Tooth sensitivity is a fairly common problem for those between the ages of 20-40. Approximately 40 million people in the United States alone need treatment for sensitive teeth. Elderly people and teenagers may also suffer from this condition. Women also tend to be affected by tooth sensitivity more often than men. When you notice the pain associated with sensitive teeth taking hold, it may prevent you from eating your favorite foods.
Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth
The most common symptoms of sensitive teeth are pain when you eat something acidic, sour or very hot or cold. This pain can range from a slight twinge to a fairly severe electric-feeling sensation that radiates through the mouth. You might notice a slight sensation when you eat these foods or you can experience a sudden burst of pain while eating these substances. In most cases, it's the sugar content in the substance you are eating that will cause this pain to occur.
The pain from sensitive teeth can also occur if you bite into something hard or bite on something the wrong way. You might also notice that you get a painful sensation when you inhale cold air. This pain can last anywhere from a couple minutes to a few hours, which can lead to discomfort throughout the day. Occasional pain is more common, but a constant painful sensation may be a sign that there is something seriously wrong with your teeth.
Some people notice irritation or pain in their teeth if the other teeth or their tongue touches a particular area. This can also occur while you floss or brush your teeth. Drinking hot water can also irritate the nerves that are exposed due to tooth decay. In some cases people suffering from tooth decay might notice spots on the teeth.
Causes and Risk Factors of Sensitive Teeth
Using certain mouthwash long-term can damage the teeth. If these products contain a lot of sensitive materials they can wear down your teeth, exposing the dentin. Over time, these acids may wear down the dentin as well. Ask your dentist for safe, neutral mouthwashes that will not cause this type of damage.
2. Vigorous Brushing
If you brush your teeth too hard or you use a toothbrush that has very hard bristles, you can damage the enamel on your teeth. This will expose the dentin and lead to gum recession that can make your teeth more sensitive.
3. Gum Problems
Gum diseases like gingivitis can make the gum tissue sore or inflamed, causing sensitivity to the nearby ligaments. This may cause the roots of your teeth or the nerves within the teeth to become exposed. Diseases like periodontal disease that cause the gums to recede can also cause the roots of the teeth to be exposed.
4. Teeth Grinding
Clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth wears down your enamel. This exposes your dentin, increasing sensitivity. Teeth that are damaged or cracked can become filled with the bacteria from your plaque, entering the pulp of your teeth. This can cause inflammation and pain.
5. Dental Procedures
If you have recently undergone a crown replacement, teeth cleaning, tooth restoration and root planning, your teeth may feel sensitive. This pain is usually temporary.
6. Other Factors That May Lead To Sensitive Teeth
- You are more likely to develop tooth sensitivity when you are between the ages of 25-30.
- Tooth whitening products commonly cause the teeth to become more sensitive after long-term use.
- Excessive amounts of plaque in the mouth can cause the surfaces of your teeth to become more sensitive.
- Foods that are very acidic like pickles, tea, citrus fruits or tomatoes may erode your enamel.
Home Remedies for Sensitive Teeth
- Good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth and flossing properly, making sure you keep your whole mouth clean can help you avoid toot sensitivity.
- Right toothbrush. Hard toothbrushes can cause more abrasion on the teeth and irritate your gums. Be careful to brush your teeth gently, particularly around the gum lines so you don't cause damage.
- Desensitizing toothpaste. There are plenty of brands on the market that are designed to help people manage their sensitive teeth. Trying out different brands can help you find something that will work best for your needs. Using a Q-tip to spread a layer of these pastes on the teeth before bed can also help you treat sensitive teeth. Use fluoridated toothpaste rather than those that are designed for tartar control to avoid additional sensitivity.
- Fluoride. Dental products that contain fluoride can help you avoid sensitivity. Ask your dentist for a fluoride mouth rinse or other products that are ideal for home use.
- Foods. If you are already prone to tooth sensitivity, avoid eating food that have a high acid content. These can erode your enamel and make your problem worse.
- Plaque buildup. Make sure you practice proper hygiene and schedule regular visits to your dentist to get fluoride treatments and a tooth cleaning to help you avoid sensitivity.
- Dental procedures. If you find that you grind your teeth, get a mouth guard made to protect your teeth. Also ensure that you get damage to your teeth addressed as quickly as possible to avoid causing damage that can make your teeth sensitive.
Preventions of Sensitive Teeth
Taking measures to protect your teeth can help you prevent your teeth from becoming more sensitive over time.
- Keep oral hygiene. Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to protecting your teeth from damage that can make them sensitive. Hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and move it in a circular motion up and down the teeth to remove an adequate amount of plaque. Hold the brush with your fingertips rather than in your palm to get more movement out of the bristles and to avoid accidentally pushing too hard.
- Use a straw. You also want to avoid consuming foods that are very cold or acidic like sodas or citrus juice that can damage your enamel. Using a straw to drink these beverages can help you avoid causing more damage by limiting the amount of the acid that come in contact with the teeth. Avoid holding beverages in your mouth as well since this will increase your teeth's exposure to these substances.
- Get treatment. If you start to develop sensitive teeth, do not put off getting treatment. Consult your doctor to determine the underlying cause of your issues and follow the advised precautionary measures to help ensure that you will not cause more damage.