Ouch! You take a sip of hot coffee or a bite of ice cream, and ZAP! A wincing flash of pain shoots into your jaw. Or, maybe you experience those flashing pains when brushing or flossing. This sensation is tooth sensitivity and has a number of causes – and treatment options.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes we just generally have more sensitivity than others. More often, though, there is an underlying cause to the sensitivity. Healthy teeth have a full layer of enamel to protect the underlying softer tissues, and healthy gums protect the root. When these are compromised, the underlying nerves can be exposed, causing pain.
- Broken or cracked teeth – This may seem obvious, as a broken tooth can allow the nerve to be exposed, but also a cracked tooth can allow bacteria to enter and cause inflammation in the tooth pulp, which will cause pain and sensitivity.
- Gingivitis – Inflammation of the gums can cause pressure on the root of the tooth, or in more severe cases allow the root to be exposed, causing sensitivity.
- Plaque buildup – A buildup of plaque on tooth surfaces can cause a change to your bite, which can cause sensitivity. Plaque buildup along the gum line can cause irritation and inflammation, which can cause sensitivity.
- Aggressive Brushing or Flossing – Using a hard bristled brush or overly abrasive substance to brush can cause the gums to recede and the enamel surface to become worn.
Solutions to Sensitivity
While each case of sensitive teeth will have its own specific treatment plan, some ways sensitive teeth can be helped:
- Specialized toothpaste – While this is likely an “interim” solution while your underlying causes are treated, a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help eliminate or at least ease the pain.
- Proper brushing technique – You can’t rebuild enamel by brushing, but you can prevent further damage and lessen the irritation of the gums by using a soft bristled brush. Just brush for longer, as opposed to a quick, aggressive scrub.
- Regular Dental Checkups – Keeping up with regular dental checkups allow the dentist to evaluate any potential problems and treat issues like cracked teeth or damaged fillings that may cause pain. Regular cleanings will also remove plaque build-up and help reduce painful inflammation.
If you have sensitive teeth, its best to check with the dentist before simply picking up a tube of “sensitive” toothpaste. Call Murfreesboro Family Dentistry today for an appointment so we can evaluate your situation and help make that sensitivity a thing of the past.