Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you are not alone. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients. At least 40 million adults in the United States are said to have suffered at one time or another from sensitive teeth. What causes this common condition, and what can be done to alleviate it?

Sensitive teeth occur when the underlying layer of your teeth — the dentin — becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue or wearing of the enamel. The roots contain thousands of tiny tubes which lead to the tooth’s nerve center. These tiny tube surfaces, when exposed, allow hot, cold, or sweet foods to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results in pain.
The factors which can contribute to tooth sensitivity are many and varied. Some of these are:

– Regular consumption of foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, tea, soda and juices, can cause enamel erosion and lead to sensitivity.

– Use and overuse of harsh over-the-counter tooth whitening products is one cause of sensitive teeth. There are some good products available, but speak to your North Burnaby Dentist about what is appropriate for you.

-Some toothpastes, especially whitening pastes contain abrasive ingredients that may be too harsh for people who have sensitive teeth.

Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin, especially at the gum line where the tooth flexes while grinding.

– Over time, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and cause the dentin to be exposed. It can also cause recession of the gums so always use a soft toothbrush.

– Acid reflux issues can increase the acidity of the oral environment, and promote enamel erosion leading to sensitivity, so speak to your physician if you have “heartburn” or issues with reflux.

Fortunately, there are many simple things that you can do to prevent tooth sensitivity from developing, or to alleviate it once you already have it. Avoid frequent consumption of highly acidic foods and drink, and rinse your mouth with water after you do ingest them. Make sure that you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush, as this will help to protect your enamel. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line so as to not damage the tissue there. There are many toothpastes which specifically address tooth sensitivity issues. Brushing with one of these twice a day should quite rapidly give you relief. Try spitting out the paste but not vigorously rinsing it out to allow the sensitivity paste to stay on the root surfaces. Also, if you have a specific tooth that is sensitive, rub some sensitivity toothpaste right on the sensitive spot and don’t rinse the paste away.  If you grind your teeth, use a mouth guard at night in order to avoid damage from grinding. Make sure to see your dentist at regular intervals, as professional cleaning, fluoride treatments, and personalized oral hygiene instructions can go a long way toward decreasing and preventing sensitivity.

If you still have discomfort, talk to your dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group. Dentists have a variety of simple and affordable regimens to manage tooth hypersensitivity so you need not avoid hot and cold items any longer.

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