Is your piping hot morning coffee, favorite sweet treat or cool, refreshing water triggering mild or severe pain in your mouth? Don’t worry, these symptoms of sensitive teeth are treatable. Discover what’s behind this discomfort and get on your way to enjoying your favorite foods, beverages – and life again!
The Usual Culprits: Cavities, Cracks and Chips
Cavities, cracks and chips are three main causes of tooth sensitivity. These conditions leave the roots of your teeth exposed and sensitive to what you eat and drink. Within your roots, small tubes transmit sensations to the center of your tooth – the pulp, which is the tooth’s nerve center.
To prevent sensitivity caused by decay and cavities, routine preventive dentistry and oral hygiene are the best way to go. But, even patients who are diligent about showing up for their twice yearly dental appointment, daily brushing and flossing, and avoiding sugars may get a cavity. No matter your habits, if you suspect you have one, we are here to help – judgement-free!
Chips and cracks due to chomping on hard candies, ice, grinding or other injuries can cause intense sensitivity, as if sending a shock wave along the nerve inside your tooth. Extreme temperatures, foods with a high sugar or acid content and air may trigger pain when you have chipped or cracked teeth. Prompt attention by your family dentist is important as cracks can become breeding grounds for bacteria, decay and more pain. Depending on the type of crack, tooth bonding or a crown from a restoration dentist is likely all you will need to prevent further issues.
When Gums Recede
When the protective gum tissue that normally protects your roots recedes, that leaves them exposed and vulnerable to whatever you put in your mouth. Receding gums can be caused and aggravated by brushing with a hard toothbrush and brushing too hard. This aggressive approach also thins your dental enamel, revealing the yellow-hued dentin beneath. Small holes can occur in the dentin, heightening sensitivity. Gums may also recede in people with gum disease wherein the gums essentially detach from your teeth. If this occurs, we perform deep dental cleanings with scaling and root planing. In other cases, we may recommend gum grafting.
What You Eat and Drink
Foods and beverages high in acids basically eat away at your enamel. Consumed in excess, the acids could be responsible for your sensitivity, as this leaves the dentin exposed. Remember to rinse after consuming citrus fruits, tomato, vinegar, coffee, sodas, sports drinks and other acidic foods and beverages. Finding it tough to give up your tart and tangy favorites? Try combining foods and drinks high in acids with dairy to cancel out the acidity or sip through a straw to protect your teeth.
What You Use to Rinse or Brush
Ironically, some of the things we use to help keep our mouths fresh and sparkly can cause sensitivity. For example, mouthwash is notorious for having harsh alcohol, which can dehydrate your mouth and gums. Many also contain benzoic acid, sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients which can erode calcium from your teeth. Even popular alcohol-free, natural versions are too acidic. But, if you like using mouthwash, look for one with a pH above 5.5, or better yet, a 7+.
Teeth whitening strips and toothpastes with peroxide or abrasive ingredients can also be to blame for sensitivity. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a whiter brighter smile, but you may opt for professional teeth whitening products that are specially formulated to prevent tooth sensitivity, as well as help teeth stay whiter longer.
A Recent Trip to The Dentist
While we anticipate some minor discomfort with certain procedures, if you have had recent dental work and are feeling unexpected pain, let us know immediately! We are available for emergency dental care, as we are committed to providing comfortable dental care and health.
The Habit of Grinding and Clenching
Clenching or grinding can trigger tooth pain on its own. This sensitivity is compounded by cracks or chips, which are common signs that you have been gnashing your teeth. If your teeth show wear too, a dental night guard is an obvious fix. If you also experience facial pain, headaches and clicking in your jaw, this simple device can help alleviate your discomfort. We may also advise you to abstain from hard foods like carrots, apples, nuts, salads, and steaks until your pain subsides.
Sensitive Teeth Solutions
Switching to a desensitizing toothpaste, soft toothbrush and modifying your brushing technique are excellent steps to stopping mild sensitivity that doesn’t involve cavities or cracks. But, if these changes fail to address your discomfort, we can provide a fluoride or desensitizing treatment.
Depending on what we discover in an exam, your treatment may include composite bonding to cover exposed roots or a root canal to alleviate your pain. For some patients, gum grafts are required when gum tissue is absent.
If you are worried about your sensitivity, give us a call. You weren’t born to suffer! A quick dentist appointment is an easy way to get to the bottom of it and put an end to your pain.