It’s easy to brush off tooth sensitivity as a minor — yet uncomfortable — inconvenience. However, having an unpleasant response to things like food, beverages, or even air can indicate an underlying problem with your oral health.
At Madison Family Dental Group in Fair Oaks, California, Dr. Shiva Salehi and our team perform an evaluation to determine what’s to blame for your tooth sensitivity. Then, they make personalized recommendations to treat and protect your teeth and ease your sensitivity.
Here are five common problems that can trigger tooth sensitivity.
1. You brush too hard — or too often
Believe it or not, there is too much of a good thing, including brushing.
When you brush your teeth too hard, more than three times a day, or with a hard-bristled brush, you’re doing more than scrubbing away plaque. You’re actually wearing away your enamel, which protects your teeth.
When your enamel thins, the sensitive roots of your teeth don’t have sufficient protection from potential stressors, including extreme temperatures and acids. And, unfortunately, once you lose your enamel,there’s no way to get it back.
If overly enthusiastic brushing is behind your tooth sensitivity, we may recommend:
- Getting a fluoride varnish or gel to strengthen your enamel
- Filling or bonding your teeth to protect their inner layer
- Using a high-fluoride toothpaste, specially formulated for sensitive teeth
You should also use a soft-bristled brush to gently clean your teeth each day.
2. You have damaged enamel
Just like you can develop tooth sensitivity from thinning enamel, you can also experience problems from damage.
For example, even a microscopic hole in your enamel that occurs when bacteria eat through your tooth can cause significant sensitivity in a tooth. You can also have small, invisible chips or cracks that expose the sensitive dentin, pulp, and nerves at the center of your tooth.
After identifying the tooth damage causing your symptoms, we may suggest a dental repair, such as:
- A tooth-colored filling
- A crown
- An inlay
Tooth restorations like veneers, crowns, and inlays also come with the added advantage of strengthening your cracked, chipped, or damaged tooth.
3. You have gum disease
Unfortunately, tooth sensitivity can be a sign of gum disease, especially if you have additional symptoms, like bleeding or swollen gums, loose teeth, or chronic bad breath.
This condition starts as gingivitis and, without treatment, progresses to a gum infection known as periodontitis. When your gums become inflamed or eroded, they can’t fully protect your teeth, and your risk of tooth loss increases.
If you have gum disease, we need to treat the infection and resolve the gingivitis before addressing your tooth sensitivity. Severe cases can even require periodontal treatments like gum grafts to restore your gums and oral health.
4. Your diet is too acidic
You may know that coffee, tea, and smoking stain your teeth. But did you know certain things can eat through your enamel and cause tooth sensitivity?
Common foods and beverages that can put your teeth at risk include:
- Lemon, lime, and orange drinks
- Carbonated beverages, like sodas and sports drinks
- Dried fruits, like raisins
- Sour candies
The alcohol in mouthwash can also gradually erode your protective enamel, leading to sensitive teeth. If you have a dental issue, like halitosis (bad breath) or dry mouth, we can recommend an alcohol-free mouthwash.
5. You have bruxism
Did you know you can grind your teeth in your sleep — a problem known as bruxism — without knowing it? Grinding your teeth damages your enamel and can make your teeth susceptible to other types of damage, including cracks and chips.
During every dental exam, we look for signs of bruxism, like teeth with uneven edges or molars that are smoother than they should be. Not only can we repair any existing damage caused by the habit, but we can also fit you with a mouthguard to prevent further grinding when you sleep.
If you have sensitive teeth, don’t ignore it or wait until the pain worsens. Call us today at 916-226-4635 or use our online form to set up a consultation.