- by Dr. Karanjit Dhillon
- September 30, 2022
Are you experiencing pain or distress after a bite of cold dessert or sipping your tea? Then it can be a sign of sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity, also known as “dentin hypersensitivity,” is pain or discomfort in the teeth as a response to particular stimulants, like hot or cold food.
Tooth sensitivity can affect one tooth, many teeth, or all the teeth and may be temporary or chronic.
Though tooth sensitivity may have many different causes, most cases can be easily dealt with by a change in oral hygiene habits.
What is Teeth Sensitivity?
Teeth sensitivity generally happens when the underlying layer of the teeth known as dentin becomes exposed due to either wear and tear or gum recession where the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, exposing the roots.
Not covered by hard enamel, tooth roots contain thousands of tiny tubules that lead to the tooth’s center known as the pulp.
The stimuli like hot, cold, or sweet food reach the nerve in the tooth, through these dentinal tubules resulting in the.
Sometimes other issues like cavities, gum disease, or a cracked tooth may also be indicated by tooth sensitivity.
What Are the Causes of Sudden Tooth Sensitivity?
Though some people may naturally have more sensitive teeth as compared to others due to thinner enamel, various factors can cause thinning of the enamel, causing sensitive teeth. These include:
- Brushing your teeth too hard: Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush over time can lead to the wearing down of the enamel, causing dentin exposure. Moreover, it can also cause gum recession i.e. gum tissue pulling away from your teeth.
- Gum Recession: Thin gum tissue can be a genetic tendency for some people, whereas some develop gum recession because of periodontal disease. Gum recession causes your gum tissue to pull away from your teeth in the process exposing the roots.
- Gum disease: Sensitivity can also be a result of inflamed and sore gum tissue and the loss of supporting ligaments, which also leads to the exposure of the root surface which leads directly to the nerve of the tooth.
- Cracked teeth: Bacteria from plaque can enter the pulp in chipped or broken teeth, causing inflammation.
- Teeth grinding: Some people are prone to grinding or clenching teeth which eventually wears down the enamel, exposing underlying dentin.
- Teeth whitening products: Major contributors to teeth sensitivity, non-professional teeth whitening can do more harm than good. If you wish for a brighter smile, always talk to a qualified dental specialist.
- Age: People between the age of 25 and 30 are most prone to tooth sensitivity.
- Plaque buildup: The plaque deposited on the root surfaces can also cause sensitivity.
- Consuming Acidic foods: Tooth sensitivity can affect the people who regularly consume foods with a high acid content like citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, pickles, and tea, as these can cause enamel erosion.
- Dental procedures: Teeth may feel sensitive after dental treatments like fillings, teeth cleanings, and dental restoration. However, sensitivity caused by dental procedures is temporary and goes away in four to six weeks.
Also Read: Teeth Flossing- Types and Benefits
What are the Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth?
Sensitive teeth can cause pain or discomfort at the roots of the affected teeth, as a response to particular stimuli.
The common triggers include:
- Hot and cold foods and beverages
- Cold air
- Sweet foods & beverages
- Foods and beverages that are acidic
- Cold water, particularly during routine dental cleanings
- Brushing or flossing of teeth
- Mouth rinses that are alcohol-based
Symptoms of tooth sensitivity can come and go over a period of time for no obvious reason. They sometimes may be mild and at other times intense.
Tooth Sensitivity- Diagnosis
Make an appointment with one of the experts at Morgan Hill Dentistry if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity for the first time.
The dental specialists will hold an oral examination and assess the health of your teeth to check for likely issues that may be causing it like cavities, loose fillings, or rems. Routine dental cleaning may be done to clean your teeth.
They may also use dental instruments to check for sensitivity, and an X-ray might be recommended to rule out causes like invisible cavities.
Tooth Sensitivity- Treatment
Desensitizing toothpaste can occasionally help stop the pain associated with sensitive teeth after regular use. A wide variety of over-the-counter products are available for this purpose. However, it is best to consult your dentist to find the product which will work best for you.
The dentist may aim at strengthening the tooth enamel and reducing pain by applying fluoride to the sensitive areas of your mouth. Some prescription fluoride might also be recommended to be used at home, via a custom tray.
Desensitizing Or Bonding
Applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces can help treat exposed root surfaces, sometimes. A local anesthetic might be needed for the purpose.
Surgical Gum Grafting
For patients whose tooth root has lost gum tissue, the dentist may surgically take a small portion of gum tissue from elsewhere in the mouth and attach it to the affected area. This gives protection to the exposed roots and helps reduce sensitivity.
Sensitive teeth that cause severe pain that cannot be relieved by other treatments may need a root canal to treat problems in the tooth’s dental pulp.
Though considered a considerable treatment it’s the most successful procedure for eradicating tooth sensitivity.
Preventing Tooth Sensitivity
Recurrence of sensitive teeth can be avoided by
- Brushing your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush using fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily.
- Avoiding using abrasive toothpaste.
- Wearing a mouthguard, if you grind your teeth, as tooth grinding can fracture teeth and cause sensitivity.
- Using a straw while consuming acidic drinks like carbonated sodas, citrus fruit juices, and wine.
- Drinking water to counteract the acid levels in your mouth after eating or drinking an acidic substance.
There are several different factors that can cause sensitivity in your teeth. These include worn enamel, exposed roots, cavities, chips & cracks, and sometimes even recent dental procedures.
The dentists at Morgan Hill Dentistry explain that the need for treatment is based on the reason.
Whereas mildly sensitive teeth can be taken care of with desensitizing toothpaste and adequate oral hygiene, severe teeth sensitivity that is caused by gum recession, cavities or cracked teeth may need medicine and treatment.
If you’re experiencing discomfort and pain due to sensitive teeth, book a consultation with our dental specialist to assess the cause and establish its solution.
Our cheerful and helpful team is hundreds of patients to put back their smile right where it belongs- on their faces!