FamilyLifestyle |3 min read

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Woman holding her cheek because of a toothache

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that affects up to 40 million U.S. adults, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. 

If you, like so many others, have experienced a sudden, sharp pain after eating or drinking something cold, hot, sweet, or acidic, tooth sensitivity could be the cause.

Sensitive teeth, or dentin hypersensitivity, is common and affects your daily life, but it can easily be treated.

Also, the problem affects patients of all ages, so a sound family dental hygiene routine is necessary.

Read on as we will explain tooth sensitivity, its causes, and how to prevent and treat it.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

Your teeth comprise three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. Here’s what you need to know about each layer:

  • Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth, made of calcium phosphate minerals, the hardest substance in your body.
  • Dentin is the middle layer of your teeth, containing minerals and tiny tubes that lead to the pulp.
  • The pulp is the innermost and softest layer of your teeth, and it contains living tissue like blood and nerves that go down below your gums along with the dentin.

When your enamel is worn away, the dentin layer is exposed. This can leave the cells and nerves inside the pulp vulnerable, which can cause tooth sensitivity.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

The root cause of tooth sensitivity is enamel loss.

But what causes enamel loss and tooth sensitivity?

  • consuming acidic and/or sugary foods and beverages
  • using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • brushing aggressively
  • gum disease
  • teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • cracked teeth
  • recent dental procedures
  • frequent use of whitening products

Tips to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity

Preventing tooth sensitivity involves maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding factors contributing to enamel loss. Here are some tips to prevent tooth sensitivity:

  1. If your eating habits include food and beverages high in acidic content, drink plenty of water to balance the acid levels in your mouth.
  2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush for sensitive teeth or an electric toothbrush. Remember to gently brush your teeth to limit gum irritation, recession, and tooth sensitivity.
  3. Try using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and consult your dentist to find out what brands are best for you.
  4. If you know you grind or clench your teeth, talk with your dental professionals about using a night guard to prevent enamel loss.

Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity

If you are already experiencing tooth sensitivity, several treatments are available to alleviate the pain.

These treatments include:

  • fluoride varnishes
  • desensitizing toothpaste
  • dental bonding
  • root canal therapy

Your dentist can help determine the best treatment option for you.

Don’t Live With the Pain … Schedule a Visit Today.

Ignoring tooth sensitivity can lead to more severe dental problems down the line.

In addition to a balanced diet and good oral hygiene, having twice-yearly dental exams and cleanings are the best ways to maintain oral health.

Final thought

Tooth sensitivity can be a common dental problem affecting your daily life, but it can be prevented and treated.

By maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding things contributing to enamel loss, and seeking treatment when necessary, you can reduce your risk of tooth sensitivity and keep your teeth healthy and pain-free.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, let our team at Charles Ashley Mann, DDS & Associates, get to the bottom of what’s causing it and create a treatment plan that works for you.

To learn more about how we can help, contact us today!

We have three locations: Cary, Garner, and Fuquay-Varina. We also serve Morrisville, Apex, Durham, Holly Springs, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Holly Springs, Wendell, Raleigh, Angier, and Buies Creek.

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