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What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Eating and drinking is a necessary part of the human condition. Eating ice cream, indulging in sweets, and enjoying a hot cup of coffee should be pleasurable experiences. For some, tooth sensitivity prevents the enjoyment of food and drink. There are many causes of sensitivity and different treatment options to alleviate it.

Worn Tooth Enamel

The crown of the tooth is protected by a hard casing called enamel. When that enamel is damaged or worn away it can cause sensitivity.

Worn tooth enamel can be caused by aggressive brushing, whitening toothpaste, tooth clenching and grinding of the teeth.

The effects of aggressive brushing can’t be reversed, but you can prevent further damage by switching to soft bristled toothbrush. To alleviate sensitivity, a dentist may recommend using desensitizing toothpaste. This type of toothpaste blocks sensations from reaching the nerve underneath, reducing sensitivity. Dentists may also recommend a fluoride treatment in the office that strengthens enamel and also helps keep sensations from reaching the nerve.

Like hard brushing, the effects of grinding can’t be reversed, but to prevent further erosion of the enamel, a mouth guard may be recommended for nighttime clenching and grinding.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is another cause of sensitivity. Tooth decay causes cavities, or holes, in the teeth. This leaves an opening to the nerve in the tooth. When the nerve comes in contact with food or drinks, the nerve is stimulated and causes sensitivity.

Tooth decay is signaled by extreme sensitivity, especially to heat. It should be evaluated by a dentist to determine what type of treatment is necessary to fix the problem. Some of these treatments include fillings, bondings, crowns, and root canals.

Older fillings can become damaged or worn over time. When this occurs, food and drinks can leak under the fillings and cause the nerve to react. This creates sensitivity in the tooth.

Older fillings, especially amalgam or metal fillings, can be replaced with newer materials. This alleviates sensitivity and prevents more decay from occurring underneath the old filling.

Worn or poor fitting crowns can also become damaged and leak over time and cause sensitivity. A dentist should evaluate the tooth and possibly refit it for a new crown.

Receding Gums

The crown of the tooth is protected by hard enamel, but the roots of the teeth are not. Over time, or due to gum disease, the gums can recede or pull back from the tooth. This exposes the root to food and drink and causes sensitivity.

An exposed root should be evaluated by a dentist for treatment options. A surgical grafting of the gums may be necessary in some cases.

Eating and drinking should be enjoyed, not dreaded because of tooth sensitivity. There are many different treatment options available, depending on the issue. For further questions or concerns about tooth sensitivity, contact South Temple Dental today.