Learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity and tips to relieve sensitive teeth from Safco’s latest blog.
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Dental sensitivity can be disruptive to daily life. If you have started experiencing sensitivity in your teeth, you may wonder what caused it.
In this blog, we’ll discuss why teeth become sensitive, the common symptoms of sensitive teeth and how to relieve sensitive tooth discomfort. We will also cover some common symptoms of sensitive teeth and ways to relieve the discomfort that often comes along with tooth sensitivity.
What Causes Teeth Sensitivity?
Teeth sensitivity is typically caused by worn tooth enamel.
Factors that may cause teeth sensitivity include:
1. Tooth-Brushing Habits
Believe it or not, your teeth-brushing habits can actually lead to tooth sensitivity!
Applying too much pressure while brushing can be harmful to your teeth. Hard brushing may lead to an increased risk of developing sensitivity issues.
While you may have good intentions, brushing too hard may cause the enamel to wear away. This leaves the inner layer of dentin exposed. In turn, you may experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold sensations.
Using a hard-bristled toothbrush can also have the same effect. It’s best to use a toothbrush for sensitive teeth. A sensitivity toothpaste can also help protect your teeth and gums.
2. Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening can be effective for removing stains or discoloration. It may also lead to tooth sensitivity. Sometimes, previously-existing tooth sensitivity may prevent some people from pursuing teeth whitening.
It is not yet fully understood why teeth whitening causes sensitivity. However, it is believed that whitening agents leave the teeth more porous. This leaves the more delicate layer of dentin exposed. In turn, this often leads to tooth sensitivity.
3. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a serious infection of the gum tissues. It occurs due to a high amount of bacteria both above and below the gum line.
When bacteria thrive inside the mouth, it eats away at the gum, tooth, and bone structure over time. This eventually leads to significant gum and bone recession.
It also increases the risk of tooth decay, as the protective layer of tooth enamel begins to wear away. Consequently, gum disease may also lead to increased tooth sensitivity for some people.
4. Eating or Drinking Highly Acidic Foods & Beverages
The foods and beverages we eat have a direct effect on the health of our teeth. Eating or drinking foods or beverages with high levels of acidity can cause the enamel to wear away. This increases your risk for tooth sensitivity.
Some examples of acidic foods and beverages include:
- Soda and Energy Drinks
- Sweetened Tea
- Citrus Fruits
- Processed Meats
It’s best to avoid acidic foods and beverages whenever possible. If you do consume acidic food, it is best to brush immediately afterward. This helps ensure that harmful acids are not able to remain on the surface of the teeth or gums.
5. Tooth Sensitivity After Filling
If you have recently had a filling and are experiencing sensitivity, you may be wondering why. After all, fillings are done to protect and restore the teeth, aren’t they?
It is completely normal to experience sensitive teeth after a dental filling. The process of placing a filling can cause a bit of aggravation or irritation of the tooth’s central nerve. This is especially true for large fillings.
How long does tooth nerve sensitivity last after a filling? This may vary, but sensitivity typically fades after just a few days. As your filling sets and the sensitive tooth nerve heals, you will notice an improvement.
Below are some examples of things you can do to avoid or minimize sensitivity after a filling:
- Avoid foods and beverages that are extremely hot or cold
- Avoid acidic or sugary foods and beverages
- Maintain proper oral home care
- Avoid chewing on hard or sticky substances
6. Recent Dental Procedures
There are other dental procedures that may cause sensitivity, such as:
- Root Canal: A root canal is needed when the central nerve of the tooth becomes damaged or infected. This typically occurs when the tooth withstands considerable damage or decay.
During the root canal procedure, the dentist enters the tooth and cleans out all signs of decay. They will then remove the nerve from the tooth entirely. A synthetic material is placed inside the central canal of the tooth in its place. The tooth is then filled and sealed.
- Crown or Bridge Preparation: The dentist will remove all signs of decay and place a large filling. In some cases, a root canal will be done prior to a crown or bridge placement.
The tooth is then reduced on all sides to make space for the crown or bridge. The crown/bridge will then be cemented into place over the top of the natural tooth structure.
These procedures tend to be invasive in nature. Consequently, it’s quite common to experience tooth sensitivity afterward.
7. Why Are My Teeth Sensitive to the Cold?
The central nerve of the tooth is responsible for the tooth’s ability to feel sensations. When the central nerve becomes exposed, you will experience sensitivity or pain in return. Tooth sensitivity does not only occur due to cold; it can be triggered by hot temperatures, as well.
Below are some reasons that you may experience tooth sensitivity to hot or cold:
- Tooth Decay
- Periodontal Disease
- Hard Brushing Habits/Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
- Exposed Central Nerve/Extensive Damage or Decay
- Dental Fluorosis
How to Relieve Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth can be extremely uncomfortable – and even quite painful. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to minimize your tooth sensitivity.
Below are some of the best ways to relieve tooth sensitivity:
- Desensitizing Toothpaste/Sensitive Toothpaste
- Rinsing with Hydrogen Peroxide
- Rinsing with Warm Salt Water
- Vanilla Extract (Apply Directly to Area)
Sensitivity can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. If you are in pain, you’re probably wondering how to stop sensitive teeth pain immediately. Over-the-counter pain medication – such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen – can help effectively manage discomfort.
Mouthwash and Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
The toothpaste and mouthwash that you use on a daily basis have a direct effect on the health of your tooth enamel. Thankfully, you have plenty of options for protecting your sensitive teeth.
Sensitive toothpastes are clinically proven to help drastically reduce sensitivity issues. They are typically equipped with an important ingredient: potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate actually helps restore the enamel. It’s most effective when used consistently over an extended period of time. This helps keep the tooth enamel strong and protected. In turn, you remain protected against sensitivity issues.
Mouthwash for sensitive teeth works by lightly anesthetizing the mouth. It also applying restorative and protective minerals to the teeth.
Check out some of the best toothpastes and mouthwashes for tooth sensitivity:
- Crest Pro-Health Sensitive and Gum Toothpaste
- Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum Toothpaste
- Listerine Sensitivity Zero Mouthwash
When You Should See Your Dentist for Teeth Sensitivity
Does tooth sensitivity go away? Yes, there are many cases in which sensitivity may subside on its own. As you have learned here, there are plenty of steps that can be taken to help tackle tooth sensitivity at home.
However, there are some instances in which you must immediately see your dentist to seek treatment.
Below are some instances in which you should see your dentist for teeth sensitivity:
- You are experiencing extreme sensitivity that lasts multiple days
- The teeth feel sensitive for weeks after a restorative procedure
- The sensation you are feeling has progressed from uncomfortable to unbearable
- You notice swollen/tender gums or teeth that are visibly damaged or decayed
To provide you with the most effective treatment, your dentist will do an examination. This is done to identify the root cause of the problem. They will then work with you to develop a treatment plan to treat the issue at hand and restore your comfort.
The Experts at Safco Have You Covered
Whether you’re looking for insights on your dental health, or you need support and supplies for your own dental practice, Safco Dental Supply is here for you. Check out our site to browse our extensive inventory of dental supplies and equipment for your dental office. For more information about our products, feel free to give us a call at 800.621.2178.