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What is Causing Your Sensitive Teeth?

Posted on 5/15/2024 by Bryan Neu
concerned patient discussing her tooth pain with her dentist while sitting in a dental chairImagine biting into a crisp apple, and a jolt of pain shoots through your teeth. Or sipping your morning coffee, and the heat triggers a sharp, uncomfortable sensation. If these scenarios sound familiar, you're likely one of the millions of people experiencing sensitive teeth. But what exactly is causing this discomfort, and more importantly, how can you find relief?

The Culprit Behind Sensitivity: Exposed Dentin

To understand sensitive teeth, we need to take a peek inside the tooth. Beneath the hard, white enamel lies a softer layer called dentin. Dentin contains tiny tubules that connect directly to the nerve center of the tooth. When the enamel wears down or recedes, these tubules become exposed, creating a pathway for external stimuli like hot, cold, or sweet foods to reach the nerve, triggering the familiar sharp pain.

Common Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Several factors can contribute to sensitive teeth:

•  Worn Enamel: Over time, brushing too hard, using abrasive toothpaste, or acidic foods and drinks can wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin.
•  Gum Recession: As gums recede, the root surface of the tooth becomes exposed, which contains even more dentin tubules than the crown.
•  Cracked or Chipped Teeth: Damage to the tooth's surface can expose the dentin beneath.
•  Dental Procedures: Certain procedures like fillings, crowns, or teeth whitening can temporarily increase sensitivity.
•  Underlying Dental Issues: Untreated cavities, gum disease, or even a loose filling can contribute to sensitivity.

Prevention & Treatment: Taking Control of Sensitive Teeth

The good news is that sensitive teeth are often manageable. Here's how you can prevent and treat the issue:

•  Practice Gentle Oral Hygiene: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing technique. Avoid abrasive toothpastes and opt for fluoride-rich ones designed for sensitive teeth.
•  Use Desensitizing Toothpaste: These toothpastes contain ingredients that block the dentin tubules, reducing sensitivity.
•  Maintain Regular Dental Checkups: Regular cleanings and exams allow your dentist to identify and address any underlying issues that may be causing sensitivity.
•  Consider In-Office Treatments: For more severe cases, your dentist may recommend in-office treatments like fluoride varnish or bonding to seal exposed dentin.
•  Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks: Limit your intake of citrus fruits, sodas, and other acidic beverages, as they can erode enamel.

Taking Charge of Your Oral Health

Sensitive teeth can be a nuisance, but with proper care and attention, you can find relief and enjoy a pain-free smile again. Remember, prevention is key. By practicing good oral hygiene, scheduling regular dental visits, and addressing any underlying issues, you can take control of your oral health and prevent future sensitivity.

This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for personalized recommendations and treatment options.
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