Sensitive teeth-its causes and ways to prevent it

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
One of the most common dental concerns we see at our office is tooth sensitivity. In fact, according to a survey by the Journal of American Dental Association, an astounding 1 in every 8 patients experience this discomfort! While anyone is susceptible to this, we typically see more patients between 20 and 40 years old. The good news is this is treatable and sometimes requires only switching to a desensitizing toothpaste. The toothpaste will form a protective coating around the outside of the tooth so the tooth’s dentin will no longer be exposed. The inside of your tooth is primarily made up of this particular material, which contains microscopic tubules filled with tiny nerve endings. A hard outer layer of enamel protects the dentin within the crown portion of your tooth, and the dentin extending down to the root of your tooth is protected by a layer of cementum. Dentin hypersensitivity or nerve irritation occurs whenever dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum, exposing the nerve endings to hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods.

What Causes The Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is caused by a variety of factors. Using a hard toothbrush or applying an excessive amount of pressure while brushing can actually wear the tooth enamel down. Another factor is tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages and when left untreated, erosion typically leads to decay and broken teeth which will expose the dentin of your tooth. Gum recession due to gingivitis or gum disease can also cause sensitivity as the roots of the tooth are more exposed because of a receding gum line. Grinding your teeth is yet another way to expose the dentin in your tooth. For our patients that experience this, we generally recommend using a mouth guard from their local sporting goods store and wearing it at night. Finally, post dental treatment sensitivity can occur after several dental procedures especially after crowns, fillings and tooth bleaching. This type of sensitivity is generally temporary and goes away after a few days. 

How to Revert Sensitive Teeth? 

      Even in situations where there is no obvious cause for your pain, there are numerous treatments to help you manage the sensitivity. Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, can block off the nerve endings in the exposed dentin. Many times our office will recommend using this toothpaste exclusively and results can be seen in as little as three days. When using a desensitizing toothpaste you will want to use slightly more than traditional toothpaste, as you need enough of the active ingredient to bond with your teeth. You also don’t want to rinse afterward as this will wash away the ingredient and won’t give you your desired result. Changing mouthwash brands can help as well, sometimes you can be allergic to the ingredients found in them. Being that there are various causes of sensitive teeth it is always best to have a dentist look at the sensitive area to help determine its cause. As you can see, tooth sensitivity can be an early warning sign of a much larger dental problem. If you have any further questions about tooth sensitivity please call our office. Our team of dental professionals will work with you to resolve your tooth sensitivity.  


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