Tooth Sensitivity: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Many people have experienced tooth sensitivity at one time or another. In fact, a publication in The Journal of the American Dental Association found dentin hypersensitivity to occur in 12.3 percent of survey participants, with the prevalence being the highest among participants between the ages of 18 and 44.

If you’ve ever felt tooth pain after eating or drinking something hot or cold, you could have tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can have a wide range of causes, and treatment options are based on the underlying cause of the condition. Learn more about tooth sensitivity, how it’s treated, and what you can do to prevent it.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity generally occurs when the underlying tooth layer, known as the dentin, becomes exposed. The roots of your teeth contain thousands of small tubules that lead to the center of the tooth, called the pulp. When these tubules allow stimuli, such as hot or cold, to reach the tooth’s nerve, it can result in pain and sensitivity.

Some of the most common causes of tooth and mouth sensitivity include:

  • Aggressive brushing habits
  • Gum disease
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Gum recession
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Natural aging process
  • Teeth whitening products
  • Use of certain mouthwashes
  • Plaque buildup
  • Recent dental procedures
  • Acidic foods and beverages

What are the Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity?

Treatment for tooth sensitivity will depend on what is causing the discomfort. A visit to your Melbourne FL dentist can help you rule out any serious conditions and determine the best treatment for your particular situation.

If your sensitivity is mild, your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpastes contain compounds designed to block the transmission of sensation from the surface of the tooth to its nerve. You will need to use the toothpaste regularly for up to one month before you begin to feel the effects.

Another treatment option for tooth sensitivity involves the application of a fluoride gel. This simple in-office treatment occurs when a fluoride varnish is painted onto the teeth using a small brush. Alternatively, fluoride gel or foam may be placed in a tray and fit over the teeth for one to two minutes.

If your dentist discovers exposed root surfaces, dental bonding can help seal these areas to prevent nerve irritation. Dental bonding is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as to conceal cracks or chips, camouflage tooth discoloration, close spaces and gaps, or change the shape of your teeth.

How Can I Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

The best way to avoid tooth discomfort is to prevent tooth sensitivity from developing in the first place. Some ways to prevent tooth and oral sensitivity include the following:

  • Don’t brush too hard. Aggressive brushing habits can cause tooth sensitivity by causing the gums to shift away from the teeth and exposing the nerves to stimuli. If you haven’t already, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush twice a day to keep your teeth clean and strong.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Maintain a good oral health regimen that includes proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing techniques. Tooth decay can eat away at the enamel, increasing your odds of sensitivity.
  • Avoid teeth grinding and clenching. If you grind or clench your teeth while you sleep, consider wearing a mouthguard at night. Ask your dentist about having a customized mouthguard made for optimal comfort.
  • Use fluoridated dental products. The daily use of fluoridated oral health products can help reduce your risk of developing sensitive teeth.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Frequent consumption of sugary or highly acidic foods can gradually wear away tooth enamel, resulting in dentin exposure.

Contact Your Melbourne Florida Dentist Today

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing tooth sensitivity is to see your dentist every six to 12 months for a routine dental teeth cleaning and exam. Contact Artistic Touch Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.