Sensitive teeth, especially the ones that appear out of nowhere, can be frustrating to deal with. You cannot eat or drink your favorite foods because they will act up. However, you don’t necessarily have sensitive teeth without a cause.
Let’s look at teeth sensitivity and why you might be in pain whenever you take a sip of ice-cold water or a piping hot coffee.
What are Sensitive Teeth?
Your teeth are sensitive if you feel unexpected pain or discomfort when you consume hot/cold foods and drinks or breathe through your mouth.
The sensitivity is an exaggerated response to stimuli such as:
- hot, cold, sweet, and acidic foods and drinks
- exposure to cold air
- brushing your teeth
An American Family Physician survey reveals that about 22 percent of adults experienced pain in their teeth, gums, or jaw in the last 6 months.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Teeth sensitivity can be a temporary problem or a chronic one. It can affect one tooth, multiple teeth, or, sometimes, all the teeth in an individual.
Tooth sensitivity occurs due to various reasons, some of which are described below:
Exposure to Extreme Temperatures:
The biggest culprit of sensitive teeth is worn-down tooth enamel or exposed nerves in the teeth. You may feel a sudden, sharp pain when you consume something at an extreme temperature, i.e., cool or hot.
Gums are pink tissues that cover the jaw bone and surround the tooth’s root to protect the nerve endings. The tissues begin to wear as you age, causing the recession and increased tooth sensitivity.
The gums move away from the teeth, exposing the roots. The exposed tooth roots make your teeth sensitive and risk gum disease and tooth infection.
Enamel is the visible white portion of your tooth. Underneath this lies the dentin that houses the nerve endings.
Enamel or dentin erosion can occur due to:
- a very acidic diet
- harsh or rigorous brushing
- other factors
Enamel or dentin erosion causes sharp, stabbing pains that send shivers up your spine when you eat certain foods.
Tooth decay, popularly known as a cavity, is a common reason your teeth suddenly start feeling sensitive. Tooth decay can go unnoticed for a long time before becoming symptomatic.
Gum disease affects more than 47 percent of adults over 30 in the United States. Gum disease is called gingivitis in the early stages. Common symptoms are:
- Red gums
- Swollen gums
- Gums that bleed
If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, causing:
- Gums detach from teeth
- Bone loss
- Tooth loss
Your teeth might start feeling sensitive if gum disease goes unchecked. That’s why getting regular dental check-ups every 6 months at your local dentist is critical for good oral health.
A cracked tooth can cause pain and sensitivity. There are also cases with such a small crack that you experience pain but can’t see it on the tooth.
One symptom of a sinus infection is toothache and pain in your jaw. As your sinuses inflame and fill with pressure from the disease, they compress the nerve endings of your teeth, also resulting in sensitivity.
Grinding/Clenching your Jaws
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws can lead to chronic (constant) tooth sensitivity as it wears down the enamel.
While many people grind or clench their teeth now and then, high-stress circumstances or poor sleep can increase this specific habit. You won’t even realize it’s happening, but you will experience “mysterious” tooth pain.
Recent dental treatments – such as fillings or other therapies involving drilling the tooth – can temporarily make your teeth sensitive.
This may last up to 2 weeks.
Teeth Bleaching Products
Getting your teeth whitened at the dentist’s office or using over-the-counter whitening products puts you at a high risk of teeth sensitivity.
The good thing is that this situation is usually temporary and subsides once you stop using whitening products.
How to Fix Sensitive Teeth
The treatment for sensitive teeth depends on the cause. Get in touch with your dentist if you’ve felt out-of-the-blue or lingering tooth sensitivity or discomfort. They will rule out any severe conditions before recommending the appropriate treatment.
To reduce the risk of tooth sensitivity, practice the following:
Use Desensitizing Toothpaste
You will notice that several brands have a specially-formulated toothpaste for sensitive teeth. With regular use, you will see a decrease in sensitivity.
You might have to try different brands to find the one that works best for you or consult your dentist about the same.
Quick Tip: Spread a thin layer of toothpaste on exposed roots using your finger or a Q-tip before you go to bed, as it can help decrease tooth sensitivity.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to maintain oral hygiene and prevent diseases.
Use A Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
Toothbrushes with soft bristles result in less abrasion to the tooth surface and irritation to your gums.
Watch What You Eat
Constant consumption of highly acidic foods gradually dissolves tooth enamel and exposes the dentin. It also results in increased sensitivity.
Use Dental Products With Fluoride
Daily use of fluoridated dental products can decrease sensitivity.
Avoid Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
Use a mouthguard at night if you tend to clench or grind your teeth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Get routine professional dental exams and cleaning to keep your sparkly whites healthy.
Specific dental procedures help reduce sensitivity, including:
- Dental bonding that covers exposed root surfaces to manage increased tooth sensitivity.
- Fluoride varnishes are applied onto teeth and exposed roots to lower sensitivity.
- You can also apply dentin sealers onto teeth and exposed roots to enjoy hot and cold beverages.
Sensitive Teeth FAQs
Q 1. Can tooth sensitivity go away?
Ans. Yes, sensitivity can go away, depending on the cause and the treatment followed. In worst-case scenarios where nothing else helps, your dentist might advise a root canal treatment.
Q 2. Does a sensitive tooth mean a cavity?
Ans. While dental cavities are a cause of tooth sensitivity, there are many other reasons why your tooth is feeling sensitive. Visit your dentist to understand the cause.
Q 3. What deficiencies cause tooth sensitivity?
Ans. Various vitamin deficiencies may cause sensitive teeth:
- Lack of vitamin D can cause cavities, leading to sensitive teeth.
- Lack of vitamin B12 can increase the risk of suffering gum disease.
Get Your Sensitive Teeth Treated At Le Sueur Family Dental, MN
If your teeth have been bothering you lately and you are in situations where you can’t enjoy your favorite foods due to sensitivity, don’t worry. Dr. David Tycast at Le Sueur Family Dental is here to offer you any required services to help combat your sensitivity issue.
Call us at (507) 665-6812 to schedule an appointment. You can also request an appointment here.
And since Le Sueur is a family dental establishment, you can bring your loved ones for a dental checkup too!