Sensitive teeth can impact your daily life in a number of small ways that can add up to a big annoyance. They can make eating sweet, cold, or acidic foods like ice cream, cold drinks, and sweets, a real pain in the mouth. According to a recent survey of dental offices in the United States, one in eight adult patients experience overly sensitive teeth. While treatment options for sensitive teeth include protective barriers, gum grafting, and special toothpastes, learning more about the underlying causes will inform the most effective treatment for you.
1. Receding Gums
One of the most common causes of sensitive teeth is receded gums, which expose the sensitive surface of the tooth roots. In most cases, the gums recede as a result of gum disease, an infection and inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding a tooth. Even very mild gum disease (also known as gingivitis) can cause the gums to pull away from the tooth, resulting in sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures.
2. Rough Brushing
Brushing is one of those activities where too much elbow grease can cause serious problems. Using a stiff bristled toothbrush, applying too much pressure while brushing, or brushing for too long can wear down the protective enamel layer of the tooth, exposing the sensitive dentin layer beneath. When it comes to brushing, protect your teeth by following the ADA’s recommendations:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Brush gently and thoroughly for 2 minutes
3. Injured Tooth
Tooth injuries include a wide range of issues, such as chips and breaks, cracks, cavities, and worn enamel. In all of these instances, the nerve-filled pulp at the center of the tooth becomes exposed and can cause sensitivity and pain when it comes into contact with hot, cold, sweet, and/or acidic substances. If you’re experiencing severe sensitivity to tooth pain, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with your family dentist immediately.