If you experience a brief, sharp burst of pain when you consume hot, cold, acidic or sticky food, you may have tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity happens when the layer of dentin which lies beneath the enamel and has microscopic tubules filled with nerve endings that are sensitive to pain—may be expose. Dentin becomes exposed when the tooth enamel—which is the strongest substance in your body, wears down. When tooth enamel is worn down, sensitivity develops so that even brief exposure to temperature sensitive food or even cold air can make your teeth hurt. So how does tooth enamel wear down? Tooth enamel wears down from:
- Brushing your teeth harshly or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
- Eating acidic foods will hurt exposed nerves.
- Grinding your teeth at night while you sleep, exposing the dentin.
- Tooth whitening chemicals in toothpaste can be harsh on tooth enamel.
- Rinsing with mouthwash that contains alcohol.
- Receding gums due to gum disease.
- Not cleaning plaque off your teeth daily.
- Root canals, tooth extractions, or crowns may cause temporary sensitivity.
- Dentin exposure from chipped or cracked teeth.
- Decayed or leaky fillings allowing bacterial acid to hide underneath.
Fortunately, you don’t have to just live with sensitive teeth. There are things you and your dentist can do to help. The following actions help relieve sensitive teeth:
- You can switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth gently.
- Limit intake of acidic foods such as citrus, pickles and tomato sauce, and soda.
- Have a custom-made night guard fitted for your bite to stop night-time tooth grinding.
- You can stop using mouthwash altogether, or switch to one that contains fluoride.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste or desensitizing toothpaste.
- If your gums are receding, see your dentist to treat gum disease.
- Be meticulous about your daily brushing and flossing routine.
- Keep all scheduled dental cleanings to remove tartar.
- Let your dentist know if tooth sensitivity doesn’t go away.
- See your dentist to cap or extract chipped or cracked teeth.
- Replace leaky old fillings that are no longer tightly in place.
If you are having problems with tooth sensitivity, please call our dental team at Durham Dentistry today. Together we can restore your healthy smile! 919-489-9171