading to inflammation inside the tooth.
Teeth grinding: The habit of grinding or clenching your teeth can wear down enamel and expose underlying dentin.
Tooth whitening products or toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide: These products are known contributors to tooth sensitivity.
Your age: Tooth sensitivity tends to be highest between the ages of 25 and 30.
Plaque buildup: The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
Mouthwash use: Long-term use of certain mouthwashes that contain acids can worsen tooth sensitivity, especially if you have exposed dentin. These acids further damage the dentin layer of the tooth.
Acidic foods: Regular consumption of highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and tea, can cause enamel erosion.
Recent routine dental procedures: Sensitivity can occur after teeth cleaning, root planing, crown placement, or tooth restoration. Fortunately, this sensitivity is usually temporary, disappearing within 4 to 6 weeks.
What Can You Do to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?
To manage tooth sensitivity and reduce discomfort, consider the following steps:
Maintain good oral hygiene: Continue following proper brushing and flossing techniques to ensure that all parts of your teeth and mouth are thoroughly cleaned.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: This can help minimize toothbrush abrasion on tooth surfaces and reduce irritation to your gums. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line to avoid further gum tissue loss.
Use desensitizing toothpaste: Several brands of toothpaste are available for sensitive teeth. With regular use, you should notice a decrease in sensitivity. You may need to try different brands to find the one that works best for you. Additionally, consider spreading a thin layer of toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots with your finger or a Q-tip before bedtime. Avoid tartar control toothpaste and opt for a fluoridated toothpaste instead.
Monitor your diet: Frequent consumption of highly acidic foods can gradually erode tooth enamel and expose dentin, which may worsen sensitivity and trigger pain. Limit your intake of such foods.
Use fluoridated dental products: Incorporating a fluoridated mouth rinse into your daily routine can help decrease sensitivity. Ask Dr. Monica Lau at ABC Dental Care in Edmonton about available products for home use.
Avoid teeth grinding: If you grind or clench your teeth, consider using a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth.
Regular dental visits: Schedule regular check-ups with Dr. Monica Lau at ABC Dental Care in Edmonton every six months. During these visits, you'll receive professional tooth cleaning, oral hygiene instructions, and fluoride treatments to help manage sensitivity.
If you continue to experience discomfort, consult with Dr. Monica Lau. There are dental procedures available that can help reduce sensitivity, including:
White fillings (bonding) to cover exposed root surfaces.
Fluoride varnishes applied to exposed root surfaces.
Dentin sealers applied to exposed root surfaces.
Don't let tooth sensitivity disrupt your daily life. Contact ABC Dental Care at (780) 486-0788 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Monica Lau. We are conveniently located at 18250 89 Avenue NW in Edmonton, AB, and we are here to help you find relief and enjoy a pain-free smile.
We at ABC Dental Care are a multilingual dentist office conveniently located in West Edmonton and Windermere servicing the whole community. Our services include teeth whitening, braces, Myobrace and Invisalign.
West Edmonton and Windermere - Whitening, Braces, Myobrace & Invisalign