Tooth sensitivity is a common condition that every patient experiences at some point in their life. It can be triggered by a variety of situations including exposure to hot and cold food or drink, eating sugary or acidic substances, or simply breathing air. Even some dental procedures can lead to a period of sensitivity in the teeth. The symptoms of sensitivity include sharp, sudden pains and a general feeling of discomfort that can last several minutes or more. The good news is the symptoms of tooth sensitivity often subside after a while, and your dentist can help treat them so they won't become a long term problem. Let's take a closer look at the causes and treatments for tooth sensitivity.
As we just mentioned, it's not uncommon for everyone to experience sensations associated with tooth sensitivity. Sharp pains are the easiest symptom to identify, and it's not hard to discern what is happening when you experience them. At the same time, tooth sensitivity can appear in less severe situations where a feeling of faint but general discomfort can bother patients. Whether the pain is faint or severe, there are several causes that may be creating the sensation.
There are several conditions that can lead to tooth sensitivity, and they are all well worth paying attention to should you feel any discomfort in your daily life. Here are some of the most-common causes that lead to tooth sensitivity:
Plaque build-up contributes to many risks and symptoms including tooth sensitivity, but the good news is routine cleanings can help prevent this common cause. A thorough cleaning can reduce hard to reach plaque build up and keep plaque buildup to a healthy minimum.
GINGIVITIS / RECEDING GUMS
Gum disease is a serious condition that should be addressed immediately should any symptoms arise. Tooth sensitivity is one of the primary symptoms that develops first during early gum disease, and it can be an indicator that more severe issues are on the way. Red, bleeding gums may also accompany the feeling of sensitivity. Regardless, if your teeth are feeling extra sensitive lately, it's best to schedule a check up with your dentist as soon as possible.
Gingivitis can also lead to the recession of gums, and this condition too can create the feeling of sensitivity. Old age and other factors can also cause the gums to recede, but one thing is for sure, as gums recede and vulnerable tissue is exposed, sensitivity is sure to follow.
CRACKED / DAMAGED TEETH
Damaged teeth are a common cause of sensitivity, and it's not hard to imagine why. A cracked or damaged tooth often breaches the enamel and exposes the root of the tooth. Anytime an irritant like sugar or acid meets this weak point, dental pain is sure to follow. Tooth enamel can also wear down if not properly cared for, and this too can create sensitivity in the mouth.
CLENCHING AND GRINDING TEETH
Another common cause of sensitivity comes in the form of damage triggered by people or grind or clench their teeth. Damage to the teeth can be especially sustained during the night as people sleep. This can lead to weak points in tooth enamel which makes the teeth more prone to sensitivity.
While whitening treatments can significantly improve the appearance of stained teeth, the bleaching agents used to whiten teeth can cause sensitivity in their own right. The longer the bleaching agent remains on your teeth, the more likely it is that sensitivity will occur. Proper administration of whitening treatments by your dentist and careful consultation of your options can help reduce this common sensitivity cause.
As we mentioned earlier, even routine or substantial dental work can create the feeling of sensitivity in patients, but not to fear, the feeling usually goes away days or weeks after the procedure. Make sure to ask your dentist about potential after-effects before your next procedure if they aren't detailed upfront.
A visit to your dentist is the best way to address sensitivity issues, and they can determine which causes listed above are creating the biggest impact for you. There are also a few things you can do around the home to lessen the symptoms of sensitivity.
Generally the most important thing you can do to help tooth sensitivity is alter your diet. Avoiding excessively hot or cold foods as well as those high in acid or sugar will ensure you won't experience exaggerated symptoms related to tooth sensitivity. Reducing or stopping whitening treatments for a period of time can also lessen sensitivity issues. Those who clench or grind their teeth will want to investigate wearing a mouthguard as they sleep. A change to brushing habits, particularly paying attention to how hard you brush and reducing pressure can help as well.
Your dentist can perform a variety of procedures to help with sensitivity as well. This can be as simple as a filling to repair a cavity or cracked tooth, or your dentist can resort to more substantial treatments if the damage is severe. A root canal can be used to clean up damage below the gum line, and in worse case scenarios, the tooth can be removed and replaced with a dental implant or dental bridge. Since treatment varies on a case to case basis, we recommend scheduling a checkup with your dentist as soon as possible.
As we've seen, sensitivity is something that every patient can expect to experience sometime in their life, but there is plenty of measures to help reduce or even stop this painful feeling. If you still have questions about tooth sensitivity, we're happy to answer them all during your next checkup at Grave & Leedy Family Dentistry. Schedule your visit today!