Sensitive teeth can be beyond uncomfortable, often sending sudden shooting pain through your tooth with something as simple as a sip of water. It can interfere with your daily oral health regime because you might find it too painful to brush or even floss. You might even find you’re living in fear, worried when you’ll trigger that awful pain.
There are some easy solutions available to help combat tooth sensitivity. Whether it’s using a sensitive toothpaste or speaking to your dentist, you can do something about your teeth sensitivity.
What is tooth sensitivity?
Whether you suffer from one or two sensitive teeth or a whole mouthful, sensitivity is caused when your tooth's inner area is exposed. The “dentin” is a more porous area of your tooth with tiny “tubules” that are a direct route to your nerve.
When exposed, you can easily trigger pain, especially when you introduce something hot or cold to the area. Some people can even experience pain by smiling in the wind!
The good news is, most cases of tooth sensitivity are brief and happen only when something triggers the pain. Tooth sensitivity is also easily reduced or even corrected, so you don’t have to live with the fear of sudden pain.
Why are my teeth so sensitive?
As mentioned, tooth sensitivity is triggered by everyday actions that stimulate the nerves in the teeth. However, certain factors can increase your risk of tooth sensitivity, including:
Many people attack their teeth with aggressive brushing thinking it is the best way to remove plaque. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good, wearing down tooth enamel and increasing the risk of exposing that sensitive dentin.
Choosing a hard-bristle toothbrush has the same effect as aggressive brushing, making it more likely you can expose the sensitive area of your teeth.
Bruxism (tooth grinding)
If you’re a teeth grinder, this can also damage your enamel, leading to dentin exposure.
Some dental cleanings or treatments
Sometimes you might suffer from temporary tooth sensitivity following dental cleanings or treatments. This is more common with whitening treatments but can occur for other treatments as well. Luckily, this usually only lasts for a short period.
- Home tooth whitening
As mentioned above, teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity. However, it can be even worse if you use at-home tooth whitening kits.
If you have inflamed gum tissue, it will slowly pull away from your teeth or shrink leaving the painful area of your tooth exposed.
These are the most common reasons for tooth sensitivity and can be avoided with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care.
Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity
Your first course of action is to speak to our team. We can discuss your oral hygiene habits and offer advice on how to reduce tooth sensitivity pain. However, in some cases where the sensitivity is severe, we can also provide treatments to provide relief, including:
Desensitizing or bonding
In cases where the root surfaces are exposed, we can apply a bonding resin to cover up the area. This is a simple procedure that can often be completed in about 20 minutes, depending on how many teeth require the bonding resin. It allows us to target the areas causing the most pain.
Surgical gum graft
If sensitivity is caused by lost gum tissue, gum grafts allow us to “rebuild” the areas where the roots are exposed. We use tissue from your mouth and place it in areas where gums have receded to offer protection for the roots.
In extreme cases where other options either don’t work or the pain is too severe to live with, a root canal can be performed. In this case, we remove the dental pulp that causes the pain to eliminate tooth sensitivity.
We might also find you are grinding your teeth and can recommend a night guard to help protect your teeth when you sleep.
It’s always best to speak to us as soon as possible so we can tackle the problem before it becomes more serious.
How to Avoid Tooth Sensitivity
Your best defence against tooth sensitivity is to be proactive and adopt a proper oral health regime. We can show you how to brush properly to help make the following steps more effective:
- Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Use a gentle brushing technique
- Use a sensitivity toothpaste
- Apply sensitive toothpaste to sensitive areas after brushing at night, and don’t rinse
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks
- Avoid hot and cold extremes in food and drink
- Consider using an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor to warn you when you are brushing too hard
Never stop brushing or flossing because you are worried about sensitivity. Be gentle, and continue to follow your oral health regime until you can come to see us. Our hygienists can watch your brushing technique and offer advice on how to improve your method.
This will help you avoid tooth sensitivity issues. We can also provide a prescription for a stronger sensitivity toothpaste to reduce discomfort if over the counter formulas aren’t working.
Brushing and Flossing
As with any dental issue, brushing twice daily and flossing is the best way to avoid dental pain. We also invite you to contact us with all your dental questions, as we can provide valuable advice, while also looking for signs that something is wrong.
Preventive care is our number one priority with our patients, with regular checkups, cleanings, and X-rays to help us spot trouble before things get worse. Tooth sensitivity is something no one should ever have to live with, and there are easy answers to help rid you of your pain today.
To learn more about what you can do about your tooth sensitivity, call Guelph Family Dentistry at 888-588-1691 or contact us here.