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The Problem with Sensitive Teeth

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Do you often feel a sharp pain in your teeth as you take a gulp of ice water? Does a spoonful of piping hot soup cause you to wince? Teeth sensitivity occurs when nerve cells in your teeth are exposed. But sensitive teeth are not just an inconvenient issue—it’s a sign of a deeper problem that should not be ignored. We want you to know what causes teeth sensitivity and what you need to do before the problem gets worse.

Common Causes

Enamel is the protective layer that covers the crown of your tooth—the part above your gum. When the enamel is worn, dentin is exposed and the nerves in your tooth are no longer shielded. Enamel is worn down by aggressive brushing, consumption of acidic and sugary foods, grinding, and bleaching your teeth. Worn enamel is the most common cause of teeth sensitivity, but other causes include tooth decay or gum problems. In some cases, the gum line naturally recedes causing the root to be exposed. Sometimes, a receding gum line indicates gum disease. If tartar and plaque build-up along the gum line, it may pull away from the tooth, revealing an unprotected, sensitive root. A cracked tooth or a worn filling may also lead to excessive sensitivity to cold food or drink. If you think that one of these issues may be causing frequent teeth sensitivity, it’s important to make an appointment with your dentist.

Recommended Practices

In order to protect your teeth from worn enamel, you’ll want to be sure you are brushing your teeth gently. Brushing hard does not equal cleaner teeth. In fact, if brushing your teeth from side to side with a heavy hand may eliminate enamel along with the plaque. We recommend brushing lightly at a 45-degree angle to protect your gum line while effectively removing plaque. We also encourage you to substitute drinks and snacks that are high in acid and sugar with yogurt, milk, green tea, and fruits and veggies that are high in fiber. These are known to fight acid and bacteria that attack enamel. Learning how to manage your stress will help prevent excessive jaw clenching and teeth grinding that can cause major dental problems, including wearing down enamel. If you are currently bleaching your teeth but notice sensitivity, take a break from the whitening products. 

The Best Treatments

It’s possible to treat sensitive teeth by using a desensitizing toothpaste. This is by far the cheapest and easiest route to stronger tooth enamel and less pain, but you’ll need to address sensitivity early. If you ignore any signs of teeth sensitivity, the initial problem may have progressed requiring in-office treatment. A fluoride gel can be applied which works similarly to the desensitizing toothpaste by blocking the nerve from transmission of sensation. In the event of a cracked or decayed tooth, a crown or molding may be placed to correct the issue. A gum graft may be required if the root is exposed due to a receding gum line. In this procedure, the tissue is taken from somewhere else and placed over the bare root. Severe sensitivity cases may indicate the necessity of a root canal. While a root canal is not a highly anticipated procedure, it will eliminate any pain associated with teeth sensitivity.

If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, notice a receding gum line, a cracked tooth, or a worn down filling, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Anderson & Atkins today. Rather than silently suffering from teeth sensitivity, let us help you correct the problem before it gets worse.


Sources: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth



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