What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
If you pass on hot or cold drinks because you know it will cause discomfort, you may suffer from tooth sensitivity. There are things that you do every day that you may not know leads to this uncomfortable condition.
The most common thing people do is brush their teeth too hard and it causes their enamel, the hard, protective layer on your teeth, to wear away. The enamel on your teeth is actually the hardest mineral in our body. This type of damage is known as enamel abrasion. If anything rubs against your teeth for too long, the enamel will begin to slowly wear away.
The other type of enamel damage is called erosion. This occurs when the teeth are exposed to the acids is some foods and beverages. Some of the foods you eat, including sodas, sticky candy, and high sugar carbohydrates, can literally eat away at your enamel. The bad thing about your enamel wearing away is that it will not grow back.
Teeth grinding and clenching is also a cause of enamel erosion that leads to sensitive teeth. The constant friction that is put on your teeth will wear them down and chip away at the surface of the teeth. This condition is called bruxism and can cause a lot of damage to your teeth, gums and jaw.
If you have your teeth professionally whitened, teeth sensitivity is actually a common side effect. This is not a cause for alarm and will most likely go away with time following a professional teeth whitening treatment.
Gum disease and receding gums can lead to tooth sensitivity. The roots of the teeth can become exposed due to receding gums. The tooth roots do not have a protective layer of enamel to protect it like the crown of the teeth. Exposing these tooth roots can cause discomfort and sensitivity to hot or cold food/beverages.
Tooth Sensitivity Treatment
For patients who come to our Plano TX dentist office with sensitive teeth, we recommend Fluoridex®. This product can be used in place of regular toothpaste for daily treatment and cleaning. Fluoridex helps protect against painful sensitivity to cold, heat, sweets, acids and contact.
Additionally, for more severe sensitivity, topical solutions like I-bond can be bonded to the root surface to cover the root’s nerve ending, which is called the dentinal tubule.
For patients with gum recession, root exposure and sensitivity, we often recommend treatment with MI paste + aligners for nightly application to desensitize and harden the root to make it more thermally protected and decay-resistant. For extreme cases, Dr. Sowell can do a gum graft (a connective tissue graft) over the root eliminating the cause of the sensitivity. This will also protect the teeth from decay and further damage.