Have you ever winced after taking a drink of something that was particularly cold? Maybe you get a little shock when ice cream hits your teeth a certain way? Maybe even cold air makes your front teeth zing? If so, you’re definitely not alone.
Tooth sensitivity is a very common dental issue. A large fraction of adults reportedly experience it to some degree or another. One reason it’s so common is that there are a wide range of causes.
You’ll start feeling sensitivity usually because the protective layer on your teeth gets worn down, exposing the nerve endings in your dentin to various irritating sensations. There are a few usual suspects that affect the surface of your teeth.
Brushing too hard
You’ve heard this one before, haven’t you? Using a hard bristled brush aggressively can feel like an effective way to really clean your teeth. But doing so day in and day out can really wear down your tooth enamel. You’ll probably feel the effects on your gums, as well. And guess what, hurting your gums can expose your teeth to more sensitivity, too. If this is your issue, then hold the toothbrush in a looser grip and scrub slightly less hard. Just remember that we usually brush too hard and too quickly. Spend a solid couple minutes brushing more gently.
Acidic food and beverages
Acidic foods find themselves at the root of many dental issues and complaints. They can also cause some major pain when your teeth are sensitive. It’s a good reminder to stay away from them, but hopefully it won’t come to that point in the first place. If you are feeling tooth sensitivity, cut out the obvious perpetrators such as soda and citrus juice.
As you probably know, the bacteria in plaque will create acid that wears down your tooth enamel, and can lead to all sorts of other bad things. Which is why you take care of your teeth and see us regularly!
The good news is that most of the causes of tooth sensitivity can be dealt with by maintaining general dental health and avoiding foods that cause problems. There are also some causes of tooth pain and sensitivity other than just worn down enamel.
Cracked or chipped tooth
While tooth damage will definitely cause pain and sensitivity, it’s different from the usual wearing down of enamel. The pain can be much worse and will radiate from the damaged area. If it’s a chip or crack the pain will probably be more localized to that tooth compared to others. We can evaluate and discuss treatment of the issue.
Your teeth may temporarily feel sensitivity after dental treatments. Whatever the procedure, whether it’s a root canal or a filling, your nerves may be active and sending pain your way for a bit. This normal sensitivity is temporary, but make sure to let your dentist know if problems persist following a procedure.
Even though it’s a common issue, make sure to talk to your dentist about the symptoms. While you can certainly take steps to ease the pain, you may not realize if something that seems like routine teeth sensitivity is related to issues such as a cavity, plaque buildup, receding gums or something else. If it’s bothering you, let us know. After all, that’s why we’re here!