Sensitive teeth can be a real downer. It’s no fun when all those yummy hot, cold, and sweet foods and drinks reach the tooth nerve and cause pain. This happens when the dentin inside the tooth becomes exposed, such as from receding gums or thinned enamel. Things that may lead to sensitive teeth include:
- Brushing too hard. Using a hard–bristled brush or brushing too hard or incorrectly can wear down enamel and expose the dentin. It can even cause gingival recession, exposing the tooth root and opening the door to the nerves of the teeth.
- Enamel erosion. Brushing too hard can contribute to erosion, as can using abrasive tooth pastes such as “whitening” toothpastes, and acid consumption -too many acidic foods and drinks can weaken enamel and contribute to enamel erosion.
- Receding gums. As stated above, receding gums can be caused by brushing too hard, but it can also be caused by periodontal disease as a result of continuous improper dental hygiene, or sometimes have other causes such as orthodontia.
- Gingivitis. Inflamed and sore gums can expose the root surface of the tooth, providing a direct route to the nerve.
- Cavities. Tooth decay that is deep enough into the dentin or that occurs near the gum line commonly results in sensitivity.
- Cracked, chipped, or broken teeth. Broken or cracked teeth harbor bacteria that can make their way to the tooth pulp and result in inflammation, pain, and sensitivity.
- Bleaching. Teeth whitening products have a reputation for causing temporary sensitivity in many people.
- Bruxism. Grinding or clenching your teeth can wear away enamel, exposing underlying dentin.
- Dental procedures. Temporary sensitivity can occur following procedures such as a cleaning or root planing, or crowns and other restorations. It usually goes away in 4 to 6 weeks.
To reduce the chances of tooth sensitivity occurring, maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine, brushing properly with a soft-bristled toothbrush gently but thoroughly with focus along the gum line at a 45-degree angle for two minutes twice a day, and flossing at least once per day. Avoid abrasives like so-called “whitening” toothpastes, but use a fluorinated toothpaste. Keep up with your dental check ups and cleanings every 6 months, and wear a bite guard regularly if you grind your teeth. If you are doing whitening treatment, special sensitive toothpastes such as Sensodyne can help.
If you have been experiencing tooth sensitivity, we know it can really cramp your
style smile… feel free to talk to our office about your situation and let us help you get smiling again!