Cobblestone Park Family Dental

Sensitive Teeth and What Causes Them

Man with sensitive teeth drinking water

Have you ever had a really hot coffee or taken a bite out of ice cream and had an ache and pain in your tooth? If so, you wouldn’t be alone in your discomfort. For most people, this very frustrating and annoying pain comes from tooth sensitivity.

“Dentin Hypersensitivity,” or tooth sensitivity, is the pain or discomfort that happens when dentin becomes exposed. Dentin is the layer of tooth underneath the enamel, and dentin can be exposed in a variety of ways such as brushing the teeth and gum line too hard, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, or even eating acidic foods. 

Sensitive teeth could be a temporary or chronic problem that can affect one or multiple teeth in the mouth. It can have several causes, but most cases of sensitive teeth can usually be resolved with a change in your oral hygiene regimen. 

What Can Trigger Your Tooth Sensitivity

People who suffer from sensitive teeth may experience discomfort or pain from various triggers. The most common are: 

  • Hot foods and beverages
  • Cold foods and beverages
  • Sweet foods and beverages
  • Sour foods and beverages
  • Acidic foods and beverages
  • Cold air
  • Cold water
  • Brushing or flossing your teeth

The discomfort from tooth sensitivity can come and go for no apparent reason, and can range from mild to severe. 

What Causes Sensitive Teeth

There are many reasons why people experience tooth sensitivity. Some people are born with more sensitive teeth than others due to having a thinner line of enamel on their teeth. However, in most cases, tooth sensitivity is caused by the wearing down of the enamel, which could be caused by the following factors: 

  • Grinding your teeth at night
    • Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw when you sleep at night is a very common cause of worn-away enamel and sensitive teeth. When the teeth rub away at each other for a long period of time with no protection, the enamel becomes thinner and exposes the dentin. 
  • Brushing too aggressively / Using Hard-Bristled Toothbrush
    • Both of these are a direct factor to wearing down the protective layer of enamel on your teeth, which in turn causes sensitive teeth. 
  • Regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
    • Acidic foods and drinks are one of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity. Food and beverages with a high acidic content can make the enamel on your teeth thinner, which causes more dentin to be exposed and your teeth to be more sensitive.

Other factors can also come into play when it comes to sensitive teeth. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a chronic condition in which the stomach acid rises into the throat (acid reflux) and irritates the lining of the esophagus. This repeated exposure to stomach acid can also cause damage to enamel. 

How To Treat Sensitive Teeth

If you are experiencing sensitive teeth for the first time, make an appointment with your dentist. They will check the overall health of your teeth and check for any underlying problems such as cavities or loose fillings. Your dentist could even do this at a routine cleaning appointment. They will do the regular cleaning and then a visual examination to check for any sensitivity. Your dentist may also do an X-Ray to check for cavities. 

Tooth sensitivity can be treated in a multitude of ways of ways. If it is mild, there are many over-the-counter methods to help you combat this uncomfortable condition. 

  • Toothpaste
    • There is toothpaste made specifically for tooth sensitivity. They are usually made with desensitizing ingredients to help block discomfort from traveling to the tooth. When brushing your teeth, it is important to not rinse your mouth with water afterward. 
  • Soft-Bristle Toothbrushes
    • These will be more gentle on your teeth and help with not brushing away your enamel. They will be labeled as such. 

It will typically take several applications for these treatments to work, but you can start to see some sort of improvement within a week. 

Home treatments aren’t for everyone, so if you find that they are not working for you, schedule an appointment with your dentist to talk about a prescription-based toothpaste and mouthwash to help you with your sensitive teeth. Your dentist may also provide an in-office fluoride gel or desensitizing treatment to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth. 

If you have tooth sensitivity because of a medical condition, please consult your doctor to treat this condition before it causes too much damage to your teeth. GERD can be treated with acid reducers, which can be lifesavers for your teeth. 

If the tooth sensitivity is coming from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night, you can buy an over-the-counter mouthguard to protect your teeth and prevent grinding. Or, you can train yourself to stop grinding and clenching your jaw at night by being mindful and not doing it during the day. 

Cobblestone Park Family Dental Can Help

People struggle with tooth sensitivity every single day all around the world. While there are several at-home ways to ease the pain, if you feel like you’ve done all you can and the pain isn’t going away, please contact Cobblestone Park Family Dental to schedule an appointment