If eating or drinking things that are very hot or very cold cause discomfort or pain, you may have sensitive teeth. Dentin hypersensitivity, also known as sensitive teeth, affects many people and can have various causes. The good news is that there are treatments and cures for nearly all the causes of sensitive teeth. Here is our list of the top five reasons you may have sensitive teeth, as well as ways to fix the problem.
- Worn tooth enamel
One of the most common reasons for sensitive teeth is that the enamel on your teeth is getting worn down. Enamel is the hard outer covering of your tooth and protects the nerves inside your teeth. Without it, your teeth will be more sensitive, as well as more prone to cavities. Enamel gets worn down quickly if you brush your teeth too hard, so make sure you are using a gentle back-and-forth motion for two minutes each time you brush. When it comes to brushing your teeth, harder is not better. In addition, make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Cavities form when plaque builds up on your teeth and wears away enamel, and as we already mentioned, without enamel your teeth will be much more sensitive. In addition to sensitivity, without the protection of enamel, bacteria slowly travel deeper into your tooth. Eventually, as the decay continues, plaque will enter the inner tooth, called the pulp. This is where the nerves and blood vessels live, and this is when a cavity becomes extremely swollen and painful. If you have a cavity, the dentist will likely recommend getting a filling, which is a quick and easy procedure that involves the dentist drilling out the decay in the tooth and filling in the hole.
- Cracked or chipped tooth
Having a cracked or chipped tooth exposes the nerves on the inside of the tooth, causing increased sensitivity. Often due to bad habits such as nail biting, teeth grinding, or frequent ice chewing, cracked teeth are fairly common and can be difficult to self-diagnose. Fortunately, your dentist will be able to identify a cracked or chipped tooth quickly and easily and can recommend further treatment, such as tooth bonding, a crown, or, in rare cases, a root canal.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and occurs when plaque—a sticky film of bacteria that form around the teeth—begins to build up and causes the gums to become red or swollen. This inflammation around the gums can cause tooth sensitivity as the dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. Fortunately, with diligent brushing and flossing and a good cleaning from your dentist, gingivitis can be reversed. Once plaque has hardened into tartar, no amount of brushing or flossing will remove it. However, dentists have special instruments they use to scrape away the tartar. By visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup, you can treat gingivitis before it becomes more serious.
- Loose filling
Occasionally, a filling from a previous cavity can become loose or worn down. If this happens, the filling is no longer protecting the inner, more sensitive part of the tooth where the decay was removed. This will likely cause tooth sensitivity and discomfort. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity in the tooth that has a filling, have your dentist examine the filling to determine if you need a new one.
Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day is the best way to protect your teeth from sensitivity and keep them healthy and strong. It is also essential to visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning. Your dentist will be able to identify any potential issues such as cavities, loose fillings, or gingivitis. If you’re looking for a local, friendly dentist, we would love to serve you at Cornerstone Family Dentistry, so make an appointment with us today!