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Dental Arts of South Jersey
1001 Laurel Oak Road, C1, Voorhees, NJ 08043

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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are painful and inconvenient, but they’re also easily treatable and easily preventable. Usually, changing a few lifestyle habits can make a big difference in the level of your tooth pain. Sensitive teeth are very common now, and many dental hygiene products have been developed to alleviate the discomfort they cause.

If eating acidic foods or brushing and flossing causes sharp pains in your teeth, you may have sensitive teeth. Sometimes, just breathing in cold air will cause pain. However, when you understand the causes of your tooth pain – and it’s not the same for everyone – you can take steps to alleviate the cause and start to enjoy your life again. You can resume eating your favorite foods and enjoying your outdoor activities rather than living a life of deprivation.

The primary cause of tooth sensitivity is eroded tooth enamel that allows foreign substances to reach the sensitive nerve. The condition can result from aggressive brushing habits, using the wrong type of toothbrush, chipped or cracked teeth, or gums that have receded and exposed the tooth root and nerves. You need to know the cause of your tooth sensitivity if you’re to determine the best treatment protocol for it.

If your tooth dentin and nerves are exposed, then desensitizing toothpaste can help. It protects the nerve endings so that acids, sugar, and cold air don’t reach them. Desensitizing toothpaste isn’t the same as toothpaste for sensitive teeth, however, and it may require a prescription, so ask your dentist about it.

Fluoride treatments may help strengthen your tooth enamel, and the fluoride can be applied to specific spots on your teeth. It can also be applied to all the surfaces of your teeth, or it can be applied as a sealant to protect your teeth from acids. When used as a sealant, it also prevents food particles from lodging between your teeth and causing plaque and decay.

If these procedures are ineffective, then your dentist may opt for a root canal and dental crown to restore the tooth’s functionality. If your tooth sensitivity is due to receding gums because of gingivitis, your dentist may decide to do a gum graft, which will cover the exposed root and nerves. They’ll also treat the inflammation that’s causing the gum disease. If you have gum disease, don’t delay seeking treatment because it can escalate to periodontal disease and cause you to lose all your teeth.

Sensitive Teeth Can Happen to Anyone

Although sensitive teeth can indicate the presence of an underlying health issue, the more common causes are:

  1. Aggressive brushing with a firm bristled toothbrush can damage your tooth enamel. Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle pressure for better results.
  2. Acidic foods can increase the pain from sensitive teeth, so avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and icy drinks to reduce your tooth pain.
  3. Alcohol in mouthwash can cause tooth pain, so switch to a mouthwash that’s formulated for sensitive teeth. If possible, get a mouthwash that contains fluoride, which can help reverse some of the damage to your tooth enamel. Don’t stop using mouthwash, however, because it should be an integral part of your oral hygiene regimen.
  4. If your receding gums are due to gum disease, make a dental appointment without delay. When treated early, gingivitis can be completely cured. If you wait, however, it can escalate to periodontal disease. Gum disease is a serious health threat that can adversely affect your entire body, so seek prompt treatment for it and your receding teeth.
  5. Bruxism can cause severe damage to your teeth. When you grind your teeth, you erode the enamel and can cause cracks and chips that allow bacteria to enter. Get a custom nightguard from your dentist to guard your teeth at night. Don’t get one from the corner pharmacy because it won’t fit well, it may fall out, and it will be uncomfortable.
  6. Failed fillings can be indicated by the decay around their base. If you notice decay around a filling, you need to have the filling replaced. It’s a simple procedure that can usually be done in one office visit.
  7. Tooth-whitening products can cause pain if you have sensitive teeth, so look for tooth-whitening products that are formulated for sensitive teeth.
  8. Recent dental procedures can temporarily increase your tooth sensitivity, but it shouldn’t persist for more than a few days. If it does, contact your dentist because you may have developed an infection.
  9. A cracked or chipped tooth can increase tooth sensitivity and pain because bacteria can enter the tooth and cause decay and infection. If you have cracked or chipped teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a filling or dental cap so you can regain the functionality of your tooth.

Although sensitive teeth are painful and annoying and cause you to enjoy your life less, the condition isn’t necessarily permanent. Your dentist is the best source of information on treatment protocols and which is best for your unique needs. Make an appointment without delay so you can resume living the lifestyle you enjoy.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done About Sensitive Teeth?

A regimen of good oral hygiene that’s used with dedication is the best way to have healthy teeth. In the meantime, however, consider the following:

  • Make regular dental visits part of your good oral hygiene routine. Annual visits are good. Twice-yearly visits are better. Your dentist has years of training and expertise that will enable them to catch minor issues before they become larger problems.
  • Use toothpaste and mouthwash for sensitive teeth and opt for those that contain fluoride.
  • Be dedicated to your oral hygiene routine and don’t skip, no matter how tired you are or how short on time.
  • Wear a custom mouth guard from your dentist if you have bruxism.
  • Avoid acidic and icy foods and beverages and anything else that causes pain from your sensitive teeth. If you consume acidic foods or beverages, thoroughly rinse your mouth with plain water.
  • Have your dentist check to ensure that there are no underlying causes for your sensitive teeth.

Sensitive teeth are inconvenient, but they can be fixed. They’re not necessarily a lifetime condition. Talk to your dentist about suggestions and remedies.

What Should I Ask My Dentist About Sensitive Teeth?

Although nothing will replace the advice from your dentist, the following may help:

  1. Ask about fluoride: Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel whether it’s applied in spots or over the entire surface of the teeth, and it will help deter future occurrences of sensitivity.
  2. Try desensitizing toothpaste: This will protect the nerve endings so that foreign substances don’t contact them. It may require a prescription, so discuss this with your dentist.
  3. Gum graft: If your tooth sensitivity is caused by receding gums due to gum disease, ask about a gum graft. This will cover the exposed roots and nerves and restore functionality to the tooth.

You don’t have to suffer from sensitive teeth or live a life abstaining from your favorite foods and outdoor activities. Practice good oral hygiene without skipping, get regular dental checkups, and be proactive in treating dental issues before or when they arise. These habits should ensure that your teeth last throughout your lifetime, and you won’t need false teeth or implants.

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