Have you sometimes wondered what causes sensitive teeth? If you’ve ever experienced a sudden sharp pain that’s come totally out of the blue when sipping a morning coffee or biting into an ice cream, you may be suffering from a problem known as ‘sensitive teeth’.
Sensitivity can happen now and again, or more frequently, and the level of discomfort can vary too. The triggers are usually cold, hot, sweet or sour drinks and foods but some people can experience pain just from breathing in cold air!
Tooth sensitivity is extremely common and in the US alone, there are at least 40 million sufferers, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. There is no specific age group that is prone to sensitive teeth, although, in Australia, it’s thought to be more common in people between the ages of 20 and 40. That said, the condition can also affect teenagers and senior citizens.
So, what causes teeth sensitivity?
We’ve mentioned the common triggers for sensitive teeth, but they can also be caused by a variety of dental problems. In healthy teeth, tooth enamel protects the soft layer of dentin which lies below, while gums protect the tooth roots. However, if the gums have receded or the tooth enamel has thinned, then dentin can become exposed.
Dentin is at the core of teeth sensitivity because it’s connected to the nerves that trigger pain in sensitive teeth. Other dental problems that can contribute to sensitive teeth include:
- Cracked teeth – These can become filled with a bacteria-laden plaque which may cause the tooth pulp to become inflamed. In severe cases, this can lead to infection and an abscess.
- Gingivitis – Sore and inflamed gum tissue can expose the tooth root
- Gum recession – This can happen to people suffering from periodontitis and cause exposure of the dentin
- Teeth grinding – This can wear down tooth enamel
- Build-up of plaque
Brushing your teeth too hard can also expose the dentin and cause tooth sensitivity. While long-term use of mouthwashes containing acids may also exacerbate existing tooth sensitivity and further damage your dentin.
Teeth can also feel sensitive following teeth whitening treatment although that should resolve itself in a few days and sometimes, a filling can cause teeth to feel sensitive when you bite down. This can usually be remedied with a simple bite adjustment and your dentist may simply lower the filling.
So now you know what causes sensitive teeth, how on earth can you stop it from happening?
Sensitive teeth pain relief and management
Often tooth sensitivity never completely goes away, however, there are several things you can do to prevent its onset.
Things you can try at home include:
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Changing to a desensitising toothpaste
- Avoiding highly acidic foods
- Wearing a custom mouth guard if you grind your teeth
- Using a fluoridated mouthwash each day
If you’re frequently bothered by the symptoms of teeth sensitivity then the first step is to book an appointment with the dental team at Infinity Dental Care. Every case is different, and we’ll determine the cause and recommend the most effective way of managing your pain. It could be a simple fix, or we may need to deal with a dental problem now which could cause more serious problems in the future.
Some of the dental procedures that help reduce tooth sensitivity include:
Dental crowns, bonding and inlays – These treatments can be used to fix tooth decay or flaws which could be causing sensitivity
Fluoride gel or varnish – This can be applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen the tooth enamel and lessen the pain.
Gum disease treatment – If gum disease is left untreated it can escalate in severity leading to periodontitis which, in turn, can lead to receding gums, bone loss, and dental sensitivity.
Depending on the severity of your condition, gum disease treatment may involve deep scaling to rid your teeth of plaque or for more severe cases, we may need to begin periodontal therapy.
We’re one of the few clinics that offer our patients revolutionary pinhole gum rejuvenation as part of receding gums treatment. Our dentist makes a small incision in your gum with a needle and uses special instruments to manipulate the gum tissue over the receding instrument. With no sutures or stitches, the results are instantly visible and post-treatment symptoms, if any, are mild.
Computer-assisted root canal – This is the last resort treatment for tooth sensitivity that hasn’t been helped by other methods.
Are you tired of putting up with sensitive teeth? Or perhaps you’re overdue a six-month check-up? Our team of friendly caring dentists are more than happy to help.
If you’ve recently experienced sensitive teeth for the first time and want to know more about what causes sensitive teeth, or your pain is constant, we recommend you come and see us. Get in touch today by calling (02) 9159 6237 to book an appointment with Infinity Dental Care.