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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

If you have ever experienced a painful or uncomfortable reaction to hot or cold food or when biting down on something, you already know the primary symptom of sensitive teeth. This condition is estimated to affect more than 12 percent of adults in the United States. In general, the cause of tooth sensitivity is related to the condition of the tooth enamel, the hard outer shell that protects tissues and nerve endings inside the tooth. If this enamel becomes thin or fragile, it can allow the temperatures of hot or cold foods and drinks to be transmitted to nerve endings inside the tooth. This can result in pain or discomfort for those who consume these foods and drinks.

In some cases, teeth may become sensitive to pressure caused by biting or chewing. This can make it difficult for you to enjoy your favorite foods. If you are experiencing any of the signs of sensitive teeth, this guide will help you to identify the cause and to find the right answers for your tooth sensitivity issues. Your dentist is an outstanding resource for information and treatment options that will work for you and your family members.

What Are the Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth?

The most common symptoms of sensitive teeth include pain or discomfort when biting, chewing or consuming hot or cold food and drinks. Also known as dentin hypersensitivity, this condition can make it difficult to enjoy many of the foods and beverages you might otherwise eat and drink without concern.

The pain associated with dentin hypersensitivity can range from stabbing pains and pressure to a dull ache that becomes worse when exposed to temperature extremes. In most cases, your dentist can provide you with some helpful suggestions on the likely causes of your issues and effective ways to address the problem of tooth sensitivity to improve your dental health. Your dentist is a great source of information and proven solutions for your dental care needs.

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity and Solutions for These Issues

Tooth sensitivity can occur at any time and can be caused by a number of issues. In general, this condition is related to a deterioration, thinning or other kind of damage to the outside shell of the teeth. When this damage occurs, it allows heat and cold to pass easily through the outside of your tooth and to stimulate the nerve endings inside your tooth enamel. This can add up to some serious pain and discomfort for you or other members of your family. Some of the most common reasons that people develop tooth sensitivity include the following:

  • Tooth decay is a major contributing factor to the deterioration of your tooth enamel. Regular brushing and flossing can help to reduce your risk of tooth decay and the tooth sensitivity that is sometimes associated with this common dental problem.
  • Brushing too hard, however, can cause damage to your tooth enamel. The same applies to using very abrasive toothpastes that claim to whiten your teeth. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste recommended by your dentist is the best way to prevent damaging your tooth enamel.
  • Avoid mouthwashes with a high concentration of alcohol, as this has been implicated in the development of sensitive teeth in some individuals. If you suspect that your mouthwash might be causing issues with dentin hypersensitivity, be sure to contact your dentist to get a recommendation for a mouthwash that will not produce these problems.
  • Periodontal disease is a major risk factor for sensitivity of the teeth. Receding gums are a common symptom of periodontal issues. As they recede, however, your gums may expose thinner parts of your tooth enamel or decayed parts of your teeth. This can cause serious issues with pain and discomfort when you eat or drink hot or cold foods. Your dentist may be able to apply a sealant to your teeth that can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of dental sensitivity and can help you enjoy your favorite foods once again.
  • Consuming foods high in acid can also cause damage to your tooth enamel over time. These include lemons, limes, pineapples, tomatoes and vinegar-based foods. Reducing your consumption of these foods can sometimes have a surprisingly positive impact on the sensitivity of your teeth.
  • Cracks, chips and damage to your teeth can allow bacteria to invade the inside of your tooth. This can result in pressure on the nerves inside your teeth and can often result in sensitivity for the affected tooth and those surrounding it. Seeking the help of your dentist in sealing cracks and repairing chips in your teeth can often provide you with real relief for dentin hypersensitivity.
  • After an accident involving your teeth, you may experience a heightened degree of sensitivity on a temporary or permanent basis. This can also occur after undergoing dental treatment for certain issues. Your dentist can often provide you with added help in managing temporary sensitivity and finding solutions to restore your teeth to their normal function.
  • If you grind or clench your teeth, you can cause damage to your tooth enamel. The practice of grinding your teeth at night or at other times is called bruxism. Wearing a night guard that has been custom-fitted to your teeth is usually the best way to combat this issue and to provide added protection for your teeth.
  • Some people may be predisposed to dental sensitivity because of genetic factors. For these individuals, visiting the dentist’s office regularly can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with sensitive teeth. Regular fluoride treatments may also be recommended for patients who are at risk for dentin hypersensitivity.

Dental sensitivity can often be managed effectively with a little help from your dental office in South Hampton Roads. This can help you to feel your best and can promote the healthiest teeth and gums for you and every other member of your family.

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