If you have ever felt a sharp sensation in your teeth immediately after consuming hot, cold, sugary, or acidic foods, then you may have sensitive teeth. But you needn’t worry. Sensitive teeth are more common than you think.
Did you know that one in every eight adults in the U.S. has sensitive teeth? As per the Journal of the American Dental Association, more than 12 percent of patients experience sensitive teeth. As per various studies, sensitive teeth is extremely common in people between the age of 20 and 50 years.
This blog post discusses the causes of sensitive teeth as well as their symptoms, treatments, and tips for prevention.
Causes of sensitive teeth
From hormonal changes to dental caries, sensitivity can happen due to a wide range of factors. Here are 12 common causes of sensitive teeth:
- Aggressive brushing: Brushing extremely hard using a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the enamel and expose the dentin.
- Gum disease: Periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis also cause sensitivity by exposing the root surface and wearing out the supporting ligaments.
- Gum recession: If gums recede due to gum disease or aggressive brushing or hereditary condition, they expose the roots and make teeth extremely sensitive.
- Cracked or fractured teeth: This is one of the major reasons for sensitive teeth. The cracked or fractured teeth may also allow bacteria to enter the pulp and exacerbate the sensitivity.
- Age: Even though tooth sensitivity can appear at any age, a study says that adults between ages 20 and 50 are more susceptible to it. That’s why it is extremely crucial to take good care of your teeth and oral hygiene after crossing 20.
- Teeth whiteners: Using unprescribed teeth whitening products can cause or worsen sensitivity. The ingredients in some whitening products may not be healthy for your teeth. Before whitening your teeth, consult a trustworthy and experienced dentist.
- Plaque buildup: Plaque and tartar are also among the most common causes of tooth sensitivity.
- Acidic foods: Foods with low pH values such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, gooseberry, pickles, and other citrus fruits are highly acidic. If eaten in large quantities or daily, they can react with the enamel and erode it over time.
- Over usage of mouthwash: Like some over-the-counter teeth whitening products, mouthwash can cause and exacerbate teeth sensitivity. The acids in the mouthwashes can erode the enamel and damage the dentin. Before using mouthwash, it’s better to consult a dentist so that they can prescribe the most suitable one for your teeth.
- Dental treatments: Teeth sensitivity can also be caused by recent dental procedures such as in-office whitening, professional cleaning, fillings, and any other dental restoration placement. The sensitivity, however, is temporary and goes away in about a month or so.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes in the body can also cause sensitivity. Pregnancy can also increase teeth sensitivity by causing hyperactive hormones and increased blood flow.
- Hereditary: Sensitive teeth could be hereditary. Some studies have found that genetics play a contributing role when it comes to teeth sensitivity. Some people with sensitive teeth indeed inherit tooth sensitivity from a family member.
Symptoms of sensitive teeth
As the name suggests, sensitivity is the number one symptom of sensitive teeth.
- Sensitivity to temperature fluctuations
- Sensitivity to sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- Pain or discomfort from hot or cold foods and drinks
- Pain or discomfort during brushing and flossing
Diagnosis of sensitive teeth
If you’re experiencing sensitivity, contact your dentist and book an appointment.
An experienced dentist can diagnose and detect the exact cause after thoroughly examining your teeth for caries, recessed gums, gum disease, or loose fillings. This can happen during a routine dental cleaning or they can take an X-ray or radiograph of your teeth.
Treatments for sensitive teeth
Teeth sensitivity has several degrees of severity. While treating mild sensitivity is easy and inexpensive, reversing severe sensitivity can be a bit invasive and expensive. Here are some treatment options suitable for different circumstances:
- Desensitizing toothpaste: This toothpaste contains potassium nitrate, which reduces sensitivity just five to seven days after use. The active ingredient blocks the transmission of pain to the brain from teeth nerves. With so many brands of desensitizing toothpaste, it may be difficult to choose the right one. In that case, consulting a trustworthy dentist can help in selecting the right desensitizing toothpaste for you. Make sure that the desensitizing toothpaste has recommended amount of fluoride in it.
- Surgical gum graft: This is a useful surgical procedure for those who have inadequate gum tissue. In this treatment, the dentist will apply a small amount of gum tissue in the affected area after extracting it from a different place in the mouth. Apart from reducing sensitivity, this is extremely effective in guarding exposed roots.
- Root canal: This is the last resort treatment for severe sensitivity. A dentist will only recommend root canal treatment if they find the dental pulp or roots are severely infected and abscessed.
- Dental bonding: This procedure can cover exposed root surfaces. In this, the dentist uses a tough resin material to cover the sensitive roots. Though a minimally invasive procedure, it usually involves the use of an anesthetic.
- Fluoride varnishes: It is an extremely concentrated form of fluoride, which can reduce sensitivity when applied to the exposed root surface. By sticking tightly to the enamel, it forms calcium fluoride and acts as a long-term reservoir of fluoride.
Tips to prevent sensitive teeth
Sensitive teeth can be prevented with the following tips:
- Brush gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush: When it comes to brushing, technique triumphs over strength and time spent. Brushing with force for a long time can do more harm than good. Conversely, brushing gently using the right technique can work wonders for your teeth. Place your brush at a 45-degree angle on your teeth and brush using a circular motion. Use a soft-bristled brush to reduce irritation to the gums and make sure minimal erosion of the enamel.
- Brush and floss regularly: Teeth sensitivity usually happens due to caries. Regular oral hygiene is the most effective and the most inexpensive way to prevent common dental problems. Make sure you brush for at least two minutes twice a day and floss at least once before going to bed.
- Use a nightguard: This is the best way to negate the effects of bruxism and nighttime teeth grinding. Use a high-quality nightguard.
- Avoid acidic foods: Your diet plays a huge role in determining the health of your teeth. To make your teeth free of sensitivity eat calcium-rich foods, avoid sugary and acidic foods, and drink fluoride water. Also, avoid frequent snacking.
- Have your gums examined by a dentist: By scheduling regular dental checkups, you can ensure that your teeth are examined at regular intervals and any potential issue is nipped in the bud. Going for dental visits at least twice a year can prevent many dental problems, including sensitivity.
Taking everything into consideration
Even though teeth sensitivity is not a serious dental condition by itself, it can be a symptom of extremely dangerous complications such as cavities, gum problems, and cracks and fractures. If you feel any sensation in your teeth, especially while eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods, get your teeth checked by an experienced dentist in your area.
At TruCare Dentistry, we offer regular dental checkups as well as a wide array of treatments for sensitive teeth. If you need the best family dentist in Roswell, GA, or nearby areas such as Sandy Springs, Marietta, Milton, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, or Woodstock, call (678) 321-7575 to book an appointment.