Sensitive teeth (dentinal hypersensitivity) can occur when gums pull away from your teeth at the gumline exposing the dentin layer of your tooth. Dentin is the softer tooth layer that lies beneath the hard enamel surface. Below the gumline dentin is not protected by the enamel that covers the part of the tooth you can see in your mouth. Once dentin is exposed, the microscopic pores called tubules that lead to the tooth nerve are left unprotected. Hot, cold and sometimes sweet or acidic foods can trigger sensitivity pain. One of the simplest ways to minimize or prevent sensitivity is by teaching proper brushing techniques so that teeth are cleaned without causing either sensitivity or damage. Another step to minimize sensitivity is to use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
What Is The Difference Between Tooth Sensitivity And Pain In Your Mouth?
Tooth sensitivity is usually a sharp intermittent zinging pain in response to cold air or food or drinks that are especially hot or cold or very sweet or sour. If you’re experiencing pain that is more severe and more constant, chances are it’s a different kind of mouth pain.
What Is The Difference Between Sensitive Teeth And Sensitive Gums?
As the gums pull back, dentin becomes exposed and your teeth become less protected from sensations like hot and cold. While sensitive teeth don’t necessarily look that different, sensitive gums will turn red and may bleed. Unlike sensitive teeth, sensitive gums may not hurt that much at all. But the longer you ignore them, the worse for your teeth, so see your dentist as soon as possible.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
There are many causes of tooth sensitivity. Identify the cause of your tooth sensitivity and ask your dental professional for advice. To determine the root for your sensitivity, see if any of the following causes apply to you.
You will notice sensitive teeth when stimuli, such as hot or cold sensations, reach the nerves inside the teeth and cause pain or tingling. Some common causes of sensitive teeth include:
Your toothbrush type
What type of toothbrush do you use? Most dental professionals recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The soft bristles prevent long-term damage to your enamel and are gentler on your gums. When combined with a sensitive toothpaste, the right toothbrush can help avoid painful discomfort. Most of good toothpastes use an active ingredient called stannous fluoride, which is clinically proven to help protect teeth from painful sensitivity.
Whiter teeth can boost your self-confidence and improve your appearance, but you can have too much of a good thing. If you have sensitive teeth, be sure to use teeth-whitening products no more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Try limiting yourself to one whitening product, and then use other oral care products for sensitive teeth so you can maintain a regular oral care routine and enjoy a brighter smile, or try whitening products designed for sensitive teeth.
Do you floss regularly? Flossing is one of the most important components of your oral hygiene routine. Flossing can prevent plaque build-up that leads to gum disease, receding gums, sore gums and tooth sensitivity. Since 80% of sensitivity starts at the gum line, it’s important to care for your gums to ensure a healthier smile.
Sensitive teeth can be an early sign of a cavity. A cavity in a tooth is another way by which nerves in the center of the tooth become exposed.
If you have gum disease, you can develop sensitive teeth if the inflamed tissue in your gums is not protecting the tooth roots. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. It can progress and destroy the bone and other tooth-supporting tissues, exposing the teeth roots. Gum recession can occur due to age. Chewing tobacco, or snuff, causes the gums to recede. A healthy mouth starts at the gum line so be sure to incorporate gum care oral care products into your routine.
Damaged Tooth Enamel
Everyone’s tooth enamel can start to wear away with age, but tooth enamel can also wear away due to factors including high exposure to acidic foods or overzealous brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush. Damaged enamel exposes the inner layer of the teeth and causes them to become more sensitive to heat, cold, and pressure.
Brushing Too Hard
Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause gum recession and root exposure over time. Tooth enamel can be worn down or abraded and the dentin exposed by brushing too hard, brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush. Tooth roots can become exposed by aggressive brushing, incorrect brushing, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. The sensitive tooth roots can also become exposed.
Eating acidic foods and beverages on a regular basis can cause enamel to erode, increasing the likelihood of sensitivity. regularly consuming foods and beverages with high acid content (citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, tea), or by sucking on hard candy.
Believe it or not, even caring for your teeth can cause sensitivity. Sensitivity can occur after dental work, however, it is temporary and usually disappears in four to six weeks. Dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, crown placement, root planing or tooth restoration can cause temporary sensitivity that can last for four to six weeks.
Do you grind your teeth? Grinding your teeth can cause damage to the tooth’s outer layer (enamel) and expose the tooth’s inner layer (dentin), making it more susceptible to sensitivity and decay.
Tooth sensitivity treatment
- A good brushing technique prevents gum recession and prevents formation of acidic dental plaque. Use a soft toothbrush or electric toothbrush for brushing your teeth.
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste every morning and evening. Toothpastes intended for sensitive teeth may also ease symptoms if used regularly.
- The use of fluoride lozenges or fluoride mouthwash strengthens the tooth surface and in this way reduces tooth sensitivity.
- Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating. Instead, you can rinse your mouth with water and use xylitol-containing chewing gum or pastille to prevent acid attack caused by plaque bacteria following eating.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks. These low-pH foods and drinks include soft drinks, low-calorie drinks, sports and energy drinks, juices (such as whole juices made from orange or apple), berry juices, citrus fruit juices and vinegar-containing foods.
If tooth sensitivity persists and disrupts your life, contact your dentist to book an appointment for an examination.
If necessary, teeth that are sensitive due to gum recession can be treated with fluoride products and/or products preventing tooth sensitivity. However, the most important thing is to check your brushing technique.
If tooth sensitivity is due to a dental cavity or pre-cavity, an assessment will be made to see whether cavity formation can be halted or whether a filling is needed. If the cavity formation can be halted, the teeth need to be cleaned more effectively and fluoride used more often than usual.
Strain due to dental occlusion and the reasons for it will be assessed during an oral examination. Treatment procedures such as relaxation of occlusion muscles, stress management or using a dental guard will be determined as appropriate.
If there is a crack (microfracture) or a chip on the tooth surface, a composite plastic filling may be required.
How Does Sensitive Toothpaste Work?
Sensitivity toothpastes work by either blocking the exposed dentinal tubules or by desensitizing the nerve endings in the dentinal tubules. Most sensitivity toothpastes, including the leading sensitivity brand, work by numbing the nerve inside your tooth. Good Sensitive Toothpaste fights sensitivity at the source by treating your gum line. Additionally, it’s formulated with stannous fluoride which helps block the tubule openings to keep the external triggers such as heat and cold from ever reaching and stimulating the nerve inside the tooth. Stannous fluoride also binds to enamel to create a micro-thin shield, strengthening the tooth.
How to Whiten Sensitive Teeth?
If you want whiter teeth but you have sensitive teeth, start by following a complete oral care routine. Continue to use oral health products for sensitive teeth, and gradually introduce gentle whitening products.
How to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity
Here are some steps you can take to prevent tooth sensitivity:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which will help prevent gum loss.
- Brush with a sensitivity toothpaste, which will continue removing plaque to clean teeth while providing relief from sensitivity.
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to prevent gum loss.
- Be sure to clean all parts of your mouth, including between teeth and along the gum line.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
When it comes to teeth sensitivity, a healthier mouth starts with good brushing habits.