If you have ever felt an unexpected jolt or sharp pain in your teeth after having ice cream, sipping a hot cup of tea, or a mouthful of hot soup, you may have sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity is not uncommon, though. While sensitive teeth may signify an underlying disease or cavity, you can experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold food or beverages frequently in your routine.
However, ignoring this sign can lead to severe problems in the future if you don’t receive prompt treatment.
Keep reading to know what causes tooth sensitivity and how you can consult a dentist at DICC whenever you experience a shock of pain.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity refers to an exaggerated response to cold or hot stimuli, which presents as pain or discomfort ranging from mild to severe. Your teeth may also respond sensitively to sweet or acidic foods and drinks or when you brush your teeth either excessively or improperly.
Having sensitive teeth may be temporary or chronic and can be due to several causes. It can affect one tooth or several teeth, but the good news is that it is easily treated, provided you take care of your dental hygiene.
What are the Causes of Sensitive Teeth?
It all starts with a thin layer of enamel that covers your teeth’s crowns (the visible part). Enamel is the hard layer that protects the sensitive parts of each tooth. However, it can still be worn away over time by brushing too hard or consuming acidic foods and beverages.
Once this protective layer is compromised, you may feel sensitivity as the dentin (the porous tissue underneath) is exposed.
Although the causes are numerous and varied, the most common sources of dental sensitivity include:
Improper or excessive brushing can lead to increased teeth sensitivity. This is because brushing removes the protective enamel layer on the teeth, revealing the more sensitive dentin layer underneath. When this protection is removed, food particles and hot or cold temperatures can affect the nerves in your teeth directly.
Increased consumption of sugar or carbonated drinks
Increased consumption of sugar or carbonated drinks is one of the most common causes of sensitive teeth. When you consume foods or drinks that are highly acidic, this can cause damage to your enamel.
As mentioned above, when the enamel wears away, your teeth become susceptible to cold and hot temperatures, which will affect the underlying dentin.
Acid reflux, also known as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid and digestive juices flow back up into the esophagus. This can irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, throat, and teeth.
The result is often a burning sensation in your throat and chest and a bitter taste in your mouth. In addition, if you have frequent acid reflux, you may develop sensitive teeth.
Improper placement of dental prostheses
A prosthesis is a device that replaces the tooth in case it is lost or extracted. Generally, dentists try to make the prosthesis fit so that it mimics the natural shape of the tooth as accurately as possible, both for aesthetic and functional purposes.
When a dentist does not achieve this alignment correctly, patients may experience sensitivity in their teeth because their gums may not cover the root of their teeth as they normally would.
Infection (gingivitis, multiple caries, periodontitis)
In some cases, dental sensitivity can be caused by infections such as periodontitis, gingivitis, or multiple caries. The common culprit in these situations is gum recession, also known as gum disease, which results from plaque buildup around the base of your teeth.
It can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving roots exposed and creating tiny gaps in which food particles can become trapped and inflamed. If gum disease isn’t treated early enough, it can lead to bone loss and further gum recession.
When to consult your dentist?
If you’re experiencing sensitive teeth for the first time, book a quick appointment with your dentist. You can schedule a dental appointment with our expert dentists at DICC, who will analyze the cause of your sensitivity and suggest the best choice of treatment. In case of severe pain and discomfort, DICC also consults dental emergencies round the clock.
How are sensitive teeth treated?
First and foremost, removing the cause of the problem and maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to treating tooth sensitivity. Combining a good oral hygiene regimen with the following treatment options will help alleviate your symptoms.
Sensitive teeth can be treated with fluoride treatment because it helps prevent cavities from forming and reduce the pain associated with tooth sensitivity. A fluoride gel is applied to cavities and worn for about 4 minutes. After this time, it is rinsed from the mouth, and patients are instructed not to eat or drink for 30 minutes afterward.
Replace affected teeth
If you have a tooth that is so severely damaged or decayed that it can’t be repaired, it has to be removed and replaced. This could mean a dental implant, a bridge, or a partial denture. There are pros and cons to each option, but they’re all worth considering if your sensitive teeth can’t be saved.
Replace improperly placed dental prostheses
If you have a tooth that is so severely damaged or decayed that it can’t be repaired, it has to be removed and replaced. This could mean a dental implant, a bridge, or a partial denture. Each option has pros and cons, but they’re all worth considering if your sensitive teeth can’t be saved.
Whether you have developed tooth sensitivity for the first time or several times, ensuring a good oral regimen, including proper brushing, flossing, and a good diet, will help keep the sensitivity at bay.
For more information, book an appointment today by calling (720) 740-0696.