While sensitive teeth are usually caused by worn-down enamel, anyone with sensitive teeth should consult a dentist to ensure they aren’t a symptom of a more serious condition.
Let’s say you’re biting down into your morning cereal, and your teeth hurt with every crunch. Maybe it’s an acidic beverage, like lemonade, that gives you a toothache. Or maybe you’ve been avoiding ice water because extreme temperatures are just too uncomfortable to handle anymore.
Tooth sensitivity affects millions of Americans, usually between the ages of twenty and forty, although the condition can arise at any point. Usually, the cause of sensitive teeth is eroded enamel — a harmless condition that can be treated with home remedies. However, due to the fact that sensitive teeth may be the result of a more serious condition — like gum disease or a cracked tooth — you should consult your dentist if tooth sensitivity persists.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth?
Teeth are durable thanks to enamel — the hard layer of minerals that cover the softer material at the base of the teeth called dentine. When the surface of a tooth undergoes wear and tear, either due to overuse or overexposure to caustic substances like acid, enamel becomes unnaturally thin. Eroded enamel exposes the tooth’s dentine, which is filled with nerve endings. This can cause sensitivity and even pain.
If you have sensitive teeth, there is probably no need to be overly concerned. Eroded enamel can be easily fixed with proper caretaking, requiring minimal medical attention.
However, it’s possible that your sensitive teeth are caused by a more serious medical issue, such as receding gums. As the gums deteriorate, the roots of the teeth become exposed, rendering teeth hypersensitive. Receding gums can be caused by gum disease or by natural gum recession, both of which are conditions that must be diagnosed by a dentist and potentially treated with a surgical graft.
Cracks or cavities in the teeth may also be the root cause of persistent sensitivity. In the case of cracked teeth or cavities, however, damage — and thus sensitivity — usually occurs in one specific area rather than the whole mouth.
Due to the potential threat of gum disease or tooth damage, anyone experiencing tooth sensitivity should consult a dentist before assuming the sensation is a simple case of eroded enamel.
How Can I Prevent Sensitive Teeth?
Since most cases of tooth sensitivity are a result of eroded enamel, anyone with sensitive teeth should refrain from activities likely to wear down enamel.
Excessive tooth grinding is a common cause of enamel erosion, and can be treated with a mouthguard to prevent nighttime grinding. You should also ensure you aren’t brushing your teeth too forcefully, as overpressurized brushing can wear down enamel. Other causes of enamel erosion include excessive consumption of acidic or sugary snacks and excessive bleaching, so steer clear of these activities.
Besides avoiding activities that advance erosion, the process of enamel restoration can be aided with the use of enamel-strengthening toothpaste, the consumption of fiber-rich foods, and the use of a fluoride tray, which you can obtain from your dentist.
If you’re experiencing sensitive teeth, your first step should be to contact your dentist. On the slim chance that your sensitive teeth are a symptom of tooth damage or gum disease, it’s critical to catch these conditions before they inflict further damage.
For patients in the Denver area, consider making an appointment with Espire Dental. Espire is home to some of Colorado’s most qualified dentists, who provide patients with world-class care in a relaxing, patient-centered environment.
If your sensitive teeth are the result of a more serious condition, highly-experienced on-site oral surgeons are prepared to help. The doctors at Espire are well-versed in any tooth and gum procedures you may need to make your teeth clean, strong, and healthy again.