Do you experience tooth pain when you drink a cold beverage? Or how about a cup of hot coffee? If any of these situations happen to you, sensitive teeth may be the issue. However, this is a very common problem. In fact, at least 45 million Americans have sensitive teeth. But what really is tooth sensitivity? Is it treatable?
In this post, we’ll help answer those questions and also offer tips on how to limit the pain and discomfort.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Our teeth are made of tough enamel. But over time, this can wear down. When this happens, or your gums recede, this can expose small microscopic tubes found below the enamel of your teeth. When something hot or cold hits this layer below your enamel, this causes the stimulation of cells located in the tiny tubes, leading to sharp pain. Even hot or cold air can cause discomfort.
The nerves of our teeth can also lead to tooth sensitivity. Over time, tiny cracks can start to form in our teeth, usually caused by severe temperature changes. An extreme change in temperature can actually cause teeth to expand and contract, possibly leading to microscopic cracks over time. When your teeth come into contact with something hot or cold, these substances can seep down to the nerves of your teeth below the enamel, leading to pain and discomfort.
Other Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Unfortunately, tooth sensitivity can have many different causes. Here are some other common culprits to this oral health complication:
As people in the United States consume high levels of sugar and fermentable carbohydrates, tooth decay is a growing problem. When these substances aren’t rinsed off your teeth, that creates a breeding ground for bacteria. This leads to the formation of plaque. When you feel sensitivity to hot and cold foods, that’s often an indication of a cavity forming. To fix this dental problem before it becomes much worse, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Worn or loose fillings
Tooth sensitivity can also be caused by a dental filling that’s worn down, cracked, or loose. As these fillings may have been placed many years ago, it’s very possible for these to become loose. If this filling is no longer effectively protecting the nerves found under the tooth’s enamel, you may experience pain when eating hot or cold foods. If you suspect you have a loose or worn down filling, be sure to visit a dentist right away.
If you have receding gums, you’re experiencing a very common condition. Unfortunately, this may be why you’re experiencing sensitive teeth. This happens when the cementum layer on your gums starts to wear down, exposing the much more sensitive dentin layer. Receding gums can be caused by several reasons, including:
- Brushing too hard
- Gum disease
- Using tobacco
- Grinding teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Orthodontic work
If you believe your receding gums are causing sensitive teeth, make an appointment with your dentist to decide the next steps.
Gum disease is a widespread oral health condition in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim nearly half of adults in the U.S. over 30 years old have gum disease. While this oral health complication can lead to several dental issues, tooth sensitivity is a driving force. This bacterial infection can also cause a great deal of inflammation, including problems with the tissue and bone that support your teeth.
Infection is another leading cause of tooth sensitivity. On some occasions, an infection can find its way deep in the roots of a tooth. If that’s the case, a root canal is typically needed. This is an extremely common dental procedure that involves removing the infected pulp and adding a filling. According to the American Association of Endodontics, 41,000 root canal procedures are performed each and every day.
How to Treat Sensitive Teeth
Experiencing sensitive teeth can be very frustrating and painful. Just one bite of something cold can send a jolt of pain through your body. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to find relief.
Here are some tips for reducing the pain and discomfort:
When teeth wear down, tooth sensitivity problems can move in quickly. To reduce the chances of experiencing pain, never brush too hard. As sensitive teeth are sometimes caused by brushing too vigorously, it’s important to take it easy on your teeth. Never use a hard-bristle toothbrush when cleaning, and only brush lightly. While many people think they can brush harder to get better results, that isn’t the case at all. In fact, lightly brushing is the proper way to use a toothbrush. If you notice your toothbrush has bristles that are flattened and point in various directions, you could be brushing too hard.
Consider your brand of toothpaste
While some toothpaste brands can help with tooth sensitivity, others can cause it. If you’re dealing with this problem, try changing your toothpaste brand. If you use whitening or tartar-control toothpaste, you could be dealing with sensitive teeth. Try switching to brands that are actually designed to treat this oral health condition. Keep in mind these toothpastes must be used consistently for at least 30 days before you’ll notice any results.
Limit acidic foods and drinks
Another useful tip is to take it easy on the number of acidic foods and drinks you consume, as these can greatly impact sensitive teeth. Try to limit food and drink with high concentrations of the following:
Wine and sugar can also lead to tooth sensitivity, so only consume these in moderation if possible.
Seeking Professional Dental Treatment
According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), they suggest scheduling an appointment with your dentist if your tooth sensitivity lingers for more than 30 seconds after coming into contact with a hot or cold substance.
If you live in Cincinnati, OH and you’re experiencing sensitive teeth, make an appointment at Eastgate Dental Excellence today. Our professional team can diagnose the problem and find fast relief.