If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from sensitive teeth, you know how irritating it can be. Here is a look at what causes it and what you can do to decrease this painful sensitivity.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Teeth are covered with enamel, a hard coating that protects the underlying dentin. The gums protect the roots of the teeth. When the gums recede or the enamel becomes compromised, the nerve-rich dentin is exposed and will react to a stimulus with a sudden, sharp pain. Extremely hot or cold food and beverages as well as acidic or sugary, sticky substances can all cause a reaction.
Other causes include:
- Using a toothbrush with firm bristles or brushing too hard
- Gingivitis and periodontal disease
- Cavities and cracked or broken teeth
- Grinding your teeth
- Chewing ice
- Routine dental procedures, such as teeth cleaning or having a tooth filled
- Regular use of mouthwash
- Teeth whitening procedures
How Can Your Reduce Tooth Sensitivity?
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, your dentist will likely recommend you use one of several over-the-counter commercial toothpastes specifically made for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes use special substances that work by blocking the transmission of pain signals from the nerves in the dentin to where it is received by the brain and interpreted as pain. The sensitivity is still there; however, your brain won't register it. These toothpastes will not work immediately and will require repetitive daily use to receive the pain relief benefits.
Flossing after eating can also help reduce sensitive teeth. When food becomes trapped in between teeth, bacteria concentrate in the area. In addition to causing cavities, the trapped food can cause irritation to the gums, which can then lead to sensitivity and pain.
It's also important to protect your enamel. Aging naturally reduces the teeth's enamel, but drinking acidic drinks like coffee, carbonated soda, and citrus fruit juices will all accelerate the loss of enamel. Even routinely using a slice of lemon or lime in your water can cause damage. The enamel serves to protect the inside of the teeth, and when it is eroded, sensitivity results.
If you suspect you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist at a clinic such as Cross Creek Family Dental. If he or she decides after looking at your teeth this is likely, they can fit you with a mouthguard to wear at night. This will also help any jaw or ear issues you may have. Teeth sensitivity can also be helped with dental sealants, especially if your gums have receded. This will cover and protect the exposed root.