Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Do you ever find yourself cringing when you swallow a glass of cold milk? Or receiving a stinging pain in your teeth after taking a sip of steaming coffee?

You might be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from sensitive teeth. A sensitive tooth can be the result of a cavity or fracture. However, it may also be due to worn down tooth enamel, a crack in the tooth or an exposed tooth root.

The surface of the tooth is covered in a protective outer layer of enamel. Underneath the enamel is the dark-colored dentin which contains microscopic tubules. When the dentin loses its protective covering, the tubules allow cold, hot or acidic foods to stimulate the nerves inside the tooth. This can cause the occasional discomfort associated with tooth sensitivity.

Some of the factors that can lead to tooth sensitivity include:

  • Brushing too hard – Brushing too hard or with a hard-bristled brush can wear away enamel and expose the root surface.
  • Recession of the gums – As gums move away from a tooth due to periodontal disease, the root surface is uncovered.
  • Teeth grinding – A common way to wear down enamel is grinding or clinching your teeth while asleep or as a bad habit.
  • Acidic foods and products – Acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and pickles can cause enamel erosion. Some mouthwashes also contain acids that can worsen tooth sensitivity.

There are a few steps you can take to reduce tooth sensitivity, however:

  • Maintain a good oral hygiene – The old advice is still the best. Brush twice and floss once daily.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush – Tooth brushing shouldn’t cause you to sweat. Brushing with a soft-bristled brush is just as effective as grinding hard bristles around your teeth.
  • Use desensitizing toothpaste – There a quite a few brands of toothpaste available for sensitive teeth and they can be found in any major drug store.
  • Avoid teeth grinding – If you have a bad habit of grinding your teeth at night, purchase a mouth guard. And if you have a habit that causes you to grind your teeth, try quitting the habit.
  • Visit your dentist – One of the best things you can do for your overall oral health is visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and tooth cleaning.

Here at Greenspoint Dental we offer a number of solutions for tooth sensitivity, including fillings to cover exposed root surfaces, fluoride varnishes and dentin sealants.  If you think you may have sensitive teeth or are afraid you could have developed a cavity, call or contact Greenspoint Dental today and talk to one of our dental professionals.