A breath of crisp winter air, a sip of hot cocoa, a bite out of a sweet candy cane — all of these have two things in common: They remind us of the rapidly approaching holiday season, and though less pleasant, each can also trigger the sharp, unexpected pain associated with tooth sensitivity.
What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is experienced as a sharp, sudden pain that is felt in the tooth and gum areas. It occurs when gum and enamel loss expose the sensitive surface of the teeth that lie beneath, called dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and contains thousands of tubes that lead to the tooth’s nerve center, called the pulp. Once the protective cover is lost, heat, cold, and sweet and acidic foods can reach the nerves inside the tooth through the tubes, eliciting a pain response. Fortunately, once the cause of tooth sensitivity is identified, there are options for treating it and restoring optimal oral comfort.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Some of the things that lead to tooth sensitivity include:
- Overbrushing, brushing too hard, or brushing with a hard-bristle toothbrush
- Grinding and clenching teeth
- Tooth decay located near the gumline
- Plaque buildup
- Tooth-whitening products
- Gum disease
- Fractured tooth
- Dental work
Preventing Tooth Sensitivity
The key to preventing tooth sensitivity is maintaining good oral-hygiene practices. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing regularly will go a long way toward keeping your gums and teeth healthy and strong. The following are additional steps you can take for reducing tooth sensitivity:
- Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently
- Avoid foods and beverages that are acidic
- If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about getting a mouth guard to wear when you sleep
- Brush with toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Keep your enamel strong by using products with fluoride
Treating Tooth Sensitivity
The manner in which tooth sensitivity is treated largely depends on the condition that led to it or the situation that is causing it. If sensitivity is resulting from a cavity or a chip in a tooth, a restoration can be placed to fix it. However, if sensitivity results from exposed dentin, there are treatments designed to reduce the discomfort.
- Fluoride varnish can be applied to the vulnerable, exposed areas of your teeth.
- A mouth tray with a high concentration of fluoride in the form of foam can be placed in your mouth for five minutes. This treatment strengthens weak areas.
- The bonding agent used to adhere restorations to teeth can be used to put a protective seal over the surface of the dentin.
- Gum tissue can be moved from one area of the mouth to an area where tissue has been lost from the root with a gum graft.
If you think you might be suffering from gum sensitivity, call us today at (360) 695-1515 to set up an appointment and find out more about what you can do to restore your oral comfort before the holidays hit.