Don’t all of us love our ice creams and piping hot cappuccinos? But have you been passing on these because they make your teeth hurt? Do you get an unpleasant sensation every time you sink your food or drink anything hot or cold?
Chances are that you are suffering from tooth sensitivity. Also known as dentin hypersensitivity, this condition causes sensitive teeth, especially in response to particular stimuli.
How does tooth sensitivity feel like?
Here are some signs to look out for to assess if you have sensitive teeth:
- Sharp and stabbing pain.
- Mild twinge of discomfort.
- Cold waves running through your teeth.
- Tickling sensation in teeth.
You may feel multiple or one tooth suddenly sensitive.
What makes your teeth sensitive?
Did you know that your teeth are actually porous and not as rock-hard or unbreakable as they seem to be? Under the protective coverings of your teeth, lies a layer of dentin that’s porous. Each pore of dentin has miniscule openings called channels that contain nerves originating from the pulp of the teeth. When the dentin loses its protective covering and gets exposed, it leads to sensitive teeth.
Here are some of the most common sensitive teeth causes:
- Gum diseases: Gum diseases such as gingivitis are amongst the most predominant sensitive teeth causes. If not treated in time, these usually lead to an inflammation in the gums and even affect the bones and roots that support your teeth and lead to sensitive gums.
- Your toothbrush: One of the most common but overlooked sensitive teeth causes is your toothbrush. If your brush is made with hard bristles or you use it with excessive force, you can wear down the protective layers leading to sensitive teeth. This also exposes the delicate hollow channels leading to discomfort in the teeth and even sensitive gums.
- Foods: Do you enjoy eating sugary and acidic foods and drinks such as pickles, curries, tea, coffee, lemons, kiwi, and the likes? The sticky nature of these foods stick to your enamel and erode it during brushing leading to sudden tooth sensitivity.
- Frequent dental procedures: Getting dental works such as teeth whitening, crown placement, root canals, or other tooth restoration works leave you with sensitive teeth.
- Whitening toothpaste: Who doesn’t love shiny and white teeth. However, when you use over-the-counter whitening toothpaste for long, the chemicals in them tend to wear down your enamel leaving you with sensitive gums and teeth.
- You are addicted to mouthwashes: Don’t we all love the minty freshness that we get after using a mouthwash. However, using these too frequently can give you painful sensations in teeth.
- Teeth grinding: Another sensitive teeth cause is constant grinding of teeth. This action may happen involuntarily or triggered by stress and leads to your enamel getting eroded exposing the inner layers resulting in sensitive teeth. This is often the cause of sudden tooth sensitivity.
- You don’t floss: In the absence of regular flossing, plaque starts building up between your teeth. This plaque leads to the buildup of acids that causes the enamel to weaken and breakdown leading often leading to one tooth suddenly sensitive.
- You suffer from acidity: People who suffer from conditions such as bulimia, frequent acidity, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) usually have stomach acids washing into their mouth. If not checked in time, this may leave your tooth sensitive to cold and hot food and drinks.
- You have vitamin deficiency: Lack of vitamins B12 and D leads to cavity development and gum diseases that ultimately results in sensitive teeth. Get a vitamin test done regularly to arrest this problem.
How do you deal with sensitive teeth?
Here are 10 effective and practical ways to help you deal with the problem of sensitive teeth:
- For preventing the recurrence of sensitive teeth and the accompanying pain, avoid eating too many sweet foods, especially the ones that are sticky. Even if you happen to do so, immediately brush your teeth afterward to avoid the uncomfortable sensation in teeth.
- Avoid acidic foods such as colas, pickles, and hot curries.
- Using desensitizing toothpaste that’s specially formulated for sensitive teeth helps. They block the painful sensations from reaching the nerves.
- Foods and drinks at extreme temperature may lead to sharp and shooting pain and excessively sensitive teeth.
- Use toothbrushes with soft bristles and brush gently.
- If you are in the habit of grinding your teeth at night, use a customised mouth guard. Worn during sleeping, this prevents pressure and grinding.
- Make a salt and water mouthwash at home using salt and water. This helps in balancing the pH balance of your mouth that reduces the plaque and hence prevents sensitive teeth.
- Add hydrogen peroxide to water and rinse your mouth with it. Its antiseptic action helps in preventing inflammation and occurrence of tooth sensitive to cold.
- To prevent tooth sensitive to cold, floss your teeth regularly to avoid plaque and tartar.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride for sensitive teeth. The fluoride blocks the channels in your dentin and helps in the minimisation of pain.
When to see a doctor?
Usually, the condition of sensitive teeth affects more than one teeth. However, if you are suffering from a sensitive front tooth or single tooth sensitivity, it may be due to a more advanced problem, and need to search for a dentist near me. You can also consult doctor online to assess if you have decay, abscess, loose teeth, or broken or old fillings that may be causing issues with a single tooth such as a sensitive front tooth.
Depending on the diagnosis, you may be suggested with any of these tooth sensitivity treatments:
- One of the most effective tooth sensitivity treatments is a fluoride gel technique. This strengthens the enamel and reduces sensitivity.
- A crown, inlay, or teeth bonding are other tooth sensitivity treatments that treat the underlying causes of sensitive teeth such as cracks and abscesses.
- A surgical gum graft is another tooth sensitivity treatment that treats the lost gum tissues. It protects the roots and reduces sensitivity.
- Another effective tooth sensitivity treatment when everything else fails is a root canal. It eliminates sensitivity from the root.