If you’ve ever suffered from sensitive teeth, you know how painful a sip of coffee or a bite of ice cream can be to your mouth. This type of sensitivity can prevent a person from enjoying some of their favorite foods, and who wants that?!
If you feel your nerves causing pain while eating something hot or cold, then the layer beneath the surface known as dentin has most likely become exposed. This happens as a result of the enamel (hard outer covering above the tooth) above the gum line and cementum on the root becoming worn away. It exposes microscopic tubes in the dentin that lead straight into the nerve of the tooth. Once this has worn away, biting into foods that are hot, cold, sweet, or acidic, can cause wrenching pain.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth: Where to Point the Blame
Gum Recession – If you do not have your teeth cleaned regularly, then plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. This results in a bacteria buildup that then releases toxins which cause your gum line to become infected and therefore recede.
Grinding – When you grind your teeth, they tend to spread and crack over time, thus exposing the dentin at the gum line. If you are prone to grind, you may want to purchase a mouthguard and wear it while you sleep. If you grind during the day, learn to stop the behavior in its tracks and tooth sensitivity can be prevented. Chewing gum can also be a great gateway to help with daily grinding.
Harsh Brushing – Be careful how much pressure you apply when you brush, and also make sure that your toothbrush isn’t too stiff, because this can also help to expose the dentin at the gum line. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and regardless of how it looks after three months, get in the habit of replacing it.
Whitening – Many times whitening your teeth can cause them to become sensitive, at least at the time of whitening. Even worse, over whitening can cause them to be sensitive for days or even weeks on top of doing potential damage to your gums.
There are a few things that you can do to heal and prevent sensitive teeth:
- Choose a toothpaste for “sensitive” teeth. These types of toothpastes contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which help to fill the dentinal tubules and prevent painful stimulants, like ice water, from hitting the nerve. However, results will not be immediate. Be patient, as it can take two or three weeks for these pastes to begin working.
- If you have silver fillings, ask your dentist about using a new filler of a different type of material. Silver fillings are poor insulators, especially if they are deep. And lastly, if your sensitive tooth problem is persistent or unbearable, ask your dentist about forming a barrier for your teeth with one of a range of coatings, such as fluoride, which does a great job of reducing sensitivity.