If acidic, sweet, cold or hot drinks and foods make your teeth painful or sensitive, then you may have tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is a result of the enamel that protects our teeth getting thinner, thus exposing the dentin. The dentin is a material that contains microscopic tubules packed with many small nerve endings. The dentin is protected by a layer of cementum and it expands down to the root of your tooth. When the dentin loses the enamel, it exposes the nerve to the sugary, sticky, cold and hot drinks and foods.
In the United States, at least 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth according to a study done by the Academy of General Dentistry. Tooth sensitivity is most common in people that are age between 40 and 40, although it can also affect people who are older than 70 and in their early teens.
People who have sensitive teeth may experience discomfort when being in contact with alcohol-based mouth rinses, cold air, when brushing or flossing and when like we previously mentioned, consuming sweet, acidic, and hot or cold foods and beverages.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Due to having thinner enamel, some people have naturally more sensitive teeth than other people do. In other cases, the tooth enamel can be worn down from grinding your teeth at night, regularly drinking or eating acidic foods and beverages, dental treatments or cleanings, using a hard toothbrush, or brushing your teeth too hard.
Sometimes, conditions like gastroesophageal reflux can cause tooth sensitivity. Gastroesophageal reflux, also known as GERD, can wear down teeth over time because of the acid that comes up from the esophagus and stomach. The cause of teeth sensitivity can also be gum recession which leaves parts of the tooth unprotected and exposed.
Gum disease can be the culprit for sensitive teeth because the build-up of tartar or plaque can destroy the bone support of the tooth.
The dentin of the tooth can also be exposed by crowns, worn-down fillings, chipped or broken teeth, and tooth decay. After getting teeth bleaching, crowns, or filling, your teeth may feel sensitive for a certain period of time, but it should go away after a few days.
The first step to finding relief to your teeth sensitivity is having a conversation with your dentist. Tell your dentist when the pain started, describe the symptoms you’re feeling and tell him if there is something that makes it feel better. Your dentist can see what’s causing the sensitivity to be checking for potential problems like recessed gums, loose fillings, or cavities.
Your dentist can diagnose sensitive teeth during your routine dental check-up. He or she will do a visual exam and clean your teeth. They will check for sensitivity by touching your teeth with dental instruments, and might also want you to do an X-ray.
Depending on how severe the sensitivity is, the type of treatment will vary. Your dentist can suggest some of the following:
- Fluoride –To reduce the pain and strengthen the tooth enamel, your dentist may apply a fluoride gel to sensitive areas of your teeth. This is a technique that will reduce the transmission of sensations and strengthen tooth enamel.
- Bonding or desensitizing – You can get bonding resin applied to the sensitive root surfaces when you have an exposed root. For this technique, a local anesthetic may be used.
- Desensitizing toothpaste –It will usually require a few applications before your sensitivity is reduced, but desensitizing toothpaste can block the transmission of sensation to the nerve from the tooth surface. Since there are a few over the counter products that are available, you should ask your dentist which one will be the best for you.
- Surgical gum graft – Gum tissue from your mouth can be taken and attached to a tooth root that has lost gum tissue, thus reducing sensitivity and protecting exposed roots.
- Root canal – If the sensitivity can’t be treated in any other way and you feel persistent and severe pain, your dentist may recommend that a root canal is the best way to terminate the problem.
Here are some steps that can help in preventing tooth sensitivity:
- Brush with a toothpaste for sensitivity, which will still clean your teeth and mouth while simultaneously providing relief for sensitivity and treating the gum line
- Brush your teeth twice a day and flossing daily in order to prevent any problems like cavities and gum loss
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Change your toothbrush as soon as it becomes worn, which is usually around every two to three months
- Talk to a dentist if you’re experiencing grinding your teeth so you can get a mouthguard made which you can wear at night
- Avoid acidic drinks and food
- Clean all the parts in your mouth, including the spaces along the gums like and the ones between your teeth
At Modern Day Smiles, we ensure you feel like you’re in a safe and comfortable environment. We surround you with trained dentists that offer a wide range of dental treatments. In case you don’t have insurance, make a call at our office and get the full list of in-office discount plans and new patients specials. The number for our clinic in St. Petersburg is +1 (727) 322 0505 and our office in Tampa is +1 (813) 890 0044.