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Main Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Do you feel discomfort when drinking cold beverages or making a sip of hot coffee? Or, maybe, you feel pain when you brush or floss your teeth? With healthy teeth, enamel layer protects your teeth above the gum, while a layer called cementum protects tooth roots under the gum line. Underneath enamel and cementum is dentin. Dentin is made of small canals which, in case of weak enamel or exposed roots, allow cold and heat to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. The result is tooth sensitivity, a very common dental problem. Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated. Below, we list the main causes why you could experience tooth sensitivity and several steps you can take to find necessary treatment and relief:

So, Why Does Tooth Sensitivity Happen?

  • Tooth Decay

Over time, fillings become weaker, leaks and fractures occur around the tooth edges creating a perfect area for bacteria accumulation and acid buildup. Acids, produced by bacteria, destroy tooth enamel and expose the layer of dentin, making you feel pain when biting or drinking hot/cold beverages. Removing decay and placing a new filling or a crown will make you free of any discomfort and pain.

  • Worn Fillings

Fillings don’t last forever, and when they become worn out or broken patients usually experience increased tooth sensitivity. This problem can easily be treated by replacing a filling with a new one.

  • Cracked Tooth

A chipped or cracked tooth may cause tooth sensitivity. Cracked teeth are not easily visible and may not even be shown on X-rays. However, the most common symptom of a cracked tooth is a sharp pain when biting down. Cracks that occur close to fillings can be restored with a new filling or crown. When cracks affect the tooth pulp, a root canal treatment may be recommended before placing a crown. In the worst case scenario, when a crack spreads below the gum line into the root, a tooth needs to be removed

  • Tooth Enamel Erosion

The products you eat and drink as well as your genetics and daily oral habits effect enamel strength. Acidic foods, caffeine, night grinding are only some causes of worn-out tooth enamel. It is easy to identify enamel erosion: weakened teeth become discolored, very tender to hot and cold and susceptible to chipping or breakage. As soon as you notice that your teeth don’t look or feel all right, address the issue to your dentist.

  • Exposed Tooth Roots

Gum recession leads to the loss of gum tissue and tooth roots exposure, resulting in extra-sensitivity to hold and cold. The most common reasons of gum recession and exposed roots include: age, injuries to the mouth and gums, advanced periodontal diseases, smoking, teeth grinding. When it comes to exposed roots, the most effective treatment is gum grafting procedure to help rebuild missing parts of the gum line, reduce tooth sensitivity and protect from future damages and decay.

  • Aggressive Brushing

Sometimes tooth sensitivity occurs because of too much force applying when brushing, especially with hard-bristled toothbrush. Over some time, aggressive brushing wears down the protective tooth layers, exposing your tooth roots. Worn-out enamel makes your teeth sensitive to extreme temperatures, acid or sticky foods, resulting in discomfort and pain.

  • Excessive Plaque

The main aim of brushing and flossing is cleaning away plaque that forms during the day. A buildup of excessive plaque causes tooth enamel erosion, making your teeth more sensitive as they loose enamel protection.

  • Sensitivity after a Dental Procedure

You may experience some tooth sensitivity after different dental procedures, such as root canal treatment, extraction, crown or filling placement. This is normal, and usually lasts during a few days after the procedure. If symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to schedule another visit to your dentist.

Tooth Sensitivity Treatment Tips

Improving Routine Oral Habits and Diet

Proper oral hygiene is a number one preventive measure to help you avoid sensitive-tooth pain. One of the simplest solutions is switching to a toothbrush with soft bristles. Electric toothbrush is also a good option that eliminates the need to scrub your teeth. Choose non-abrasive toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Be careful with tooth-whitening toothpastes and alcohol-containing mouthwashes, as they contain chemicals that may increase tooth sensitivity. Try neutral fluoride rinses. Brush and floss your teeth gently minimum twice a day. Brush your teeth at a 45 degree angel with short circular strokes. Think of a healthy balanced dental diet: eat nutrient foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Try to limit acidic and sugary foods in your diet. If it is difficult for you to avoid sugar in your diet, eat sweets as a part of your meals. This helps minimize the bacteria growth. Brush or, at least, rinse your mouth after each meal. If tooth sensitivity persists, visit your dentist to evaluate the problem.

Desensitizing Toothpaste

The paste contains special ingredients that help block the sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. In order to achieve results, you should use desensitizing toothpaste several times. Consult with your dentist when choosing the right toothpaste, which corresponds to ADA (American Dental Association) criteria. In case the paste doesn’t help you reduce discomfort, you may need a special treatment in dental office.

In-office Treatment

A fluoride gel or other desensitizing agents are used to reduce sensitivity of your teeth. If these measures don’t help, your dentist may recommend making a new filling, crown, inlay or bonding to correct the prime cause of tooth sensitivity. The chosen type of treatment depends on the reason that causes sensitivity. If you have lost some gum tissues because of gum recession, you will be advised to have a surgical gum graft. In case of hypersensitivity, when nothing helps, root canal treatments may be needed to eliminate the problem. Call us at Elite Dentistry of Simi Valley and one of our specialized dentists would be glad to evaluate any sensitive teeth that you may have concern with.