Sensitive teeth can make the simple act of drinking or eating a painful experience. It can prevent you from enjoying the foods you once enjoyed, or make breathing a sharply painful experience.
Unfortunately, sensitive teeth are quite common across the developed world. However, understanding the causes of this sensitivity, as well as how to mitigate its effects can help you to improve the condition of your teeth. Fingers crossed, you’ll be enjoying your favourite foods and drinks in no time.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Sensitivity is both common and normal. All teeth are sensitive to some degree. However, some people may experience much more severe and adverse reactions to particular sensations. For instance, cold is the most common trigger for hypersensitivity.
One of the major contributors to tooth hypersensitivity is the retraction of gums over time. The gums are particularly vulnerable to sustaining damage over time, which can be caused by the following:
- Gum diseases (gingivitis in particular)
- Trauma to the gums
- Excessive abrasive force when brushing and flossing
- Teeth grinding
When gums retract, a layer of teeth not protected by the enamel is suddenly exposed. This layer is known as dentine. Dentine may elicit a painful sensation when it meets food, drink, or pressuring forces.
Dentin can also be exposed by the erosion of the protective enamel. This is known as tooth decay, and is caused in part by a pH environment that is particular acidic as a result of bacterial activity and a high sugar diet which itself helps bacteria to flourish.
Cavities expose the highly sensitive inner components of the teeth to chemical (food and drink) stimuli. This also has the common effect of allowing bacteria into the dental pulp – the living nerve at the centre of all teeth. This causes a condition known as pulpitis. Beyond dental hypersensitivity, this can cause a number of other complications like tooth tenderness, infections of the jaw and surrounding tissue, and complete loss of the tooth.
Change Up Your Diet
One of the first steps to better caring for sensitive teeth is to reduce the amount of sugary and acidic foods and drinks that you consume.
Unfortunately, this may include several popular items such as citruses, carbonated drinks, fruit juices and red wine. On the other hand, cheeses and dairy products are suitable replacements as they are soft, easily chewable, and are full of minerals crucial for good dental health.
Address Teeth Grinding
Bruxism is the excessive grinding of teeth, and commonly happens involuntarily during sleep. This can wear down the dental enamel, and also produce cracks and chips in the teeth which expose the sensitive inner parts of the tooth.
This can be addressed with the use of a night-guard, which is a custom mouth guard that prevents teeth from being ground down at night. These come in a range of thicknesses depending on the severity of the grinding.
Soften Your Teeth Brushing and Flossing
Brushing relies on an abrasive force to remove bacterial buildup from the surface of teeth. However, brushing your teeth with too much force can have a damaging effect on the surrounding gum tissue. This can lead to a general recession of gum tissue over time.
Use Sensitivity Toothpastes
Using dentist-prescribed sensitivity toothpaste can significantly minimise hypersensitivity. Otherwise, ensure that you are using fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride plays a crucial role in maintaining the mineral composition of the teeth.
Regular Dental Checkups
Regularly visiting a dentist is a crucial step in maintaining good oral health. It is also crucial for people experiencing hypersensitivity. Regular checkups can help address the underlying tooth and gum problems before they become irreversible.
Dentists can recommend a number of treatments to patch up any damage caused by the erosion of the enamel, including inlays, crowns and veneers (which all have the added cosmetic benefit of improving the appearance of teeth).
These restore lost dental material with replacement materials, and prevent further bacterial infection of the teeth.
The most effective treatment for hypersensitive teeth is prevention. Having a regular appointment schedule with a trusted dentist is the first step to being rid of sensitive teeth. You and your dentist should discuss the most effective treatments for your situation to give you the best chance to overcome your dental sensitivity.
Contact Dr George Olstein today with any questions or to make an appointment.