Are you passing up on hot or cold drinks, or perhaps ice cream, because you know they’ll make your teeth hurt? If the answer is yes, you are probably suffering from sensitive teeth. It may be a temporary issue, or a chronic problem, and can affect one tooth, several teeth or all of them.
Why are sensitive teeth so painful?
Teeth are covered by an outer layer, called enamel. It helps protect the inner layer called dentin, and once the enamel is compromised, dentin ends up being exposed and pain follows through. Cavities, receding gums or root erosion are some common causes that cause sensitive teeth.
Some common triggers for sensitivity include:
- Hot food/beverages
- Cold food/beverages
- Acidic food/beverages
- Cold water
- Brushing or flossing
- Cold air
- Gum disease or tooth decay: If your teeth are sensitive when you aren’t eating or drinking something cold, you could be in early stages of tooth decay or gum disease.
- Plaque buildup: Plaque breaks down the surface of teeth and after it is removed, the tooth exposed will end up being more sensitive to sugar, hot or cold things.
- Teeth grinding: Excessive tooth grinding, or bruxism, wears away the enamel and ends up exposing nerves, which then can lead to sensitive teeth.
- Overusing products: External factors can contribute towards teeth sensitivity like brushing too hard, overusing whitening treatments, acids from food and drinks like coffee, tomatoes and wine that damages enamel.
- Cracks: If tiny cracks develop in your teeth, they can expand or contract over time due to exposure to hot and cold temperatures. These cracks lead to the nerves which leads to teeth becoming sensitive.
- Receding gums: If you note consistent sensitivity, give your teeth a better look and check your gum line to see if your gums are pulling away from your tooth. Some causes include gingivitis, over-brushing or problems like heart disease or diabetes.
- Over-brushing: Over-brushing your teeth can wear down the enamel over time which leads to teeth sensitivity.
- Chronic Inflammation: Diabetics can experience inflammation which causes pain while chewing food. This condition is known as chronic inflammation.
- Dental Procedures: You may get sensitivity after any kind of dental procedure.
When to visit the dentist?
In general, sensitivity that ends up impacting your whole mouth but is not severe, is caused by factors that can change. On the other hand, if the pain is impacting only one or two teeth, and is severe, you need to go to a dentist.
What will the dentist do?
For severe pain, your dentist will determine the source of your sensitive teeth using a process called differential diagnosis. Your dentist will look at the health of your teeth and check for potential problems like loose fillings, cavities or recessed gums. He/she may do this during your routine dental cleaning by cleaning your teeth and also doing a visual exam. The exam commonly includes touching your teeth using dental instruments to check for sensitivity, and may also tell you to get an x-ray done.
How to treat sensitivity?
Because teeth sensitivity can be caused by many possible causes, it is difficult to put treatment methods in one category. However, some of the possible methods are following:
- Repairing damaged tooth: For single-tooth sensitivity, there may be damage that requires a dental visit. A cracked tooth, for instance, must be repaired with a root canal.
- Tooth abscess removal: If your teeth are sensitive due to an abscessed tooth, it needs to be treated either by draining it to relieve the pressure or by other methods available.
- Gum-disease treatment: If the pain is being caused by your receding gums, or severe gingivitis, you may need to get a thorough cleaning.
- Dietary changes: A healthy diet is very important for good teeth. Foods that are acidic can wear away the enamel and lead to cavities. Drink plenty of water and limit these food items. Sugary foods and simple carbohydrate lead toward tooth decay, and should be avoided.
- Dental hygiene: For the best results, use a soft bristled toothbrush, and replace it once a month and use a gentle toothpaste. Flossing everyday is recommended and ditch mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
- Regular dental visits: Going for regular dental visits ensures an early detection of problems, before they end up causing sensitivity. Regular cleanings to remove plaque are very important and prevent sensitive teeth.
- Dealing with bruxism: According to research, night grinding is related to sleep apnea. So instead of a mouth guard, try to do something about apnea.
- Stress reduction: Chronic stress can lead to inflammation, which then turns to pain. You need to reduce some stress in your life to prevent or reduce teeth sensitivity.
- Reducing chronic inflammation: Try to eat foods that fight inflammation, and avoid the ones causing it.
Have any dental issues or need a good dental treatment plan? At My Smiles Center in Joliet and Des Plaines, IL, you can get the best treatment plans which are easy on your pocket. Our staff is always there to answer your questions, and will help you with your dental issues. You can contact us via a call or just book an appointment online to always have an everlasting, confident smile.