Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental issues. According to estimates, about 30 percent of us, or nearly 10 million Canadians, suffer from some degree of tooth sensitivity. There are a few different causes that you can consider proactively, and if you do find yourself dealing with tooth sensitivity, the good news is, it can usually be managed.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
People with tooth sensitivity feel discomfort and sometimes sharp pains when their teeth come into contact with certain substances or even temperatures.
• Pain or discomfort happens suddenly on contact;
• It’s temporary, and subsides once you take the substance causing it away.
The level of pain depends on how deeply the sensation penetrates into the nerve endings. It may start as discomfort and get worse. There may be many potential triggers.
• Exposure to air;
• Cold, such as ice;
• Sweet foods;
• Hot foods;
• Vigorous brushing or flossing teeth.
It’s a Loss of Protection
The tooth enamel is, simply put, the hard shell around a layer of material called dentin. Inside the dentin, there are thousand of tiny, microscopic tubes (or tubules) that reach into the nerves. There are also nerves in the tooth roots, which is usually protected by the gums. When the enamel is worn or the gum line has receded, it can expose the dentin, and the tubules in turn expose the nerves. There are several other possible causes.
• Cracked teeth;
• Damaged or eroded roots.
Preventing tooth sensitivity means protecting the enamel and gums. There are many elements you can build into your daily dental hygiene regimen that will support enamel and gums.
• Avoid hard bristle toothbrushes that can wear down enamel and cause gums to recede;
• Teeth grinding – if you grind your teeth as you sleep, a mouth guard can help protect them;
• Brush well, use floss, and avoid plaque buildup;
• Avoid mouthwashes that incorporate acidic ingredients – look for a neutral fluoride formula;
• Brush after eating acidic foods that can lead to enamel reduction. This includes soft drinks, citrus fruits, and wine. If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water, or add water to the drink to neutralize the acid.
Sometimes teeth may become sensitive after certain procedures like fillings. In many cases, the filling may be too high and simply adjusting it will fix the problem. It can also occur after tooth whitening procedures.
Managing Sensitive Teeth
What can you do? Plenty, as it turns out. First, you should make an appointment with your dentist to determine the cause. A cracked tooth or cavity needs immediate treatment. But, even if the cause is erosion of the enamel or gums, it is entirely possible to manage tooth sensitivity and get on with your life. The symptoms may come and go over time, and may disappear entirely for periods.
• Desensitizing toothpaste – this is the easiest and usually the first defense. There are many brands available that your dentist can recommend, and you will want to choose a fluoridated paste and not the kind that promotes tartar control. Continued use builds up your protection against sensitivity.
• Fluoride gel or other topical application may be suggested by your dentist to strengthen the enamel.
• Dental procedures such as bonding, crowns, or inlays may be advisable.
• A root canal is the last resort when all other methods fail.
Oral health is so important! Looking for advice on any area of your dental health to focus on? You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.