If you avoid hot or cold drinks because your teeth will hurt, it may be time to talk to your dentist about the possibility that you may have sensitive teeth. The pain is often sudden and sharp, but temporary. Teeth sensitivity is a common dental problem suffered by millions of adults when the dentin or roots of a tooth become exposed.
What causes sensitive teeth?
- Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
- Gum recession. Usually from periodontal disease, and it exposes the dentin.
- Inflamed and sore gum tissue can result in exposure of the tooth’s root.
- Cracked teeth. These can become filled with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the pulp of the tooth.
- Teeth grinding or clenching. This can wear down enamel.
- Tooth-whitening products. The harsh chemicals used to remove stains can also remove enamel.
- Plaque buildup.
- Long-term use of mouthwash. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids.
- Acidic foods can attack enamel.
- New Dental Work. Usually the pain will disappear in four to six weeks.
How do I Treat It?
- Desensitizing toothpaste. There are several brands of fluoridated toothpaste for sensitive teeth available. Try spreading a thin layer of the desensitizing toothpaste on the exposed tooth roots before bed.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Avoid highly acidic foods.
- Use a fluoridated mouthwash daily.
- Avoid teeth grinding. Consider getting a mouth guard.
- Bonding, crowns or inlays. These may fix a tooth flaw or decay that is causing sensitivity.
- Fluoride gel or varnish.
- Surgical gum graft. This will protect the root and reduce sensitivity if the gum tissue has eroded from the root.
- Root canal. This is a last-resort treatment for severe tooth sensitivity that has not been helped by other methods.
- Dental sealants applied to the exposed root surface.
Finding the reason for the sensitivity will help you determine the right treatment for you. See your dentist to help you find discover the cause of your sensitive teeth.