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Why are my Teeth Sensitive?: Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

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Tooth sensitivity, characterized by sharp, sudden pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages, is a common dental ailment that affects people of all ages. It can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but the good news is that tooth sensitivity can be managed and treated.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the protective enamel layer of the teeth becomes compromised, exposing the underlying dentin. Dentin contains tiny tubules that connect to the nerve endings within the tooth, allowing external stimuli to reach the nerves and trigger pain. Several factors contribute to enamel erosion and dentin exposure, leading to tooth sensitivity:

  • Brushing Habits: Overly aggressive brushing, especially with a hard-bristle toothbrush, can gradually wear away the enamel and exposed dentin.
  • Gum Recession: Gum recession, often caused by gum disease or improper brushing technique, exposes the tooth roots and leads to increased sensitivity.
  • Acidic Foods and Drinks: Consuming a diet high in acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits and carbonated drinks, can erode enamel over time.
  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Grinding or clenching teeth, especially during sleep, can wear down enamel and increase sensitivity.
  • Tooth Decay: Cavities that are left untreated can lead to enamel erosion and dentin exposure.
  • Dental Procedures: Some dental treatments, like teeth whitening or dental restorations, can cause temporary sensitivity due to the removal of a thin layer of enamel.

Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity

The good news is that tooth sensitivity can be managed and treated effectively with a combination of dental practices and at-home care. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Desensitizing Toothpaste: Specially formulated desensitizing toothpaste can help block pain signals from reaching the nerves. Regular use over a few weeks can lead to significant improvement.
  • Fluoride Treatments: In-office fluoride treatments or prescription fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen enamel and reduce sensitivity.
  • Change in Brushing Technique: Switching to a soft-bristle toothbrush and using a gentle brushing technique can prevent further enamel erosion.
  • Avoid Acidic Foods: Limiting consumption of acidic foods and beverages can prevent additional enamel erosion.
  • Use a Mouthguard: If teeth grinding is causing sensitivity, a custom-fitted mouthguard can protect teeth from further damage.
  • Dental Procedures: In some cases, dental procedures like bonding, dental crowns, or dental sealants can be used to cover exposed dentin and reduce sensitivity.
  • Treating Underlying Issues: If gum disease or tooth decay is contributing to sensitivity, addressing these issues through professional dental care is crucial.
  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings can prevent enamel erosion and reduce sensitivity.

Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

  • Prevention is always better than cure. To minimize the risk of developing tooth sensitivity, follow these preventive measures:
  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Brush at least twice a day and floss daily to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
  • Use a Soft Toothbrush: Opt for a soft-bristle toothbrush to avoid enamel abrasion while brushing.
  • Limit Acidic Foods and Drinks: Consume acidic foods and beverages in moderation, and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
  • Wear a Mouthguard: If you grind your teeth, consider wearing a mouthguard, especially at night.
  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular dental check-ups to catch and address dental issues before they worsen.

Tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable, but with the right approach, it's a manageable condition. Understanding the causes of sensitivity and adopting effective treatments and preventive measures can significantly improve your oral health and quality of life. If you're experiencing persistent tooth sensitivity, consult with Martin Dentistry. Dr. Stephanie Martin, Dr. Matt Martin, Dr. Lindsay Garrison, and Dr. Lynn Marshall will provide you with personalized guidance and care tailored to your needs to treat your tooth sensitivity. Call us at our two convenient locations. Fishers, IN (317) 676-9588 & Broad Ripple (317) 576-3600 to see how we can help you today. 

* All information subject to change. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.