What Causes Sensitive Teeth and What You Can Do About It

Are you passing on hot or cold drinks because they make your teeth hurt? It may be time to visit your dentist about the possibility of you having sensitive teeth. This pain or discomfort may be temporary or a chronic problem, and it can affect one or more teeth.

To be able to treat these teeth twinges, it helps to know what causes them, but in most cases, they can be easily treated with a change in your oral hygiene practices.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

The inside of your tooth is made up of dentin, which contains tiny tubules filled with nerve endings. It extends down to the root and is protected by a layer of cementum.

According to experts, nerve irritation occurs every time the dentin loses its protective covering, the enamel or cementum. The nerve endings will be exposed to different stimuli, such as hot, cold, acidic, and sticky ingredients.

Others naturally have more sensitive teeth than others because of thinner enamel. The enamel may break down due to:

  • Use of a hard toothbrush and brushing aggressively
  • Teeth grinding
  • Regular exposure to acidic foods and beverages

Sometimes, certain medical conditions can cause sensitive teeth, too:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) can cause acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus and wear down teeth over time.
  • Frequent vomiting in cases of bulimia and gastroparesis can also cause acid to break down the enamel.

Gum recession will leave parts of your tooth exposed, also causing pain and discomfort.

Tooth decay, chipped teeth, and damaged fillings or crowns will also expose the dentin of your tooth. This often causes sensitivity on just one tooth or region in the mouth instead of the majority.

Some dental procedures like teeth fillings, dental crowns, and bleaching may also cause sensitive teeth, but it is only temporary. The symptoms will naturally go away after a few days.

How Do You Diagnose Sensitive Teeth?

If this is your first time experiencing sensitive teeth, see your dentist immediately. A preliminary assessment will be done to check the overall health of your teeth and look for potential problems like cavities, loose fillings or crowns, and gum problems.

Routine dental cleaning will also be performed. Using appropriate instruments, your teeth will be tested for sensitivity. In some cases, an X-ray is in order to check the inside of your tooth.

How Do You Treat Sensitive Teeth?

In situations where there is no medical cause for your pain and discomfort, several home remedies for sensitive teeth can be helpful.

  • Choose a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. These products often have desensitizing ingredients that will help block the pain from reaching the tooth nerve. It may take several applications for this remedy to work. You should see improvements within a few days or a week.
  • Use a mouthwash or rinse that is alcohol-free. It is less irritating to sensitive teeth.
  • Use a softer toothbrush and clean your teeth more gently.
  • Avoid soda and other sugary foods. These treats will damage your tooth enamel. Snack on cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables instead. You may also drink teas or chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist and help control acidity and the growth of bacteria.
  • Get yourself a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding. Reducing stress and caffeine before bedtime can also help prevent teeth grinding at night.

If these home remedies don’t work, get professional help. Depending on the cause, your dentist may:

  • Apply fluoride gel or other prescription grade desensitizing agents
  • Advise you to take a break from bleaching
  • Give you a new tooth filling
  • Replace old dental crowns
  • Perform a root canal
  • Gum graft for severe gum recession

If the cause of your sensitive teeth is medically related, you may also be referred to a physician. GERD can be treated with antacids, while bulimia should be treated under the supervision of a psychiatrist.

What causes sensitive teeth is a mystery you can solve easily with the help of a dentist, so if you’ve been suffering from teeth pain and discomfort that keeps you from consuming the foods and drinks you love, make an appointment with Sunrise Dentistry. Our professionals offer holistic dentistry in Durango, CO. Who knows? After visiting us, you may be eating your favorite ice cream again soon!