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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Is drinking coffee or tea painful? Can you eat ice cream or something sour or sweet without feeling a sharp, stinging sensation? If you feel any pain or tingling, then you might have sensitive teeth.

Although sensitive teeth are a common dental concern, they can cause a great deal of discomfort and affect your everyday life. Breathing in cold air can aggravate sensitive teeth, and even daily brushing and flossing can cause pain. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help you reduce the pain and discomfort caused by sensitive teeth. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of sensitive teeth and how you can manage tooth sensitivity.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Tooth sensitivity commonly occurs when your tooth enamel gradually wears away. Underneath the enamel, there is a porous tooth layer called dentin. This layer contains tiny canals that connect to the pulp of the tooth, which contains the tooth’s nerve and blood supply. When hot or cold liquids or foods come into direct contact with the exposed dentin, it triggers a pain response that leads to tooth sensitivity.

In addition, tooth sensitivity can also occur from receding gums, tooth decay, cracked teeth, gum disease, and brushing your teeth too hard. Let’s take a closer look at the most common causes of sensitive teeth.

  1. Eating acidic foods: Eating a diet rich in acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and fruit juices can erode tooth enamel, which is the protective outer covering of your teeth, and expose the sensitive dentin layer underneath.
  2. Harsh ingredients in mouthwash: Using a mouthwash containing alcohol can cause tooth sensitivity, and if your teeth are already sensitive, it can make the problem worse.
  3. Using tooth whitening products or toothpaste: Many whitening toothpastes and products contain a peroxide-based bleaching solution that increases your risk of developing sensitive teeth.
  4. Brushing your teeth too hard: Regularly brushing too hard can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. Over time, this can also wear away your tooth enamel, exposing the dentin layer underneath. This can allow hot, cold, or sweet foods and liquids to reach sensitive nerves, causing tooth pain.
  5. Receding gums: The roots of your teeth are protected by gum tissue, but if you have gum disease, it’s possible for your gum tissue to pull away from your teeth. This exposes the roots of your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity.
  6. Grinding or clenching your teeth: Frequently grinding or clenching your teeth can wear away tooth enamel, exposing the dentin underneath. This allows potential irritants to reach the nerve tissue, causing tooth sensitivity.
  7. Recent dental work: It’s common to experience some short-term tooth sensitivity after certain dental procedures, such as root canals, root planing, fillings, or tooth restorations. Although it’s only temporary, see your dentist if sensitivity continues after recent dental work.
  8. Cracked or chipped teeth: If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, the nerves inside the tooth can become irritated when chewing or drinking. In some cases, a cracked tooth may fill with bacteria, causing inflammation and extreme pain and sensitivity. See your dentist as soon as possible if you have a cracked or chipped tooth.
  9. Tooth decay: Untreated cavities can leave your tooth roots vulnerable, causing pain when exposed to a variety of irritants, including cold, hot, or sweet foods and drinks, and even air.

As you can see, some cases of tooth sensitivity are due to serious underlying dental problems. That’s why it’s important to see a dentist whenever you experience tooth sensitivity.

What Can I Do to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?

You should visit your dentist in Miami if you’re bothered by sensitive teeth. Dentists offer many treatments that can ease your tooth pain and reduce sensitivity, including fluoride gel to strengthen tooth enamel, root canal therapy, and dental fillings that cover exposed tooth roots. Your dentist may also recommend a desensitizing toothpaste that works by blocking the pain associated with sensitive teeth.

If tooth sensitivity is caused by receding gums, a periodontist may perform a gum graft to repair gum tissue and protect exposed tooth roots. If you’re aware that you grind your teeth, especially while you’re sleeping, talk to a dentist about how you can benefit from a mouthguard. Wearing a mouthguard at night can help reduce your risk of tooth fractures caused by grinding your teeth and prevent sensitivity.

Can I Prevent Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitive teeth aren’t only treatable, there are also many things you can do to prevent sensitive teeth. Practicing good dental care is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of sensitive teeth. Make sure to floss daily and brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a gentle touch while brushing to protect your gum tissue and tooth enamel. It’s also important to schedule consistent check-ups with your dentist.

Talk to your dentist about using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, which can provide relief from tooth pain and other symptoms of sensitive teeth. If using whitening toothpaste or other whitening treatment is making your teeth sensitive, it can be helpful to take a break from whitening products.

You can also consider making some changes to your diet by avoiding the foods and drinks that cause tooth sensitivity. Avoiding or limiting your consumption of acidic foods and drinks, such as lemons, oranges, tomatoes, coffee, soda, can protect tooth enamel and prevent it from eroding. When you do indulge in these types of foods and drinks, try to rinse your mouth with water or drink milk to neutralize the effects of acidic foods and drinks. Brushing right after eating or drinking anything acidic can weaken your enamel, so try to wait at least one hour before brushing your teeth.

Tooth sensitivity can negatively affect your life, but you don’t have to live with the pain caused by sensitive teeth. By practicing good dental care at home and receiving treatment from your dentist, it’s possible to eliminate tooth pain and sensitivity.

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