Sensitive teeth affects a large number of people, so you’re not alone if you are suffering from it. Some sources say as many as 25% of people have it. Here is everything you need to know about sensitive teeth, including causes and treatments.
Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth
If you have sensitive teeth, you may notice that you suffer discomfort when your teeth are exposed to extremes in temperature, such as that with drinking very hot or very cold beverages. Very sweet foods can cause symptoms to flare up, as can very sticky ones. Even breathing in cold winter air through your mouth can be enough to cause pain for a person with sensitive teeth. You may also feel pain simply from chewing, or even flossing.
However, since these symptoms could be caused by things other than simple tooth sensitivity, consult with your dentist to confirm the diagnosis and best treatment.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
In order to fully understand the causes of sensitive teeth, first, you need a crash course in tooth anatomy. But don’t worry, it’ll be easy!
First, you need to know about the role that enamel plays. This is the strongest substance in your entire body, and provides a protective layer over the exposed parts of your teeth. The tooth root below the gum line is protected by cementum.
Beneath the enamel and cementum lies the dentin. Within the dentin are tiny tubules, invisible to the naked eye. If the protective enamel or cementum are breached, these tiny tubules allow heat and cold, plus sticky or acidic foods to irritate the nerves and interior of the tooth.
Some of the causes of a breach in your enamel include cavities, fractures in your enamel, worn-out fillings, and gum disease. Exposed tooth roots can also play a role. Thus, restorative dental treatment may be necessary.
Treatment of Sensitive Teeth
The good news is, sensitive teeth can be treated. First, while you are waiting for the effects of treatment to kick in, avoid the things that lead to pain. Don’t drink piping hot coffee or tea, avoid ice in your drinks. Remember, preventative oral care is key.
Second, consider the purchase of a toothbrush that is formulated especially for teeth that are super sensitive. If you have a fancy ultrasonic electric toothbrush, you may want to do a trial without it – the intense vibrations can be too much to handle for some teeth!
Thirdly, a toothpaste formulated especially for sensitive teeth can be of huge help. Regular toothpastes not only can be too abrasive for your kind of teeth, but they don’t have anything in them that is especially made for treating the pain and discomfort that you are feeling. Instead, get a specialty toothpaste for sensitive teeth that can block the sensations that travel through those holes in the dentin. While you may be lucky and notice improvement in a few days, for many people, it takes a bit longer for maximum effects to be reached.
If all goes according to plan, simply switching to a more gentle toothbrush and specialty toothpaste will be all that you need to enjoy a painless existence!
If these strategies don’t do the trick, talk to your dentist about in-office alternatives. These may include the application of a fluoride gel or prescription-strength desensitizers. If these steps fail, your dentist may suggest a filling, a crown, or other method of correcting the defect in your enamel or cementum that is causing your pain.
The Bottom Line
Remember that you’re not alone in this, and your dentist likely has lots of experience in treating this perplexing problem. Check with your dentist to make sure your tooth sensitivity isn’t being caused by something requiring immediate attention, and if not, go ahead and try an over-the-counter solution for a hopefully easy fix. If you don’t get adequate improvement though, head back to your dentist to discuss other options.
The team at Reflections Dental is always here to take your questions, simply contact us online or by call today.