Do you have sensitive teeth? If so, you may be part of the majority. Many of our patients express discomfort related to temperature sensitivity. Whether your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, acid, sugar, brushing or flossing, you don’t have to suffer. Below we’ve compiled some causes of sensitive teeth along with ways to prevent and treat sensitive teeth, thanks to the ADA, Colgate and more.
Why do I have sensitive teeth?
Causes of sensitive teeth for many is largely attributed to trauma, decay, genetics, diet, or hygiene habits.
- Tooth decay and cavities
- Fractured, cracked or chipped teeth
- Worn fillings or enamel
- Gum disease or infection
- Exposed tooth root
- Bruised tooth nerves from a recent procedure (temporary)
- Teeth grinding
- Acidic foods
Keep in mind, your teeth may be sensitive in general and these things trigger the pain or exasperate the discomfort. For most people, tooth sensitivity is caused and worsened by a combination of these things.
Can sensitive teeth be treated?
The best way to treat sensitive teeth is to have a strong oral health routine. Therefore, brush and floss daily, schedule routine checkups and cleanings with your dentist, and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. We can help you develop good oral care habits that are sure to make you smile.
Because so many patients ask us about their sensitive teeth, here are some things you can do to lessen the discomfort you have from tooth sensitivity like:
Use toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. These often contain some form of potassium nitrate, which helps desensitize the nerves in the teeth by penetrating into the exposed areas in the tooth. Look for toothpastes that potassium nitrate as the active ingredient. Brushing with sensitive teeth toothpaste is not a long-lasting or permanent fix and will require several brushings to take effect.
Try a fluoride treatments. This can strengthen your enamel enough to provide a buffer between any irritating substances and the dentin in your teeth.
Switch up your diet. We recommend cutting back on acidic foods, or balance the pH in your mouth after eating them by drinking milk or rinsing thoroughly with water. Sugary and acidic foods can wear down the your tooth enamel and cause gum disease so be sure to brush after every soda, tea and coffee. Read more about acid erosion here.
If these at-home changes aren’t doing the trick. Please schedule an appointment with us so we can assess your pain. We want your to be able to enjoy a bowl of ice cream, drink your favorite ice cold beer or sip a warm cup of coffee without grimacing. Here are some of the things we can do in office to end your tooth sensitivity:
- Desensitizing agents – These include fluoride varnishes, fluoride gels or foams and desensitizing pastes that administer ingredients that can help to seal the tubule openings to protect the teeth and help to redeposit minerals back into this layer of the tooth. (e.g. The fluoride varnishes are applied by the dental professional after a professional scaling and polishing has been completed. Fluoride gels and foams are usually placed in a disposable tray that covers the teeth. The patient holds this in place by biting down on the tray for about a one minute. For 30 minutes after the procedure, do not eat, drink or rinse. Desensitizing pastes can be used before or after a professional scaling and helps to plug the dentin tubules and block pain stimuli.
- Sealant – Your dentist may apply a coating to cover up any exposed root surfaces and relieve pain. Serious cases may even require a crown or bridge.
- Crown and bonding – Your dentist may choose to apply a crown or additional bonding to a sensitive tooth, in order to counteract decay or diminished enamel. Check out our crowns and bonding process here.
- Root canal – Often used as a last resort, this procedure can handle persistent pain when all other treatments fail by removing troublesome nerve tissue. Read more about root canals here.
Prevent your Tooth Sensitivity from Getting Worse
If your teeth aren’t sensitive, consider yourself lucky and prevent this discomfort! If you have minor tooth sensitivity, prevent your condition from worsening with these tips:
Daily brushing – Brushing properly twice daily for two minutes with toothpaste that does not have high levels of abrasives can help reduce the chance of tooth sensitivity
Flossing – flossing once a day can help get rid of plaque on the gum line and between the teeth, and can help reduce instances of tooth sensitivity
Follow a diet low in acid – a diet low in acidic foods and drinks also helps prevent tooth sensitivity