Treating Tooth Sensitivity
If you’ve had to forgo hot or cold beverages and foods because of tooth sensitivity for awhile, it may be time to make an appointment to find out the root cause. There are multiple causes of sensitive teeth and learning the cause is the first step in effective treatment.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth
A breakdown or weakening of the tooth enamel is the most common cause for sensitive teeth and toothaches. The enamel is a hard, translucent outer layer of a tooth that gives it a hard, smooth surface. This is what protects the tooth pulp, roots and nerves that are inside. These components are important in supplying the tooth with nutrients to keep it strong and healthy as well as keep it securely attached to and supported by the jaw bone.
When the tooth enamel is destroyed and weakened, the delicate, inside components of the tooth, such as the nerves are exposed to external elements such as air, liquids, food particles and bacteria. This exposure results in pain and sensitivity.
There are various habits that can destroy and weaken tooth enamel. The adequate form of treatment for sensitivity will depend on the severity of tooth enamel damage. Below are some of the main causes of tooth sensitivity:
Drinking and eating acidic drinks and foods. Sodas, coffee, citrus juice and even tea contain enamel destroying acid and sugars. Citrus, tomatoes, starchy bread and pastries, sticky candy and sugar-filled, artificially sweetened foods can also damage one’s enamel.
Improper Oral Hygiene. Neglecting to brush one’s teeth and floss can result in food particles remaining stuck on the surface of teeth and lodged between teeth. As these food particles decay and break down, plaque and cavity destroying acid are produced.
Bushing one’s teeth too hard and too fast can scratch tooth enamel, weakening it. Using a firm or hard bristled toothbrush can also cause scratching.
Clenching and Grinding of the Teeth. Prolonged teeth clenching and teeth grinding can wear down layers of tooth enamel. Reducing stress, wearing a mouth guard or splint or using a muscle relaxant can help with clenching and grinding.
Too Much Teeth Whitening. The bleaching agents used in teeth whitening products can penetrate tooth enamel and seep into teeth roots through the soft gum tissue.
Neglecting a Cracked Tooth, Filling or Crown: Fillings and crowns wear out over time and may fall off, exposing diseased, compromised tooth enamel and the nerves underneath. A cracked tooth can also compromise the tooth enamel, making the tooth sensitive.
Treatment Options for Sensitive Teeth
Knowing the cause of your tooth sensitivity and the extent of the enamel damage, one can have a better idea of how to treat it. Some of the common treatments for sensitive teeth include:
- Using special toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Using special mouthwash
- Using fluoride gel
- Getting fillings or crowns or getting lost or damaged ones replaces
- Getting dental sealants
- Using dentist prescribed desensitizing pastes
- Getting a root canal if one has a serious case
Most tooth sensitivity cases can be treated at home using toothpastes and mouthwashes designed for that specific purpose. Good oral hygiene including the use of fluoride toothpaste, soft-bristled toothbrushes, flossing and regular dental checkups can help resolve sensitive teeth. More severe cases will require dental work at the dentist office.