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What Causes Sensitive Teeth

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What Causes Sensitive Teeth

sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. Sometimes tooth discomfort is caused by other factors, such as a cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or gum disease – only your dentist knows for sure! If hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth feel painful, learn how to repair sensitive teeth. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States experience tooth sensitivity, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

When you have sensitive teeth, certain activities, such as brushing, eating and drinking, can cause sharp, temporary pain in your teeth.

Any number of underlying dental problems, and a diagnosis starts with your dentist. There are a few common reasons for tooth sensitivity and if you’re experiencing pain, it may be due to one of the following sensitive teeth causes. Learn what may trigger tooth sensitivity so that you can avoid it.

Aggressive Brushing

Brushing too hard may wear down your enamel and the calcified substance covering the root of a tooth (cementum). Not only does over-brushing teeth damage your enamel, it can also lead to gum recession which exposes softer parts of your tooth and can lead to pain and sensitivity.

Insufficient Routine Oral Care 

Brushing, flossing and rinsing twice daily are the foundation of maintaining a healthy mouth. Be vigilant and routine-oriented when cleaning your teeth, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, because you are also protecting and strengthening your body’s only supply of tooth enamel. When enamel is worn down it exposes your dentin, leading to exposure for tooth sensitivity.

Receding Gums

If you notice that your gums are starting to pull away from your teeth, that means your gums are receding. This exposes dentin channels which lead to the sensitive nerve branches inside of your teeth. Receding gum lines do not solely occur as a result of brushing too hard; if you are experiencing gum recession, be sure to consult Dr. Shane S. Porter of Premier Dentistry of Eagle and obtain a proper diagnosis to make sure you don’t have something more serious that should be treated by a professional.

Acidic Diet

If you frequently eat sour food and drinks this could be stripping away your tooth enamel. Balance your diet to monitor highly acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, grains, pickled products, and acidic beverages including orange juice, coffee, sports drinks, wine, and carbonated sodas. 

Sugary Diet

Loading up on sugary treats like cookies, candies, cake and ice cream can promote bacteria growth. The acids produced by the bacteria in plaque can break down tooth structure. Monitor your intake of candies and sweets to protect your teeth. Tooth decay can cause tooth pain, so consult Dr. Porter to find out the cause of your sensitive teeth.

Dr. Porter Will Know What’s Causing Your Sensitive Teeth

Dr. Porter can identify or rule out any underlying causes of your tooth pain. Depending on the circumstances, he might recommend:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste can sometimes help block pain associated with sensitive teeth. There are a variety of products available over-the-counter. Ask him which product might work best for you.
  • Fluoride might be applied to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain. He might also suggest the use of prescription fluoride at home, applied via a custom tray.
  • Occasionally, exposed root surfaces can be treated by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces. A local anesthetic might be needed to desensitize the affected teeth.
  • If your tooth root has lost gum tissue, a small amount of gum tissue can be taken from elsewhere in your mouth and surgically attached to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
  • If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments aren’t effective, Dr. Porter might recommend a root canal, which is used to treat problems in the tooth’s softcore (dental pulp). While this might seem like a significant treatment, it’s considered the most successful technique for eliminating tooth sensitivity.

Toothache Home Remedies

If your toothache happens late at night with no chance to get in to see Dr. Porter at that time, there are home remedies for toothache relief until you can get in to see him the following day:

  • Salt water – Mix a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of warm water and swish it in your mouth, but don’t swallow it.
  • Flossing – This might help remove any food particles that are stuck between teeth.
  • Clove Oil – You can soak a cotton ball in this natural pain reliever and bite down with the painful tooth.
  • Garlic – Crush a garlic clove to create a paste and apply it to the affected area. You may wish to add a tiny bit of salt. Alternatively, you can slowly chew a clove of fresh garlic.
  • Onions – Chop a fresh onion and hold it inside the mouth.
  • Peppermint tea bags can be used to numb pain and soothe sensitive gums. Allow a used tea bag to cool down before applying it to the affected area. It should still be slightly warm.
  • Over-the-counter remedies including desensitizing toothpastes and Orajel, can block off the nerve endings in the exposed dentin.

Contact our office online, or call (208) 546-0655 to make an appointment. Dr. Porter will provide comprehensive treatments for your whole family, whether it is to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile or overcoming tooth pain. He is prepared to help you meet all your dental needs. Premier Dentistry of Eagle is located in Eagle, Idaho at 467 South Rivershore Lane and is convenient for patients in the surrounding communities of Star, Middleton, Meridian, Garden City, and Boise.

If you’ve been suffering with painful tooth sensitivity that keeps you from eating the foods you love, make an appointment with Dr. Porter today – and you may be eating ice cream tomorrow.

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