Sensitive Teeth: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

It might surprise you, but an estimated 1 in 8 adults in the U.S. experience over-sensitive teeth. This amount of people is staggering and points to a real issue. But what are the reasons behind tooth sensitivity? Our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists can help you find out.

Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of sensitive teeth.

Common Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

The biggest symptom if you have sensitive teeth is radiating pain, much like a toothache. More specifically, the discomfort is at the roots of the affected teeth.

Sensitivity becomes more obvious when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. Cold air, brushing and flossing teeth, or using alcohol-based mouthwash can also result in discomfort. Symptoms can range from mild to intense and appear when triggered. Interestingly, not every tooth may be affected equally.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Because having sensitive teeth is a commonly shared condition, several factors could be at play. Some individuals even experience tooth sensitivity naturally due to age. Our dentists will need to inspect your teeth and gums to determine what the exact cause is before we recommend treatment.

Sensitive teeth may be caused by:

  • An exposed tooth root
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Fractured teeth
  • Fillings that are worn or damaged
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay or cavities
  • Aggressive brushing
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth at night (bruxism)
  • Regular consumption of acidic foods or beverages

What Are My Options for Treatment?

Fortunately, there are ways to treat sensitive teeth. The caveat, however, is that the treatment depends on the cause of sensitivity. To get started, one of our dentists will need to perform a dental exam to check your mouth.

The findings from the examination will then influence the ultimate decision on treatment. If you have mild tooth sensitivity, our dentists may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or a softer toothbrush. A fluoride gel applied to your teeth to strengthen enamel may also prove helpful.

For more severe cases, treatment options may include a:

Underlying medical conditions contributing to sensitivity should also be treated separately to prevent further damage to enamel.

Prevention Tips to Follow

Assuming you are not predisposed to sensitive teeth, there are ways to prevent the condition altogether. You may have to make a lifestyle adjustment, such as watching the foods that you eat. Other tips are easy, like regularly practicing oral hygiene habits.

Tooth enamel serves as the hard, protective layer for your teeth. When this covering wears down, the layer beneath your enamel, dentin, becomes exposed. Dentin is less dense and contains small, hollow tubules. Exposed tubules allow cold, hot, or acidic food and beverages to better reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. This causes sensitivity.

Work to prevent tooth sensitivity by following these tips:

  • Don’t brush too hard and use a soft toothbrush
  • Limit how much you indulge in acidic foods or drinks, i.e., soda, candy
  • Seek treatment for teeth clenching or grinding to protect enamel
  • Ask our dentists about current or future teeth whitening as it can result in sensitivity
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily
  • Stay away from abrasive toothpaste

Need a Professional Opinion?

No matter how minor it seems, it’s not the best idea to ignore sensitive teeth. After all, our dentists in Ann Arbor, MI, are here to help. We’ll analyze your specific situation and offer advice on next steps. Whether it be new toothpaste or gum disease treatment, we’ll provide guidance. Call Liberty Dental today at (734) 994-0909 to request an appointment.

This blog post has been updated. 

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