Sensitive Teeth: Triggers, Causes And Treatments

When you walk through the oral care aisle of any supermarket or store, the sheer amount of products available can be overwhelming. It seems like there’s a solution for almost any dental problem, and you’ll find no shortage of items targeted to people with sensitive teeth. That’s because tooth sensitivity is a common condition, with up to 1 in 8 people suffering from it at some point in their lives.

Sensitivity exists along a broad spectrum, but it does tend to be most noticeable when the teeth are exposed to something hotter or colder than normal, something sweeter or more sour than normal, or if there are deep cavities or exposed root surfaces present. All of this can make eating and drinking uncomfortable and perhaps even painful, but you may not think there’s anything you can do about it beyond toothpastes and mouthwashes. Fortunately, we can help!

At Germantown Dental Group, we’re committed to giving every patient a smile that looks great and feels great, too. If you suffer from sensitive teeth, keep reading below for more information on some of the underlying causes and triggers, plus a few helpful tips to offer you some much-needed relief!

Common causes of sensitivity in the teeth
In healthy teeth, the enamel protects the soft underlying layer of dentin, and the tooth roots are protected by the gums. If the enamel is worn down or if the gum line has receded, the dentin can be exposed. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the dentin or the layer covering the root, called cementum, is exposed along the gum line due to receding gums.

When these areas are exposed, it can cause pain that is sudden, sharp, and shooting. This process is often triggered by hot and cold food or liquid, and sometimes food that is sweet or spicy, too.There are many other factors that can contribute to tooth sensitivity, however, including those listed below.

– Overzealous brushing
You really can have too much of a good thing! Brushing frequently is great for keeping your teeth clean, but doing so too vigorously can actually wear down the gum tissue over time, causing your gum line to recede. This will reveal the more porous root surfaces and areas of the teeth that are not normally exposed, and is generally regarded as the most common cause of tooth sensitivity.

– Tooth grinding
If you’re prone to grinding your teeth when you’re sleeping or stressed, it can cause a number of dental issues. The constant tension can wear away the enamel more quickly, exposing the dentin and leading to sensitive teeth.

– Gum disease
Inflammation in the gum tissues is one symptom of gingivitis and other forms of gum disease. This can cause the tissue to pull away from the tooth, leaving vulnerable areas exposed and more prone to sensitivity.

– Thinning tooth enamel
Enamel is what helps protect your teeth, and keep them strong. Failure to brush or floss properly, along with poor oral hygiene overall, can thin the enamel. This may weaken your teeth and leave them susceptible to exposure and sensitivity.

– Fillings
Occasionally, having a cavity filled can lead to sensitive teeth, particularly when biting down or chewing afterwards. Tooth decay itself irritates the tooth, and the filling procedure can lead to further sensitivity. This is usually temporary, but if it persists, the tooth may need further attention. Bite adjustment, replacing the filling, or performing a root canal are possible solutions.

– Whitening treatments
Teeth-whitening treatments that can be done in a dentist’s office or over-the-counter products at often contain harsh chemicals that are extremely efficient at removing stains. Unfortunately, you may find yourself with a whiter smile that’s more sensitive after using them.

Caring for sensitive teeth
It can be tempting to avoid brushing thoroughly and rinsing your mouth if your teeth are feeling especially sensitive. These actions can irritate existing sensitivity, but it’s important that you don’t neglect your daily dental hygiene routine! Whatever the root cause of your sensitivity may be, the very first line of defense against it is taking good care of your teeth and gums.

When you neglect your teeth, it can lead to worn enamel and sensitivity around the gum line. Proper brushing and flossing helps to prevent a buildup of tartar and bacteria, which reduces the risk of exposed nerves, a common source of sensitivity.

If you have sensitive teeth and aren’t adhering to a good dental hygiene routine currently, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure you’re doing everything possible to help prevent and relieve sensitivity.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help prevent gum loss
Brush with a toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth, which will continue removing plaque while providing some relief from sensitivity
Thoroughly brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time to prevent gum loss and to decrease the risk of cavities and gum disease
Floss every night before bed to remove plaque and any leftover food debris
Clean all parts of your mouth every time you brush, including between the teeth and along the gum line.
Avoid acidic foods and drinks

Woman smiling at dentist

How Germantown Dental Group can help relieve sensitive teeth
Sensitive teeth can often be treated successfully at home with the suggestions above. However, if this condition persists or becomes more painful, professional care is an option. Depending on the cause and severity of the sensitivity, our expert team may suggest one of a variety of treatments.

– Desensitizing toothpaste
This toothpaste contains compounds that can help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It may require several applications before you see any noticeable reduction in sensitivity.

– Fluoride gel
This in-office technique can strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce the level of sensitivity.

– A crown, inlay, or bonding
These treatments can correct an existing flaw or tooth decay that has resulted tooth sensitivity.

– Surgical gum graft
If you’ve lost gum tissue from the root for any reason, a graft can help protect the root, which in turn will reduce sensitivity.

– Root canal
If your tooth sensitivity is severe and doesn’t respond to other treatment methods, a root canal may be necessary to eliminate the problem.

If you’ve noticed any signs or symptoms of tooth sensitivity, we encourage you to contact us here Germantown Dental Group. We can schedule an appointment for you with one of our experienced dentists to help you assess the situation. Our team is dedicated to providing you with answers, relief, and high-quality dental care you can trust! If you’re dealing with sensitive teeth and need a solution, contact us today to schedule a consultation.