Teeth sensitivity occurs with the consumption of cold, hot, sweet, or sour drinks and foods. In some cases, breathing cold air can cause tooth sensitivity. The pain is usually sharp and sudden, getting deep into the tooth nerve endings. It usually occurs when the underlying tooth layer becomes exposed due to wear and tear (erosion) or gum recession.
Teeth have different layers, all of which play a vital role. The enamel is the hard visible outer layer that protects the tooth. Erosion of the enamel exposes the inner dentin layer. Sometimes, the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, exposing the roots.
This condition is known as gum recession, and it causes tooth sensitivity. Without the hard enamel cover, stimuli can reach the nerve, causing pain or discomfort. Teeth sensitivity can also be due to dental conditions such as gum disease, cavities, or cracked teeth.
Several factors can lead to tooth sensitivity. They include:
Aggressive brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
Gum recession that leaves the roots exposed
Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth
Gum disease that causes inflamed or sore gum tissue
Teeth grinding or clenching that wears down the enamel
Using teeth whitening products
Too much consumption of acidic foods
Using mouthwashes that contain acids
Some people develop sensitive teeth after dental procedures such as cleaning, filling, and restoration. In these cases, the sensitivity is usually temporary.
To diagnose the problem, the dentist will ask about your medical health and analyze the symptoms. They will examine your teeth, checking for cavities, recessed gums, and loose fillings.
Diagnosis involves looking for the underlying cause of sensitivity. The dentist will check your teeth during dental cleaning. Conducting a visual exam while cleaning the teeth can help examine areas of sensitivity. An X-ray can help check for underlying issues.
Treatment for dental sensitivity depends on the cause. If your tooth roots are exposed or the enamel wears away, you need treatment to address the problem. Using a desensitizing toothpaste can help treat mild sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth, use alcohol-free mouthwashes.
You can reduce tooth sensitivity by maintaining good oral hygiene, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, and using fluoridated dental products. If home remedies fail to work, you can get dental procedures. They include dental bonding, applying fluoride varnishes, and using dentin sealers.
Tooth sensitivity can affect one tooth or several teeth, and the symptoms range from mild to severe. A dental checkup will help rule out serious conditions. Sometimes, tooth sensitivity goes away on its own. It is especially the case when it occurs soon after a dental procedure. If the sensitivity is severe or lingers, contact your dentist.
Watch what you eat to keep your teeth healthy and free from sensitivity. Avoid highly acidic foods that can erode the enamel. Schedule regular visits to the dentist for checkups, cleanings, and fluoride treatments.
For more on common causes and treatments for tooth sensitivity, visit Seaport Dental Associates at our office in Boston or Milton, Massachusetts. Call (617) 737-6453 or (617) 690-3205 to book an appointment today.