What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

The Brux Doc The Brux Doc
6 minute read

If you're like me, you probably get a bit of a shock when it happens. You're eating a snack or drinking a soda, and suddenly—Ow! You've run into something that's too cold, or too hot, or too hard on your teeth. The pain usually goes away after a few seconds, but if it doesn't, then you know you've got a problem.

Tooth sensitivity is pretty common, and it can be caused by a few different things. We'll take a look at those causes and how to treat them one by one.

Acid in foods can cause sensitivity.

The most common cause of chronic tooth sensitivity is acid erosion. Acid erosion occurs when acidic substances wears away the enamel on your teeth. This can happen if you consume acidic foods or drinks frequently, including fruit juices, wine, sodas, and sports drinks. It can also occur if you use tobacco products.

If you have worn away your enamel significantly, you will need to replace the lost surface to protect the dentin that lies underneath. This can be done with filling materials or crowns. Whatever you do, you will want to identify the reason for the acid erosion so that you can avoid further damage.

Cavities are the most commonly dreaded offender.

Cavities are one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. If you have a cavity it means bacteria are getting into the dentin (the layer under the enamel). The bacteria release chemicals that irritate your nerves. This causes pain that can get worse when you eat hot or cold food or bite down on the affected tooth. Because of the complexity of nerves within the mouth and jaw, the pain may feel like it’s coming from a different tooth than the one with the cavity. This is, in fact, fairly common.

Make sure to visit a dentist in a timely manner. Get you cavity filled before it progresses and you need a root canal. You also want to act quickly to avoid an infection in your gum since bacteria in the gums can travel to and affect the heart.

Speaking of gums, gum recession is another cause of sensitivity.

Gum recession happens when the margin of gum around your teeth (or a tooth) wears away or pulls back. This can expose the sensitive roots of your teeth, which is why people with receding gums experience pain and discomfort when eating or drinking. Gum recession can also leave room for bacteria to build up in the gap between gum and teeth, causing increased chance of infection. Many things cause gum recession, including brushing too hard, teeth grinding, and genetics. Gum recession can also go unnoticed for a long time because it happens gradually. There are surgical and non-surgical treatments and interventions, including deep cleanings and grafts. Make sure, again, to identify the cause so that you can treat both the effect and the root of the issue.

Did you know you can brush too hard?

Brushing too hard, or with a toothbrush that is too stiff can cause damage to both your enamel and your gums. It may seem like the opposite of what you would think, but you actually want to brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush using gentle and rounded motions. You can also use an electric toothbrush with a built-in pressure sensor. This is really helpful for those who have developed a habit of brushing too hard.

For extra protection against sensitivity, you should use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. And make sure not to brush for at least half an hour after eating or drinking, longer, if possible, after ingesting something acidic – like tea, coffee, or wine. The brushing motion will actually press the acid into your enamel and wear it down more quickly.

Teeth grinding causes many of the issues that lead to sensitivity.

Did you know worn enamel, gum recession, and sensitivity can all come from grinding your teeth? Grinding your teeth at night does an enormous amount of damage over time. The constant pressure and friction wears away the surface of your teeth and inflames your gums through irritation, making them more sensitive and more susceptible to gum disease and gum recession. Worst of all, you might be grinding your teeth while you sleep for years and simply never know.

While you may think that you have identified the root cause of your tooth sensitivity when you find out that you grind your teeth, you actually have another layer of mystery to uncover: why do you grind your teeth? Most of the time teeth grinding arises due to stress. However, it can also appear when your bite is off – such as when you have an over-or under-bite or when certain molars do not line up in the right way.

You can fix these issues by getting proper orthodontic work, and you can bring more stress relieving routines into your day, especially your pre-bed routine. However, it is important to start protecting your teeth even while you address the root issue.

Invest in a night guard to prevent sensitivity and damage.

A night guard – a plastic cover that goes over your top or bottom teeth (or, in rare cases, both) – will keep your teeth from hitting each other directly while you sleep. We highly recommend getting a custom night guard because a good fit is key to both your comfort and the effectiveness of the guard.

If getting a custom night guard through your dentist is too expensive (it can be quite pricey), you’ll find the same quality, materials, and fit by ordering through TeethNightGuard.com. With our easy kit, you’ll make a mold of your teeth, send it back to us, and we’ll make your guard at our U.S.-based White Smiles Dental lab. We offer a range of materials, densities, and profiles that have kept our customers satisfied and safe for over fifteen years.

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