May 18, 2020
Have you ever experienced a sudden flash of pain in your mouth when drinking hot coffee, eating ice cream, or simply breathing in cold air? This is known as tooth sensitivity, which is a condition that impacts at least 20 million Americans according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Even if the discomfort fades quickly, sensitive teeth can negatively impact your quality of life and oral health. Your Rowley dentist explains what causes this uncomfortable sensation and what you can do to treat it.
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Your teeth are covered in a hard, protective shell of enamel. Underneath this tough outer layer is a substance called dentin. It’s much softer than enamel, and it is covered with thousands of microscopic tubes that lead to the tooth’s pulp and nerve. If the enamel is weakened or broken, the sensitive layer of dentin will react to hot, cold, acidic, or sweet tastes and trigger pain signals in the tooth’s nerve.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Did you know that your enamel is the hardest part of your body? Unfortunately, there are still a number of factors that can cause your teeth to feel sensitive, like:
- Worn-down enamel: Your enamel can be worn away by bad habits like over-aggressive brushing, teeth grinding, or chewing on hard objects.
- Gum recession: The roots of your teeth are protected by your gums instead of a layer of enamel. If your gums recede, they expose the sensitive roots.
- The wrong dental products: Using a hard-bristled toothbrush, too many whitening products, or an abrasive toothpaste can soften and scratch away your enamel.
How Can I Treat Sensitive Teeth?
The best way to ease sensitive teeth is to see your dentist. They will be able to identify what’s causing your symptoms and suggest the most effective solution. After determining the status of your oral health, they may recommend:
- Specialized dental products: Items like desensitizing toothpastes, fluoridated mouthwashes, and custom night guards can help rebuild and protect your enamel.
- Lifestyle changes: If your tooth sensitivity is the result of a bad habit, your dentist will work with you to break it. You may need to brush less forcefully, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, stop chewing on your fingernails or pen caps, or consume fewer acidic foods and drinks.
- Professional dental treatments: Damaged or worn-down teeth may need to be repaired by your dentist. Options like fluoride treatments, direct bonding, dental crowns, gum disease treatment, and more can strengthen and repair your sensitive teeth.
Don’t let your tooth sensitivity keep you from enjoying your life fully! Your Rowley dentist can help you determine the cause and most effective treatment so you can get back to enjoying your happy, healthy, and strong smile!
About the Author
Dr. J. Peter St. Clair has been helping the smiles of Rowley, MA look and feel their best since 1996. As an active member in Spear Education and the American Dental Association, he is proud to offer a wide variety of advanced services to help his patient overcome nearly any oral health issue that stands in their way. He is passionate about helping his patients understand their dental health and provide personalized dental care to keep it in great shape. If you have sensitive teeth, feel free to contact him via his website or at (978) 948-2030.
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