You go to take a sip of your morning coffee only to wince when you feel the familiar stinging pain in your teeth. Many people suffer from tooth sensitivity, where you feel a brief but sharp pain when you eat or drink hot, cold, or sweet treats. You don’t need to suffer in silence as there are many treatments for this common condition. Discussing concerns with your dentist can help you prevent or treat tooth sensitivity.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Normally, your teeth are protected from pain by your enamel which surrounds the crown of your tooth above thegumline. Under this enamel is a thin protective layer called cementum. Tooth sensitivity is caused when irritants cross these protected layers and interact with the microscopic tubes in the porous dentin layer beneath that lead to the center of the tooth containing the nerve. If you’re experiencing pain, the first step is to visit your dentist to rule out a possible cavity or other dental problem. Tooth decay, a cracked tooth, teeth grinding, and worn out fillings can all be potential causes of pain and need to be treated quickly. Tooth pain can also be caused by very intense over brushing or a lack of brushing which can cause painful, inflamed gums that pull back from the surface of the tooth. When gums recede, the root of your tooth is exposed which can lead to sensitivity.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?
The first step to preventing tooth sensitivity is to keep up good oral care. Brush gently, but thoroughly, twice a day and floss daily to prevent bacteria from hardening into harmful tartar (which causes gums to recede). It is possible to aggravate your gums by brushing too forcefully. You want to select a toothbrush with soft bristles that you replace every three to four months (or earlier if the bristles show damage). Clean all the surfaces of your teeth slowly and carefully for around two minutes or as advised by your dentist. A systematic, thorough cleaning is far more important than a harsh, abrasive scrubbing. You also want to avoid smoking and oral piercings which can irritate gums. Limit your intake of acidic drinks such as wine and soda which can weaken enamel when over-consumed. Reduce tooth grinding with stress-relieving techniques such as meditation, daily exercise, and/or a tooth guard if recommended by your dentist.
How Can My Dentist Help With Sensitive Teeth?
If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity even as you practice preventative care, there are several ways your dentist can help reduce your pain and discomfort. First, your dentist can help identify exactly what is causing your sensitivity in order to provide a targeted solution tailored to your individual needs. You may need to brush with a specialized toothpaste over an extended time to help reduce stimulation to the nerve in your tooth which is causing the pain. Your dentist may also recommend a specialized mouthwash which contains less acid than traditional brands. If these treatments are not effective, your dentist can recommend some more aggressive options. One in-office treatment is fluoride gel which strengthens tooth enamel to help reduce sensitivity. You may also need new or repaired care for damaged teeth, such as fillings or crowns which can weaken over time. These treatments may also be used to repair a particularly sensitive tooth. Severe sensitivity or damage may require a root canal to treat the damaged nerve or a “gingival (gum) graft” to replace damaged gum tissue.
If you or a loved one suffers from sensitive teeth, contact Hills Dental Care to set up an appointment today.