Sensitive Teeth? Here's What You Need To Know

Tooth sensitivity can be anything from a fleeting, barely-there pang to a sensation just short of a fully-fledged toothache. Although many people tend to dismiss tooth sensitivity as not being serious, it sometimes signals a serious dental issue. Tooth sensitivity comes in two major forms — a hot or cold sensation that usually occurs when eating or drinking and mild pain. Here's what you need to know about the common causes of tooth sensitivity and how it can be treated and/or prevented: 

Causes of Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity has many causes that range from serious dental issues to temporary inconveniences. Causes include fledgling cavities caused by tooth decay, the onset of gum disease, and infected pulp on the interior of the tooth. The condition may also be caused by grinding your teeth while sleeping, biting down too hard on a dense piece of candy, or a too-vigorous brushing session with a new toothbrush. Some people also experience a degree of tooth sensitivity after using a whitening toothpaste or after a professional whitening or teeth cleaning session.

Preventing Sensitive Teeth

Practicing good oral hygiene is your first line of defense against experiencing sensitive teeth. However, it's also important that your oral hygiene techniques don't contribute to or cause the problem. For instance, if you're using a toothbrush with stiff, hard bristles, switching to one with medium or soft bristles may alleviate the problem. Some people also report issues with bleeding gums after flossing, and their dentist may recommend replacing traditional flossing materials with an oral irrigation system. 

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

If preventive measures fail to alleviate the situation, your dentist may recommend an in-office treatment. Treatments will depend on the underlying issue that's causing the sensitivity. For instance, if infected interior dental pulp is the culprit, your dentist may recommend a root canal procedure to remove the infected pulp and clean the area with an antibacterial solution. If the sensitivity is caused by eroding enamel, you may benefit from a topical application of a protective layer over the surface of your teeth. If your tooth sensitivity is determined to be the result of the onset of gum disease, your dentist will recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Fortunately, when gum disease is caught in the early stages, it's often curable. Your dentist may also recommend certain over-the-counter products, such as toothpaste designed for use on sensitive teeth and antibacterial mouthwashes to help keep tooth sensitivity in check. 

As a general rule, if tooth sensitivity sticks around for more than a couple of days, you should schedule an appointment with a local family dentistry clinic to get to the root of the problem.