Five Causes of Tooth Sensitivity and How to Solve Them

Living with tooth pain can be slightly annoying to excruciatingly difficult. The simple acts of eating and drinking can become nightmarish tasks that you have to grit and bear through instead of enjoy. Sometimes tooth pain can come from a single incident that caused structural damage to the tooth itself or it can be a result of a slow wearing away of the outer layer of the tooth or gums, both exposing sensitive nerves beneath. Below are the top five reasons for tooth sensitivity and how to effectively treat each.

  1. Vigorous brushing technique. We all know brushing two to three times a day is the best routine for taking care of your teeth, but brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with rough bristles can actually cause damage to your pearly whites during those cleaning sessions. Using a softer toothbrush and brushing more gently can help with the problem, as well as supplementing with a fluoride mouthwash to strengthen the enamel and guard against tooth decay.

Brushing your gums too vigorously can also cause gum recession, exposing roots and creating a whole host of problems. Gums that have already receded too far may need a gum graft to repair the damage. Gum grafts are out-patient procedures that use tissue from another part of the mouth to replace the lost gum section, and can take a few weeks of recovery time to fully heal.

  1. Acidic food and drink. Coffee, oranges, soda, tomato sauce—healthy or not, acidic foods wear down the enamel and can cause excruciating pain when they come in contact with exposed dental nerves. Cutting down on acidic foods in your diet can help keep the pain away, or mixing acidic foods into other dishes will help neutralize the pH balance of each bite. Sipping acidic drinks with a straw prevents direct contact with the teeth, but still allows you to enjoy your favorite drink. Using a sensitive toothpaste 30 minutes before or after a meal can also help reduce pain. Avoid brushing too soon after a meal as the acid weakens the enamel, and immediate brushing can cause further damage.
  2. Grinding teeth. Besides chemical reactions causing enamel wear, physically aggressive contact such as grinding can also lead to weakened enamel on the teeth. Some people grind their teeth when nervous or angry, and some don’t even realize they do it throughout the day or while they sleep at night. A fitted mouth guard will help nighttime teeth grinders, and anti-stress techniques may help those who struggle with day-time grinding.
  3. Some whitening agents can be unbearable to a sensitive teeth sufferer. While avoiding whitening toothpaste and other whitening product is the best way to avoid pain from this vehicle, you may still wish to have a whiter smile than you currently do. Try products that contain fluoride to ease the sensitivity from the whitening agent, or ask your dentist about a less intense bleach gel if your teeth are still too sensitive.
  4. Recent physical change. Whether you have a chipped or cracked tooth, decay around a filling, or undergone a recent dental procedure, tooth sensitivity and nerve exposure can be a daily struggle. Dental intervention may be necessary for physical damage to a tooth or filling. While you may have sensitivity for a few days after a dental procedure, pain lasting longer than the predicted amount of time means you may need to schedule another visit to correct the issue.

If your sensitive teeth are unbearable to live with, ask Dr. Roy Oyangen about specific remedies and recommendations to help with your individual situation. A sensitive teeth issue isn’t something you have to suffer through every day with the relief options available.

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