If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you’re not alone. Nearly 40 million Americans experience tooth sensitivity at some point or another.
Did you take a bite of ice cream and were suddenly wracked with tooth pain? If you’ve ever experienced tooth sensitivity, you’re well aware of the symptoms. Some people experience this occasionally and others frequently. Either way, you’re likely wondering what causes tooth sensitivity and what you can do to relieve it.
Nearly 40 million Americans experience tooth sensitivity. It’s primarily triggered by consuming cold, hot, acidic, or sweet foods and drinks, brushing or flossing sensitive teeth, and breathing cold air. Symptoms are typically sudden, sharp, and cause deep pain that goes away.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is a symptom of several possible issues. However, the root cause is generally enamel loss around a tooth’s dentin. Dentin is the material that composes most of the inside of a tooth. When this protective layer erodes, several issues can arise. Many factors contribute to enamel loss. Some of these include:
- Brushing too hard
- Teeth grinding
- Eating a high-sugar and acidic diet
- Using acidic mouthwash
- Frequent use of whitening products
- Gum disease
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Receding gums
What Should You Do About It?
Regardless of the cause of your tooth sensitivity, the first step in treating it is to consult your dentist. They will help you determine what’s causing your sensitivity and develop a treatment plan that works for you. Depending on the circumstances, your dentist might recommend:
- Fluoride treatment – Your dentist might apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen your enamel and reduce the pain. They may also suggest using prescription fluoride at home via a custom tray.
- Desensitizing toothpaste – After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste can sometimes help block pain associated with sensitive teeth. There are many desensitizing kinds of toothpaste available over the counter. Talk to your dentist about which one might work best for you.
- Surgical gum graft – If the root of your tooth has lost gum tissue, a tiny amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and attached to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and help reduce sensitivity.
- Root canal – If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments don’t help, your dentist might recommend a root canal. While this might seem like a considerable treatment, it’s considered the most successful technique for stopping tooth sensitivity.
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are two ways to prevent teeth sensitivity from recurring. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Instead of harsh scrubbing, use gentle strokes when brushing, and avoid using abrasive toothpaste.
If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about possible options. You might also be careful when eating or drinking acidic food and beverages. When drinking these kinds of drinks, use a straw to limit contact with your teeth.
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