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What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

November 24, 2019

At Oceanfront Dental, we aren’t just concerned with your smile, we also care about the health of your teeth. We’re all sensitive about our teeth, but unfortunately, many people suffer from the pain of tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are a common dental problem, affecting millions of Canadians.

The pain shooting into the tooth’s nerve endings is often sharp and sudden. Sensitive teeth can, fortunately, be treated, the condition can improve and there are no at-risk groups associated with the condition.

The sharp pain of sensitive teeth can happen to anyone, frequently when teeth are exposed to air, cold, sweet, acidic or hot foods, or even when brushing or flossing their teeth.

Normally enamel protects a layer of dentin. Gums protect tooth roots. When the enamel gets worn down or the gums recede, the dentin or roots become exposed. Also, cavities, cracked teeth, gum recession and erosion, all-cause dentinal exposure resulting in sensitive teeth. Dentin contains microscopic channels that can conduct heat, cold and acidic substances to reach the nerves and cause pain.

Enamel wear resulting from brushing hard or using a hard-bristled brush, gum recession, gingivitis, cracked teeth, grinding or clenching, plaque, mouthwash, acidic foods, or even some dental procedures can all cause tooth sensitivity. Tooth whitening chemicals can remove stains, but also remove tooth enamel and contribute the sensitive teeth as well.

Sensitive teeth will continue as long as the causes are still present. Although there is no one treatment option that works for everyone, there are several treatments available and dentists vary on which they choose to use. The best way to address tooth sensitivity is to diagnose the reason behind the sensitivity. This will make the treatment more successful.

There are treatments that can be done in your home. Among them: the use of softer bristled toothbrushes, avoiding tooth grinding, the use of fluoridated mouthwash, avoiding acidic foods, and the use of desensitizing toothpaste.

There are some dental procedures that may reduce tooth sensitivity:

  • Bonding
  • Fluoride gel or varnish
  • A surgical gum graft
  • A root canal
  • Dental sealants

It has been determined that fluoride alone is not prevention for the erosion that leads to teeth sensitivity, nor fluoride combined with other protective agents. However, findings do indicate that protective products containing titanium tetrafluoride, polyvalent metal ions and some polymers may offer more protection.

Some of these protective polymers can be found in some toothpaste. Studies conducted have produced positive results with silver diamine applications, which shows that its use can result in harder tooth surfaces, which helps prevent further decay and protects exposed dentin.

So, if you avoid eating cold, sweet, acidic or hot foods or beverages due to sensitive teeth, it may be time to go see your dentist about this condition, even if there is no apparently obvious cause for your pain.

Who knows, if you make an appointment with your dentist for a professional diagnosis, you may be able to enjoy these foods you love.

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