Teeth sensitivity can cause considerable discomfort and pain. It can range from mild to severe and is usually caused by wearing away the enamel, gum recession, dentin exposure, or other forms of damage to the teeth.
In some cases, it can be treated with home remedies, but in more serious cases professional treatment may be necessary. We will discuss what exactly tooth sensitivity is, the causes of it, home remedies that are effective for treating it as well as treatments available for severe cases.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a condition that causes discomfort and pain when eating or drinking certain foods and beverages. It occurs when the enamel, which is the protective layer of your teeth, has been worn away or eroded, exposing the dentin layer underneath. This dentin layer contains thousands of tiny tubes that lead to the innermost layers of the tooth, which contain nerves. When these tubes become exposed to extreme temperatures and certain food substances, it triggers a sensation of pain or discomfort.
Sensitive teeth can feel like a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache that radiates through the jaw and neck. It often occurs when eating cold or hot foods and drinks, as well as sweet or acidic foods. The sensation usually only lasts for a few seconds before it subsides. In some cases, it can be intense and last for a few minutes.
What Causes Your Teeth To Become Sensitive?
1. Cracked or Broken Teeth
Teeth can become cracked due to a variety of reasons, including physical trauma, grinding or clenching of the teeth, or an existing cavity that is not treated. When a tooth is cracked, it compromises the protective layers and exposes the dentin layer underneath. This allows heat and cold stimuli to penetrate directly into the nerve of the tooth, causing pain or discomfort.
2. Recent Dental Work
Certain procedures such as tooth fillings, crowns, and root canals can create openings that allow bacteria to get into the dentin layer and cause inflammation. Additionally, some procedures require the use of materials that are acidic which can erode the enamel and expose the dentin layer. This then allows hot or cold temperatures to penetrate directly into the nerve of the tooth, causing sensitive teeth.
3. Gum Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. It is caused by bacterial plaque that builds up over time. When left untreated, it can cause inflammation and lead to recession of the gums. This exposes more of the tooth surface, including dentin, which then causes sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
4. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars found in foods, forming acids that attack the enamel of teeth. If left untreated, the acid will continue to eat away at the enamel until it has exposed the dentin layer beneath. This causes sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures as well as sweet or acidic foods.
5. Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard
Brushing your teeth too hard can damage the enamel of your teeth and cause them to become sensitive. When brushing, it is important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure in order to protect the enamel from abrasions or wear.
6. Eating Acidic Beverages
Acidic foods can cause erosion of the enamel and lead to exposed dentin, resulting in sensitive teeth. Common acidic items include citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, soda, sports drinks, and pickles. To reduce the risk of developing sensitive teeth, it is important to limit the amount of acidic beverages that you consume.
What Can You Do About Sensitive Teeth?
There are several home remedies that can help alleviate the pain of sensitive teeth. These include:
- Using a desensitizing toothpaste: These types of toothpaste contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate and strontium chloride which help to block the transmission of pain signals from the dentin layer to the nerve.
- Using a Fluoride Mouthwash: Fluoride helps to strengthen weakened enamel, which can help reduce tooth sensitivity. Using a fluoride mouthwash can help protect the teeth from further damage and reduce sensitivity over time.
- Using a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush: Brushing too hard with a hard-bristled brush can cause erosion of the enamel, leading to sensitivity. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush can help reduce the risk of damaging tooth enamel and causing sensitivity.
- Saltwater Rinse: Saltwater has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the pain associated with sensitive teeth. To use this remedy, mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and rinse your mouth with it for about 30 seconds.
When To See a Dentist
If home remedies are not working to relieve tooth pain, it is important to visit your dentist for further assessment and treatment. Your dentist can assess the cause of the sensitivity and may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
1. Fluoride Gel Application
Fluoride application involves the application of a cavity-fighting fluoride gel directly onto the tooth surface. This procedure helps to remineralize tooth enamel, which can help protect against further erosion and reduce sensitivity.
2. Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is a procedure used to repair damaged or infected tooth roots. It involves the removal of infected pulp tissue and nerves, as well as the cleaning and reshaping of the canal. A filling material is then placed into the canal in order to seal it off from further infection or decay. Root canal therapy can help to reduce sensitivity and save a tooth that would otherwise require extraction.
3. Bonding or Capping
Bonding and capping are two different procedures used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay, fractures, or erosion. During these treatments, a filling material is placed onto the affected tooth in order to protect it from further damage and reduce sensitivity.
Contact Us If You Are Experiencing Tooth Sensitivity!
If you are experiencing pain or sensitivity in your teeth, contact our dental office today. We can provide professional advice and treatment plans that can help to alleviate the pain associated with tooth sensitivity. We offer a wide range of services including fluoride application, root canal treatment, bonding/capping, and much more. Our experienced team will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.