Sensitive teeth are a common cause for dental visits. Tooth sensitivity can make brushing, flossing, eating cold foods or drinking hot drinks, or eating sweets painful. There are many causes for sensitive teeth, but there are also relatively easy remedies. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, it is important to see your dentist soon so that the problem can be caught early and extensive work avoided.
Causes of sensitive teeth
Cavities can be a source of tooth sensitivity. Cavities may be present before any sensitivity is noticed, so regular x-rays and dental checkups can help you to catch and treat them (or other causes of sensitivity) early. Tooth sensitivity can be caused by brushing too hard or using a brush with bristles that are too hard, both of which can cause tooth enamel to wear down or gums to recede. Periodontal disease such as gingivitis can cause loss of supporting ligaments in the mouth that can lead to exposure of the tooth’s roots as well. Teeth whitening products, teeth grinding or clinching, and plaque build-up can also cause sensitive teeth. Over the counter mouthwashes, used long term, may cause tooth sensitivity since they may contain acids that can damage the underlying layer of teeth. Similarly, acidic foods can cause enamel erosion.
Preventing sensitive teeth
Regular dental checkups are the first line of defense in preventing sensitive teeth because they can identify problems that may lead to sensitive teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene is an important step in preventing this painful condition: thorough flossing and brushing can help ward off tooth sensitivity. Using a soft toothbrush and brushing gently around the gumline can also help to prevent sensitivity. Toothpastes that are designed to reduce sensitivity can help, too, as can using fluoridated dental products. Your dentist will be able to guide you in their usage and in proper brushing and flossing techniques. If you grind or clench your teeth, your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard that will help stop this damaging habit.
Avoiding highly acidic foods can help to curb sensitivity. Seeing your dentist regularly for cleaning and fluoride treatments can be very effective in preventing sensitive teeth and treating conditions that have led to – or may lead to – this painful condition.
Treatment for sensitive teeth
If you have tried these precautions and still have sensitivity, your dentist can offer additional guidance and treatment. If the problem is a cavity, then your dentist can remove the decay and administer a filling. Bonding, veneers, and sealants can be applied to exposed root surfaces, and your dentist may be able to apply a fluoride varnish to exposed roots to help eliminate sensitivity.