Sensitive teeth can be caused by any of the following: worn tooth enamel from using a hard toothbrush and using a hard grip while brushing aggressively; tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages; tooth decay; worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth. Have you ever had a cold drink that caused your teeth discomfort? Tooth sensitivity is quite a broad term that can mean tenderness anywhere on or near the tooth — the surface, the dentin, the root, and along the gum line.
If you experience tooth sensitivity, it isn't something that you should have to suffer through. There are even home remedies and, if necessary, dental procedures that can help tooth sensitivity and can lessen pain and discomfort.
Have you had a procedure done lately? That could actually play a role in increased tooth sensitivity. Dental procedures can often involve pressure, drilling, vibration, and even heat that will cause your teeth to become sensitive, more so than you experience in your day to day dealings.
Your tooth could also be cracked or damaged, which can certainly lead to increased sensitivity. In some cases, you might not even be aware that your tooth is damaged. Structural integrity of our teeth is something we all take for granted. But the reality is that eating something as simple and healthy as an almond can actually leave you with a cracked, chipped, or even broken tooth.
Decay around the edges of your fillings could be causing discomfort or increased tooth sensitivity. As your fillings age, they can weaken, fracture, even start to leak around the edges. This is fertile ground for bacteria to grow and flourish, increasing in number and accumulating in tiny nooks, crannies, and crevices. This leads to acid buildup which breaks down tooth enamel.
You might also be using harsh mouthwashes or even whitening toothpaste which can be contributing to tooth sensitivity. Many types of mouthwash and toothpaste manufacturers add whitening chemicals to their products which can make your teeth more sensitive, especially if dentin in the middle layer of the tooth are exposed (this is due to enamel wearing down from acids and everyday irritants).
The toothbrush you choose and use every day might also be contributing to your increased tooth sensitivity. The way you brush can also play a role. If you use too much force and a back-and-forth movement instead of a circular movement, this can wear down the protective layers of your teeth, exposing microscopic canals, tubes, and fissures, triggering your dental nerves. When nerves are left exposed, foods extreme in temperature, acidity, or stickiness can be increasingly uncomfortable to eat. Switching to a softer toothbrush, perhaps an electronic model where force can be even and consistently measured will ultimately be better for your teeth.
If you suffer from TMJ or grind your teeth with any sort of regularity, then you are especially susceptible to having sensitive teeth. This also wears down protective coating on your teeth, exposing your nerves. Your dentist can custom shape appliances for patients to wear in order to minimize damage from tooth grinding. These can also be worn during sleep for those who grind at night.
The cause sensitive teeth is a mystery you can solve with some input from your dentist. So if you've been suffering with painful sensitivity that keeps you from eating the foods you love, make an appointment with your dentist today – and you may be eating ice cream tomorrow.