Tooth sensitivity is more common than most people believe. In fact, about 1 in 8 adults may suffer from sensitive teeth. This is according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Tooth sensitivity can have many triggers. These triggers can include cold or hot drinks, sour or sweet foods, or cool air. When these uncomfortable twinges in the mouth occur, it’s important to determine the culprit. Here is a look at some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity and what treatment options are available.
Aggressive Brushing Habits
Some people don’t even realize how hard they’re brushing. Overzealous brushing habits can be hard on the teeth. This is especially true when you brush with too much force or with a hard-bristled toothbrush on a daily basis. When you aggressively brush your teeth, you wear down the protective enamel which exposes the underlying dentin layer. When exposed to stimulates like hot or cold, the dentin layer can create sensitivity. If you haven’t already, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and be cautious about how hard you brush.
Tooth Grinding or Clenching
Also known as bruxism, tooth grinding is a condition in which you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth. Many times, teeth grinding occurs when a person is sleeping and they might not even know they’re doing it. Other times, teeth grinding can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as abnormal jaw alignment or situational anxiety. Stress can also trigger episodes of tooth grinding or clenching. If you grind or clench your teeth, talk to your dentist about treatment options, such as wearing a mouthguard when you sleep.
Gingivitis or Gum Disease
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that occurs when the gums become inflamed. If gingivitis is allowed to progress, periodontal disease can occur. This more severe form of gum disease causes the inflamed gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, leaving the nerves exposed which causes sensitivity. Treatment for gum disease will depend on the severity of the infection but may include a deep cleaning, prescribed medications, antibiotics, or surgery if the previous treatment options are not able to resolve the condition.
Dental Cleanings or Treatments
If tooth sensitivity occurs suddenly after a trip to the dentist, the cleaning or treatment that you received is likely to blame. This does not mean that the cleaning or treatment was done improperly. It’s actually quite common to experience some sensitivity after a routine teeth cleaning or other dental procedure. Removing stuck on plaque and using dental tools in the mouth can cause some mild sensitivity that usually goes away within a couple days.
Teeth can become more sensitive with age. According to research published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, adults between the ages of 20 and 50 are most likely to experience dentin hypersensitivity compared to younger patients. In addition, older patients are also more likely to experience receding gums which can contribute to tooth sensitivity. If you believe that your age is a factor in your tooth sensitivity, find a dentist and talk about your concerns.
Tooth Decay or Broken Teeth/Fillings
There are a wide range of dental problems that can cause teeth sensitivity. If you have cavities in your mouth, it may be causing some discomfort. Your dentist can perform a simple dental x-ray to determine if you have existing decay. Broken or chipped teeth can also cause sensitivity when the dentin layer becomes exposed. In some cases, fillings can break or start to leak, causing discomfort.
Teeth Bleaching Products
Teeth bleaching products, especially over-the-counter whitening kits that may not be well-regulated, can cause sensitivity. Sensitivity is a common side effect of whitening procedures due to the use of bleaching solutions that remove minerals in the enamel, making the teeth temporarily porous. Sensitivity caused from tooth whitening will usually go away within several days after treatment.
Speak with Your Dentist, Largo FL
Maintaining good dental health and wellness can be challenging when your teeth hurt. If you are experiencing ongoing tooth sensitivity or are concerned about discomfort you may be feeling in your mouth, schedule an appointment with Bonham Dental Arts.