What is Tooth Sensitivity and Why do I Have it?

What is Tooth Sensitivity and Why do I Have it?

Calgary DentistTooth sensitivity is caused when nerves are irritated by the movement of fluid in the layer of tissue beneath the hard enamel of the tooth.

When this hard enamel is worn down or your gums recede, the tiny tubes are exposed on the surface of the tooth so when you eat foods or drink fluids that are hot or cold, you will find your teeth hurt.

For some people, tooth sensitivity is so severe that it affects what they eat and drink. Cold air can also cause them considerable pain, leading to them shielding much of their face from harsh, winter temperatures.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

There are several causes, including;

  • Worn tooth enamel from brushing too hard and aggressively
  • Tooth erosion because of consuming highly acidic foods and drinks
  • Tooth erosions can also be a result of bulimia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Receding gums can leave the root surface exposed leading to pain when eating or drinking hot and cold foods

Is It a Common Complaint?

Millions of people across Canada are thought to suffer from some kind of tooth sensitivity, ranging from a light sensitivity to severe. Some people seek help from their dentist but some people think that there is nothing that can be done and try to ‘live with it’, changing their eating and drinking habits accordingly.

What Can I Do About Sensitive Teeth?

There are various actions you can take to decrease the sensitivity of your teeth;

  • Use a toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth – avoid overly harsh toothpastes as these can make sensitivity worse, as can some whitening toothpastes that lighten or remove stains from teeth. By using a desensitizing toothpaste, some of the small holes in the tooth enamel can be plugged, welcome news if you suffer from light sensitivity.
  • Dentist applied treatments – dentists have a range of options to help patients suffering from tooth sensitivity, such as using filling materials that plug the small surface holes.
  • Eat less acid-containing foods – foods that contain acids, such as citrus fruits and fruit-based drinks, wear away the hard enamel on your teeth, exposing the dentin layer beneath.
  • Brush lighter – do away with your hard-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth using a gentler touch and a softer brush. If when you look at your toothbrush the bristles are pointing in many different directions, you are brushing your teeth too hard!
  • Follow good dental hygiene – brush twice daily, for two minutes each time and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups too.

When to See Your Dentist

If your teeth are highly sensitive for three or more days and you find eating anything hot or cold painful, it is time to see your dentist.

Your dentist is qualified to use a range of diagnostic tools to determine the extent of the problem. They will be able to help eliminate pain but it is important to note that painful teeth can also be symptomatic of other dental problems, such a cavities or abscesses.

Dentists can help to manage hyper-sensitivity with in-clinic treatments, as well as patient-applied treatments at home.

After diagnosis, your dentists may apply a protective coating, sometimes known as a desensitizing agent to plug the small homes in your teeth.

You may also be prescribed a stannous fluoride gel or an over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste that contains fluoride. Some people also find that massaging the pastes into your gums after brushing also helps.

With products specifically for sensitive teeth and the help of your dentist, your sensitive teeth can become much less painful. If you struggle from sensitive teeth, contact the team at Signal Hill Dental Centre and we’d be happy to review some solutions with you.