– Seattle dentist
WHAT CAUSES TEETH TO BE SENSITIVE? – SEATTLE DENTIST
Many people notice that their teeth are sensitive. Teeth may feel discomfort when exposed to cold or heat, when contacted physically (such as by a toothbrush), or when eating certain foods. What causes teeth to be sensitive, and what can you do about it?
– Seattle Dentist
There are a variety of reasons that teeth may feel sensitive. One is gum recession. When the gums recede (pull away from the teeth), parts of the tooth are exposed that were formerly protected by gum tissue. These areas are not used to being contacted, and may feel quite sensitive at first. Generally, this sensitivity will go away after a while, as the teeth get used to being exposed. However, it’s important to determine the cause of the gum recession so that you can prevent it from proceeding any further.
Wear and tear on enamel can also lead to teeth feeling sensitive. As the enamel becomes thinner, the inner part of the tooth is less protected and the tooth may feel sensitive. Small cracks may even form, in response to chewing on hard foods, particularly if they’re also cold (such as ice). These can expose the inner part of the tooth, leading to sensitivity.
– Seattle Dentist
Although most people are aware that sugar is bad for your teeth, not everyone knows why. Some people even notice that their teeth hurt when they eat sugar. The bacteria in your mouth metabolize sucrose (table sugar) into a substance that allows them to stick to your teeth very effectively. During this process, they produce an acid that wears away tooth enamel.
In other words, eating sugar is like applying an acid-soaked sponge to your teeth. Knowing this, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the teeth may hurt when this happens. Many people notice that their teeth feel uncomfortable when exposed to sugar, but even if you don’t feel this discomfort, the sugar is still damaging your teeth.
– Seattle Dentist
If your teeth are sensitive, then the treatment has two separate components. The dentist needs to determine the underlying cause of sensitivity, and treat it if possible. The next step is treatment for the sensitivity itself.
First, it’s very important to determine why you have tooth sensitivity, so any underlying condition may be addressed. For example, if your tooth sensitivity is due to gum recession, then treating it may require a change in toothbrushing habits (since using too much force while brushing can cause gum recession), or you may have gum disease that needs to be addressed before further damage occurs. More advanced treatment may include dental bonding, in which the dentist will apply composite resin over the part of the tooth that has been exposed by the recession in order to protect it. In certain cases, a surgical gum graft may be recommended.
Simply treating the symptom (the sensitivity) without finding the underlying cause could ultimately be detrimental. Some causes of tooth sensitivity require treatment, because they could cause far worse damage if left untreated.
The second component of treatment is to address the sensitivity itself. Desensitizing toothpaste, which can be purchased over the counter, is one common form of treatment. This toothpaste contains compounds that help to block sensations from reaching the nerves inside of the teeth, which reduces sensitivity. A desensitizing fluoride gel, applied in the dentist’s office, can also reduce sensitivity in some patients.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, other treatments are sometimes used, including placing a crown or inlay. In severe cases, a root canal may be used to eliminate the nerve inside of the tooth so that it is no longer sensitive.