What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

At Friendly Dentistry in Greensboro, NC, we often hear from our patients that they experience painful brushing. Sensitive teeth can be the root of the problem. Dentin hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth) does not necessarily mean that you have a dental problem, although in some cases it is a problem.

We can help you to care for your sensitive teeth. The first thing we do is to check your teeth for chipped teethtooth grinding (or teeth grinding), and other obvious contributors to your sensitivity, then we devise a treatment plan.

Learning more about what causes sensitive teeth can help you to avoid the things that are known for causing pain, and deal with sensitivity issues.

man rubbing jaw because of tooth pain

What Dental Problems Cause Sensitive Teeth

There are over 40 million people that deal with some sort of tooth sensitivity. In some cases, the sensitivity is only temporary and can be cured by getting treatment. Receding gums can cause sensitivity, the need for a root canal can cause a sensitive tooth, periodontal disease can cause sensitivity.

Temporary sensitivity that is linked to dental health issues is not a true sensitivity condition. Getting the dental work that you need done at Friendly Dentistry in Greensboro can put an end to the sensitivity.

In some cases, tooth whitening can cause heightened sensitivity temporarily. TMJ, Temporomandibular conditions can also cause heightened sensitivity. Sensitivity problems typically are not felt as an aching. The pain is sharp and does not last.  Teeth pain from teeth sensitivity and teeth pain from dental health issues are different.

 If you are suffering from an aching sensation, or throbbing constant pain make an appointment to see the dentist.

The Symptoms of Dentin Hypersensitivity

If you experience pain or discomfort when you are eating or drinking food that is either hot or cold, you may be dealing with a tooth sensitivity condition. In some cases, you may even experience pain when you inhale deeply. Hot and cold air can cause sharp pain.

Those twice a day tooth brushing sessions, using mouthwashes, even grabbing a too cold drink of water can cause immediate acute pain, that quickly disappears once the oral temperature is regulated back to normal.

Understanding Tooth Structure

Understanding this condition starts with understanding the structure of your teeth. Teeth are made up of three parts:

  •         Enamel
  •         Dentin
  •         Root System

The enamel is the outer surface of the tooth, and is the hardest substance in the human body, but for many people, the enamel has become compromised or is not thick enough. When the enamel is compromised the dentin, the soft pulp that is rich with nerve endings and highly sensitive, is exposed in ways that it is not meant to be.

Thinning enamel, enamel erosion, a cracked tooth, chipped tooth can all expose the dentin (pulp) in the tooth to temperature changes that elicit a pain response. The root of the tooth connects the body of the tooth to the jaw.

In the absence of diseases like gingivitis, tooth decay, recent dental work, periodontal disease, a sensitive tooth is almost always related to tooth erosion. Enamel insufficiency is the most common cause of tooth sensitivity.

My teeth were making me look really old. So, I decided that if I could get them fixed up, maybe it would help. And it did, a lot! I’m much more comfortable giving a big grin… It was painless, it was easy and it was so worth anything to go through this. I love my teeth!.

– Cindy

What Causes Enamel Problems?

In some rare cases, it is a genetic issue that causes thin enamel. For example, your parents had sensitive teeth, and so do you, because of thin enamel. Usually, though, the enamel is somehow damaged. That damage can stem from overly aggressive brushing with a hard bristle toothbrush, but that is not the only way that hypersensitivity occurs.

Lack of fluoride, cavities, teeth grinding, clenching your teeth, and other activities can all weaken the enamel on your teeth and cause your teeth to become sensitive. Even brushing your teeth too much, and yes you can brush too much, can weaken your enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. Good oral hygiene should never be sacrificed to control sensitivity, you just need the right tools and the right techniques.

Diet Can Be a Factor

If your diet consists of highly acidic foods and beverages, you could be wearing away your enamel prematurely. Citrus juices, coffee, and other acidic drinks can wear your enamel away. Avoiding highly acidic foods can help to keep the problem from getting worse.

Also, curb a sugary diet. When you have tooth enamel problem that is causing tooth pain, it can be compounded by too much sugar in your diet. Weakened enamel can invite cavities that can cuase serious dental issues.

sensitive teeth

Treatment Options

There are different treatment options available for dealing with sensitive teeth. The treatment that your dentist recommends largely is dependent on what is discovered during the dental exam. Treatment can include a mouth guard (night guard) if tooth grinding is suspected, and of course addressing any decay with dental fillings.

The dental hygienist will discuss desensitizing toothpaste options, toothbrush choices, brushing techniques and more. The dentist may provide you with a desensitizing mouthwash. Your dentist may recommend a fluoride gel to help to improve the enamel of your teeth. The dentist may also recommend a protective coating for your teeth.

What Can You Do At Home?

At home continue brushing teeth but be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use the oral care products that your hygienist and the dentist recommends. Eat a tooth-healthy diet. Get the dental treatment that your dentist recommends.

Start rinsing with salt water twice a day and floss. If you are dealing with enamel erosion problems it is important that you keep up with your oral health or you risk more cavities and further dental health issues.

Make an appointment today with Friendly Dentistry in Greensboro to learn more about treatment options for your sensitive teeth.