Tooth sensitivity is relatively common with over 3 million cases per year. More severe cases may require dentist intervention, however, most cases can typically be fixed with a few simple lifestyle changes.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a condition in which dentin, or the innermost layer of the tooth, becomes exposed causing pain in the tooth. The exposure of the dentin happens as a result of the tooth’s enamel not being protected enough and getting worn down over time.
How to Tell if You Have Tooth Sensitivity
Most people can accurately diagnose themselves as having tooth sensitivity, but may not know what causes their tooth sensitivity to flare up. Some typical triggers that cause tooth sensitivity symptoms include:
- Hot food and drinks
- Cold food and drinks
- Sweet food and drinks
- Acidic food and drinks
- Brushing or flossing teeth
- Alcohol-based mouthwash
Extreme conditions may cause pain in the mouth which will alert you to a sensitive area in your mouth. It is important to remember that any of these triggers may irritate your teeth, to begin with, however, if the pain is persistent and extreme, it may be worth getting checked out by a professional.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of lifestyle factors that may need to be altered or lessened in order to protect the health of your teeth. Some of these lifestyle factors include:
- Using a rough toothbrush
- Brushing your teeth too aggressively
- Regular teeth grinding
- Eating a surplus of acidic foods
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Gum disease
- Worn fillings
Though these activities can promote tooth sensitivity, some people are born with thinner enamel protecting their teeth and may also experience sensitivity that has nothing to do with the above factors.
How You Can Treat Tooth Sensitivity
There are a variety of great and effective ways to combat tooth sensitivity depending on the severity of your case. Some of the most widely recommended ways to desensitized your teeth are:
- Desensitizing toothpaste- This should be the first choice for those who notice tooth sensitivity early. It may take a few applications before the sensitivity is decreased or goes away completely. This specific type of toothpaste blocks pain signals to the tooth’s nerve to lessen the sensitivity that you may feel. If you are unaware of what brand of desensitizing toothpaste would work best for you, you can contact your dentist for recommendations.
- Fluoride treatments and fluoride gel- Your dentist may apply fluoride treatments during your appointment which will help build and strengthen your enamel. If your tooth sensitivity is more severe, your dentist may prescribe a fluoride gel to apply to teeth trays for long-term wear during the night.
- A crown or bonding- If tooth sensitivity is caused due to tooth decay, it may need a crown installed or resin bonded to the surface of the tooth’s root. This is a more involved procedure that may require the use of an anesthetic.
- Surgical gum graft- Sometimes tooth sensitivity comes from an exposed tooth root. If this is the case, gum tissue may be harvested from another area of the mouth and grafted onto the front of the exposed tooth root in order to provide a barrier of protection around it.
- Root canal- If you have tried every other treatment for your tooth sensitivity and have not seen positive results, you may need a root canal. During this invasive procedure, the pulp inside of the tooth will be removed in order to eliminate the infection. It is incredibly effective for those who have persistent and painful tooth sensitivity but is usually performed as a last resort.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity and would like to know your options or what treatment will work best for your particular case, contact your dentist today.