For more than 40% of American adults, tooth sensitivity can make simple activities, like eating and drinking, painful and uncomfortable. For these people, a hot cup of coffee, a cold glass of water, or a crunchy carrot can all cause significant discomfort in the mouth. The good news is that if you’re one of these affected, you don’t have to live in pain. There are several effective ways to alleviate tooth sensitivity and enjoy a celebrity smile, but first you must understand what causes it. Let’s examine the most common causes of sensitive teeth:
Poor Dental Hygiene
Letting your oral hygiene slide a little may not seem like a big deal, but it can have serious consequences. Failing to brush and floss regularly can cause unnecessary plaque buildup and gingivitis (inflamed gums), both of which are culprits in causing teeth sensitivity.
Many people believe that vigorously scrubbing their teeth is a good way to prevent these conditions, but brushing too hard also impacts sensitivity as it irritates the delicate gum area. When your teeth’s surface isn’t clean or it’s abrasively brushed, it opens the door for increased sensitivity.
Eating Acidic Foods
Acidic foods and beverages, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, fruit juice, sweets, and wine are all responsible for causing tooth sensitivity. These highly-acidic foods break down the teeth’s natural enamel. Tooth enamel is a hard protective coating on the outside of the teeth. While enamel is stronger than bone, it’s still susceptible to wear and tear.
The acidity found in certain foods, even healthy ones like oranges, can wear away this coating and lead to increased tooth sensitivity. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy acidic foods – just make sure to rinse well with a glass of water after consuming them.
Grinding Your Teeth
Most people who grind their teeth don’t even realize that they’re doing it. Teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism, usually occurs during sleep. While grinding is not typically painful itself, if leads to the erosion of your teeth’s protective enamel. Chronic teeth grinders will often suffer from pain and discomfort when eating hot or cold foods or sweets.
The gums act as a protective barrier between the sensitive root of the tooth and the outside world. When your gums are recessed, or worn back, your teeth’s nerves lack that protection which can cause tooth sensitivity. Gum recession can be caused by aggressive brushing over time, or it can be the result of periodontal disease.
Common dental procedures can cause temporary discomfort in the mouth as well as increased tooth sensitivity. If you have just had a root canal, fillings, or even whitening procedures done, it’s not unusual to feel some temporary sensitivity. This should go away after a day or two as the mouth heals, but you should contact your dentist if you notice prolonged sensitivity.
There are many reasons why a person can have sensitive teeth. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to help alleviate this condition and keep you smiling. Speak to your dentist to learn about your treatment options and to find a solution that’s right for you and your smile. Get in touch with your dentist to get started on the road to a bright, pain-free smile.