When you have sensitive teeth, simple activities like eating ice cream or hot soup can cause sudden and sharp pains in the mouth. Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a painful condition that occurs when the inner dentin layer of the tooth becomes exposed. It can be a chronic or temporary problem that affects a single tooth or all teeth.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, your Clermont dentist can help. Learn more about causes and how best to treat it.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
While countless people experience the sharp “zing” that accompanies tooth sensitivity, most don’t know what’s causing their discomfort. Tooth sensitivity can have many causes. The underlying issue is enamel loss. Enamel is the protective coating that covers a tooth’s dentin layer. When enamel is lost or damaged, heat, cold, and acidity can penetrate the nerves, resulting in sensitivity.
Many different factors can contribute to enamel loss, such as the following:
- Aggressive brushing – Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can gradually wear down tooth enamel. Aggressive brushing can also contribute to gum recession which exposes the tooth root.
- Using an acidic mouthwash – Some acidic foods and drinks, as well as acidic mouthwashes, can break down tooth enamel. The long-term use of an acidic mouthwash can worsen existing sensitivity. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol or harsh chemicals.
- Eating a high-sugar diet. Sugary foods and beverages can have a detrimental effect on teeth. Sodas, cookies, candies, and citrus fruits can all erode tooth enamel, making the dentin more vulnerable to sensitivity. A high-sugar diet can also cause cavities that put the teeth at risk for other complications.
- Gum disease – Having untreated gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease, can cause gum inflammation and/or recession. This exposes the tooth root and causes chronic sensitivity.
- Teeth grinding – When you regularly grind or clench your teeth, whether at night or during the day, it can gradually wear down the enamel. Enamel that is thin or worn down may allow environmental factors to bypass into the sensitive tooth root.
- Cracked teeth – Teeth that are chipped or cracked are more vulnerable to bacteria. When bacteria and other components travel through the crack and into the dentin layer of the tooth, it can cause pain or sensitivity.
- Using whitening products – The overuse of tooth whitening products is a common culprit of tooth sensitivity. These products contain harsh whitening chemicals that can wear down enamel.
How Is Tooth Sensitivity Treated?
Your dentist may recommend some products or changes to your oral health routine that may help. Depending on the unique aspects of your case, your dentist may suggest the following treatment options:
Applying fluoride to the sensitive areas of the teeth may help strengthen enamel and reduce painful sensitivity. Your dental office may also write you a prescription for a prescription-strength fluoride for use at home.
2. Desensitizing Toothpaste
Continued use of a desensitizing toothpaste can often help block pain signals that travel from sensitive teeth to the brain. There are many over-the-counter options that are both affordable and effective.
3. Bonding Resin
On occasion, dentists may recommend treating exposed root surfaces by applying a bonding resin material to these sensitive areas. During treatment, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the area.
4. Surgical Gum Graft
Lost gum tissue may require a surgical gum graft. During this procedure, a small amount of gum tissue is taken from the mouth and moved to the affected area where it is reattached to the sensitive area.
5. Root Canal
When sensitive teeth cause severe and ongoing pain and other treatments are not adequate, your dentist may recommend a root canal. A root canal is a common procedure used to treat the dental pulp in the tooth.
Schedule a Consultation
With modern dentistry techniques, no one has to suffer from tooth sensitivity for long. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Hancock Village Dental.