Have you ever had to say anything like, “I love ice cream, but I’m not willing to deal with the pain it brings my teeth” or “I’m not eating chocolate anymore because my teeth just can’t take it!”? This means you are suffering from tooth sensitivity, and It is a lot more common than you think.
It is easy to find 1 in every 3 people with sensitive teeth, especially between the ages of 20 and 40, so it comes as no surprise that there is a widespread interest in learning how to deal with this pleasure-hindering and irritating condition.
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What is Tooth Sensitivity?
It happens when the dentin (the underlying layer of your teeth) is exposed due to erosion (wear and tear) or gum recession (when your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, exposing the roots), meaning your teeth roots are no longer protected by hard enamel. Thousands of tiny tubules (small tubes) live in the roots and function as channels that ultimately lead to the nerve, which is now prone to be stimulated with stimuli like hot, cold, or sweet food, causing the pain you experience.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Sensitivity to temperature variations.
- Pain or discomfort from cold foods and drinks.
- Pain during brushing or flossing.
- Sensitivity to acidic and sweet foods and drinks.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
- Acidic Foods:
Regular consumption of foods that have high acidity, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, or pickles, leads to enamel erosion, which in return increases the chances of sensitivity.
- Aggressive Brushing:
Yes, tooth brushing. You’re not doing your teeth any good by brushing them too hard. On the contrary, all you’re doing is wearing down the tooth enamel and exposing the dentin.
- Damaged Teeth:
A chipped or broken tooth will quickly fill up with bacteria that’ll eventually make its way to the nerve and slowly yet fatally damage it, and in the process, the nerve can become mildly sensitive to hot and cold.
- Excessive Plaque:
Poor dental care enables an excessive buildup of plaque on the tooth surface, which causes the enamel to wear away, and when the tooth is no longer protected, it becomes more susceptible to sensitivity.
- Tooth-Whitening Toothpaste:
Overusing whiteners can generally cause gum irritation, and with the chemicals contained in these whiteners, there is a likely chance that some users could experience mild sensitivity.
- Undergoing a Dental Procedure:
It’s totally natural to experience some sensitivity after a root canal, an extraction, or the placement of a crown. It should wear off completely after a short time, and if not, then you’ll need to visit the dentist.
- Teeth Grinding:
I know that sometimes you might feel like you want to throw yourself off of a bridge after you’ve had a 3-hour meeting with your boss or a not-so-delightful argument with a thickhead, but please don’t take it out on your teeth!! Grinding causes the enamel to erode and expose your dentin, causing tooth sensitivity.
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What Are the Treatments?
- Desensitizing Toothpaste:
There are plenty of kinds of toothpaste and over-the-counter products specifically designed to reduce sensitivity. These products are free from irritating ingredients and contain agents that help block over-responsiveness to a specific sensation, consequently medicating the pain.
Dentists prescribe a course of fluoride treatment when the condition is caused by
enamel erosion. The fluoride works to re-harden the enamel and minimize sensitivity.
- Root Canal:
In case the condition is severe and other treatments have proven futile, a root canal is the most effective treatment. This procedure treats the problems in the tooth’s soft core, and it’s considered the most successful approach to eliminate tooth sensitivity.
- Gum Graft Surgery:
If your tooth root has lost gum tissue, a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and attached to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
- Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush:
Brush more gently and use a softer toothbrush. This will reduce the damage inflicted on the tooth surface by the toothbrush and will result in less gum irritation.
- Be Careful What You Eat:
This doesn’t mean that you need to cut off any kind of food from your diet, but you should refrain from consuming too many acidic foods or beverages.