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The Most Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity can be a terrible annoyance. When a glass of iced tea is painful to drink, or a bite of a hot meal causes you to wince, sensitivity may be to blame. Worse, even soft brushing and flossing can be uncomfortable to those with high tooth sensitivity. Believe it or not, some of the most sensitive nerve endings on your entire body run through your teeth. As frustrating as this fact may be, especially when the thought of tooth discomfort alone can make you wince, it’s important to understand the purpose of ordinary tooth sensitivity. Like the nerves that cause sensations throughout your body, unpleasant signals are your warning that a substance or condition is hurting your body.

However, unreasonable discomfort can occur if you bite a popsicle, sip a cup of coffee, or even try to chew soft food. At worst, sensitive teeth can disrupt your work concentration or sleep. Tooth problems that limit how you live your life and practice oral care shouldn’t be tolerated. Instead, you should work to find a solution. Thankfully, a good dentist can help you. If you simply make an appointment with your family dentist, you can finally experience relief.

Just why does tooth sensitivity occur, and what’s behind all of that annoying sensitivity? How can a dentist make these sensations go away? The answer is more involved than you might think. But first, you should learn some basic facts about your teeth.

Getting to Know Your Teeth

Your teeth basically consist of a root, which exists underneath the gum line, and dentin, the bony tissue that makes up most of its mass. Atop these layers, protecting them from the substances you eat, are cementum, which covers the root, and enamel, which surrounds the crowns of the teeth, or the areas that extend past the gumline. This layer of enamel is the strongest substance in your body. Firmer than your thigh bone, more rigid than your sternum, and stronger the heel of your foot, enamel is designed to handle what you eat and drink. While some foods, like lemon juice and coffee, can affect the health of your enamel, it’s better designed for years of daily food and drink exposure than any of the other components of your teeth.

Losing Enamel

Unfortunately, over time, the chemicals that make up food and drinks will eat away at your enamel. Very sweet foods like candy or sodas, and very acidic foods like citrus fruits and pickles, frequently damage your enamel. When enamel begins to fade or wear away, it will not grow back naturally. This gradual fading then exposes your dentin underneath, a layer that contains hollow tubules. When these tubules are exposed to food, drink, or air, they will direct cold, heat, acidity, and sticky sensations down to the sensitive nerves below. This is the most common cause of tooth sensitivity. Say you’re drinking a cold, acidic, and sugary glass of lemonade. While your enamel should normally absorb the impact of this beverage, areas without enamel protection will feel pain because they’re being exposed to chemicals they’re not designed to handle. If you’ve ever experienced the sting of something gently touching a wound on your skin, then you understand how this works. When areas not built for direct contact receive contact, discomfort is often the result.

Other Causes

Sadly, investing in a tube of sensitivity toothpaste isn’t enough to treat all the causes of tooth sensitivity. Tooth decay, cracked teeth, worn fillings, damage to prior dental work like crowns, receding gums, and worn tooth roots can also cause sensitivity. It’s important to visit a dentist’s office regularly, at least once a year for adults and twice a year for children, and explain your sensitivity. A good dentist can identify the cause and issue a treatment based on your current oral health needs.

Finding Relief

Your dentist may recommend that you use desensitizing toothpaste to block the dentin’s tubules and numb the problem area. In the meantime, your dentist may recommend other forms of treatment. A common treatment performed right in their office chair is fluoride treatment. Desensitizing chemicals like specialized fluoride gel can be directly applied onto sensitive areas, like spots where your tooth enamel has degraded or worn away.

Other effective treatments include fillings, crowns, inlays, and bondings. These treatments are all designed to correct the flaws that are behind tooth sensitivity. In the less common cases where receding gums have exposed a sensitive tooth root, thereby causing unpleasant sensations, your dentist may recommend gum grafts.

If hypersensitivity is untreatable by other means, your dentist may recommend endodontic treatment, also known as a root canal. The procedure is effective at restoring your oral health so that you can eat and drink without sensitivity. Your dentist will work to ensure you’re comfortable during this and any other dental procedures. Your comfort and sense of calm is important to them.

Finding Treatment for Sensitivity

Don’t just live with the fear and discomfort that comes with oral sensitivity. Klement Family Dental specializes in treating a variety of oral conditions, including tooth sensitivity, and works to give you healthy teeth and gums. From recommending good hygiene practices to effective treatment procedures, we will work with you to treat your sensitivity. Our dedicated and experienced team of dentists, hygienists, and staff provide a caring and comfortable environment for all adults and children. We even offer sedation dentistry for those who are afraid of or uncomfortable with oral examinations and treatments. So next time you feel tooth discomfort when you eat, drink, or breathe through your mouth, contact our office to schedule an appointment. We’ll help you get to the root of the problem.