Around 40 million Americans are currently experiencing some type of tooth sensitivity, and most of us will have at least one episode of sensitive teeth during our lifetime.
Sensitive teeth can cause significant problems, often triggering dull or sharp pain when eating, drinking or brushing your teeth. You may even find that sucking cold air into your mouth makes your teeth hurt. Sometimes this pain dissipates as quickly as it starts, but sometimes it can last for several hours.
When tooth sensitivity occurs, it is important to check with your dentist to make sure that there isn’t an underlying problem causing your pain. Decay and damage to your teeth can trigger discomfort that is very similar in nature to tooth sensitivity and need to be addressed fairly quickly in order to prevent further complications from occurring.
What causes sensitive teeth?
There are a variety of different things that can cause sensitive teeth. In addition to dental decay that has been left untreated, some of the most reasons common include:
Worn tooth enamel, caused by aggressive brushing and using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
Tooth erosion as a result of high levels of consumption of acidic foods and drinks.
Leaking fillings and cracks in your teeth that expose the softer and more sensitive inner layers.
Gum recession that has left some of the root of your tooth exposed.
- Grinding your teeth at night.
- In some instances, the sensitivity might also arise as a side effect of a dental treatment you may have had recently, particularly any teeth whitening, dental crowns, or cavity fillings.
Treatment for sensitive teeth
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with the discomfort of sensitive teeth forever. The first thing you should do is visit your dentist to make sure that there isn’t a more sinister reason for your tooth pain. If there is no obvious underlying cause, there are a few things that you can do to help alleviate your tooth sensitivity.
Use desensitizing toothpaste. There are various brands of desensitizing toothpaste available which contain ingredients such as strontium chloride and potassium nitrate that block pain signals from traveling between the surface of your tooth and the nerve inside.
Fluoride treatments. Fluoride can be used to strengthen tooth enamel and help to fight off decay. It has also been shown to be effective in helping to reduce tooth sensitivity. You can arrange for your dentist to provide your fluoride treatment, but there are some take-home options available to you as well.
Root canal therapy. Root canals have historically had a bad reputation, but thanks to improvements in anesthetic and surgical tools, it isn't any more painful or invasive than other dental treatments. It is also the most successful procedure for eliminating tooth sensitivity as it involves removing every trace of bacteria and infection from the root of the tooth.
Gum grafting. Sometimes sensitivity is caused because the soft tissue of the gum pulls away from the bottom of the tooth, exposing the root. This often occurs if a patient has moderate to severe periodontal disease which causes the gums to shrink. Gum grafts can restore the natural gum line and cover your exposed roots, reducing your tooth sensitivity.
If you are suffering from sensitive teeth and you would like further advice and support, our friendly and experienced dental team would be happy to give you the information you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.