If you spend your time avoiding foods that are hot, cold, or sugary sweet because of tooth pain you’re not alone. Many people experience this same sensitivity. It is important to understand the root cause of your oral sensitivity in order to minimize, and possibly, stop the pain. You and your dentist can take a look at your diet, dental health care routine, and family history to determine where your sensitivity comes from.
The interior of your tooth is largely made up of dentin, a dense, bony material. Enamel serves as the hard, protective outer layer of the visible tooth. Beneath the gum line, cementum shields the tooth root. When the enamel and cementum begin to erode, the dentin is no longer protected from temperature changes, sugary foods, and acidic foods. Receding gums that expose the tooth root can also become sensitive because they no longer have protection.
There are many possible causes of tooth sensitivity and weakened enamel. It may surprise you that there are many causes aside from poor dental health. Some people are born with weak, and at times no, enamel on their teeth. This can leave them victim to a lifetime of sensitivity and discomfort. Overly vigorous brushing, teeth grinding, acid reflux, and a diet high in acidic foods can all contribute to enamel wear. Of course, inconsistent or poor oral hygiene will only increase your chances of enamel and centum erosion.
Beyond brushing twice a day and flossing once, you can easily manage mild sensitivity at home. Be sure not to brush too hard during your oral hygiene routine and avoid brushing your teeth right after eating or drinking something, as some foods can soften your enamel. Reduce your intake of sugary and acidic food and drink to protect enamel. You can also invest in a desensitizing toothpaste which can, after a few applications, help eliminate sensitivity. Also, if your current toothpaste is intended for whitening, it may increase your sensitivity so be mindful.
It’s best to bring up any sensitivity or pain with your dentist at your checkup, but when should you make a special appointment? If you experience pain or sensitivity that is spontaneous, extreme, or lasts more than a few days it may be best to set up an evaluation with your dentist. Your sensitivity may have a serious underlying cause such as a broken tooth or cavity; both of which can be easily remedied if taken care of immediately. If you and your dentist determine that your tooth sensitivity requires medical intervention, procedures such as dental bonding, fluoride application, or root canal may help manage the discomfort.
While mild discomfort can be eased at home with some of the methods described earlier, continuous sensitivity should always be discussed with your dentist. You don’t want to mask a potentially serious problem with desensitizing toothpaste. If you are experiencing continuous sensitivity to hot or cold, sticky foods, or acidic foods, please consult with our dental team to get to the root of your sensitivity.