What Causes Sensitive Teeth
If you have recently been avoiding certain hot or cold foods due to pain in your teeth, then you may be experiencing a common condition called teeth sensitivity.
The pain associated with sensitive teeth can range from something as mild as a twinge upon taking a bite of candy to sharp, shooting pain upon exposure to heat or cold.
It may also occur in only one tooth or several all at once. Although tooth sensitivity can occur at any age, it is more common among older adults due to the wear and tear on a person’s mouth that occurs over the years.
To help you identify the cause of your tooth sensitivity, here are the most common reasons along with the possible treatments that may reduce your pain.
Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth
When you mention that your teeth are sensitive, your dentist will conduct a thorough exam that may reveal one or more of the following causes.
- Tooth decay – when cavities break through the enamel, the dentin is exposed which allows for the sensations caused by heat or cold to reach the nerves. If decay is untreated long enough it can go even deeper to the nerve and cause a painful infection.
- Gum disease – Periodontal disease can allow pockets to form along the gum line that expose the roots to painful stimuli.
- Worn filling or tooth fracture – similar to tooth decay, a worn filling or tooth fracture allows cold and heat to reach the dentin.
- Receding gums –the tooth roots lack the protective enamel that is on the tooth crown. Aggressive tooth brushing, aging and gum disease can all cause your gums to recede and increase your susceptibility to teeth sensitivity.
The good news is that your family dentist can easily treat most cases of sensitive teeth. However, the type of treatment you will need depends upon the underlying cause of your sensitivity.
For example, a minor cavity may only require a simple filling. Tooth fractures may require a crown or extraction depending upon the severity of the break.
After looking at your gums, your dentist may recommend a tooth cleaning combined with home care strategies such as flossing and using a soft-bristled toothbrush for your oral hygiene routine.
However, severe cases of gum recession may require aggressive treatment such as grafting. If worn enamel is the cause of your sensitivity, then your dentist may apply a desensitizing agent in the office to provide prompt relief.
Preventing Future Sensitivity
There are several things you can do at home to prevent and reduce sensitivity. First, always brush your teeth in gentle, circular motions while using a soft brush.Second, avoid highly acidic foods that may break down the enamel. And, finally, visit your dentist at least every six months for a cleaning and exam where they may also recommend using fluoride.
Teeth rarely cause pain unless some type of damage has occurred. For this reason, it is best to speak with your dentist at the first sign of sensitivity so that the problem can be corrected before it becomes worse. By taking a proactive stance against sensitivity, you and your family dentist can work together to ensure that you can eat and drink comfortably whether you are enjoying a cup of hot coffee or an ice cold drink.