Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that involves discomfort or pain in teeth when encountering certain substances and temperatures. When you have sensitive teeth, certain activities such as brushing, eating and drinking can cause sharp, temporary pain in your teeth. Sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots.

Most common symptom of tooth sensitivity:

· Sudden, sharp flash of pain when teeth are exposed to air, cold, sweet, acidic or hot foods

Causes of tooth sensitivity may include:

  • Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. This can wear down enamel, causing dentin to become exposed or encourage gum recession.
  • Gum recession, which often happens in people suffering from periodontal disease.
  • Gingivitis. Inflamed and sore gum tissue can result in the exposure of the tooth’s root.
  • Plaque buildup
  • Cracked teeth, which can become filled with bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the pulp of the tooth. In more severe cases, it may lead to an abscess and infection.
  • Teeth grinding or clenching. This can wear down enamel.
  • Acidic foods, which can encourage the reduction of enamel.
  • Dental procedures. Teeth may be sensitive after a professional cleaning, crown replacement and other tooth restoration procedures.
  • Long-term use of mouthwash. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids that can contribute to sensitive teeth.
  • Teeth whitening treatments. These treatments contain harsh chemicals that remove stains, but they can also remove the enamel leading to sensitive teeth.

Sensitive teeth treatment

Fortunately, sensitive teeth can be treated, and the condition can improve. The following are some at-home procedures:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. There are several brands of toothpaste for sensitive teeth available. Your dentist may recommend one or you may have to try different brands until you find the product that works for you. Be sure to use fluoridated toothpaste for sensitive teeth, not tartar-control toothpaste.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use gentle strokes when brushing
  • Avoid highly acidic foods
  • Use a fluoridated mouthwash daily
  • Consider getting a mouthguard if you grind your teeth

The following are some in-office procedures:

  • Fluoride gel or varnish. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain when applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth.
  • Bonding, crowns or inlays. These may fix a tooth flaw or decay that is causing sensitivity.
  • 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.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, start by visiting your dentist. Your dentist can help you identify the underlying causes of your sensitive teeth and develop an affordable treatment plan.

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