There’s nothing quite like that unmistakable shooting pain in your teeth you may feel when enjoying a nice cold beverage. It’s not only reserved for drinking cold water; it can happen when breathing air in quickly through your mouth, or when eating fresh or cold foods like chilled fruits, vegetables or ice cream. That electric sensation is a hallmark sign of tooth sensitivity, and it’s a common unfortunate side effect that many people deal with daily. There are several factors that can lead to increased tooth sensitivity, but luckily there are also some ways to treat it as well.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
There are certain things to consider when looking to alleviate your tooth sensitivity pain. Speaking with your dentist can also provide you with some useful suggestions, especially if it’s been a while since your last checkup or cleaning.
- Weak tooth enamel: Eating highly acidic foods and drinking acidic beverages can lead to weakened tooth enamel, causing heightened tooth sensitivity. Speak to your dental hygienist about your enamel, as you may also have hereditary factors leading to weakened enamel that may get worse with time.
- Clenching or grinding: Some people aren’t aware that they grind or clench their teeth while they sleep or are under stress. These involuntary habits can wear down tooth enamel or even cause broken or cracked teeth.
- Cracked fillings: Even quality dental work has an expiration date. Make sure to schedule bi-yearly cleanings or checkups to make sure all of your previous dental work is up to par. Otherwise, bacteria can grow in cracks and cause bigger problems.
- Cracked teeth: The idea of having a cracked tooth seems obviously painful, but sometimes teeth crack without too much obvious pain. Cracked teeth can expose the tooth nerve to cold or hot and cause painful reactions.
- Brushing too hard: Make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on your teeth with your toothbrush when you brush as it can cause the wear and tear of important protective layers.
- Gum disease: No one wants to hear they have gingivitis or advanced gum disease, but plaque buildup and bacteria can lead to tartar which is very difficult to remove and needs to be dealt with professionally. These issues can also lead to increased tooth sensitivity.
- Over-whitening: Many over-the-counter whitening strips and toothpaste can cause major tooth sensitivity if used too often. Speak with your dentist about using professional whitening systems that are safer.
- Abrasive toothpaste: Along with aggressive brushing, the wrong kind of toothpaste can also wear down protective layers of the teeth. Have your dentist recommend a brand that is good for sensitive teeth.
What Kinds of Treatments are Available?
If your tooth sensitivity has become severe or bothersome enough to interrupt your normal daily life, consider speaking to your dentist about potential professional treatments that may repair the cause of the issue.
- Gluma Desensitization: This treatment is good for sensitivity candidates that are not currently suffering from severe decay. A chemical sealant is bushed on to the teeth helping desensitize them, along with a layer of potassium nitrate and fluoride. Speak with your hygienist to learn more specifics about this treatment.
- Crowns, inlays or bonding: If your sensitivity is caused by broken or severely decayed teeth, durable and realistic-looking porcelain crowns may be an option.
- Gum Disease Treatment: There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available to combat unhealthy and receding gums that may be causing sensitivity. Speak with your dentist about seeing a periodontist for further information on your options.
- Night guards: If your main issues stem from grinding or clenching your teeth, there are several different kinds of custom made night guards that are available to remedy this problem. They are made to fit and are comfortable enough not to disrupt your sleep.
- Root canal: While no one wants to hear or think about root canals, sometimes they are necessary to remove the irritated nerve that is affected most by a cracked or broken tooth. With advancements in dentistry, they are not that bad at all!
Things you can do at Home
A good way to stave off tooth sensitivity is to be proactive. Avoiding certain triggers if your tooth sensitivity seems like the common sense thing to do, but make sure you’re not overlooking just how bothersome it has become. While teeth with active nerves are sensitive to an extent, having to go out of your way to an extreme is a good sign that you should speak with your hygienist about other options.
- Brush with a sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne or DenTek. Also, ask your dentist for their favorite brands to try.
- Avoid eating very acidic foods that can deteriorate enamel and protective layers.
- Use a pro-grade electric toothbrush instead of brushes with harsh bristles.
- Replace harsh mouthwash with a more sensitive brand.
- Look into at-home fluoride treatments or ask your hygienist for advice on fluoride application at your next checkup or cleaning.
- Stop using whitening strips, toothpaste or treatments that are not approved by your dentist. Some sold over the counter can be terrible for your teeth.
- Avoid very hot or very cold foods to prevent from coming into contact with nerve pain.
- Eat foods that promote healthy teeth and gums.
- Avoid habits like chewing ice or biting fingernails.
- Steer clear of very hard foods like hard candy that can crack or damage teeth.
- Keep a reminder to schedule regular cleanings that include fluoride treatment.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, over 40 million adults deal with tooth sensitivity at some point in their lives. If you’re experiencing discomfort, it’s not always a cause for immediate alarm. Make an appointment to speak with your dentist to first make sure there are no serious causes for the sensitivity. There are many successful treatments performed every day that can help alleviate or completely fix the cause of tooth sensitivity, and your dentist can work with you to make sure you find relief.