Do You Have Sensitive Teeth?

The 7 Culprits of Tooth Sensitivity

It’s a sensitive subject for roughly 1 out of every 8 Americans. And there are probably many others who are aware of it, but just haven’t let their voices be heard yet.

What’s the touchy topic? Sensitive teeth. It’s an issue that affects many of us, particularly adults between the ages of 20 to 40. But tooth sensitivity can hit you at any age.

Do you suffer from tooth sensitivity?If you feel dental pain or discomfort from drinking something cold or hot, or when you floss or brush your teeth, you may suffer from having sensitive teeth, which may be temporary or it could be an on-going problem. It can also affect just one tooth, a few, or many teeth.

So, why are your teeth so sensitive? There are a number of culprits to blame. Some of these are related to your diet, your oral hygiene, or to another dental issue you may have.

The 7 Culprits of Tooth Sensitivity

  1. You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard – We always appreciate enthusiasm for oral hygiene. But sometimes brushing too vigorously, or using a hard bristled toothbrush can cause more harm than good. This can eventually wear down the protective layers of your teeth and expose microscopic canals that lead to your dental nerves. When your nerves are exposed to extreme temperatures or acidic or sticky foods, tooth sensitivity and discomfort can result. Consider a softer, gentler approach to your hygiene. Brushing with less force, and switching to a toothbrush with softer bristlers could work wonders for your tooth sensitivity.
  2. You Eat a Lot of Acidic Foods – If the pathways to the nerves of your teeth are exposed, consuming acidic foods can cause you pain or discomfort. If your daily diet is rich in acidic foods, like tomato sauce, kiwi, pickles and citrus, you may want to steer clear of some of these to lessen your tooth sensitivity.
  3. You Grind Your Teeth – Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body but the chronic grinding or clenching of your teeth will eventually wear it down.  When your enamel wears down, this exposes the dentin, or the middle layer of your tooth, which contains the hollow tubes that lead to your nerves. This will contribute too tooth sensitivity. Do you grind your teeth? You may not be aware that you. Many people grind their teeth when they sleep. Whether you suspect that you grind your teeth or you’re not sure, Dr. Gilbert will be able to check for any signs of teeth grinding during your dental exam. If there are signs, you’ll benefit from one of our custom designed night guards to protect your teeth while you sleep.
  4. You Have Receding Gums – Gum recession occurs when your gum line lowers or pulls back from your teeth. This exposes the root surfaces of your teeth and contributes to your tooth sensitivity. Receding gums are usually due to poor oral hygiene and gum disease, but physical wear of the gums due to overzealous brushing can also contribute. It’s more common with age, especially if you haven’t kept up with your routine teeth cleanings and exams! Fortunately, we have many options that can help, including using desensitizing varnishes to treat the nerve symptoms, or tooth colored composite fillings to help cover the surface tooth’s root.
  5. Your Fillings are Leaking  –  As you get older, some of your existing fillings can weaken and break. They may also begin to ‘leak’ around the gaps between the filling and the tooth, allowing bacteria from the food you eat or drink to sneak through these tiny crevices and cause problems. If you’ve experienced on-going tooth sensitivity recently, a leaky filling could be the culprit. Fortunately, this is usually an easy treatment by replacing your old filling with a new, composite (tooth colored) one.
  6. Your Teeth Have Too Much Plaque – Don’t want sensitive teeth? Keep your tooth’s enamel hard. Plaque, the sticky film that forms on your teeth, is one of the biggest culprits to tooth sensitivity because its bacteria producing acids erode the enamel of your teeth. As your teeth lose the protection of their enamel, they become more sensitive. Every time you eat, plaque forms on your teeth. Eating foods rich in sugars, starches, and acids (note above) generates more plaque. What to do? Try to floss and brush after you eat. Your routine teeth cleanings every six months are also essential because they remove the hardened plaque from your teeth that regular brushing and flossing can’t remove.
  7. You Overdue the Mouthwash – Some over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol and other chemicals that may make your teeth more sensitive, especially if your tooth enamel is thin, or you have receding gums. If your teeth are sensitive and you use mouthwash daily, you may want to try neutral fluoride rinses, or simply skip the rinse and be more diligent about flossing and brushing.

Tooth sensitivity is treatable. Your daily oral hygiene can help reduce sensitivity immensely, but if your sensitivity is extreme and persists, no matter what steps you take, please call us at (425) 957-4700 to schedule an evaluation or request an appointment online. We’ll help you determine the most likely cause of your tooth sensitivity and the best solution for your particular situation.

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